Anna Mae Duane

A New Director for the Humanities Institute

We are very excited to welcome Professor Anna Mae Duane as the fourth director of the UConn Humanities Institute. Her appointment as director will begin this August.

As Provost Anne D’Alleva noted in her announcement of Professor Duane’s appointment, Professor Duane was selected from a very impressive pool of candidates and “has demonstrated a commitment to and understanding of the humanities across a range of disciplines and support for the diverse voices and perspectives that constitute UCHI.”

The recipient of two UCHI fellowships, Professor Duane is deeply involved in interdisciplinary scholarship at UConn and beyond. A professor of English, Professor Duane conducts research that reaches beyond disciplinary boundaries, engaging with childhood studies, literary and critical theory, and disability studies.

Professor Duane has articulated an exciting vision for the Humanities Institute—building on the legacy created over the past twenty-one years, in large part by the leadership of current director Michael Lynch, and branching out in new directions to create an even more robust and vibrant community of humanities scholars at UConn. We can’t wait to see that vision in action.

We’d like to thank the search committee for their work, and we would also like to thank the whole Provost’s office for overseeing the search process, with special thanks to Senior Vice Provost Jeffrey Shoulson.

A Message from the New Director

Anna Mae Duane headshot

It’s a dream come true for me to lead the Humanities Institute here at UConn. As a faculty member and as a UCHI fellow, I’ve had a front row seat to the remarkable leadership of our previous Director, Michael Lynch, Director of Academic Affairs Alexis Boylan, and the rest of the UCHI team, including Yohei Igarashi, Elizabeth Della Zazzera, Nasya Al-Saidy, and Mary Volpe. Together, they have fostered an internationally recognized site of intellectual excellence that fosters cutting-edge research and collaboration. As we move forward, I am committed to building on this foundation by continuing our outreach to renowned scholars in the humanities across the globe, while expanding our efforts within the UConn community to support our faculty and students.
—Anna Mae Duane

Fellow’s Talk: Yuhan Liang on Value Conflicts in the Confucian Tradition

2022–23 UCHI Fellow's Talk. Value Conflicts, Moral Diversity & Zhi 志 in Confucian Tradition, Ph.D. Candidate, Philosophy, Yuhan Liang. with a response by Michael Lynch. March 22, 2023, 12:15pm. UCHI Conference Room. This event will also be livestreamed.

Value Conflicts, Moral Diversity & Zhi 志 in Confucian Tradition

Yuhan Liang (Ph.D. Candidate, Philosophy, UConn)

with a response by Michael Lynch (Philosophy, UConn)

Wednesday, October 19, 2022, 3:30pm, RESCHEDULED: Wednesday, March 22, 2022, 12:15pm, Humanities Institute Conference Room (HBL 4-209)

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The event will also be livestreamed with automated captioning.

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Moral diversity entails different people can legitimately adopt different practices even in similar cases. However, moral consistency requires people to treat similar cases alike (the doctrine of superveniences). I start with the problem–to what extent diverse practices are legitimate? Diverse practices entail that personal factors, like one’s value preferences, play a role in reasoning, whereas moral consistency requires different people to recognize universal values and separate personal preferences. Thus, the paper argues that taking account of personal factors will not comprise moral consistency. In this talk, I examine three views: 1) Circumstantial realtivism. Scholars (like Alan Donagan) use different circumstances to justify different judgments and thus leave no room for personal considerations. 2) Rational relativism. Rational relativists, Joesph Raz and Ruth Chang, argue that only when rational choices cannot decide the judgment in a specific situation, agents can create will-based reasons by making a commitment. Thus, they level some room for personal considerations. 3) I argue for the third position. Particular personal factors should always play a role in practical reasoning. Through reverse engineering the notion zhi 志, we can learn that zhi calls for dual correspondence. Having zhi is not merely require an intellectual response. It also calls for the cultivation of affective dispositions in everyday practices. Thus, personal considerations should always play a role in practical reasoning. But different zhi will not comprise moral consistency because it will not twist the recognization of right judgments.

Yuhan Liang is a doctoral candidate in philosophy at the University of Connecticut. Her research is interdisciplinary and involves Chinese philosophy, virtue epistemology, and moral psychology. At UCHI, she works on the dissertation “Confucian exemplars and Moral Diversity.” This dissertation aims to reconcile moral diversity and consistency via exemplarism approaches. Unlike most Anglo-American philosophies that adopt a top-down approach to studying moral questions in the frame of normative ethics and metaethics, Confucian exemplarism provides a bottom-up pragmatic approach: through reverse engineer exemplars’ everyday practices or instructions, we reconstruct the theoretical commitments based on their moral excellency.

Access note

If you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact us at or by phone (860) 486-9057. We can request ASL interpretation, computer-assisted real time transcription, and other accommodations offered by the Center for Students with Disabilities.

The Sharon Harris Award Winner and Finalists Announced

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) is proud to announce the winner and the two finalists of this year’s Sharon Harris Book Award. The Sharon Harris Annual Book Award is given for a monograph published by UConn Tenure, Tenure-Track, Emeritus, or In-Residence faculty that best demonstrates scholarly depth and intellectual acuity and highlights the importance of humanities scholarship.

This year’s winner is Kathryn Blair Moore, an Assistant Professor of Art History, for her book The Architecture of the Christian Holy Land: Reception from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

The finalists are Hassanaly Ladha, Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies, for The Architecture of Freedom: Hegel, Subjectivity, and the Postcolonial State (Bloomsbury, 2020)and Anna Mae Duane, Associate Professor of English, for Educated for Freedom: The Incredible Story of Two Fugitive Schoolboys Who Grew Up to Change a Nation (NYU Press, 2020).




Kathryn Blair Moore, The Architecture of the Christian Holy Land: Reception from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Professor Kathryn Moore’s book is a wonder of scope, methodology, and scholarly creativity that examines buildings enclosing spaces associated with the bodily presence of important religious figures as foci for real and imagined pilgrimages.  Moore employs the destruction and re-creation of architecture as a lens for viewing interchanges of cultures and religions, providing a compelling historical account that challenges current dominant narratives of age-old, intractable faith-based conflicts. Noteworthy for drawing upon both visual and material culture as well as textual sources from four continents, this monumental work advances the fields of history of art, architecture, and religion, and contributes broadly to the humanities by demonstrating the mediated nature of the experience of the architecture of the Holy Land.




Hassanaly Ladha, The Architecture of Freedom: Hegel, Subjectivity, and the Postcolonial State (Bloomsbury, 2020)

Professor Hassanaly Ladha’s groundbreaking work brings new and important insights to Hegelian philosophy. It sheds light on misunderstood areas in Hegel’s works, particularly relating to his view and presentation of Africa within the prism of his ideas on the master-slave dialectic and the political state; it is the first work to clarify the place occupied by Africa in Hegel’s understanding of the aesthetic origin of freedom, and underlines Hegel’s relevance as a modern philosopher in modern discussions on slavery and post-colonialism. Professor Ladha’s work is a remarkable reassessment of both Hegel’s major works and also neglected and misunderstood writings.

Anna Mae Duane, Educated for Freedom: The Incredible Story of Two Fugitive Schoolboys Who Grew Up to Change a Nation (NYU Press, 2020)

Professor Duane’s exquisite book tells the entwined stories of James McCune Smith and Henry Highland Garnet, two classmates at the Mulberry Street New York African Free School in the 1820s, as they become renowned public figures and leaders in the struggle for black freedom. With an innovative narrative approach and creative archival work, Duane draws from their individual journey’s fresh insights to big historical questions and concerns, shedding new light on American racial formation, childhood, and the very meanings of freedom, belonging, and realized human potential. Duane’s eminently readable work demonstrates the expansive capacities of the humanities with beautiful craft and style.

Alexis Boylan Lead Author of New Book on Feminism and Mad Max

University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) Director of Academic Affairs, Alexis Boylan, is the lead author of a new book entitled Furious Feminisms: Alternative Routes on Mad Max: Fury Road (University of Minnesota Press, 2019). The book uses the feminist credentials of George Miller’s 2015 Mad Max: Fury Road film to ask “what is possible, desirable, or damaging in theorizing feminism in the contested landscape of the twenty-first century.” The authors tackle this issue from four different disciplinary angles: art history, American literature, disability studies, and sociology. Other authors of the book are Anna Mae Duane,  associate professor of English at UConn and a UCHI Class of 2016-2017 Fellow; Michael Gill, an associate professor of disability studies in the department of Cultural Foundations of Education at Syracuse University; and Barbara Gurr, associate professor in residence in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program at UConn. 


Cover the book surrounded by the headshots of the authors: Alexis Boylan, Anna Mae Duane, Michael Gill, and Barbara Gurr