Duke Welcomes NCCU, Durham Tech, Liberal Arts Collaborators to Humanities Unbounded initiative

Durham Technical Community College faculty Lisa Blair (far left) and Marina DelVecchio (far right) will collaborate with Duke PhD students Patricia Bass (left center) and Maggie McDowell (right center) to redesign courses in French, Women’s Studies and Li
Durham Tech faculty Lisa Blair (far left) and Marina DelVecchio (far right) will collaborate with Duke PhD students Patricia Bass (left center) and Maggie McDowell (right center) to redesign courses in French, Women’s Studies and Literature

Six visiting scholars representing liberal arts institutions, historically black colleges and universities (HBCU), and Durham Technical Community College will arrive at Duke this summer to collaborate with faculty as part of an innovative humanities initiative.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded Humanities Unbounded is designed to nurture collaboration and inventive expressions of the humanities at Duke and beyond. Among other aims, it expands Duke's curriculum by launching research-based humanities labs that enrich undergraduate education by extending the learning experience outside of the classroom.

“Through our previous Mellon grant, Humanities Writ Large, visiting faculty fellows greatly enriched the humanities ecosystem at Duke,” said Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies Ed Balleisen, who is also a principal investigator for Humanities Unbounded. “Those fellows brought compelling research questions, inventive approaches to communicating humanistic arguments, and a deeply collaborative spirit to our campus.”

Four visiting scholars from HBCUs and liberal arts colleges are central to that effort through their leadership of research projects over the next year, and will broaden the effects of Humanities Unbounded as they extend their work once returning to their home institutions.

Durham Tech faculty will work with Duke doctoral students to develop pedagogical modules that foster collaborative humanistic inquiry at the community college. Meanwhile, the Ph.D. students will gain exposure to new modes of teaching, a highly diverse community college student population and faculty mentorship.

The inaugural cohort:

  • Garry Bertholf of Wesleyan University will be hosted by Joseph Winters of Religious Studies and African and African American Studies to explore the interplay between black politics and popular culture.
  • Lisa Blair of Durham Tech will work with Duke Ph.D. student Patricia Bass (Art, Art History, and Visual Studies) to incorporate Francophone African literature and culture, in part by facilitating virtual exchanges with Senegal, into an online introductory French course at Durham Tech.
  • Marina DelVecchio of Durham Tech will work with Duke Ph.D. student Maggie McDowell (English) to redesign two courses at Durham Tech – an online American Women's Studies course and a seated American Literature II course – using new technologies and approaches to help students see themselves represented and how they can learn to represent themselves.
  • Collie Fulford of N.C. Central University will work with the Franklin Humanities Institute and the Digital Humanities Initiative, continuing relationships begun when she was an FHI-NCCU Digital Humanities Fellow. She also works on the literate lives of adult HBCU students.
  • Craig Quintero of Grinnell College will be hosted by Torry Bend and the Department of Theater Studies to develop and produce a theatrical performance rooted in the history of North Carolina’s former Black Mountain College.
  • Eva Michelle Wheeler of Oakwood University will work with Mark Anthony Neal and the Department of African & African American Studies on critical analysis of translations of ethnonyms and epithets in literature and film.

“We are eager to welcome a new cohort of superb humanists to Duke,” said Gennifer Weisenfeld, divisional dean for the humanities in the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, “to see how they interact with our faculty and students, and to facilitate their contributions to our humanities labs, the training of our doctoral students and humanistic dialogue more broadly.”

Weisenfeld is also a principal investigator on the Humanities Unbounded grant, as is Ranjana Khanna, director of the Franklin Humanities Institute.