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Faculty Working Groups in the Humanities

Dresher Center Faculty Working Groups

Dresher Center Faculty Working Groups are collaborative, interdisciplinary communities of scholars working on humanities projects, research concerns, or matters of public interest. The Dresher Center provides support for the formation and first-year activities of these groups in an effort to promote intellectual exchange about the humanities among scholars across campus. Working groups meet regularly and may also use their funds to travel to sites or archives, host speakers, explore technologies, create new resources or materials, or other similar activities.

If you are interested in forming a Faculty Working Group, please send an email message of application (subject line “Humanities Working Group Funding Application”) to Jessica Berman, Director of the Dresher Center, and Rachel Brubaker, Assistant Director.

The message should include:

  • A description of the group’s humanities-based focus and purpose;
  • How the group will be organized, including who will participate in it and who will serve as its leader (Working Groups may include graduate students so long as they are in the minority. Graduate students cannot serve as leaders.);
  • A list of the anticipated expenses for which you are requesting funding. Groups may request up to $1,000 in annual funds, or $500 for one semester.

Deadlines for best consideration: September 30th for Fall funding, February 28th for Spring funding, and May 31st for Summer funding. The application should include the period for which funding is requested and will be used, i.e., Fall Semester/Year, Fall-Spring/Year.

Spring-Fall 2014 Faculty Working Groups

Critical Engagement: Socially-Engaged Research in the Baltimore Region

Leader: Lee Boot, Imaging Research Center

This working group will explore the potential of multi-modal digital publishing, participatory action research, and social practice in the arts and humanities to increase the positive impact of academic knowledge and research in communities local to UMBC. The group will identify UMBC initiated social engagement projects already underway, find synergy between them, and help link them together to form a broader and even more visible UMBC effort. In light of trends in public university funding, the increasingly vocational perspective on higher education represented in the media and political discourse, and the demand for universities and colleges to more tangibly help their surrounding cities and towns, this work offers a pathway to a thriving future for education and research in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

Issues in Digital Humanities: Definitions (or What Precisely Do You Mean by Digital Humanities?)

Leader: Craig Saper, Language, Literacy and Culture

Faculty in the humanities often hear the phrase digital humanities, and many already have positions pro or con. At least three somewhat encyclopedic anthologies all with the title Digital Humanities summarize what has appeared in the last decade and there are important scholarly journals with titles like Digital Humanities Quarterly or The Journal of e-Media Studies. Many scholarly organizations have strongly urged institutions to amend tenure and promotion policies to properly and fairly evaluate work in the digital humanities. Major research universities are starting centers, degree programs, institutes, and cluster hires in digital humanities. With all this activity, even those supposedly working in the digital humanities seem to be chasing a moving target with few fine-grained distinctions made among the various projects lumped together under the larger title of “DH.” This study group hopes to define digital humanities in a more systematic, nuanced, and complete way. Our activities will include speaking with leaders in the digital humanities and visiting centers of digital humanities work with the expectation that it will lead to publications among the group.

Mathematics and What it Means to be Human

Leader: Michele Osherow, English

“Mathematics and What it Means to be Human” is a faculty-designed project bringing together the departments of Theatre, Mathematics and Statistics, and English with the goal of creating a play script and performance. The project grew from a humanities course co-taught in Fall 2011 by Manil Suri, Mathematics and Statistics, and Michelle Osherow, English, which led to a conference presentation on ways in which scholars of various disciplines engage with mathematics. The presentation, which was delivered in the style of a “reader’s theatre,” has inspired further exploration of the theme, as well as the participation of Alan Kreizenbeck (Theatre), to develop and stage a theatrical work in one act. Ultimately, the piece will be performed for the campus community and beyond in disciplinary and interdisciplinary venues. The working group will ready the script for performance and consider formats for future collaborations.

Public Scholarship Discussion Group

Co-Leaders: Bev Bickel, Language, Literacy and Culture & Preminda Jacob, Visual Arts

This group of arts and humanities faculty will come together to read and discuss classic and recent theories about the term ‘public’ especially as it pertains to the notion of ‘public scholarship.’ We strongly feel the need to engage in regular, scholarly discussions with our colleagues at UMBC. In the humanities disciplines this is doubly important because humanities research is weighted toward individual rather than collaborative endeavor. Moreover, during the semester faculty time is absorbed by teaching and service so that we rarely create a space for intellectual exchanges with one another. The Public Scholarship Discussion Group will allow those of us who share research interests to carve a space in our routines for focused reading and discussion.