2012-2013 Faculty Research Seminars

Varieties of Public Humanities

Co-directors: Michael McNally, Professor of Religion
and Serena Zabin, Associate Professor of History

How can the humanities effectively contribute to public discourse on social and political issues, as well as to the larger world of academe? Can humanities scholars remain honest to the complexity that characterizes scholarship in the cultural disciplines while navigating the push for simplicity that comes from outreach to a broader audience? What is the relationship between work that explicitly serves a particular constituency and work that indirectly informs the cultural milieu and language that shape public debate? How can we, from within the academy, contribute to a “living intellectual world,” in Simone de Beauvoir’s evocative phrase?

This seminar aims to expand the definition of the public humanities as it supports discrete research projects by Carleton faculty members engaged in humanistic research in any academic discipline. It assumes that all arts and humanities scholarship lies somewhere on a continuum between the “pure” and the “applied,” and that scholarship all along that spectrum can contribute to important conversations with a variety of audiences. In an era of shrinking financial and cultural support to the humanities, we can all benefit by making the case for our work beyond our immediate fields of study.

Faculty Fellows

Michael McNally, Co-Director, Religion, “Native American claims to cultural and land rights as a model of humanistic writing and research in the public humanities:  How can humanists explain to lawyers, policy-makers, and environmental scientists, the value that humanities questions and sensibilities can bring to their shared endeavors?”

Serena Zabin, History, Co-Director, History, “The dissemination of academic work to a non-academic audience: How scholars whose projects appear purely academic might find compelling and thoughtful means to share the significance of their work with those outside of the academic guild.”

Nancy Cho, English, “For Colored Girls and Who Else?: Reading Theater as a Site of Cultural Transformation.”

Kelly Connole, Studio Art, “Investigating relationships within environments: Natural and constructed, human and animal.”

Adrienne Falcón, Academic Civic Engagement, SOAN – Comparing Practices of Community Organizing and Ethnography as Public Scholarship.”

Andrew Flory, Music, “Reissuing Marvin: Trouble Man and Public Musicology.”

Éva Pósfay, French and Francophone Studies, “Spanning the Globe: Cultural Belonging and the Power of Language(s).”