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

Three New IHGC Working Groups

The Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures is excited to support three working groups from 2022 to Fall 2023: the Environmental Humanities (EH) working group, Global Histories and Transgender Studies in the Humanities, and a multi-disciplinary and multi-school group to understand listening on individual, interpersonal, and systemic levels.

Organized by Enrico Cesaretti (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese), Adrienne Ghaly (English), Mary Kuhn (English), and Brian Teare (English), the Environmental Humanities (EH) Working Group builds upon and expands into other disciplinary perspectives the spring 2022 EH speaker series, “EH at Scale,” organized by Mary Kuhn, Adrienne Ghaly and Brian Teare in the English Department. EH at Scale was a series of one-hour virtual conversations exploring new approaches to scalar thinking in literary studies, creative writing, and activism for the climate crisis. This working group envisions the same format but broadening the scope of conversations to explore the most exciting Anthropocene scalar thinking across the humanities. Bringing together writers, scholars, and practitioners working in different fields, the EH Working Group ask how paradigms of scale -- local, regional, hemispheric, or global -- play out in approaches to the most pressing conceptual, practical, and ethical issues of our time. These conversations’ interdisciplinarity addresses the urgent need for environmental thinkers to dialogue with and across differing approaches to questions of scale, and model novel ways to think about challenging shifts in scale that characterize Anthropocene thinking in the “interdisciplinary matrix” (Heise 2017) of the Environmental Humanities. To the existing Spring 2022 topics of Plant Diaspora, Water Justice, Climate Migration, and Genders for the Anthropocene, the group will add two to four new topics from the following list gathered from Working Group colleagues: Waste/Toxicity, Alternative Phenomenologies for the Anthropocene, Climate Affect, and Indigenous Ecologies. 

Convened by David J. Getsy (Eleanor Shea Professor of Art History) and Cole Rizki (Assistant Professor of Spanish), Global Histories and Transgender Studies in the Humanities will have two main foci: first, to discuss the role of global history within transgender studies and, second, to encourage development of curricular and research activities in transgender studies at the University of Virginia. The working group will engage in research exchanges among members and develop public-facing programs in Spring 2023 to incite interdepartmental and interdisciplinary conversations. Focusing on historical case studies and methodologies, the working group aims to develop an interdisciplinary conversation about the place of transgender studies at the University of Virginia, about how it relates to—and is distinct from—other disciplinary formations (such as queer studies), and to encourage cross-departmental collaboration on historical topics and curricula. 

A final working group, convened by Fred Maus (Music), Noel Lobley (Music), Willis Jenkins (Religious Studies), Kirsten Gelsdorf (Public Policy), and Karolyn Kinane (Contemplative Sciences), will form a multi-disciplinary and multi-school group to share theories and practices of listening from various academic disciplines and personal experiences to understand the transformative power of listening on individual, interpersonal, and systemic levels. Efforts to build dialogue across differences such as in race, ethnicity, religion, and political ideology rely on the capacity of people to listen. Seldom however is listening made the topic of classrooms or larger university initiatives, where the focus is on speech. But as listening scholars aver, speech means little if people do not bring the skills and attitudes to relate and listen in ways that allow for exchange and the possibility to be changed by an encounter. Not merely a passive act of receiving information, listening can be an active practice of examining, understanding, transforming, and being transformed by our relationships and environments.