“Only connect,” the novelist E.M Forster famously wrote, as though connection itself were a magical end as much as a means. Connect to do what? To ally, or to allay? To compensate? To empathize? To "uplift”? The idea of connection, it seems, has multiple valences, critical and utopian, historical and contemporaneous, affirmative and constrictive, for the humanities.
Connection also shades over into “community,” a term whose apparent desirability—community as voluntary affiliation—bears within it, inevitably, its opposite: forms of exclusion and non-belonging. “Community” can empower people through forms of social and political solidarity, it can serve as a foundation for people’s sense of belonging, and identity, but it can also burden persons with pressures for conformity, with dynamics of definition through antipathies and cleavages, or as naturalized, obligatory belonging. Notions of communal or collective responsibility can serve as the basis for recognition of structural ills and their redress, but they can also serve as the basis for group stigmatization and impulses for discriminatory actions and violence. Communities can be undone through acts of violence, through ideological provocation, or through the struggle over territory. Equally, they can be undone by the slow attrition wrought by social-economic forces (such as gentrification, the passing-away of unions, the loss of jobs or the demands of new forms of labor), by the transformations wrought by environmental and demographic developments, the emergence of a disease, the impact of climate change.
“Community” offers us an important category for thinking about experience, but it can occlude other imaginative possibilities for working or living together, or for understanding social and cultural dynamics: what might be the differences between “community” (as a structure of feeling and/or as a concept for social and cultural analysis) and other ways of experiencing and understanding social and cultural interplay, such as “networks” or “allies and alliances” or “institutions” (parties, unions, corporations, civic groups, churches, professions, etc.) or the traditional counterpoints of “individualism” or “nonconformity”? What are the implications of the technological, broadly construed, for community—or its opposite, alienation? And what role have social media played in heightening these dynamics?
For 2022-23 the CHR invites applications from faculty and doctoral students at the dissertation stage whose research takes up connection, community, networks, alienation, and nonbelonging, in the broadest, most expansive, sense.
The Center for Humanities Research is welcoming applications to be a CHR fellow for fall 2022 and spring 2023. Fellows will be released from two courses the semester of their fellowship so that they may focus on writing and on participating in the intellectual life of the CHR.
These semester-long fellowships provide two course-releases (for tenure-line faculty) and in-state tuition, stipend, and—if eligible—health insurance (for PhD students), and require residency at the center (participation in regular meetings with the cohort of fellows, public presentation of research, and attendance at all center events). We will accept fellows from as wide a range of disciplines, departments, and programs as possible working on projects related to our theme.
Applications are due at noon on December 15, 2021. Please submit the entire application as a single PDF file (clearly labeled with your last name leading- ex. "Smith CHR Fellowship Application") to email@example.com. Find further details and instructions below. You may indicate a preference for fall or spring in your application, though we may not be able to honor it.
Faculty: submit a brief, 2-page proposal, outlining the larger project, its relationship to the theme, specific plans for the study leave; a single page-CV; and a statement of acknowledgment or support from your chair or program director. Please also indicate when you last had a study leave. Tenured and tenure-track faculty across the university are eligible to apply.
Advanced doctoral students: submit a brief, 2-page proposal, outlining the larger project, its relationship to the theme, and specific plans for the study leave; a single page-CV; and a brief letter of support from your dissertation director. Please indicate if you’ve received any other fellowships or grants.