Reading Groups and Working Groups

The Center fosters, supports, and provides space for topical and thematic Working Groups, Workshops, and Reading groups for faculty, graduate students and staff. Read on to learn more about groups meeting this semester.


event square

squareNorthern Virginia has a complex history, one that not many of those who live here actually know. And yet these histories (of colonization and racial violence, immigration and innovation) shape our everyday existence in subtle but significant ways. Does your current or future research engage the history, politics, landscapes (natural, ecological, demographic, technological, memorial), economics, inequalities, immigration patterns, languages, religious communities, or narrative traditions of Northern Virginia? If so, you are invited to join a working group at the CHR on our region. We aim to bring an interdisciplinary group of scholars together to identify overlapping research interests and develop collaborative projects, including public humanities initiatives. 

If you would like to join the group, please contact one of the co-coordinators, Alison Landsberg ( or Steven A. Harris-Scott (

Continuing Groups

CHR Religious Studies Reading Group

hand with bookConsisting of George Mason faculty and students from various disciplines and fields of study, this Center for Humanities Research reading group focuses on recent but also classic works on the critical study of religion. Every semester it will read and discuss a particular book. For fall 2021 this group will be meeting via Zoom every-other Friday (beginning Sept. 17) at 11am to discuss Dangerous Religious Ideas by Rabbi Rachel Mikva. Prof. Mikva is currently scheduled to come to campus on November 10 to discuss her book both in a public lecture and privately with the Religious Studies Reading Group. For more information about the group, including being added to its listserv, please contact either Maria Dakake ( or Garry Sparks (

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 below.

If you’d like more information about the group, please contact one of the co-coordinators, Jessica Hurley ( or Samuel Huneke ( If you’d like to join the group and be added to our listserv, please fill out this form

CHR Technology and Society Reading Group

Profiles in circles connected by lines

We are a monthly discussion composed of George Mason faculty and students. We are open to anyone interested in participating in an eclectic and serious discussion of contemporary problems under the broad rubric of political economy. All events for the 2020-21 academic year will be held by Zoom. Matt Scherer, Steve Pearlstein, and Bassam Haddad are the principal organizers of the southside group. Our emails are on our respective George Mason faculty pages.

Email Matt Scherer ( to be added to the mailing list for further details and meeting links.

CHR Space and Place Reading Group

The corner rooftop of a modern building

We are a group of scholars at George 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. We are reading across disciplines under the wide umbrella of the humanities. We will be meeting once a month, starting in January 2021, in what will be an open forum to discuss, debate, and learn from each other and what we’re reading.

If you’d like more information about the group or want to be added to the listserv, contact the group coordinator, 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 one of the co-coordinators, Mark Peterson or Alison Landsberg. If you’d like to join the group and be added to our listserv, please email Mark Peterson

CHR Environmental Justice Reading Group

A tree, viewed from the bottom of the trunk

We are an interdisciplinary group of GMU scholars that meets monthly to discuss readings that fit under the umbrella of environmental justice. We interpret the field broadly, including not only scholarship that self-identifies as environmental justice but also that which is more generally concerned with nature and power. What are the theories of “justice” mobilized by EJ scholars and social movements? With an eye towards exploring the range of different answers to this question, we will begin an orienting survey of major approaches, then we will critically evaluate a different emphasis in the EJ literature each month from October until January. What can we learn about “justice” by analyzing the responses to environmental injustice? From February to May, we will examine the range of different responses to environmental injustice and the theories of change that they enact.

The group is open to all regardless of their existing level of familiarity. We facilitate challenging and, most importantly, constructive conversation. For more information, please email Levi Van Sant or Todd Stafford.

CHR Capitalism Reading Group

Rolls of money from many countries

We meet once a month to discuss a time-honored or recent work on capitalism. Our interests range from political economy, history and theory, micro-foundations, money, commodity, and modernity to colonial, cultural, environmental, and racial capitalism. Our geographical attractions vary from the Plantation South and the Caribbean to East Africa. We want to read some exciting works and have an engaged discussion.  

If you would like more information about the group, please contact one of the co-coordinators, Manjusha Nair ( or Deepika Hooda ( 

CHR Film and Media Studies Reading Group

A wall of tv screens

The Film and Media Studies reading group is a collective of people interested in exploring classic and cutting-edge texts in this interdisciplinary field. The texts we share speak to core debates in the humanities, and have and will reflect a range of critical and theoretical perspectives, historical eras, and geographical foci.

To be added to this group or attend a meeting, please contact Jessica Scarlata, Hatim El-Hibri, or May Santiago.

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

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. 

If you would like to join the group or receive more information about its activities, please contact the coordinator, Christy Pichichero

Early Americas Workshop

An early map of America

We are a group of George Mason faculty and graduate students who work on Early America, which we generally define as pre-1800 and hemispheric, including North, Central, and South America, although we are happy to define the field more broadly to include more participants. We meet 2-3 times a semester to present our research projects in a casual lunchtime setting that promotes friendly feedback and discussion. These presentations can, but do not have to, include pre-circulated work. We are especially interested in encouraging graduate students to attend and present at the workshop.

For more information contact Joan Bristol.

Modern History Workshop

history dictionaryThis is a workshop where we meet to discuss drafts-in-progress.  Papers are circulated about a week before the workshop, and the session is devoted to discussion of the draft – there are no formal presentations.  All are welcome – it is a chance for faculty and graduate students to discuss the craft of research and writing in a collaborative, informal setting.

Please contact Sam Lebovic ( to join.