The Humanities Institute at Penn State University

Promoting collaborative research on ideas

central to the pressing issues of our time.

Interim Director Tina Chen 2021-2022

We welcome Tina Chen, Associate Professor of English and Asian American Studies, as our interim director for 2021-2022 while director John Christman is on sabbatical. Tina brings a long familiarity with the Institute and a breadth of knowledge of the College of Liberal Arts and the humanities, and we are grateful for her presence with us this year.

Tina Chen is Associate Professor of English and Asian American Studies at The Pennsylvania State University and author of Double Agency: Acts of Impersonation in Asian American Literature and Culture, which was named a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title. Her national leadership roles include several stints as the co­-Chair of the East of California caucus for the Association for Asian American Studies; serving on the Executive Board of the MLA’s Division on Asian American Literature and the Speculative Fiction forum; and being the Founding Editor of Verge: Studies in Global Asias—an award-winning journal published by the University of Minnesota Press. She is the director of the Global Asias Initiative at Penn State and will be serving as the interim director of the Humanities Institute for AY 2021-2022.

Photo of Interim Director Tina Chen

2022 Humanities Without Walls: National Predoctoral Career Diversity Summer Workshop Call For Applications

The Humanities Without Walls summer workshop utilizes a cohort-based approach to assisting humanities PhD students with the development of their careers. Our principles emphasize student agency while giving attendees space to reflect on their values. We have learned that centering the needs of each fellow results in empowered PhD professionals ready to tackle the world which awaits them post-degree. Our sessions intentionally layer foundations for the fellows as they do the real-time work of discerning personal career values, building community within the fellowship cohort, and researching potential career paths. The workshop models effective strategies that enable our fellows to prepare for a successful job search today and for the career transitions which will come in the future.

Graduates from the workshop will emerge with a network of contacts in a range of professional realms; a significantly broadened sense of the career possibilities that await humanities PhDs; a cohort of HWW Summer Workshop Fellows (and friends!) from whom they may draw support and advice; and a set of resources aimed at helping them advance into the various realms considered under the broad rubric of “the public humanities.”

Application Requirements

Interested doctoral students in the humanities should submit their applications to humanities@psu.edu with the subject line HWW Summer Workshop by November 1, 2021. Please combine and submit all application materials as a single PDF file. For more information, visit the Humanities Institute External Funding Connections webpage or the 2022 Humanities Without Walls: National Predoctoral Career Diversity Summer Workshop website.

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Carol Anderson

Dr. Carol Anderson of Emory University joined the McCourtney Institute for Democracy on Tuesday, September 21 at 4:00 p.m. for a lecture on her book One Person, No Vote at the State Theatre.

In case you missed it, access the recorded lecture and the Q&A session here.

Co-sponsored by the Africana Research Center, Humanities Institute, and Richards Center

Headshot of Carol Anderson

HumIn Focus

HumIn Focus is a multi-part web series centering on pressing social issues through the lens of the work of humanities scholars.

Episode 4 of HumIn Focus premiered on WPSU on April 18th, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. This episode is now available on the HumIn Focus website.

The COVID 19 pandemic has provided a stress test for the American healthcare system. In “Rethinking Care” we view healthcare through the lens of the humanities, focusing on ways to repair some of the inequities of the system and to provide better care for healthcare workers and patients alike. 

Look for Episode 5, coming Fall 2021

From the Directors

The Humanities Institute at Penn State is committed to the development of humanistic ideas that connect with and are in the service of public concerns. As such, we declare our solidarity with those protesting police and other racial violence and the structural injustices that undergird and shape it. Our devotion to the study of history, philosophy, the languages, cultural studies and communication, connects us to the depths of injustice and suffering that current conditions manifest. We look with sorrow and solidarity to those victims of specific injustices and murderous assaults, both recently and throughout our history, and we support the voices of protest raised against them. We hope that the work we support can help in some way to bring to light and amplify our understanding of the complex historical and social dynamics that structure these injustices. For now, we join in the voices of protest against the forces of hate.

John Christman
Director

Lauren Kooistra
Associate Director

Seed Grant Funding to support proposal development is Available Now

For faculty interested in exploring partnerships for Grand Challenge applications, Seed Grant funds are available.  Proposals should be in the neighborhood of $2-3000.

Applications should include 1) a description of the project the applicant intends to pursue including prospective collaborative partners, and 2) a budget proposing how the funds will be used to meet the project goals. 

Proposals will be considered on a rolling basis until funds are depleted, and should be sent to humanities@psu.edu with the subject line Seed Grant Application.

Learn more about the resources available.

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At the Heart of Every Other Question

In politics, business, and issues of social concern, the most trenchant challenges we face all rest upon fundamental questions about the human condition. What does it mean to be human, a citizen, a biological organism, a member of a society? What role does our history, and its complex conflicts and triumphs, play in our current confrontations? What responsibilities do people have for themselves and their environment versus what concern should be borne by the rest of us in a caring and just world? Where do we fit in the larger non-human world? Countless pressing social issues turn on abstract and longstanding questions that are at the center of humanities research.

Walls that Transcend Boundaries

By providing a space for faculty and graduate students in the humanities to address the fundamental questions that underly the most pressing issues of our time, we foster collaboration, innovative approaches to research, and outreach that brings humanistic discovery and thought into the public domain.

Initiatives to Inspire and Engage

In politics, business, and issues of social concern, the most trenchant challenges we face all rest upon fundamental questions about the human condition. What does it mean to be human, a citizen, a biological organism, a member of a society? What role does our history, and its complex conflicts and triumphs, play in our current confrontations? What responsibilities do people have for themselves and their environment versus what concern should be borne by the rest of us in a caring and just world? Where do we fit in the larger non-human world? Countless pressing social issues turn on abstract and longstanding questions that are at the center of humanities research.