Must the humanities be "relevant"? To what, or to whom? How have perspectives on these questions evolved since the heated debates of the 1960s and 1970s? Can research be "irrelevant," and if so, can it still be worth pursuing? Or, on the other hand, is all research in the humanities in some way relevant? Our six panelists will each speak for five minutes about the notion of relevance as it relates to their research and teaching, after which an hour will be devoted to general discussion.
All audience members are encouraged to propose approaches to this subject, and to reflect on their own experiences. Please feel free to bring up issues of “relevance” that you have faced in your own research and teaching.
Cindy I-Fen Cheng, Professor, History, UW-Madison (IRH Resident Faculty Fellow)
Ramzi Fawaz, Professor, English, UW-Madison (IRH Resident Faculty Fellow)
Stephen Kantrowitz, Professor, History, UW-Madison (IRH Senior Fellow)
Larry Shapiro, Professor, Philosophy, UW-Madison (IRH Senior Fellow)
Mali Skotheim, Research Associate, Classics, The Warburg Institute (IRH Solmsen Fellow)
Melissa Vise, Visiting Assistant Professor, Italian Studies, New York University (IRH Solmsen Fellow)
Refreshments will be available at 3:15 PM
Panelists are invited to reflect on the following questions; please come and share your ideas and memories on these as well:
How might your discipline or interdisciplinary research area contribute to the future direction of the Humanities? How has your discipline’s relationship to the Humanities changed over the last ten years? How has the Institute for Research in the Humanities enhanced your scholarly work or your understanding of your discipline? Do you have an IRH “ah-ha” or “eureka” moment to share? What role to you see for the IRH in the future of the Humanities?
Moderator: Steven Nadler, Philosophy
Tejumola Olaniyan, English and African Languages and Literatures
Cindy I-Fen Cheng, History and Asian American Studies
Laurie Beth Clark, Art
Alex Dressler, Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies
Michael Titelbaum, Philosophy
Following the panel, we invite all attendees to take up these questions at their tables with discussion facilitators:
Jonathan Pollock (Honorary Fellow, Madison College), Robert Wolensky (UW System Fellow, UW-Stevens Point), Max Harris (Honorary Fellow, IRH), Tina Chronopoulos (Solmsen Fellow, SUNY Binghamton), Jennifer Row, (Solmsen Fellow, Boston University), Nevine El-Nossery (Resident Fellow, UW-Madison) and Andrew Zolides (Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellow, UW-Madison).
Closing remarks: Associate Dean Sue Zaeske, College of Letters and Science
PLEASE NOTE: this workshop is open to graduate students, faculty, and academic staff. Registration is required: email@example.com. The reservation deadline is 12:00pm on Wednesday, October 5.
Join us for a discussion of the state of academic publishing in the humanities and the process of working with a university press—from project to proposal to publication. The workshop will include a presentation from Ken Wissoker (Duke University Press and CUNY), who will talk about writing first and subsequent scholarly books at a time of significant changes in the academy, in publishing, and in the ways ideas circulate. Moderated by Susan Stanford Friedman.
Sponsored by the UW-Madison Institute for Research in the Humanities and Center for the Humanities. Space is limited. Registration is required. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ken Wissoker is the Editorial Director of Duke University Press, acquiring books in anthropology, cultural studies and social theory; globalization and post-colonial theory; Asian, African, and American studies; music, film and television; race, gender and sexuality; science studies; and other areas in the humanities, social sciences, media, and the arts. He joined the Press as an Acquisitions Editor in 1991; became Editor-in-Chief in 1997; and was named Editorial Director in 2005. In 2014, in addition to his duties at the Press, he became Director of Intellectual Publics at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. He has published more than 900 books which have won over 100 prizes, and has contributed to the Cinema Journal, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Prof. Hacker.
Moderated by Susan Stanford Friedman, Director of the Institute for Research in the Humanities, Hilldale Professor in the Humanities, and Virginia Woolf Professor of English and Gender & Women’s Studies at UW-Madison. Her most recent book is Planetary Modernisms: Provocations on Modernity Across Time from Columbia University Press in August 2015.
What are the meanings of “agency” in various disciplines and interdisciplines of the humanities? To what extent is it theorized or assumed? Does agency mean the freedom to act? To think? To feel? Is agency individual or collective? Does agency imply autonomy? How does agency relate to structure? Institutions? Oppression? Political Activism? Subjectivity? Identity? Emotion? Morality? Religion? How does agency relate to victims, torture, human rights? Is agency inherent in all forms of creativity? Is agency exclusively “human”? Do (non-human) animals have agency? Plants? Microbes? Do machines have agency? (Remember, “Open the pod door, Hal,” from 2001!)?
“Agency” means something quite different across cultures, including the different academic cultures of the humanities and interpretative social sciences. Agency is also often hotly debated in such fields as feminist theory, race theory, and poststructuralist theory. Is “agency” a product of Enlightenment thought, a keystone of “liberalism”? Or do different cultures and times produce varying notions of individual and/or communal agency? Within the framework of a Foucauldian discourse theory, agency appears as a fiction; within the framework of social movement theory, agency is foundational for change. How do we negotiate the different meanings of agency in our fields and disciplines?
Ask yourself: in your own research, do you assume some form of agency to be at work in what you study? If so, what do you mean by it? Panelists will make short presentations (6-7 minutes) on the meaning(s) of agency in their research for one hour. We will then have one hour of general discussion, so please bring your ideas about agency (especially in relation to your own work) to share with others.
Refreshments available by 2:45 PM.
Join us for a discussion of the state of academic publishing in the humanities and the process of working with a university press--from project to proposal to publication. The workshop will include brief presentations from Eric Zinner (NYU Press) and UW-Madison faculty members Ron Radano and Pernille Ipsen. Moderated by Susan Stanford Friedman.
Refreshments available by 2:45pm.
Space is limited. Please RSVP to email@example.com.
Sponsored by the UW Institute for Research in the Humanities and Center for the Humanities. With support from the Scholarly Publishing Series, sponsored by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education, the Graduate School, UW-Madison Libraries, and the Office of the Provost.
"Humanities by the Numbers" was the theme for the annual conference of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes, hosted by the Center for the Humanities in Madison in June. The status of "numbers" in humanities research sparked sharp debate—some attacking the loss of nuance and individualized specificity or uniqueness; some suggesting that numbers and counting invisibly undergird analysis that appears singular; others promoting the promise of the digital and 'big Data'; and still others probing the very concept, status, and deployment of numbers in human experience as well as humanities research.
The question of 'what counts as evidence in humanities research' broadens the issue beyond numbers per se. But some of the same debates apply, particularly as we move across the varied disciplines and interdisciplines that make up the humanities and as the humanities works collaboratively with the social sciences, sciences, and arts.
Panel Presentations (1 hour) and Open Discussion (1 hour)