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Simpson Center for the Humanities

Mellon Summer Fellows for Public Projects in the Humanities

Mellon Fellows for Public Projects in the Humanities are University of Washington doctoral students who have participated in Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics (2015-2019) or the subsequent iteration of the program, Catalyzing Collaboration (2019-2021). Mellon Summer Fellows for Public Projects in the Humanities receive support for scholarly projects that collaborate with or otherwise meaningfully engage public audiences. Beginning in the summer of 2020, the fellowships will be awarded to two-person teams of students working on collaborative projects in the core humanities disciplines of English, History, and Philosophy.

Projects in public scholarship are wide-ranging in form and can involve members of the community from diverse locations beyond the university campus. Examples of such project-based work include the development of college curriculum for prison education programs; public-facing digital installations of historical research; and museum exhibits. 

2021 Fellows

Alec Fisher and Alexandra Meany (English)

Creative Commons in the Crisis of the “Prison Fix”: Thinking New Publics Across Incarcerated and Unhoused Communities

Alec Fisher and Alexandra Meany’s project is a community-led, digital creative commons that responds to the linked crises of mass housing insecurity and mass incarceration in Washington. Our public, abolitionist archive aims to speak back to emerging discourses that connect the unhoused community to an “increase in crime” in order to ultimately argue for their removal through policing and prison expansion. Central to this project is honoring existing relationalities while also inviting opportunities for community-making between unhoused and incarcerated groups, which are often understood separately by non-profit service providers and community organizers. In collaborating with community partners which have largely addressed homelessness and imprisonment as separate issues, we hope to produce new knowledge about the inter-connections of state violence. It is our hope that our project expands and bolsters abolitionist imaginaries against containment and rhetorics of disposability.

Anna Bates and Paul Tubig (Philosophy)

Fostering Respect across Publics: A Documentary on the Community of Philosophical Inquiry at the Washington Correctional Center for Women

Anna Bates and Paul Tubig’s project seeks to explore the question: what is the meaning of respect in a diverse community of philosophical inquiry and how can it be fostered across publics? This exploration will build on previous work of creating open, critical spaces for philosophical engagement between incarcerated students and non-incarcerated students. The project aims to produce three artifacts: (1) a documentary of incarcerated students’ experiences in the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl as well as a mixed enrollment summer seminar course; (2) a workshop on the meaning and practice of respect in a mixed community of critical inquiry; and (3) a multimedia report on student perspectives.

Anna Nguyen and Madison Heslop (History)

Intersections: Mapping the History of Asian Migration onto Coast Salish Lands

Anna Nguyen and Madison Heslop’s project is a publicly accessible digital map, hosted online via UW Libraries, that charts the conditions of Asian migration onto Coast Salish homelands and analyzes the intersections between Indigenous and Asian American histories in Seattle and the central Puget Sound area. Following Indigenous feminist methods, the map will combat dislocations—a motif shared by both Indigenous and Asian American communities—by mapping connections between places and peoples, and between peoples and cultures. After a relevant site has been identified and investigated, its original spatial context will be located on a digital interactive map, where the stores and place can be tied together. The purpose of the project is not only to address the problematic history of Asian migration and settlement onto Coast Salish lands, but also to reveal potential points of solidarity between Native peoples and Asian Americans in the past, present, and future. To that end, “Intersections'' will involve community partnerships to identify significant places and stories, raise the profile of underrepresented local histories, and to incorporate educational workshops into the research process so that community members can be empowered to pursue their own projects in the future.

2020 Fellows

BrittNEY Frantece and Nanya Jhingran (English)

Manifesting the Ecstatic

BrittNEY Frantece and Nanya Jhingran’s project is a collaborative workshop series and zine developed together with Seattle’s black, brown, and indigenous spiritual community members. This project opens a community storytelling space to discuss and teach the ways in which different magickal and spiritual practices are also means of anti-capitalist, anti-colonial resistance. Central to this project is the creation of a zine that pursues world-building and community-making by inviting the participation of self-identified, faith-based practitioners whose traditions are rooted in their ancestral practices. This project aims to elevate everyday, abstractionist, and ecstatic practices of conjuring graceful futures that create relational spaces of pleasure and celebration in Seattle’s black, brown, and indigenous communities.

Alika Bourgette and Frances O’Shaughnessy (History)

An Interactive Detour of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (1909)

Alika Bourgette and Frances O’Shaughnessy’s project will provide an interactive detour and accompanying exhibit of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (1909). Hosted at the present site of the University of Washington, the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition placed colonized peoples on display in a public spectacle of agriculture, industry, and development. Through an online podcast and exhibit of the Exposition, this collaborative project seeks to reframe the Exposition as a performance of carcerality. By considering how colonized peoples on display viewed the viewer, the interactive detour hopes to engage participants in disembodiments from proprietary, alienating relations under the US Empire, so that ancestors and descendants may perform re-embodiments of loving and caring relations in a different world. 

Paul Tubig and Anna Bates (Philosophy)

Philosophy Behind/Beyond Bars: Exploring the Intersection between Philosophy and Prisons

Paul Tubig and Anna Bates’s project seeks to engage the relationship between philosophy and prisons. Prisons have a significant role in the history of philosophy—both as a context from which philosophers, as incarcerated subjects, have critically examined important philosophical questions, and as an object of philosophical inquiry. This project aims to design and facilitate a collaborative seminar series and culminating symposium that critically engages with philosophical work related to carceral systems and incarcerated persons. The participants will include both students at Washington Correctional Center for Women and students at the University of Washington. The project aims to trouble the traditional understanding of a humanities classroom, while destigmatizing incarcerated persons by recognizing them as equal contributors to philosophical discourse. It also aims to expand the study of philosophy to marginalized communities who are uniquely positioned to contribute to philosophical discourse.

2019 Fellows

Erin Gilbert (Comparative Literature, Cinema, and Media)

Forage Narratives: Nature Walks and Knowledge Co-production

This project aims to create nature walks in public spaces—public parks, museum grounds, city streets—guided by teams of community members who will draw participants’ attention to particular plants and discuss some different names, uses, memories, or ways of knowing those particular plants. The walks will include writing sessions that will invite participants to record their own ways of knowing the plants they encountered.

C. R. Grimmer (English)

The Poetry Vlog

The Poetry Vlog is a YouTube channel and podcast dedicated to making poetry, critical race/gender/sexuality theory, and cultural analysis more collaborative. Through social media platforms, it enables free, multi-modal publication supportive of public-facing and social justice scholarship. Episodes feature poetry and popular culture media enabling queer and anti-racist “world building.” As coalitional community work, episodes feature weekly guests, from students in classrooms, to social justice community stakeholders, to established poets, scholars, and community organizers.

Jessica Holmes (English)

Public Activism in the Humanities

This seminar examines the relationship between activism and scholarship by exploring the history of public activism, the different genres and forms of activism, the deployment of social media in today’s climate, the methods of tracking public outreach and mobilization, and the types of texts that lay the groundwork for and emerge from activism. Emphasis will be placed on current environmental activism, but the seminar will seek to engage and compare a variety of social movements including human rights, Black Lives Matter, indigenous peoples’ rights, disability rights, #MeToo, Occupy Wall Street and animal rights.

Meshell Sturgis (Communications)

Drawing Girls Together: An AutobioGRAPHICal Anthology

This project draws together, as in: cultivates a cross-network community of artists and fashions individual comic-like figures into a collective book. An autobiomythoGRAPHIC blends the contradictory conceptions and senses of self that surface through autobiographic narratives with the visual self-making practices of fabulation and cultural myth. Taking both blackness and comix as objects of knowledge, the project seeks to unveil much about the materiality and imagination of being in this current moment. Phases of the research include crafting a curriculum for interrogating identity and comics together, implementing this curriculum across multiple sites, producing an ethnographic text that captures the community and research processes and outcomes, and collaboratively processing the results of such creative experimentation for future exploration.

2018 Fellows

Matthew Howard (English)

Red-Lining and the Green Book: Space and Mobility in Seattle

This documentary and adjoining paper come at a time when Seattle is undergoing immense changes that will alter the dispersal of people of color for decades to come. Due to our current struggles with gentrification, I posit that we as a city should better understand why communities shape the spaces they inhabit, and vice versa. It is critical to know the history of both those spaces and communities. My project historicizes racial segregation in Seattle through an analysis of space, mobility, and access for people of color. The documentary will analyze Seattle’s safe locales from the Negro Motorist Green Book, a travel guide for people of color, alongside former redlining policies in Seattle’s neighborhoods. If we don’t understand why restricted physical mobility and access have crippling effects on the social mobility of people heretofore associated with those spaces (the Central District and International District in particular), we are bound to erase their (his)stories, which makes it all the easier to claim space for fleeting economic growth.

Angela Durán Real (Spanish & Portuguese) and Alan-Michael Weatherford (Comparative Literature, Media, & Cinema Studies)

Heritage Language Teaching and Learning Beyond Bars

This project will develop a co-taught heritage-learner and pedagogical methods course through participatory and horizontal modes of civic engagement. The impetus behind such a course stems from a research question: How can we utilize and collaborate with the knowledge that incarcerated communities already produce to create the necessary structures that make college education in prison sustainable? By collaboratively working with the Hispanic population inside the Monroe Correctional Complex, this project facilitates understanding of how to build communities of learning inside the prison in ways that make them sustainable and perhaps even self-sustaining.

Joe Concannon (English)

Under a Bright Gray Sky: A Seattle Poetry Curriculum

Seattle's history contains more than its fair share of poetry, and area high school teachers may want to teach Seattle poetry units and not know where to start. This curriculum development and oral history project first puts me in archives at Seattle Public Schools and the University of Washington, as well as in interviews with locals of interest to poetry. Working with English teachers, I will produce and distribute curricular resources akin to those widely available for teaching the place-based poetry of Harlem and Boston.

2017 Fellows

Julian Barr (Geography)

The Original Seattle Gayborhood: A Public Historical Walking Tour of Seattle’s Lesbian & Gay Past

In summer 2016, I worked to update a walking tour on the queer history of Seattle’s Pioneer Square, a tour originally created by the Northwest Lesbian and Gay History Museum Project in the late 1990s. I realized that queer history of Pioneer Square is still incomplete—especially our understanding of how race, class, and gender affected the area. With this project, I provide additional archival research, expand the tour knowledge, and digitize the tour, making it publicly available.

Monica Cortés Viharo (Drama)

Tacoma Civil Rights Performance Walk

Inspired by the history of the NAACP and the civil rights movement in Tacoma, Washington, this project proposes a performance walk—an interactive and site-specific tour of historic locations—that incorporates oral histories (written, recorded, or performed), followed by panel discussions or workshops. The performance walk will premier at the Race and Pedagogy Conference at the University of Puget Sound in Fall 2018. This project also commemorates the tenth anniversary of the Tacoma Civil Rights Project (a 2008 exhibition at the Washington State History Museum) and a documentary film by Stanley Lee, Tacoma's Civil Rights Struggle - African Americans Leading the Way, while expanding upon those works.

Lauren Drakopulos (Geography)

See Shanties: Carto-visual Narrative in Public Science

This is a collaborative story-mapping project done in partnership with the Washington Sea Grant. It is motivated by the following questions: 1) What can carto-visual narrative (storytelling through mapping) offer as a storytelling device in public science? 2) What stories are told by conservation organizations and how are they accountable to place? The digital map will be a public facing product depicting the Sea Grant’s marine outreach programs throughout the state while also telling the story of the environmental concerns those program seek to address. I will also conduct a discourse-analysis on the map content to understand how narratives in science communications are formed and how they produce social understanding of environmental issues.

P. Joshua Griffin (Anthropology)

The Kivalina Archive: Applying the Climate Humanities Across Multiple Publics

My dissertation is a critical, engaged ethnography of climate-change displacement and contemporary indigenous politics in the context of an intergenerational struggle for environmental justice, self-determination, and a future in Kivalina—a 460-person Iñupiaq community on a tiny island along the Northwest Coast of Alaska, 85 miles above the Arctic Circle. This project will lead to the production of multimedia archival content of scholarly, popular, and applied interests for a diversity of publics, both within Kivalina and around the world, including environmental humanists, social scientists, climate adaptation planners, policymakers, social movements, and other frontline communities responding to the impacts of climate change.

2016 Fellows

Tyler Babbie (English)

A Year along the Color Line

A digital public project extending Mapping American Social Movements, this project aims to create an immersive experience of W.E.B. DuBois's The Crisis using maps and subscription-based media.

Jessica Bachman (History)

Beyond the Cold War: The Afterlife of Indo-Soviet Literary Exchange

The 1950s and 1960s are widely recognized as decades of escalating political tensions and restricted cultural exchange between the Soviet Union and the United States. But this was also a time of extraordinary cultural exchange between the USSR and countries of Africa, Latin America, South and Southeast Asia. This exhibition, oral history project, and symposium explore the history of Indo-Soviet literary exchange between the mid 1920s and late 1980s. Enabling members of King County’s diverse South Asian and ex-Soviet diasporic communities to share their stories with a wider community of residents and students, this project contributes to the decentering of Cold War cultural history away from the West and toward the global south.

Key MacFarlane (Geography)

Making Space Audible: Participatory Noise Mapping in Seattle

This project seeks to create a digital sound map of the Seattle region. The aim is to capture the voices and stories of a group of individuals often silenced in the Seattle soundscape: immigrants and refugees. Working with advocacy groups in the area, I will interview migrants, asking them to narrate their experiences settling in Seattle and to discuss their thoughts on local noise pollution. These interviews will be edited and uploaded to a digital and interactive map. These sounds will be contrasted with the noises of free-flowing commerce and trade, which I will record and upload. The juxtaposition is intended to make "audible" to the public the issues migrants and refugees face and how they are excluded, barred, and silenced in space.    

Janice Moskalik (Philosophy)

Connecting Communities through Public Philosophy: Offering Philosophy for Children Courses in Seattle Colleges

Philosophy is usually thought to be extremely difficult and so best studied within the academy; philosophy for children defies that assumption, bringing philosophy to a most unexpected new public. I aim to expand access to philosophy by connecting the UW Center for Philosophy for Children, Seattle community colleges and their students, and K-12 students through philosophy for children, thereby demonstrating both philosophy’s value and its contributions to making and expressing meaning in our lives.