University of Virginia, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Public Humanities Lab

We, the current core members of the Graduate Student Public Humanities Lab (GSPHL), seek graduate students or professional applicants for the positions of principal investigator (PI), who will act as equal core members of the 2017-2018 inaugural Graduate Student Public Humanities Lab, funded by the Institute of Humanities and Global Cultures (IHGC). Qualified applicants will have a desire to connect their research or professional work with public service or outreach-oriented advocacy. We see the work done through GSPHL as an invaluable opportunity to connect graduate research to the sphere of public humanities, as well as a chance to gain valuable professional experience in the field of public humanities.

Applicants should address their proposals to one of two openings:

1). A principal investigator position for one of the following working groups: Climate Change and Environment (Marine and Terrestrial); Human Rights and the Post-Human Turn; Literary and Language Worlds. Descriptions of the research aims of these working groups can be found below in the “About the Lab” section. OR

2.) A principal investigator position for the final working group, research topic to be determined by the successful applicant. Applicants for the final working group should pitch a research aim and topic, that complements the existing groups, as a part of their application.

If chosen, applicants will have the opportunity to develop and launch a public humanities project (such as a public forum, workshop, lecture series, or curricular incentive), in collaboration with their working group members. This initiative will be funded by the Lab and will take place in the fall of 2017 or the spring of 2018. Successful applicants will also open the official application process for renewing the Public Humanities Lab in the spring of 2018.

Other PI responsibilities may include acting as an officer of the Lab, assisting with promotional and logistical tasks for research and public outreach projects, et cetera.

Application Materials:

1.) If you are applying for a position as a PI in the Climate Change and Environment (Marine and Terrestrial); Human Rights and the Post-Human Turn; or Literary and Language Worlds working group, please submit the following materials:
○ A CV or resume
○ A brief personal statement expressing your interest in public humanities, with particular attention given to how your interest relates to your field/area of expertise, and your ideas for what you would hope to accomplish in the specific working group to which you are applying.

2.) If you are applying for a position as a PI for the additional, topic to-be-determined working group, please submit the following materials:
○ A CV or resume
○ A brief personal statement expressing your interest in public humanities, with particular attention given to how your interest relates to your field/area of expertise
○ A research proposal outlining the topic, scope, and aims of your working group. Applicants should consider the IHGC’s mission and goals statement for guidance.
○ Optionally, this application can be joined with another potential member proposing a related research topic. Please note that each applicant should apply separately, but note in the personal statement that the application is a joint proposal, naming the co-applicant.

We conceive of the Graduate Student Public Humanities Lab as radically interdisciplinary and capaciously interested in proposals that link graduate students across their fields of research. We welcome applicants from graduate students or professionals across UVA’s eleven schools. Please address any questions and applications to the Lab’s Corresponding Secretary, James P. Ascher, at Applications are due by April 28th, 2017 at 4:30 pm.

DeVan Ard, Bursar
James Ascher, Corresponding Secretary
Ali Glassie, Fall Program Coordinator
Samantha Wallace, Lab Director
Sarah Winstein-Hibbs, Spring Program Coordinator

About the Lab: ​The Graduate Student Public Humanities Lab is ​an interdisciplinary, graduate student-led initiative within the IHGC, which aims to develop collaboration among departments, to address specific issues in working groups dedicated to these topics, and to provide a common space for scholars and the wider community to generate lively discussion, research, and advocacy initiatives over the course of the coming year. The Public Humanities Lab will be composed of ten core members from across the University of Virginia, who constitute the five working groups, each led by two core members, or principal investigators, and each centered on one of the following interdisciplinary topics, broadly conceived: Climate Change and Environment (Marine and Terrestrial); Human Rights and the Post-Human Turn; Literary and Language Worlds; and Pre-Modern and Early Modern Global Cultures; a fifth working group, currently open for applications. ​We see the focus of the five working groups of the Lab as central to the Lab’s goal of facilitating collaborative thought across departments.

The following working groups are currently established for the 2017-2018 academic year: Climate Change and Environment (Marine and Terrestrial); Human Rights and the Post-Human Turn; Literary and Language Worlds; Pre-Modern and Early Modern Global Cultures.

1. Climate Change and Environment (Marine and Terrestrial): This working group seeks to bring together graduate students from a wide range of disciplines to discuss the bearing of environmental issues of all scales on our teaching, scholarship, and community engagement. As a fall project, we propose a public humanities forum entitled “Teaching Climate Change in Classroom and Community.” This event will bring together undergraduates, graduate students and faculty from humanities and environmental science disciplines, teachers from local schools, and guests from local environmental organizations, and the Yale Center for Climate Communication for a combined panel and practicum. We are specifically interested in the following question: how do we communicate the urgency of action on climate change and environmental issues in a manner that convinces audience who deny or are skeptical of the scientific consensus on Anthropogenic climate change?

2. Human Rights and the Post-Human Turn: This working group seeks to create collaboration among a diverse group that will both theorize the evolution of discourses surrounding human rights, state sovereignty, and organizations, both international and national, whose mission it is to defend human rights, and actively advocate for the extension of these rights. The goal of this working group is to create curricula for an undergraduate class that will incorporate research from an interdisciplinary perspective-- the literary, the legal, the journalistic, for example-- and to experiment with in-class advocacy. We ask members of the subgroup to consider the theorization of human rights as “natural” and the practice of it as linked to state sovereignty. If unlinked from state, who has the responsibility to defend human rights? If unlinked from the human, who can we acknowledge and re-conceptualize as requiring “equal dignity and rights”?

3. Literary and Language Worlds: This working group will dedicate its energy to the aesthetics, politics, and historical contexts of contemporary language worlds, both literary and linguistic. We will inquire into emergent issues of translation, the global literary marketplace, nationalist language ideologies, contemporary language death and preservation, global creoles and dialects, and local vs. global literary cultures. We ask: how do multiple languages and literary forms navigate the present through narrative, humor, and neologism? What is the contemporary social significance of literary forms - oral, written, and hybrid - and how do literary and linguistic communities stay connected across diasporas? This group is imagined as a forum to promote collaboration and dialogue between language scholars from multiple disciplines. We hope to use our collective knowledge both for our scholarly work and for public advocacy projects centered on language, such as creating oral history archives, or conducting a workshop on podcasting.

4. Pre-Modern and Early Modern Global Cultures:** retroactively applying the adjective “global” to cultures that did not consider there to be an alternative to a whole-world point-of-view continues to receive scholarly attention. Echoing J. K. W. Möhsen’s 1783 lecture, we can claim that enlightening the people has its difficulties, “but once they have been overcome, light will spread not only into the provinces, but throughout the entire land”, or we could side with Christoph Martin Wieland and see the Enlightenment as the waste-paper of an academic debate distracting us from more pressing issues of the world. But in both cases, we ask a question that would fit comfortably in the discourse on globalization using the language of the Enlightenment. Yet, even this eighteenth-century moment doesn’t mark the birth of a whole-world view. Islamicate empires that flourished from 1000 to 1400 AD could be considered the medieval global--a pre-modern global--but this overlooks that many of the features of these empires lived on into the twentieth century in the Ottoman Empire which was only abolished in 1922. Perhaps the “Enlightenment” is as late to the game as “global.” This group proposes to investigate this long history of world-wide cultural movements to better understand how they fall under, and defy, conventional concepts of global cultures.
**The Pre-Modern and Early Modern Global Cultures group is currently filled, but applicants who want to cover similar ground are invited to suggest an additional working group as above with related interests.