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Simpson Center for the Humanities

Mellon Summer Fellows for New Graduate Seminars in the Humanities

Mellon Fellows for New Graduate Seminars in the Humanities are University of Washington faculty who have participated in Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics (2015-2019) or the subsequent iteration of the initiative, Catalyzing Collaboration (2019-2021). Mellon Summer Fellows for New Graduate Seminars in the Humanities receive support to develop graduate-level seminars with a significant focus on the practice of public scholarship. Beginning in the summer of 2020, the fellowships will be awarded to two-person teams of faculty working on resonating seminars in the core humanities disciplines of English, History, and Philosophy.

The graduate seminars take many forms, but they all introduce students to approaches in public scholarship and the work of collaboration.

2019 Fellows

Jason Groves (Germanics)

Public Environmental Humanities

In addition to surveying how public engagement is becoming an increasingly prominent aspect of teaching, research, and publication within the environmental humanities, this seminar invites and assists students to connect their research to publics and counterpublics through collaborations with artists, scientists, activists, cultural institutions, and community organizations within and beyond the Salish Sea region.

Christine Harold (Communication)

Featuring Capitalism: A Rhetorical History of American Capitalism in Film

This seminar explores the ways in which capitalism, a dominant rhetorical discourse in the U.S., has been both perpetuated and challenged capitalism throughout the history of Hollywood film. Each week, students will screen a film and read critical theories of capitalism from its era. We will position both film and theory as rhetorical artifacts, cultural symptoms that can tell us something about a particular moment in the evolution of American capitalism and the often uneasy relationships between rhetoric, representation, democracy, community, consumerism, and labor.  The seminar will culminate in a student-led film and discussion series and a curriculum website freely available for educators.

Candice Rai (English)

Rhetoric and Urban Justice

This course is conceived as a community-engaged and action-oriented public rhetoric, research, and writing seminar focused on issues of urban equity and justice. The course engages the City of Seattle’s Race & Social Justice and Equity & Environment Initiatives through partnerships with local organizations who work within these initiatives on various interrelated issues, such as housing and affordability, urban environmental justice, education, and food security and transportation in Seattle.

2018 Fellows

Richard Watts (French & Italian)

Translation and Its Publics

In the summer of 2018, Rich Watts will be developing a graduate seminar entitled “Translation and Its Publics.” The course is a multilingual, cross-departmental graduate seminar that emerged in response to two primary objectives: 1) to increase collaboration across modern language department PhD programs; and 2) to reposition translation as public practice, given that translation can both expand publics laterally and, conversely, delimit the terms and modes of public discourse (as in imperial and nation-building projects). In highlighting the “public” dimension of translation, this seminar provides students with theoretical grounding and applied practice in translation while also creating authentic opportunities for “public translation” assistance for low-income individuals and/or community organizations through a “public translation collective,” the public-facing outcome of the seminar.

Amanda Doxtater (Scandinavian Studies)

Cinema and the Public Institution

This new graduate seminar will introduce students to methods and practices in public scholarship by first considering the national film institutes in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland as models for public humanities. Drawing from their own particular expertise in cinema, students will then work collectively to curate an international film series titled, Going Public: Cinema and the Museum for Seattle’s new Nordic Museum in Ballard, opening in May 2018. The course, along with its resulting programming, will combine local and international cinema cultures to encourage new cinema publics in the institutional space of the museum.

Yomi Braester (Comparative Literature, Cinema & Media)

Scholars as Partners and Leaders in Cinephile Communities

This seminar will give students hands-on experience in curating festivals, film series, archives, and collections. Such interchange stands not only to integrate theoretical scholarship in the daily fabric of film-going communities but also to allow for cinephile activism. Students will understand the politics of curating, by working with academic programs, private-sectors sponsors, and governmental foundations, in the US as well as emerging hubs of international festivals and film archives.

2017 Fellows

Carmen Gonzalez (Communication)

Community-Based Research Methods

This re-designed course on community-based research methods identifies ways to broker relationships between community leaders and graduate students to forge collaborative partnerships. This course examines various models of community-based research with a focus on the methodological frameworks that guide such work. Students review and critically analyze research projects that involve partnerships with non-profits, foundations, and other community organizations.

Stephen Groening (Comparative Literature, Cinema & Media)

Public Spheres, Public Media: Activism, Community, Networks

This new graduate seminar for the PhD Certificate in Cinema & Media Studies takes one of the most influential ideas in media studies, cultural studies, and political philosophy—the public sphere—and examines how it might help us understand new ways of engaging publics and creating community via new media forms. Students will use digital media tools and platforms to present their research and scholarship to non-academic publics.

Regina Yung Lee (Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies)

Feminist New Media Studies

This graduate seminar introduces students to methods and practices in public scholarship through a collective online curatorial project for digital objects and their patterns of dispersal. The course reimagines the PhD as a program of study and engagement for the purposes of knowledge creation along intersectional feminist lines of thought, providing both theoretical frameworks and practical applications for scholarly work as it relates to populist developments in online information processing and circulation.

2016 Fellows

María Elena Garcia (Comparative History of Ideas) and Louisa Mackenzie (French & Italian Studies)

The Animals Are Coming

This project proposes a team-taught graduate seminar in Intersectional Animal Studies to build from and model trans-departmental, intersectional, and public scholarship in the humanities. A co-taught seminar can provide a fulcrum for interdisciplinary conversations and approaches from which students, faculty, and the public alike can learn. We find that a powerful way to reimagine the humanities PhD is to explore the ways in which the humanities have moved beyond the constraints of the human.

Gillian Harkins (English)

Law and Literature Public Scholarship Course

This proposed English Department graduate course promotes public scholarship as both outcome and domain of inquiry. This course asks how humanities research engages various “publics” and how that engagement can be made legible beyond the university. The specific focus of the class will be on “Law and Literature,” an interdisciplinary humanities field engaging in methods of reading and analysis forged between legal and literary studies.

Leigh Mercer (Spanish & Portuguese Studies)

Spanish Film Programming and the Film Festival Phenomenon

Faculty in area-studies departments are increasingly asked to organize film series, design exhibits, and assist in the administration of archives, and yet PhD programs in literary and cultural studies departments rarely prepare graduate students for such endeavors. Film festivals in particular offer scholars an opportunity to connect with broader audiences, and this course seeks to train graduate students in the critical implications of festival organization. Students will gain both practical curatorial experience and a greater historical understanding of the film festival as a phenomenon while also examining what it means to translate their area studies expertise for new publics.