Reading Groups/Working Groups

At the CHR, we believe that knowledge production in the humanities is a communal effort.

To support that venture, the Center fosters, supports, and provides space for topical and thematic Reading Groups, Working Groups, Workshops, and Writing Groups for faculty, graduate students and staff. Each group considers a particular theme or question of central importance to the humanities. As such, these groups serve as spaces for transdisciplinary exchange. 

  • The current active groups reflect areas of particular research strength at Mason. We love to see this list and research interests evolve. If you are interested in starting a new reading or working group, reach out to us at! 
  • All perspectives are welcome, and you can join a group at any time by contacting the group coordinator.   
  • The CHR provides support to all groups to host external speakers and/or organize campus-wide events that aim to create and share new knowledge with a broader audience.
  • To view upcoming meeting dates, please visit our events calendar.


Reading Groups

CHR Indigenous Ways of Knowing Reading Group

This reading group explores indigenous forms of knowing and knowledge-sharing with the goal of broadening—and sometimes challenging—typical Western approaches. We will meet three times a semester to examine works on indigeneity and knowledge-sharing by both Native and non-Native authors. The goal of this reading group is to reflect on our own scholarship and seek a different perspective on scholarly work, as well as how knowledge is counted and categorized here at George Mason University. 

If you are interested in joining, contact Hayley Madl ( 



CHR Music & Society Reading Group

This reading group explores approaches to the study of popular music from multiple disciplines, including history, cultural studies, anthropology, ethnomusicology, and sociology. Avoiding technical, formal analysis, we nevertheless seek to examine the ways musical elements produce meaning and inform identities and movements. We are interested in approaches that engage popular music from around the world to illuminate broader social and political questions. We aim to gather three times a semester to discuss readings of interest to the group.

If you are interested, contact Matt Karush: 


CHR Slavery Studies Reading Group 

We are a group of George Mason faculty and students interested in discussing recent publications about slavery from the perspective of diverse disciplines in the humanities. The reading group meets about once a month and focuses on a variety of topics, including cultural transfers, resistance, effective emancipation, contemporary systems of slavery, and the local and global legacies of coerced migrations.

If you are interested in joining the group or would like more information, please contact Joan Bristol (



digital *CHR Digital Humanities Reading Group - *This Group is on pause (contact CHR if you are interested in leading this group)

We are a group of George Mason scholars interested in the theory, methodologies, and practices of the digital humanities writ large. From assigning wikipedia entries in class to designing a multi-year research project, the digital humanities is a big tent that encourages new ways of doing humanities research, teaching, and outreach. We will meet once a month to explore digital humanities theories, methods, and projects and discuss teaching and research.


CHR Queer Studies Reading Group

Pride flag

We are a group of George Mason scholars with broad interests in queer studies, queer theory, and related methodologies. Under the umbrella of the Center for Humanities Research, we gather three times a semester to discuss selected works of queer scholarship. The meetings are meant to be open forums for discussion, debate, and exposure to new ideas and methodologies. A calendar of upcoming meetings is listed on this page.

If you’d like more information about the group, or would like to join, reach out to the coordinator, Kathleen N. O'Neil ( 


CHR Space, Place, and Cities Reading Group

We are a group of scholars at Mason interested in theories of space and place and how they impinge on studies of race, class, caste, power, gender, sexuality, cities, globalization, transnationalism, and more. In the past we’ve read theorists such as Henri Lefebvre, Doreen Massey, Yi-Fu Tuan, and Marc Auge, alongside empirical studies on topics such as race and aesthetics in D.C., space and mobility in Palestine, and cross-border infrastructures in the Balkans. Going forward, we will continue to read across disciplines under the wide umbrella of the humanities, sharing insights, ideas, and recommendations of group members. We are also now linked to CSSR’s Urban Research Hub which is co-hosting this group. We will be meeting once a month on Zoom, starting in September 2023, in what will be an open forum to discuss, debate, and learn from each other and what we’re reading.

For more information about the group or to be added to the listserv, contact group coordinator, Prof. Rashmi Sadana (


CHR Memory and Difficult Pasts Reading Group

The vietnam memorial

This reading group on memory and difficult pasts takes up the theoretical, methodological, historical and narratological challenges of remembering, commemorating, and attending to in the present, historical atrocity. We gather three times a semester to discuss selected readings. This group is a forum to discuss both published works, and the work-in-progress of members of the reading group. The meetings are meant to be open forums for discussion, debate, and exposure to new ideas and methodologies.

If you’d like more information about the group, please contact the coordinator, Luma Mousa (


CHR Environmental Justice Reading Group

A tree, viewed from the bottom of the trunk

We are an interdisciplinary group of scholars who meet monthly to discuss readings related to environmental justice and injustice. We interpret "environmental justice" broadly, including not only scholarship that self-identifies with this term, but also work that is more generally concerned with society, culture, environment, and power. 

We select topics and readings based on the interests of the active participants. In the past, we have critically evaluated the theories of “justice” mobilized by EJ scholars and social movements; the political economy of environmental issues, land reform, and climate change; theories of sovereignty and environmental injustice; and the epistemological claims made by EJ scholars and organizers. 

The group is open to all faculty, staff, and graduate students regardless of their level of familiarity with these themes. We facilitate challenging and, most importantly, constructive conversation and frequently collaborate with other CHR reading groups to select shared readings. 

For more information, please email Richard Todd Stafford ( 


CHR Capitalism Reading Group

Rolls of money from many countries

This reading group is a small cohort of progressive scholars committed to advancing our understanding of capitalism. Capitalism plays an undeniably central role in shaping our modern world, so we seek to continuously explore its mechanisms, implications, and alternatives. Understanding capitalism through interdisciplinary inquiry and from a multiplicity of perspectives is crucial in equipping ourselves to critically analyze the dynamics of power, inequality, and innovation that pervade society. We read time-honored classics and new works on political economy, history and theory, labor and commodity relations, as well as colonial, cultural, environmental, and racial capitalism. 

To join this group, please contact Kylie Erfani (


CHR Film and Media Studies Reading Group

The Film and Media Studies reading group is a collective of people interested in exploring classic and cutting-edge texts in visual media cultures. The texts we share speak to core debates in the humanities, and reflect a range of critical and theoretical perspectives, historical eras, and geographical foci including particular intersections with related scholarly fields like photography, critical race theory, postcolonial studies, Marxist theory, gender and sexuality studies, literary studies, spectatorship etc. We invite your keen participation in these informal scholarly exchanges and are very open to any suggestions of material to read from group members.

To be added to this group or attend a meeting, please contact Aparna Shastri ( and Collin Hawley ( 



CHR Postcolonial/Decolonization Reading Group

removed statueThe Postcolonial/Decolonization Reading Group sees itself as a community of scholars interested in engaging in conversation on topics pertaining to the history of colonialism, the work of decolonization, forms of empire, imperialism, and neo-colonial experiences. We hope to look at the theoretical, political, economic, and cultural intersections within postcolonial theory and decolonization movements found in texts, media, and the arts and how to apply that knowledge to teaching, scholarship and activism.

If you’d like more information about the group, want to be added to our online forum, or attend a meeting, contact Shauna Rigaud


*CHR Critical Race Theory Group - *This Group is on pause for the Spring 2024 semester

A pile of open books

The CHR Critical Race Theory Group welcomes students, faculty, administrators, and staff from across the university for meaningful, interdisciplinary exchanges on Critical Race Theory and related topics that our members suggest, including racial capitalism, Black Studies, Black radicalism, linguistic racism, race, gender, and labor, and more. Our monthly meetings are a space for learning, sharing, critiquing, and thinking out loud about our interconnected histories and the world around us. 

The coordinate for this group is Laura Brannan - please contact her to join (