Together Event

When: 9:00AM – 12:00PM

What: Initiative on Campus Dialogues “Office Hours”

Where: Humanities Institute Seminar Room, Babbidge Library, 4th Floor

Organizers: Initiative on Campus Dialogues

Interested to offer a dialogue on confronting racism in your classroom, but wish to know a little more about process, possibilities and potential pitfalls? Drop in on the Humanities Institute’s Initiative on Campus Dialogues (ICD) “office hours” where participants in ICD will be available to walk through different dialogic approaches, share their experiences discussing difficult questions, workshop strategies for running a structured conversation in the classroom, and generally do what they might to answer your questions. Those confirmed for the day include the following:

  • Hilary Bogert-Winkler (PhD Candidate, History; ICD)
  • Sian Charles-Harris (PhD Candidate, NEAG; ICD Fellow)
  • Gina Devivo-Brassaw (Associate Director for Community Outreach Programs, Services, and Initiatives)
  • Richard Frieder (ICD Fellow)
  • Brendan Kane (History; ICD)
  • Cynthia Melendez (PhD Candidate, International Studies-Latino Studies)
  • Dana Miranda (PhD Candidate, Philosophy; ICD)


When: 7:00PM – 8:45PM

What: Confronting Racism Together: A Model Dialogue

Where: Dodd Center, Konover Auditorium

Organizers: Brendan Kane, Humanities Institute; Glenn Mitoma, Dodd Center

Description:  Join UConn leaders as they take part in a public dialogue exploring their experiences with racism. Dialogue is one of the most powerful tools we have in confronting racism. But actual dialogue – as opposed to debate, deliberation or conversation – rarely occurs. In part that is because it can be challenging: the bravery it takes to speak honestly and unscripted, and the discipline to listen with empathy and be present, can be difficult in a world so crowded with stimulus and distraction.  Confronting racism, however, requires such bravery and discipline, such honesty and presence. It also needs people who through their public truth-telling can inspire others to truly dialogue over racism. Please join us as members of our community take part in this important conversation, facilitated by Valeriano Ramos of Everyday Democracy. Participants are drawn from across the University:

  • Sulin Ba (Associate Dean, School of Business)
  • Kazem Kazerounian (Dean, School of Engineering)
  • Ian McGregor (PhD Candidate; Curriculum and Instruction, NEAG)
  • Joelle Murchison (Chief Diversity Officer)
  • Mark Overmyer-Velazquez (Director, UConn Hartford Campus)
  • Jeremy Teitelbaum (Provost)
  • Irma Valverde (USG President)



Get to Know Our Fellows: Four Questions with Jorell Melendez Badillo


What is your academic background and what is your current position in UCHI/at UConn/Your Home Institution?

I possess a BA in History and a MA in History of the Americas from the Inter American University in Puerto Rico. I was also a recipient of the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship (2016-2017), which allowed me to make substantial progress in my project. At UCHI, I will finish writing my dissertation, currently titled Our Turn to Speak: The Creation of Puerto Rican Workers’ Intellectual Communities, 1897-1952.


What is the project you’re currently working on?

My dissertation tells the story of how a cluster of self-educated workers burst into Puerto Rico’s world of letters at the turn of the twentieth century. These workers navigated the polity that emerged from the 1898 U.S. occupation by asserting themselves as citizens, as producers of their own historical narratives, and ultimately, as learned minds. My project shifts the historiographical focus from class-based analyses towards the study of workers’ intellectual yearnings, aesthetic sensibilities, and radical desires.


By following leads, often as small as a stamp on a letter, I have traced the trajectory of workers that went from being ignored by the cultural elite to eventually become part of the national mythology. Following these traces have taken me to archives in Puerto Rico, Europe, and the United States, and allowed me to document how workers participated in the international circulation of print media, imagining themselves as part of the global labor community. However, while these workers took part in these transnational networks, labor leaders enacted exclusions locally by pushing black people, women, and non-skilled workers to the margins of the labor movement they founded and the historical archive they produced.


How did you arrive at this topic?

My dissertation grew out of the research for my first book, Voces libertarias: Orígenes del anarquismo en Puerto Rico, currently in its third edition. Tracing the circulation of anarchist ideas developed my broader interest in global subaltern circuits of knowledge. While I had initially located Puerto Rico in a global context, it became increasingly important to situate my work within a Latin American framework to fully grasp the events covered in my dissertation. This led me to explore the connections of seemingly local incidents with wider regional developments, such as nation-building processes, populist politics, and the relation of marginal intellectuals with the state.

Beyond academic influences, my interest for the topics I study comes from lived experiences. Listening to family stories can have a profound impact on one’s career choices and passions. It certainly did for me. Raised by my grandparents in a rural barriada, or working-class neighborhood, in Puerto Rico, I came of age listening to fifteen great aunts and uncles recount long shifts in tobacco factories and train rides across the island in search of work cutting sugar cane under the blistering sun. What I learned from their memories about labor struggles, exclusions, and migration shapes my worldview and provides me with a compass for the questions I ask in my own scholarly research and in my teaching.


What impact might your work have on a larger public understanding of your topic?

“In the institutional knowledge of universities in the United States, the place of Puerto Rico is very uncertain,” wrote literary scholar Arcadio Díaz Quiõnez more than two decades ago. He continued, “Since it’s neither ‘Latin American,’ nor ‘North American,’ it ends up being erased.” Thus, my work’s major intervention is to locate Puerto Rico in the broader cartography of knowledges within US academia. More broadly, my dissertation seeks to yield light on the production of ideas of those that were not considered legitimate producers of knowledge because they lacked academic degrees or access to cultural capital. In sum, it demonstrates how those in the margins, those that were deemed culturally unfit, and those that were silenced because of their race or their gender have been crucial in shaping the ever-incomplete process of imagining the Puerto Rican nation.

Get to Know Our Fellows: Four Questions with Sarah Berry


-What is your academic background and what is your current position at UConn?

I am a PhD candidate in the English department at UConn. I began the program in 2012. Before that, I earned a bachelor’s degree in an interdisciplinary Great Texts program from Baylor University and a master’s degree in English literature from Boston College.


-What is the project you’re currently working on?

The title of my dissertation is “The Politics of Voice in Twentieth-Century Verse Drama.” It is a transatlantic study of plays that are written in verse (instead of prose) during the last hundred years. I argue that verse drama gets revived in the twentieth century not as a genre in its own right but as a hybrid of poetry and drama, which makes it a venue for experimentation with different literary and dramatic forms as well as literary and dramatic voices. All this experimentation with voice has political implications as well, since voice is as much a political concept as a literary one. Twentieth-century playwrights use the different vocal possibilities of verse drama to respond creatively to a variety of contemporary political crises, including fascism, colonialism, the struggle for civil rights, class conflict, and sectarian violence.


-How did you arrive at this topic?

I came to this topic from an interest in weird plays: radio plays, plays with stage directions written in verse, plays in which characters blur together or become someone else. I realized that what makes these plays so weird is that they are half drama, half poetry. They combine the rules and conventions of lyric poetry with those of modern drama, but sometimes these rules and conventions contradict one another. So I set out to investigate the tension between the dramatic elements and lyric elements of these plays.



-What impact might your work have on a larger public understanding of your topic?

My hope for this study is that it will make people rethink the relationship between poetry and drama. We often think of poetry, especially lyric poetry, as the opposite of drama, but there is a long history, right up to the present day, of the interaction between these two genres. In fact, I think our conceptions of these genres are interdependent—that is, our understanding of lyric poetry is based on shifting notions of what drama is, and our understanding of what drama is has been informed by the emergence of lyric poetry as its own genre during the nineteenth century. This study is timely in genre studies, where scholars are contesting the value of categories like the lyric. But verse drama also provides us with an opportunity to think more broadly about the way that genres are created and reinforced.

I also hope that my study will demonstrate the inextricable relationship between form and genre on the one hand and politics on the other. Genre theory can sometimes seem abstract—or only of interest to literature scholars—but I think these plays show that questions of genre are necessarily intertwined with questions of politics, specifically through voice, which is always both literary and political.

Publishing NOW!





Adam McGee, Boston Review
October 2, 2017, 4pm 

Adam McGee is the Managing Editor of Boston Review. He previously was Acting Managing Editor for Transition. He also served as Associate Editor for the Harvard Art Museums. Adam earned his Ph.D. in African and African American Studies from Harvard University. He has taught religious and cultural studies and cultural anthropology at Harvard University, Tufts University, and Northeastern University, and has published a number of scholarly articles on Haitian Vodou. In addition, Adam is a Pushcart nominee whose poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Cimarron ReviewPainted Bride QuarterlyMemoriousAssaracusRHINOThe Doctor T.J. Eckleburg ReviewSAND JournalBayou Magazine, and other places. To learn more or to contact him, visit www.adammichaelmcgee.com.




The UCONN Collaborative to Advance Equity Through Research on Women and Girls of Color and The Humanities Institute


The UCONN Collaborative to Advance Equity Through Research on Women and Girls of Color (“The Collaborative”) is a part of the national Collaborative, comprising over 50 institutions and universities, with Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry and the Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest University, serving at its helm. These institutions and universities are signatories to a national commitment to support research on women and girls of color. UCONN committed to this effort as early as November 2015, and 2016-2017 served as the inaugural year of full programming dedicated to promoting research and campus and community engagement of research and discourses on women and girls of color.

Part of UCONN’s commitment included funding two post-doctoral fellowships and several research projects on women and girls of color, related to environment and public health and STEM and pipeline issues. (See the research abstracts, here). In an effort for The Collaborative to build a brain trust committed to sorting through research topics, discourses, and contemporary issues affecting women of color, as they relate to the two themes, it co-sponsored research workshops with the Humanities Institute.

The Collaborative also joined with UCHI in co-sponsorship of its research workshops to promote The Collaborative’s Brain Trust(s) for its Post-Doctoral Fellows, Research Fellows, and contributing scholars at the University of Connecticut. The Humanities Institute has contributed to these Research Workshops by hosting a welcoming, supportive, and enriching intellectual space to flesh out ideas and refine multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research on women of color.

UCHI looks forward to continued work with the Collaborative to Advance Equity Through Research on Women and Girls of Color!


Richard D. Brown, founding Director of the Humanities Institute, New Book “Self-Evident Truths: Contesting Equal Rights from the Revolution to the Civil War”

Richard Brown, distinguished professor emeritus of history, on Jan. 16, 2014. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
Richard Brown, distinguished professor emeritus of history, on Jan. 16, 2014. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

- America’s Ongoing Struggle for Equal Rights -

- Kenneth Best - UConn Communications

Read More >


 Brown_newbookBook Information

Self-Evident Truths: Contesting Equal Rights from the Revolution to the Civil War

 A detailed and compelling examination of how the early Republic struggled with the idea that “all men are created equal”.
How did Americans in the generations following the Declaration of Independence translate its lofty ideals into practice? In this broadly synthetic work, distinguished historian Richard Brown shows that despite its founding statement that “all men are created equal,” the early Republic struggled with every form of social inequality. While people paid homage to the ideal of equal rights, this ideal came up against entrenched social and political practices and beliefs.Brown illustrates how the ideal was tested in struggles over race and ethnicity, religious freedom, gender and social class, voting rights and citizenship. He shows how high principles fared in criminal trials and divorce cases when minorities, women, and people from different social classes faced judgment. This book offers a much-needed exploration of the ways revolutionary political ideas penetrated popular thinking and everyday practice.

Richard D. Brown is Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of History, Emeritus, and the Founding Director of the Humanities Institute at the University of Connecticut. His previous books include Knowledge Is Power: The Diffusion of Information in Early America, 1700–1865;The Strength of a People: The Idea of an Informed Citizenry in Early America, 1650-1870; and the coauthored microhistory The Hanging of Ephraim Wheeler: A Story of Rape, Incest, and Justice in Early America.

CLAS Book Fund Award

Frederick Biggs Professor of English, Co-Director of Medieval Studies, received a CLAS book fund award.

codexamiatinus3700"I have been involved for most of my career in a vast, collaborative project called SASLC, the Sources of Anglo-Saxon Literary Culture. As the name suggests, we have set out to survey all of the classical and medieval works that allowed creative minds in England before the Norman Conquest (1066) to compose works such as Beowulf that have endured through the centuries because they continue to teach us. But times do change, as the image opposite from a Bible produced in England under the direction of Bede (d. 735) may remind us: all knowledge no longer fits in a single bookcase. Jumping over that minor invention of 1451, printing, we are now in an age when books based on big data must be supported electronically,

Frederick Biggs 

and for the good of scholarship, in open-access form. One part is a wiki that we can run for free (https://saslc.wikispaces.com). But another is the construction of a database robust enough to handle many kinds of information, allowing all to be search in multiple ways. In collaboration with the University of Amsterdam Press and thanks to the support of the CLAS book fund, the volumes on Bede that George Hardin Brown and I have completed as part of the larger project will receive that support."

9789089647146Publication information:

Bede. Part 1, Faxcles 1-4. George Hardin Brown and Frederick M. Biggs. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2017.

Bede. Part 2, Faxcles 1-4. George Hardin Brown and Frederick M. Biggs. Forthcoming. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2018.


From the Introduction:

In any account of the literary culture of Anglo-Saxon England, Bede must loom large. While only one of many distinctive voices for whom we have a written record, Bede stands out as the author who turned a lifetime of study into the widest-ranging corpus of writings, many of which continued to influence later generations. Theodore, archbishop of Canterbury, and Hadrian, abbot of St Peter’s Canterbury, may have been better educated and more able teachers. Aldhelm, the Beowulf-poet, and, to choose one more example from among many, Cynewulf may have written better verse. Boniface, archbishop and martyr, may have changed more lives through his mission. Alcuin, abbot of Tours, may have carried English scholarship more effectively to the Continent. Alfred the Great’s support of education may have occurred at a more crucial moment in English history. Dunstan, archbishop of Canterbury, Æthelwold, bishop of Winchester, and Oswald, bishop of Worcester and archbishop of York, may have instituted a more significant reform. Ælfric, abbot of Eynsham, and Wulfstan, archbishop of York, may have preached better sermons. Bede, however, left writings that demonstrate his skills and influence in all these areas, ones that those who followed him, as these entries and the ones that will complete this survey in the next volume of SASLC show, would almost certainly have known.

Evaluating Bede’s place in this literary culture is sometimes complicated because, as these works demonstrate, his own reading, which was both wide and deep, appears often in his writing. When in the well-known autobiographical passage at the end of the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (V.xxiv) he spoke of having been sent at the age of seven by his kinsmen to enter the monastery of Monkwearmouth.

New Book by UCHI Associate Director Alexis L. Boylan.

"Six men, all artists, find their way to New York City at the turn-of-the-twentieth century and find friendship and love. They are also crushed emotionally and creatively by capitalism."

Alexis L. Boylan's "Ashcan Art, Whiteness, and the Unspectacular Man"
Arriving in New York City in the first decade of the twentieth century, six painters-Robert Henri, John Sloan, Everett Shinn, Glackens, George Luks, and George Bellows, subsequently known as the Ashcan Circle-faced a visual culture that depicted the urban man as a diseased body under assault. Ashcan artists countered this narrative, manipulating the bodies of construction workers, tramps, entertainers, and office workers to stand in visual opposition to popular, political, and commercial cultures. They did so by repeatedly positioning white male bodies as having no cleverness, no moral authority, no style, and no particular charisma, crafting with consistency an unspectacular man. This was an attempt, both radical and deeply insidious, to make the white male body stand outside visual systems of knowledge, to resist the disciplining powers of commercial capitalism, and to simply be with no justification or rationale. Ashcan Art, Whiteness, and the Unspectacular Man maps how Ashcan artists reconfigured urban masculinity for national audiences and reimagined the possibility and privilege of the unremarkable white, male body thus shaping dialogues about modernity, gender, and race that shifted visual culture in the United States. -
book award
book award

The winner of the inaugural Sharon Harris Book Award is Associate Professor Micki McElya for her 2016 book,

The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery.

The book award committee, chaired by Professor Peter Baldwin and including Professors Natalie Munro, Chris Vials, Janet Pritchard, and Rosa Chinchilla said this about their selection:

The Sharon Harris book award honors not only the legacy of Dr. Sharon Harris, but also the legacy of the humanities in general by recognizing a book that "demonstrates scholarly depth and intellectual acuity and highlights the importance of humanities scholarship." Dr. Micki McElya’s book The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery does all of this and more. The book traces the history of Arlington National Cemetery from a plantation worked by slaves to a symbol of national honor and pride. Its finely detailed early chapters engage the social history of slavery, and the conflicting understandings of race and gender during and after the Civil War.  The story proceeds to explore the use of the cemetery as a site where ideas of nationhood, citizenship, and inclusivity were worked out in the twentieth century. Clearly written, meticulously researched, and keenly attuned to significant social contradictions, The Politics of Mourning tells a story of national importance that will engage the interest of general readers as well as scholars. Thus, it serves to remind the public of the value of humanities scholarship in American life.

Harvard’s book page: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674737242

Dr. Micki McElya was a finalist: