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Current Workshops

Blokker Research Workshop

Arts + Justice

Justice, a capacious conceptual category, impacts lives in quotidian and spectacular ways, influencing political institutions, impacting social relations, and inscribing bodies with deeply ingrained habits of thought. Scholarship on justice in the humanities has tended to cluster around “law and literature” formulations that, while generative, are also limited in their purview. The focus on law-as-text underestimates the ways in which legal statutes determine and script live, embodied action; law awaits its full realization when it is released from text and realized in performance. To this end, performance provides a kinetic and dynamic mode of thinking about legal scripts that are activated in performance. Arts + Justice expands the framework to include new work in performance studies, art history, music, and sound studies, affect theory, critical race theory, materialism, environmental humanities, and queer theory. Moving beyond the literary and textual dimensions of the legal system, this workshop opens to the embodied, affective, sonic, somatic, and aesthetic dimensions of law. Arts + Justice workshops will bring together art historians, performance theorists, literary scholars, musicologists, historians, political scientists, anthropologists, critical prison studies scholars, race theorists, legal scholars, and immigration scholars, among others, to explore the intersection of discourses around arts and justice.

Coordinators

Faculty:

Aileen Robinson

Graduate Student:

Westley Montgomery
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

Humanities Center Fellows Research Workshop

Concerning Violence: A Collaborative Research Group

Concerning Violence has now become an ongoing initiative that challenges the political, economic, ontological, and epistemic violence of coloniality with the goal of rethinking the premises of cultural and literary scholarship towards the practice of transformational knowledge production. Our theme this academic year is “Coloniality, Gender, and Empire: Theorizing Gender Violence and Transnational Feminisms.” Autumn quarter will be dedicated to the study of gender through analytics that trace what scholars identify as radical re-articulations of gender in the wake of colonial violence. Winter quarter will orient our attention to how gender is theorized and transformed through cultural productions such as literature, visual culture, and other cultural practices. Finally, Spring quarter will critically evaluate how contemporary transnational feminist theory addresses patriarchal and heteronormative violence that takes place through the archive, cultural practice, and global hierarchies of power. Concerning Violence’s analytical and thematic foundation finds inspiration from and is in conversation with Black Studies; European and North American critical theories of modernity; South Asian subaltern studies; Third World feminisms; postcolonial theory; African philosophy; and a modified world systems perspective. This seventh year of the Concerning Violence workshop coincides with a pivotal moment of intellectual growth within studies on violence as scholars from diverse fields such as Ethnic Studies, Comparative Literature, History, Philosophy, and Anthropology continue to adopt and transform such theories with respect to evolving conditions of neoliberal modernity, racial capitalism, neocolonialism, differentiated forms of precarity, migration, and dispossession. We will invite non-Stanford affiliated speakers who will synthesize and contribute additional thoughts pertaining to the relevant quarterly theme.

Coordinators

Faculty:

Jose Saldivar

Graduate Student:

Noor Amr
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

Critical Data Practices in Humanities Research

This workshop explores the unique challenges that face the arts and humanities as we ground data-driven insights in real-world human complexity, and in various social, cultural, and historical contexts. Digitization and computational methods provide new opportunities for understanding the cultural implications of data, its meaning, and its significance to the long history of recorded human experience. We must therefore carefully consider the ways that we derive meaning from data through critical attention to methods and sources. The workshop gives particular attention to what the humanities have to say to data practices in the current moment and urges us to critically examine the issues of representation, equity, accessibility, and discoverability. Computational and Data Sciences approaches are running against the tensions between the urge to generalize data for the purposes of standardization and prediction, and the need to recognize the significance of the individual and the specific. Critical voices in these same disciplines are beginning to point to algorithmic bias and marginalization that have shaped new technology, while current work in law and policy studies asks whether fairness can be calculated and automated in civil society. How does the adoption of data-driven approaches in humanities research inflect these matters, and how can insight from humanities critiques impact the fields of computational data sciences? The workshop hopes to join these threads of the general and the specific, the diachronic and synchronic, and to create a space in which what Lorraine Daston called the “hidden affinities” between disciplines becomes perceptible. Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered AI, the Stanford Data Science Institute, its leading Digital Humanities center, CESTA, uniquely position the Critical Data Practices workshop to foster cross-disciplinary conversations on these critical issues.

Coordinators

Faculty:

Mark Algee-Hewitt, Giovanna Ceserani, Laura Stokes

Graduate Student:

Matt Warner
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

Data Scarcity and Historical Institutionalisms

Data scarcity concerns all historical inquiries but is particularly significant in the long-term study of institutional transformations. While ancient historians have already systematized much data relating to historical institutions, longitudinal data scarcity has frustrated the application of interpretive models and analytical tools utilized by social scientists in the study of institutional diffusion. However, through innovating adaptive means of deploying and interpreting our scarce historical data, there exists promise for enriching both institutionalist theories and historical accounts through the study of the millennium-long process of institutional convergence and divergence in the ancient Mediterranean. By facilitating the collaboration of historians and archaeologists with researchers from economics, political science, sociology, anthropology, and statistics, this workshop aims to produce an interdisciplinary discussion of not only research methodologies for studying institutional change but also the context, nature, and intensity of the diffusion processes leading to shared social, political, and economic institutional formations. The workshop will provide a formal venue for regular interdisciplinary conversations on historical perspectives, research methods, and theoretical contributions to the study of institutional change, particularly in light of scarce and problematic historical data to develop a better understanding of the diffusion processes leading to shared organizational and institutional formations in the ancient Mediterranean. The strength of the workshop derives from the overlapping research interests of faculty and graduate students based not only in Classics and the Stanford Archaeology Center but also in departments including Economics, Political Science, Sociology, and Anthropology. By opening an accessible forum to such shared institutional research agendas, the workshop will contribute to the development of new questions and a refinement of analytical tools and models.

Coordinators

Faculty:

Ian Morris, Walter Scheidel

Graduate Student:

James Macksoud, Ümit Öztürk
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

Digital Aesthetics

From IBM punch cards to digital census forms, from ASCII art to Oculus Rift, how do we think and feel on screens and online, on disk or in the cloud, at the keyboard or off-the-grid?  How do digital objects and code blur boundaries between text, image, and performative act? How do they trouble our understanding of the distinctions between a medium and its content, and how do new media create new subjects, objects, and worlds? Digital objects are simultaneously technological and aesthetic, algorithmic and political, informatic and material. An exploration of the cultures they create and the publics they structure must necessarily draw on the strengths of a number of humanities traditions, from art history to cultural studies, to political philosophy. This workshop hosts conversations about digital technology and culture beyond traditional disciplinary lenses, incorporating approaches from material culture studies, performance theory, technology history, aesthetics, and elsewhere. We encourage approaches that cross borders between engineering and the humanities, bringing technological objects into critical humanities research, and introducing critical new vocabularies into ongoing discussions of the design and production of our digital present and future.

Coordinators

Faculty:

Shane Denson

Graduate Student:

Hank Gerba
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

Claire and John Radway Research Workshop

Education and the Humanities

Education is one of the most contested spaces in American society today. The humanities historically have shaped these educational discourses and institutions, but has recently lost its authoritative influence on the public debate. Education and the Humanities (E&H) aims to provide a space to reinfuse the conversation with rigorous and resonant scholarship on education from across disciplines and to develop new directions for the humanities. Humanists have a uniquely valuable perspective on the history, literature, and philosophy of education. However, many of us work across disciplines and schools in distinct subfields and rarely talk to one another. Drawing on the unique interdisciplinary community that E&H provides, we strive to uncover the roots of current debates about educational institutions and ideas, promote pathbreaking scholarship, and create opportunities for collaboration to make a bigger impact on the public conversation. The objective of the workshop continues to be to build on two current collaborative research developments to create a long-term network and interdisciplinary space on campus that serves a previously untapped group: humanists who are interested in the rigorous study of educational ideas and institutions. Complementing the public-facing goals of the Cultivating Humanities Grant “Recovering the University as a Public Good” and the graduate student led group in the Graduate School of Education, Humanistic Inquiry and Research in Education (HIRE), E&H will continue to provide a productive space for faculty and graduate students to come together to engage one another.

Coordinators

Faculty:

Emily Levine, Mitchell Stevens

Graduate Student:

Caitlin Murphy Brust
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

Marta Sutton Weeks Research Workshop

Ethics and Politics, Ancient and Modern

Ethics and Politics, Ancient and Modern (EPAM) provides a forum for scholars working in philosophy, classics, political science, and intellectual history to present developing research for feedback and mutual enrichment. Typically, papers presented are works in progress that become journal articles, monographs, conference presentations, or dissertation chapters. EPAM aims to provide a focus for Stanford faculty and students with a primary or secondary interest in classical moral and political philosophy, engaging faculty and students from different departments in interdisciplinary inquiry into foundational ethical and political questions. Workshop sessions also provide opportunities to engage with cutting-edge research presented by visiting faculty. Our goal in each workshop session is to better understand classical texts and to explore the enduring relevance of classical ethical and political thought.

Coordinators

Faculty:

Chris Bobonich, Josiah Ober

Graduate Student:

Rupert Sparling
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

Eurasian Empires

Eurasian Empires explores the connected and comparative history of empires from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. Our intellectual remit combines histories of global and regional imperial formations including the Russian, Ottoman, Safavid/Qajar, Uzbek, Mughal, Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese, British, French, and Spanish empires. We will focus not only on how imperial centers governed diverse peoples, creating ‘empires of difference’, but also how the global age of capitalist expansion and nation state formation shaped and transformed these dynamics in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The overarching theme for this academic year will be ‘Histories of Capitalism’ and we are especially interested in engaging with studies in economic and social history.  The workshop will organize its engagements around three broad and interrelated sub-themes, one per quarter: (1) Labor Relations; (2) Property Regimes; and (3) Oceanic Connections. Through each of these themes we will understand the nature of capitalist transformation under imperial rule across Eurasia.

Coordinators

Faculty:

Nora Barakat, Partha Shil

Graduate Student:

Merve Tekgürler
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

Feminist, Queer, and Trans Studies Colloquium

Zora Neale Hurston wrote, “Research is formalized curiosity.” Such curiosity is at the heart of this research workshop. The Feminist, Queer and Trans Studies Research Workshop (FQTSRW) seeks to disrupt norms of thinking within the academy and transgress institutional boundaries. FQTSRW will cultivate discussions focused on aesthetics, archives, and art in feminist, queer, and transgender studies. This year we will explore how issues of race, class, ethnicity, nationality, disability, have shaped feminist, queer, and transgender studies, including the emergence of new methodologies. And most importantly, how we might use such growing scholarship to better direct the future of the discipline. It will rely on interdisciplinary methods and practices across cultures, geographies, and temporalities and allow us to reorient current debates and discussions in the field. Scholars, curators, and artists we invite will take on questions of interdisciplinarity within feminist, queer, and transgender art practices and studies. By featuring feminist, queer, and transgender scholars and artists, FQTSRW members will be encouraged to consider the following: In what ways have interdisciplinary methods and practices shaped the field of feminist, queer, and trans studies? How is the field shaped by intersectional identities that include race, gender, class, ethnicity, disability, and sexuality? What blind spots remain in the field of feminist, queer, and trans literature? How do we use these insights to expand the ongoing debates in feminist, queer, and transgender studies?

Coordinators

Faculty:

Richard Meyer

Graduate Student:

Marco Antonio Flores
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

Marta Sutton Weeks Research Workshop

Matters of Voice

There is an inherent excess in voice—it resounds both within and outside meaningful speech. The topic of voice is inherently polysemic and lends itself to interdisciplinary inquiry. For Roland Barthes, what lies outside meaningful speech in a voice is “the cantor’s body, brought to your ears in one and the same movement from deep down cavities, muscles, cartilages and language.” For the philosopher Adriana Cavarero, voice does not simply resound within meaningful speech, it enables it. Speech is inherently relational and given voice “communicates one’s own uniqueness to another unique being,” it ensures speech is occurring between two different people. Departing from these two premises, the Matters of Voice workshop aims to support research agendas that engage with both the embodied nature of voice (drawing from the disciplines of music, film, sound studies, performance studies, and gender and sexuality) and its relational nature (drawing from the disciplines of literature, linguistics, anthropology, and philosophy). Ultimately, this workshop aims to foster continuous collaboration between these seemingly parallel running research tracks.

Coordinators

Faculty:

Alexander Key

Graduate Student:

María Gloria Robalino
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

Postcolonial Spatialities: Spatial Concepts

Colonialism is conventionally defined as the control of external territories by European nations. However, another definition is that it entails the management of heterogenous populations under the elusive rubric of the nation. Under this second definition China’s treatment of their Moslem Uighur population is as colonial as Britain’s long history in India and Jamaica. Both definitions of colonialism carry spatial implications. The objective of this workshop is to focus on the spatial concepts that might be rigorously applied to studies of colonial and postcolonial societies. Spatial concepts such as chronotope, cartography, spatial fix, centre/periphery, and globalization will be augmented with newer ones such as spatial traversal, means of locomotion, and geocriticism to generate a comprehensive and flexible set of terms for application to different contexts. The workshop will be designed to bring disciplines from the humanities and social sciences from Stanford and beyond into dialogue on different epochs and spaces. The central contribution of this workshop will be to bring conceptual rigor to a highly energetic and diverse field. Also, the interdisciplinary perspective that will be adopted will serve to animate both methodological and conceptual domains to deliver clearer analytical procedures than have hitherto been available. Finally, the workshop will also take a comparative and historically nuanced Global South/Global North perspective on the central spatial concepts and problems, thus ensuring that a wide range of disciplinary, historical, and geographical interests are covered.

Coordinators

Faculty:

Ato Quayson

Graduate Student:

Christine Xiong
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

Religion, Politics, and Culture

What role does religion play in human societies? Is religion merely a vehicle to pursue political and economic agendas? Or are politics and the pursuit of power merely means to serve religious ends? As any scholar of religion will readily admit, there is no satisfactory definition of “religion.” What “religion” means, and how it both influences and is shaped by society, varies across time and space. This workshop is devoted to studying religion and the centrality of religious ideas, identities, rituals, and communities in shaping history and societies around the globe, from political thought and culture to historical figures, movements, and institutions, past and present. Our workshop invites scholars from across disciplines to explore the role of religion not merely as a political or social institution, nor as a cynical rhetorical device, but as a source of powerful ideas, attitudes, beliefs, and ways of being. All political and religious affiliations, or none whatsoever, are welcome.

Coordinators

Faculty:

Jennifer Burns, Lerone Martin

Graduate Student:

Austin Clements
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

Linda Randall Meier Research Workshop

The Medical Humanities

The Medical Humanities workshop goals are to develop a shared sense of purpose among faculty stakeholders to create a useful institutional structure infused with goodwill, trust, and a shared enterprise. Our challenge is that the arts focus, and the anthropology/history focus have been oriented in different directions. Anthropologists and historians are usually more politically and empirically oriented.  In our current era, graduate students in particular wrestle with moral concerns about the underprivileged. The arts focus is often more aesthetic and turned towards humanizing the medical gaze. Our goal has been to use the workshop to set up a scholarly conversation to explore what we can learn from each other. The intersections between medicine and the arts/humanities/social sciences matter because they show that the object of medicine is cultured, gendered, and historically specific. And they matter because they enable us to train graduate students to hold simultaneously the realness of medical disease and its social location, and to train medical students to appreciate the cultured nature of their patients and their work. These concerns become more pressing as the modern pandemic has made so clear the role of class, race, and inequality in the response to disease. Returning from the extraordinary conditions imposed by the pandemic, the need to explore the meaning of illness experience will become more urgent. Culture—local meanings—clearly shaped the way this disease came into being, the way it was spread and managed medically, and the way it was experienced by bodies made different vulnerabilities. As many have commented, the pandemic has revealed the social inequities in American life. The exploration of this and other illnesses clearly needs an interdisciplinary framework that expands across both sides of the Stanford campus.

Coordinators

Faculty:

Tanya Marie Luhrmann, Daniel Mason, Audrey Shafer, Laura Wittman

Graduate Student:

Paras Arora
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

The Workshop in Poetics

The Workshop in Poetics is concerned with the theoretical and practical dimensions of the reading and criticism of poetry. Oriented toward work in progress by PhD students, the workshop accommodates talks by visiting speakers and discussion of both classic and neglected works in the eclectic critical landscape called “poetics.” The workshop’s agenda is driven by a transnational and transcultural range of interests, providing a forum where scholars with distinctive methods and historical concerns can test their claims and assumptions about poetic objects against the broad linguistic and historical knowledge of the workshop’s members. The multilingual and interdisciplinary nature of the workshop has enriched the perspective that members and presenters have on their work. Over its fifteen years, the workshop has become a central venue at Stanford and in the Bay Area for sharing projects in a conversation outside of conventional disciplinary and departmental boundaries.

Coordinators

Faculty:

Marisa Galvez

Graduate Student:

Jonathan Atkins, Katherine Whatley
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

Research Workshop in Honor of John Bender

Working Group in Literary & Visual Culture

How do ways of seeing and reading inform our sense of time and space? What is the relationship between close reading, an essential tool for literary critics, and close looking, central to art history? Indeed, what are the connections between word and image? These are some of the animating questions for the Working Group in Literary & Visual Culture. We consider projects that transcend disciplinary boundaries in terms of both content and form, considering materials often overlooked in more conventional scholarship. We engage with a wide range of urgent and emerging research agendas, such as the representation of gender and sexuality, race and class, colonial and postcolonial studies, the histories of science and technology, and environmental humanities. These transformative interdisciplinary perspectives encourage collaboration and introduce questions, secondary texts, and material objects a single researcher would not likely encounter alone or within the confines of their respective discipline.  

Coordinators

Faculty:

Emanuele Lugli

Graduate Student:

Harleen Kaur Bagga
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)