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Research Assistants

Call for Applications: 2021-22 Undergraduate Research Assistants 

Each year, pending funding from the Vice-Provost for Undergraduate Education (VPUE), the Stanford Humanities Center hires undergraduate Research Assistants (RAs) to assist Humanities Center faculty fellows with research projects over the winter and spring quarters. Undergraduate RAs work eight to ten hours a week, and are paid the undergraduate rate of $15/hr, for a total of $1,500 per quarter (paid in one lump sum at the end of the quarter). The faculty leader of each project provides guidance and mentorship (e.g., weekly meetings and reviews) as the research progresses. RAs are also invited to participate in specially-tailored events at the Humanities Center during their two quarters of research.

For more thant 40 years, the Stanford Humanities Center has been a hub for advanced research in the humanities. With over 50 scholars in residencies of various lengths, the Humanities Center supports inquiry into major questions and problems in philosophy, art, literature, music, history, and religion. Research Assistants at the Center have worked with faculty fellows (from Stanford and visiting from outside universities) on a wide range of scholarly topics and research methods, including data management, network analysis, digital humanities, archival documentation, and more. RAs bring their own expertise to the faculty projects and expand their skills through working with their mentors, developing their understanding of humanities research and how it might play a role in their future studies and professional paths.

How To Apply:

  1. Read the Project Descriptions listed below and determine which project(s) you are interested in applying to.
  2. Reach out directly to the faculty leader at the email provided in order to indicate your interest and discuss next steps in the application/interview process.

List of Project Titles for which RAs are sought. 
Full descriptions of the projects, including research assistant qualifications, follow below.


Project Title: Stanford LGBTQ Oral History Project 

Faculty Leader: Andrea Davies, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Stanford University (Lecturer)/Associate Director, Stanford Humanities Center,

Project Description: For the past 10 years, the Stanford LGBTQ Oral History Project has documented the rich history of LGBTQ students at Stanford University. This oral history project  has recorded over 100 LGBTQ Stanford student stories, which span from the 1960s to the present. This vital historical record is archived in the Stanford University library, and available for current and future academic research projects, including this effort to analyze the history of interview records for pertinent themes. 

Research Assistant (RA) Responsibilities and Learning Outcomes: The RA will be trained in oral history methodology in order to conduct oral history interviews with LGBTQ Stanford alums. In addition, the RA will work with the faculty leader to learn new methods of interview analysis. This new undertaking will result in an academic article to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. The RA will also prepare oral history recordings and transcripts for submission to the Stanford library archives. Regular meetings will be scheduled with the faculty mentor to discuss progress and to gain input on the methods, research design, and findings. Learning outcomes include competency in oral history methodology and the archival process. The RA should have completed coursework in LGBTQ history and have an interest in oral histories. 


Project Title: Audiation: Listening to Writing 

Faculty Leader: Lucia Martinez Valdivia, English, Reed College (Associate Professor)/SHC External Faculty Fellow,

Project Description: This project imports and introduces the concept and keyword of audiation from music education to literary criticism and sound studies, describing the faculty by which we “hear” in the mind. For literary criticism, audiation facilitates a focus on the mental soundscapes text can convey, on the range of non-lexical and non-vocal sounds alphabetically represented language can record and communicate, and on its capacity to create mental experiences of sound that exceed the possibilities of physical speech and the acoustic worlds available to our physical senses. Surveying and reconsidering the sound-related phenomena and vocabularies that typically attach to literary critical and neurocognitive discussions of silent reading in general, and of reading lyric poetry in particular, this project models possible affordances of the concept of audiation for theorizing literature and sound. 

Research Assistant (RA) Responsibilities and Learning Outcomes: The RA will help identify and interpret relevant scientific studies from fields such as linguistics, psychology, and neuroscience, learning to put them in dialogue with humanistic lines of inquiry such as literary criticism and sound studies. In so doing, the RA will also refine skills in secondary research and literature review. The ideal candidate will have some lab experience, up to and including experiment design, and an interest in cognition and/or language processing. 


Project Title: Literature Crossing Ethnic and Racial Boundaries 1600-1700. 

Faculty Leader: Nigel Smith, English, Princeton University (Professor)/SHC External Faculty Fellow,

Project Description: This project will examine the emergence of the idea of a ‘global’ literature over a century before it is usually supposed to emerge in the mercantile entrepôts of early modern Europe (c. 1500-1700), and in the context of their global trading and colonial relationships. While important work exists on the role of European letters in encounters with people and places in the Americas, this will be the first detailed literary study of the coming together of different cultures and creeds embracing Europe, Asia, Africa and America, as the early modern trading entrepôts made connections globally and began to produce populations at home or in colonies that manifested multi-racial identities. There is here a measure of respectful co-existence and mutual interest even as brutal subjection manifested itself. Some of this literature contains early anti-slavery statements, and this project is committed to revealing non-European as well as European viewpoints.

Research Assistant (RA) Responsibilities and Learning Outcomes: The RA will gain an in-depth introduction to literary and historical research and analysis as they gather and assess primary and secondary materials. They will acquire and refine skills and familiarity with different kinds of literary and historical analysis (which may involve the creation of a database cataloging the materials). At the same time they will necessarily improve their language skills and knowledge. The RA will gain experience in analyzing comparative findings between countries and regions across time periods. In order to help find primary and secondary sources, it is preferred (but not required) that the RA has any level of competence in one or more of the following languages: Arabic, any African language, Persian, Sanskrit (or any South Asian language), any East or South-East Asian language. Familiarity with Latin or other European vernaculars (e.g., French, German, Spanish, Italian) might also be relevant and helpful.