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Faculty Working Groups in the Humanities

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 and support research activities in 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.

New and Continuing Faculty Working Groups welcome new members. If you are interested in joining a group, please contact its leader listed below or the Dresher Center to find out about upcoming activities.

New Faculty Working Group


Leaders: Sara Poggio (Modern Languages, Linguistics and Intercultural Communications), T. H. (Tim) Gindling (Economics), Felipe Filomeno (Political Science and Global Studies)

The Faculty Working Group on Immigration will bring together faculty members and graduate students who study international migration. Its purpose is to promote interdisciplinary collaboration in teaching, research and service related to international migration at UMBC. International migration is a complex phenomenon, with cultural, economic and political aspects. Its causes, processes and consequences have been analyzed in multiple disciplines, from a variety of theoretical perspectives and with different research methods. UMBC currently has several faculty members and graduate students whose work on immigration reflects this diversity of approaches. However, for the most part, this work has been carried out independently, by individual faculty members and graduate students within their home departments. There is an untapped potential for interdisciplinary collaboration in teaching, research and service related to this broad thematic.

Continuing Faculty Working Groups

Translation and Displacement

Leader: Piotr Gwiazda (English)

Kenneth Goldsmith calls translation “the ultimate humanist gesture”; he also dismisses it as mere “discourse” when contrasted with the artistic and political possibilities of “displacement” (the absence, impossibility or refusal of translation). This group will try to formulate a response – or counterargument – to Goldsmith. With attention to theory and practice, and with an eye on the shifting cultural paradigms, we will work to reclaim the meaning, value, and relevance of translation in today’s world. Activities will include presentations on translation-related research, workshops, collaborations, invited talks.

Sound Studies

Leaders: Maleda Belilgne (Africana Studies/English), and Bryce Peake (Media and Communication Studies)

Over the past decade, sound studies has been generating a buzz in disciplines across the humanities. The dual purpose of this group is to: 1) facilitate more cross-disciplinary discussions about sound, and 2) bring together faculty members with shared interests to encourage collaboration. The group discusses relevant sound studies issues from different disciplinary perspectives, has informal presentations of their own in-process work, and listens to invited talks from guest speakers.

Digital Storytelling and Civic Agency in Higher Education

Leader: Bill Shewbridge (Media and Communication Studies) and Bev Bickell (Language, Literacy, and Culture)

This group explores the research focus of digital storytelling including discussions of digital literacies and competencies in the humanities and social sciences, narrative and storytelling research, and classroom work across disciplines. The working group serves as a steering body for ongoing digital storytelling activities and connects with other campus work that involves storytelling for civic agency and engagement. The group promotes opportunities for faculty involved in digital storytelling research to share their experiences through presentations, workshops, roundtables and a possible one-day conference.

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.

Previous Faculty Working Groups

Mathematics and What it Means to be Human

Leader: Michele Osherow (English), Manil Suri (Mathematics and Statistics)

“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.

Creating a Faculty Working Group

If you are interested in forming a Faculty Working Group, download and complete the application (below).

Faculty Working Groups can apply for up to $1,000 in annual support ($500 per semester) for their first-year activities. Priority will be given to groups with at least one member from a humanities department.

Application for New Faculty Working Groups

Complete your application and submit in an email to Jessica Berman, Director of the Dresher Center, and Rachel Brubaker, Assistant Director. Include the subject line, “Faculty Working Group Application.”

Current Dresher Center Faculty Working Groups may request continuation funding for their second and subsequent years. Click here to download the instructions and a Request for Continued Funding Form.

Deadlines for best consideration are November 1st for groups beginning or continuing in the spring semester and April 1st for groups beginning or continuing in the fall semester.