Center for the Humanities & the Public Sphere University of Florida
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
University of Florida
to the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, which is
entering its ninth year of advancing the humanities for the University
of Florida and the public sphere of north central Florida. I am honored
and excited to step into the role of Interim Director and continue
programming for scholars in the humanities and beyond. I appreciate the
strong foundation that Professor Bonnie Effros created during her
tenure at UF, and I also consider myself fortunate to work with
Associate Director Dr. Sophia Acord who advocates for the humanities at
all levels and our 2017-18 Program Coordinator Maddie Collins (an MA in
History and Museum Studies). Many of the achievements I report here are
the fruits of their labor. I am pleased to announce our continuing
programming in familiar and new formats, aimed at supporting humanities
scholarship and creating synergy among UF faculty, undergraduate and
graduate students, the Gainesville community, and the larger public.
Please visit us in 200 Walker Hall to take advantage of our programs
and resources, make use of our Bookscan Station, and introduce yourself! Feel free to share ideas for future initiatives and provide us with feedback on past events.
As the Center for the Humanities continues its programming of public lectures, made possible by the generous funding of the Rothman Endowment, our fall program begins with engaging the public and the UF community in a timely debate about the role of race in the university and its significance for public conversation rooted in humanities scholarship. We very much look forward to the visit by Alfred Brophy, the D. Paul Jones Chairholder in Law at the University of Alabama, on October 26, 2017. Dr. Brophy’s far-reaching scholarship addresses the history of law, race, and universities in the South. His presentation at UF will offer a historical perspective on the role of the university and humanities scholarship in contributing to civic debate and building the public sphere.
The Center was also able to contribute funding to faculty-driven events that will bring international speakers to campus, deepen scholarship across disciplinary divides, and engage the campus community and the public in diverse formats, including research symposia, lecture series, conferences, and keynote speakers. Topics range from public perceptions of teachers (Elizabeth Currin and Stephanie Schroeder, Education) to digital humanities in the context of globalization (Dr. Laurie Taylor, Smathers Libraries), and from ancient philosophy (Professor John Palmer, Philosophy) to celebrating Native American heritage (Professor Robin Wright, Religion). Several of these exciting academic events that take place throughout the academic year connect humanities scholarship and the arts in scholarly discussions about music in the twenty-first century (Professor Jonathan Helton, Music), art, race, and social justice (Professor Coco Fusco, Art and Art History), the Congo in text-image assemblages (Professor Nancy Rose Hunt, History and African Studies), and colonial Latin American visual culture (Leslie Tood and Macarena Deij Prado, Art and Art History).
We will also continue our grant writing series, sponsored by the Dean’s Office of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Office of Research at UF. We will present workshops and information sessions by external and internal facilitators, as well as the Center’s popular biannual fellowship and grant proposal review. Kicking off the series will be Dr. Matthew Goldfeder, the director of fellowship programs in the Office of Fellowships and Grants at the American Council of Learned Societies. Dr. Goldfeder will lead workshops on ACLS grants for graduate students and faculty members. For his visit, we will bring together reviewers and recipients of ACLS grants at UF to address questions and concerns. Dr. Goldfeder will also explore innovative directions in humanities scholarship in need of funding.
Our programming for this year will include a writing retreat for faculty and graduate students scheduled for spring intercession (May 7-11, 2018) at UF’s Austin Cary Forest. We will also celebrate the invigoration of the humanities in CLAS and beyond with an introduction to the scholarship of newly arrived faculty members in the humanities, entitled “What are They Working On?: Meet Your New Colleagues in the Humanities.”
We are also excited about our new year-long series “UF Synergies: Current Scholarship in the Humanities,” showcasing the research of the 2017 Rothman Faculty Summer Fellows, the 2017-18 Rothman Doctoral Fellows in the Humanities, and the 2017-18 Tedder Family Doctoral Fellows awards. With the help of the Rothman Endowment, the Center awarded five Rothman Faculty Summer Fellowships to Professor Shifra Armon (Spanish and Portuguese Studies), Professor Vandana Baweja (Architecture), Professor Robert Kawashima (Religion and Jewish Studies), and Professor Jorge Valdés Kroff (Spanish and Portuguese Studies).These grants support an impressive range of topics, including the representation of science in early Spanish theatre, tropical architecture in Australia, an interpretation of the Pentateuch, and the study of code-switching among bilingual speakers.
We were fortunate to award a record number of projects with Rothman Doctoral Fellowships in the Humanities to five graduate students in History and one in Religion. The projects of Alexis Baldacci, Derek Boetcher, Adrienne deNoyelles, Cacey Farnsworth, and Matthew Simmons span the globe in their attention to material culture in revolutionary Cuba, the commemorative artwork in the former British Empire, tuberculosis in early-twentieth-century New York, Baroque architecture in Portugal, and Southern farmers and the New Deal. Likewise the Center supported Prea Persaud’s (Religion) dissertation project on the creation of Caribbean Hinduism. The Center was able to award Tedder Family Doctoral Fellowships to Navid Bargrizan (Music) and Elyssa Gage (History) to advance their dissertation projects on theatrical music, and colonialism in post-revolutionary France, respectively.
But the Center is also active beyond campus enabling collaborations between faculty and community members to initiate community events and programs that reach a diverse audience. Matthew Bratko (Theatre and Dance) and Ms. Natasha Home (Elestial Sound) received funding that supported the inaugural Gainesville Underground Theatre Festival (GUTFest) in July 2017. Professor Nancy Rose Hunt (History and African Studies) and Tom Hart (Sequential Artists Workshop) are collaborating on bringing a program, entitled Graphic Sequential Art in Motion & Stirring Public Dialogues, to high school programs and students this current academic year.
On campus, the Center is pleased to announce three team-taught undergraduate courses to be offered over the academic year to enhance synergistic and interdisciplinary teaching in the humanities. Supported by the Rothman Endowment and the UF Honors Program, Professors Victoria Pagán (Classics) and Judy Page (English) are teaching “How Does Your Garden Grow,” engaging students to connect the literature of Roman and British Empires to the gardens on UF campus. In spring semester 2018, Professors Mario Poceski (Religion) and Ying Xiao (Chinese) will offer “Buddhism and Film,” which critically examines the contemporary cinematic depiction of Buddhism, while Professors Robert D’Amico (Philosophy) and Jonathan Edelmann (Religion) will co-teach “Cosmopolitan Philosophy: Western and Indian Philosophy in 20th century Oxford University,” on the academic convergence of the different philosophical traditions.
Our new publication support for academic books under contracts has subsidized the scholarly publications by three humanities scholars at UF in the last year. We are happy to see Professor Ying Xiao’s (Chinese) book China in the Mix: Cinema, Sound, and Popular Culture in the Age of Globalization in print this month! The fund also supported the forthcoming volumes by Professor Biagio Santorelli (Classics), entitled Quintiliano] Il muro con le impronte di una mano, and Professor Peter Schmidt (Anthropology), named A Complete History of the Kings of Kiziba and Historia kamili ya Kiziba na wafalme. Further still, we also continued our Library Enhancement Grant supporting access to comics studies at UF awarded to a collaborative group including the Comics and Visual Rhetoric Program in English, its Graduate Comics Organization, and ImageTexT: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies.
During the summer of 2017, the Center reprised its Humanities and the Sunshine State programs in partnership with the Florida Humanities Council, organized in collaboration with the UF Center for Precollegiate Education and Training, and with additional support from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies Research. “Florida Water Studies” taught high school students how to employ methods of humanities research—archival study, oral history, digital curation, archaeological excavation, ethical critiques, and textual interpretation—to learn collaboratively how water has shaped the past and present in Florida. “Humanities and the Sunshine State: Teaching Florida’s Climates” introduced K-12 educators across disciplines to strategies to integrate the humanities and sciences when teaching about climactic variation in Florida. Photo albums from both programs are on the Center’s Facebook page.
Our ongoing commitment to the scholarly inquiry in the humanities includes sustaining the regular meetings of the Digital Humanities Working Group (DHWG), which has over 300 members and supports UF’s Digital Humanities Graduate Certificate. We are also collaborating with the CLAS Taskforce for Humanities PhDs, which will support graduate students in the humanities with events underway.
Building on these past events and launching new initiatives, we look forward to continuing our ongoing programming and facing new challenges. We encourage all to participate actively in our events and workshops, and use our resources. Please, keep an eye out for the Center’s annual call for proposals for workshops, colloquia, library enhancement grants, faculty and doctoral fellowships, team-teaching, and public humanities programs, as well as the rolling publication subvention deadline, all supported by the Robert and Margaret Rothman Endowment for the Humanities, the Humanities Fund (which is supported by public contributions), and partnerships with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, UF Honors Program, and College of the Arts.
I look forward to meeting you throughout the year!
Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere
University of Florida
25 August 2017
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