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The Public Humanities Graduate Research Workshop is a year-long program supporting graduate students interested in the public humanities. Through this workshop, we explore what constitutes publicly-engaged scholarship while developing more grounded communication, translational, and professional skills that can help participants pursue a diverse set of careers in and beyond the university.

Following an application process, student participants meet twice a quarter in workshop and are also given support and training to produce their own public humanities projects. `

2022-2023 Participants


Rebekah Bryer • Theatre and Drama

Remembrance and Reckonings 
This limited podcast series looks at the public reckoning and debates over commemoration in the United States in the summer of 2020, ignited by the murder of George Floyd. Over six episodes, the podcast examines how the debate over public commemoration reached a tipping point in 2020, follows what happened to a few of the monuments that came down over that summer, and questions what, if anything, has changed in the landscape of public commemoration in the United States. 


Kyle Craig • Anthropology

Stories of the Palestinian Intifada — Through Comics 
In collaboration with Palestinian political cartoonist and illustrator Nidal El Khairy, this graphic storytelling project will share accounts of how Palestinians experienced, endured, and resisted during the First Intifada (1987-1993). Their stories are drawn from a collection of oral history interviews in which a diverse group of Palestinians share memories of these mass uprisings against Israel’s military occupation of the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and East Jerusalem. We are currently drafting the first chapter of this comics series, exploring Nidal’s childhood memories of visiting his family in the Palestinian city of Ramallah during the First Intifada. We hope this project will strengthen cross-border solidarities that recognize the connection of the Palestinian struggle with all mobilizations for more justice-oriented worlds. 


Bailey Flynn • Communication Studies

Climate Resilience and Community Technologies, a Workshop Series 
Climate resiliency—our capacity to prevent, withstand, and recover from destructive effects of climate change—is becoming an increasingly important concept as we approach 1.5° of global warming. This project seeks to equip environmental justice leaders with technological resources and skills to bring to their community’s climate resilience toolkit. Participants will gather for a month-long workshop series featuring training in ethical and grassroots technology tools that can help shape not only resiliency under climate crisis, but equity and liberation. Conversation on environmental justice theory and principles will be interwoven with skill-based workshops on topics such as wireless-mesh-network-building or publicly accessible ACIS map data. Our goal is to connect environmental justice communities to valuable technological training that can complement more common analog projects, such as food sustainability and rewilding efforts. 


Olabanke Oyinkansola Goriola • Performance Studies   

Black Cultural Heritage: Ethics of Archiving, Preserving and Promoting Black Archives 
This professional development workshop will explore the collaborative and co-creative process between scholars and the Black community. In this workshop, students will be exposed to professional methods of engaging and collaborating with the Black community and their archives through the lens of care. This workshop aims to provide students with professional expertise in working with the cultural heritage archives of historically underrepresented and marginalized communities. Questions that will be explored during the workshop are: What are Black archives? What are the guidelines on how to use Black archives? What are the ethics and practices of care that should be considered when thinking about collaborating with the Black Community? What is the importance of archiving Black Cultural Heritage? How can we use the Black archive to confront the past and address the inequality and marginalization that faces the Black community? 


Prince Grace • Sociology

Racial Futures Present: Cultivating Critical-Race and Critical-Futurist Literacies through Digital Tools
Ideas of race continue to inform worldbuilding in speculative and experimental spaces, from imaginings of “alien races” to planning the future of the “human race.” This digital portal records emergent forms of race-making across space commerce and governance, astronomy, and speculative fiction. A web-based reference tool for a general audience, the portal includes a wiki and online archive interconnecting critical scholarship and digital documentation, encouraging users to explore how present-day activities organize future social and political systems and set the stage for inequalities to come. The project interlinks key texts and ideas from critical race and critical futures studies with records from influential sites of worldbuilding, mapping connections between artifacts such as astrobiological equations, Star Trek, and the project and governing frameworks of SpaceX and international space law. 


Stephanie Jones • Computer Science and Learning Sciences

Adopting a Graphic Media Format for Publications 
I and a colleague, Natalie Melo, published a paper entitled “We tell these stories to survive: Towards abolition in computer science education.” In this paper we use speculative fiction to illuminate stories of a young Black femme, Shanel, who was pursuing computer science education. Through the Public Humanities Project we plan to turn this academic style paper into a comic, graphic novel, or zine aimed at educating teachers and young people about tensions within CS education and possibilities that take us outside of this. I see a major issue with scholarship staying only in academic circles, and see this as an opportunity to create materials that invite dialogue with the communities I am a part of and serve. 


Em Kamm • History       

Interactive Seed Stories in Chicago and Beyond
Seeds carry genetic information to grow a new plant. They also carry stories, memories, and cultural legacy that connects past to present to future. This project will invite Chicago seedkeepers, cultural workers, and gardeners or growers to share stories of a seed with which they are in relationship. The collected stories and their presentation will emphasize networks of migration and the long history of how people have made seeds and plants part of such journeys. Phase one of the project will produce a zine for the start of the 2023 growing season in May. Future phases will develop interactive digital essays, to explore specific plant relationships in more depth.

Emily Masincup • Musicology         

Learning from Fear and Fantasy: A Mexican Horror Film Event 
I plan to host a film screening of a recent Mexican horror film and talkback session in Chicago which prioritizes accessibility concerns for members of Mexican communities here in the city. I hope to make admission for the event free, to include linguistic accommodations for both English and Spanish speakers, and to host the screening in an area that is easily accessible within Mexican cultural centers in Chicago. Following the screening, I hope to facilitate a bilingual talkback session after the film. This session should allow native Spanish and English speakers alike to participate in a dialogue about how the film addresses contemporary fears and anxieties experienced in Mexico, and how any of these might directly impact Chicago residents of the Mexican diaspora today. 


Ishan Mehandru • Comparative Literary Studies
Souyma Rachel Shailendra • Comparative Literary Studies

Translators’ Adda: Translating Caste and Sexuality from South Asia
Imagining translation workshops outside the confines of the university classroom, the Translators’ Adda seeks to acknowledge, hone, and foster quotidian translational practices amongst multilingual South Asian communities in the Chicagoland region. Spanning over the course of the winter and spring quarter, we will host two masterclasses where the participants will workshop their own translations of pre-circulated texts in Hindi-Urdu and/or other South Asian languages. Each session will be moderated by a published translator who will guide us in navigating asymmetrical cultural contexts while focusing on two major themes — “Translating Caste” and “Translating Sexuality.” Our workshops will encourage dialogue around the sociopolitical climates and literary influences of Dalit and queer cultural production.  


Cinnamon Williams  • African American Studies  

The Catrina Project for Survivors of Domestic Violence 
Despite decades of feminist responses to the problem of violence against women in the home, domestic violence continues to plague women’s lives and be imagined as a private concern. Even further, domestic violence continues to be an arena in which interested actors—lawyers, police officers, social workers, therapists—speak over, and sometimes against, survivors. The Catrina Project is a survivor-centered effort to disseminate knowledge about intimate partner abuse. Members of the project meet regularly to discuss and interrogate their experiences with domestic violence, as well as imagine feminist, abolitionist responses to it. Ultimately, survivors create writing, artwork, and photography grounded in their insights and contribute them to the public, literary format of a zine to be distributed across domestic violence agencies in the city of Chicago. 


Olivia Lingyi Xu • English   

Brokering the English Novel in Non-(Native) English-Speaking Communities 
This public syllabus is intended for a non-(native) English-speaking local community that has an interest in exploring the English novel but may not feel entirely comfortable reading and talking about it in English. We will rely extensively on excerpts, translations, adaptations, and pop-culture reinventions of the chosen texts. This project will also be developed in collaboration with several secondary school English teachers in Guangdong, China, where this preliminary syllabus will be tested out in a local classroom setting and potentially incorporated into school curriculum.

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