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Director's Letter, 2017-18


Welcome to the Stanford Humanities Center! The world’s largest hub for advanced research in the humanities, the Humanities Center attracts some of the most influential and innovative scholars for research on the most important questions facing humanity today. The humanities give us tools for understanding our experience as human beings: to discover who we were and to imagine the possibilities of who we can become.

Our 36 2017-18 year-long fellows are tackling a great variety of important research projects: the transatlantic slave trade, the origins of the scientific method, Cold War finance, and Native American poetry. This fall, we have substantially increased the size of our fellowship class with the permanent addition of the internationally renowned Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship program. The addition of these thirteen scholars makes the Stanford Humanities Center a uniquely diverse research institute, with representation from every cohort in academia: undergraduates; graduate students; faculty; and now postdoctoral fellows. The alchemy—perhaps even the magic—of the Humanities Center is to combine all of these fellows to create a rich interdisciplinary culture where new ideas are tested and refined. In workshops where they share their research, over the daily lunches, and in both formal and informal settings, our fellows benefit from conversations with colleagues whose interests and expertise add new dimensions to their own thinking.

We have six international visitors joining us this year, from India, Brazil, Spain, Austria, France, and Edinburgh. Each of them will be in residence at the Center for approximately a month, working on research ranging from architecture to filmmaking to Shakespeare. We hope that you are able to attend one of their presentations.

As it has since 2012, the Humanities Center once again hosted 150 high school students from around the world at the 2017 Summer Humanities Institute. These college-level courses in history, philosophy, and literature—compressed into a mere three weeks—are taught by tenured Stanford faculty, and expose young people to the riches of humanistic learning at the college level.

The Humanities Center enjoys formal collaborations with other centers on campus that enrich the experience of our fellows during their time here. We are sponsoring our first joint conference with the new David Rumsey Map Center on November 10-11, 2017. Time in Space: Representing Time in Maps brings together leading scholars and curators to explore how maps are not just about space, but about time as well. We continue our connection with the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA), the digital humanities laboratory at Stanford, and our fellows receive expert guidance on how to create new tools to interpret the cultural record of past and present.

If you would like to join our mailing list to receive information about forthcoming events we sponsor, as well as our monthly e-newsletter describing humanities research taking place across campus, please click here

Best wishes to all for a successful 2017-18!

Caroline Winterer
Director, Stanford Humanities Center
Anthony P. Meier Family Professor in the Humanities