Center for the Humanities & the Public Sphere
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
University of Florida
The UF Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere is entering its seventh year of work in our north central Florida community! After having the privilege of serving as the Center’s Associate Director for the past five years, it is an honor to be its Acting Director for the 2015-16 year while our founding director Dr. Bonnie Effros is on a year of research leave. I am delighted to welcome back our two Center Program Coordinators, Timothy Blanton and Sarah Harms (both MA students in history). Tim is supervising the Center’s suite of events and activities, and Sarah is overseeing Center communications and design. And we are all ecstatic to welcome the Center’s first Postdoctoral Associate in the Public Humanities: Dr. Jordana Cox. Dr. Cox comes to us from Northwestern University, where she conducted a rich program of interdisciplinary scholarship on the Federal Theatre Project’s Living Newspapers, and the Jane Addams-Hull House, where she worked extensively devising and facilitating publicly-engaged humanities projects in the greater Chicago area. Please drop by our offices in 200 Walker Hall just off the Plaza of the Americas on the University of Florida campus to meet our team, learn more about our growing array of programs and resources, and use our new BookScan Station.
Our activities this year focus on the Public Sphere. As in past years, we have co-sponsored numerous events on and off campus, with conferences, performances, films, and workshops among them, all possible with the generous support of the CHPS’ Rothman Endowment and the Yavitz Fund. This year’s line-up promises to enrich the University of Florida and the North Central Florida community with academic events and cultural initiatives in the humanities and allied subjects. Last year, CHPS and Professor Michael Spranger in IFAS convened a series of interdisciplinary meetings to reflect upon the future of Cooperative Extension in Florida’s civic life. Inspired by the success of these meetings, we will be working this year to formalize our public humanities working group and resources at UF to support a range of publicly engaged and public intellectual projects in the humanities at UF and beyond.
Talking Public. This fall, we are pleased to welcome a visit by Timothy K. Eatman and Scott Peters, the Co-Directors of Imagining America, a national consortium of universities committed to civic engagement through the arts, humanities, and design. UF has been a proud member of Imagining America for several years, and this visit is an opportunity for our faculty, staff, student, and community partners in the public humanities to share, improve, and expand our engagement practice. Their visit is also a launch event for a Spring 2016 Gainesville-wide public humanities speaker series, co-organized and co-sponsored by the UF Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, Santa Fe College’s Humanities and Foreign Languages Division, the Matheson Museum, and the Alachua County Library District. We look forward to celebrating many local sites and resources for the humanities with you next spring.
Doing Public. After a very exciting inaugural year, the Center has awarded three more grants for Programs in the Public Humanities, which fund UF and community partners to collaboratively organize public humanities events with the support of the Rothman Endowment. These grants include: an exhibit to accompany the 2015 Emancipation Day/Juneteenth Celebration at the Cone Park Library by Randi Gill-Sadler (English/Samuel Proctor Oral History Program) and N’Kwanda Jah (Cultural Arts Coalition), a public symposium on Modern Architecture as Place-Making in Florida by Vandana Baweja and Martha Kohen (Architecture) and Kenneth Treister (American Institute of Architects), and a workshop on Making Art with Gainesville’s At-Risk Families by Pastor Gerard Duncan (Innovative Dads) and Ferdinand Lewis (Urban Planning). The Center’s Public Humanities grant program transforms conversations about the humanities into action by integrating the topics and methods of the humanities into the places and activities of our everyday lives.
Reading Public. The Center has awarded three grants from the Rothman Endowment to enhance the University of Florida’s Library collections. One grant was awarded to Barbara Mennel (German Studies and Film Studies) and a team of scholars across four departments to acquire DVDs by contemporary Turkish German female filmmakers. A second grant was awarded to Eleni Bozia (Classics) to acquire monographs in the digital humanities. And a third grant was awarded to Najwa Al-Tabaa (English) to acquire texts in comics and visual rhetoric. These grants enrich teaching and learning at UF with cutting-edge work from a variety of scholars, artists, and their publics.
Researching Public. With the support of the Rothman Endowment, the Center awarded six Rothman Faculty Summer Fellowships to UF faculty members to support their research initiatives, including: Donna Cohen (Architecture), Richard Kerhaghan (Anthropology), Whitney Sanford (Religion), Stephanie Smith (English), Ying Xiao (Languages, Literatures, Cultures), and Velvet Yates (Classics). The recipients of the Tedder Family and Rothman Doctoral Fellowships in the Humanities include Brandon Jett (History), Michael Vincent (Music), Rebecca Devlin (History), John Hames (Anthropology), and Alana Lord (History). These fellows’ work explore publics across a range of cultures and societies, including post-war Peru, Gandhi-inspired sustainable communities, Chinese popular culture, 19th Century Madrid music cultures, community interactions between police and African Americans in the southeastern U.S., religious communities in Northwestern Hispania, royal communities in fourteenth-century Aragon, and linguistic communities in West Africa. Please join us for brown-bag and afternoon presentations and discussions of their innovative research projects at the Center in fall 2015 and spring 2016.
Teaching Public. With the support of the Rothman Endowment and UF Honors Program, the Center is pleased to support a Spring 2016 team-taught course on Conversions, taught by Nina Caputo (History) and Robert Kawashima (Religion). The Center staff are also pleased to be working with the UF Honors Program to teach a Spring 2016 on Public Humanities to accompany its spring community speaker series. View a description of this hybrid undergraduate/graduate course here. Finally, please take this opportunity to view the photo album from UF’s first summer seminar in the humanities, “Humanities and the Sunshine State: Exploring Florida’s Past, Present, and Future” (June 14-19, 2015), funded by a grant from the Florida Humanities Council (made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities), the UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the Center’s Rothman Endowment. Working in partnership with the UF Center for Precollegiate Education and Training, this program brought 24 rising high school juniors and seniors to UF for a one week residential program exploring how contemporary humanities research helps us to solve Florida’s most pressing issues, such as water conservation, food sustainability, and race relations.
Writing/Coding Public. With renewed support from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Office of Research, the Center continues with a fifth year of grant-writing events in the humanities and single-blind humanities fellowship and grant proposal reviews. These include workshops each semester on grant-writing for graduate students and faculty in the humanities. This year’s workshops will shed light on important humanities funding agencies and their application processes, including the Fulbright Foundation, the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), and the Ford Foundation. We will also host a spring 2016 multi-stage workshop led by the University Writing Program on “How to Think Like a Reviewer”, to teach graduate students about the ‘backstage’ of the grant review process. Finally, Sean Trainor will lead an in-depth workshop on how humanities scholars can learn to pitch their work, draw links between humanities scholarship and contemporary issues, and write for public outlets and audiences. Please note that we continue to update our website with information about UF support for grant-writing and internal and external grant opportunities in the humanities, public humanities, and digital humanities for faculty and graduate students. And the Digital Humanities Working Group (DHWG), convened by Sophia Krzys Acord, the Center’s Associate Director, Laurie Taylor, Digital Humanities Librarian at UF’s George A. Smathers Libraries, and Dhanashree Thorat, Doctoral student in English, continues to meet on a monthly basis. This year’s DHWG meet-ups introduce exciting new UF resources in the digital humanities, such as the new Digital Humanities Graduate Certificate.
Be Public. I hope that if you are a part of the UF community, you will keep an eye out for the Center’s annual call for proposals for workshops, colloquia, library enhancement grants, summer fellowships, team-teaching, and programs in the public humanities grants, all supported by the Robert and Margaret Rothman Endowment for the Humanities, the Yulee Fund, and the Humanities Fund (which is supported by public contributions). We are particularly excited to launch a new Publication Subvention grant program to support faculty in making their scholarship more widely available through university press platforms. Please sign up for our weekly Humanities Agenda e-newsletter and share your suggestions and ideas by writing to humanities-center at ufl.edu.
Thank you for joining us for another exciting year. If you’ve been thinking about collaborating with us and never taken the step, make this the year to do so! Please drop us a line or visit the Center. We look forward to hearing from you.
Sophia Krzys Acord, Ph.D.
Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere
University of Florida
20 August 2015
Center for the Humanities
and the Public Sphere
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
200 Walker Hall
P.O. Box 118030
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611