The Miami University Humanities Center brings together faculty, students, and the public for conversation and debate about human experience. The mission of the center is to recruit, retain, and energize outstanding faculty; foster flexible, collaborative inquiry in and beyond the humanities; cultivate a new generation of scholars and leaders; and demonstrate the value of the humanities to liberal arts education and society more generally.
The center offers over a dozen distinct programs for research, cross-disciplinary inquiry, creative teaching, and public engagement; it organizes, funds, and advertises scores of annual lectures, readings, workshops, and symposia; it advocates for the value of the humanities and coordinates capacity-building initiatives; and it is a resource for diverse institutional groups, providing funding, oversight, logistical support, and means of dissemination.
Events sponsored by the Humanities Center are free and open to the public.
The director and assistant director of the center are appointed by the dean and share responsbility for planning, academic programming, financial oversight, fundraising, and public outreach.
The steering committee advises the director on matters of funding, selection of the Altman program and its participants, annual financial planning, fundraising, and other aspects of governance. The Steering Committee consists of two Altman Faculty Fellows, who serve during the year of their fellowship; three at-large members, all from different departments or programs, who serve staggered, three-year terms; the director; the assistant director; the past director for one year after his or her service; and an ex-officio representative from the Dean’s office.
Faculty associates are the faculty community that constitutes the Humanities Center. All Miami University faculty members (including temporary, visiting, and part-time faculty) with interests in humanities scholarship are members by default.
Center associates form the wider scholarly community of the Humanities Center. They may include students, other members of the university community, and local or regional scholars interested in an association with the Center.
Luis (Iñaki) Prádanos studies environmental issues in contemporary Iberian and Latin American cultures. Combining urban critical theory, ecological economics, and cultural studies, his work explores the relation of socioecological crisis to economic growth. He is the author of numerous articles and recently completed his manuscript, “Postgrowth Imaginaries: New Ecologies and Counterhegemonic Culture in Post-2008 Spain.” He is currently editing a special issue of Letras Hispanas titled “Contemporary Iberian Ecocriticism and New Materialisms” and is co-editing a special issue on “South Atlantic Ecocriticism” for Ecozon@: European Journal of Literature, Culture and Environment.
Cathy Wagner is a poet and essayist whose interests include labor, ecology, and connections between poetic form, social practices, and embodied experience. She is author of four books of poems, most recently Nervous Device (City Lights, 2012), and is working on two book projects. One, a poetry collection, interweaves notes taken in abandoned, semi-wild land between a golf course and a trailer park with documentary material on the area's racial and economic history. The other is a collection of essays and hybrid texts on academic labor and the role of the poet and poetry in the academy and in the broader economy.
Mack Hagood uses ethnographic and archival research on digital media, film, sound technologies, and the biomediation of disability. He is particularly interested in the use of audio media as a means of affective control. His publications on noise-canceling headphones, Foley and digital film soundtracks, crowd noise as "the 12th man" in NFL telecasts, and the representation and treatment of tinnitus have appeared in journals such as American Quarterly, Cinema Journal, and Popular Communication. He is currently writing a book on “orphic media”: apps and devices used to create a comfortable sense of space through sound.
Elisabeth Hodges is a scholar of early modern French literature, cinema, and art. She is the author of Urban Poetics in the French Renaissance (Ashgate, 2008) and articles on Montaigne, Godard, the artwork of Lindberg and Olde Wolbers, and the television series The Wire. She held a residential fellowship at the Newberry Library and is currently writing a book, “Introspective Cinema,” on sensory experience in contemporary cinema and new media. Hodges also served as an Altman Faculty Fellow in 2015-16 for the program "The Senses."
P. Renée Baernstein is Professor of History and Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Science. She specializes in the history Renaissance Italy, particularly gender, religion, and family. She is the author of A Convent Tale: A Century of Sisterhood in Spanish Milan (Routledge 2002) as well as articles in many journals. She has been a Fulbright fellow, fellow of the American Academy in Rome, Visiting Professor at Harvard’s Villa I Tatti Center in Florence, and recipient of the Ohio Academy of History’s Distinguished Teaching Award. Her next book, “Strangers at Home,” is about noble women and family politics in sixteenth-century Italy.
Denise Eileen McCoskey's work concentrates on the modern life of classical thought and the role of identity and difference in ancient literature and social life, especially in relation to race and gender. She is the author of Race: Antiquity and Its Legacy (I.B. Tauris/Oxford University Press, 2012), co-author of Latin Love Poetry (I.B.Tauris, 2014), and co-editor of Bound by the City: Greek Tragedy, Sexual Difference and the Formation of the Polis (SUNY Press, 2012).
Timothy Melley is Professor of English, Affiliate of American Studies, and Director of the Miami University Humanities Center. He is the author of Empire of Conspiracy: The Culture of Paranoia in Postwar America (Cornell 2000), The Covert Sphere: Secrecy, Fiction, and the National Security State (Cornell 2012), as well as numerous essays His short stories have appeared in Story Quarterly, Threepenny Review, The Sun, Columbia, Mississippi Review, and Epoch. They have also aired on Public Radio International’s “This American Life” and received mention in The Best American Stories. He is the recipient of four teaching awards, including Miami's university-wide teaching prize, E. Philip Knox Award. He is currently writing about the cultural politics of security.
Steve Dudas is a doctoral student in English literature with interests in modern Irish poetry and children's literature. He is a founding co-editor of Threadcount Magazine. He helps with communications and event planning.
Abigail Culpepper is a junior linguistics major with a focus on German and a student in the French department's B.A./M.A. program. She was a 2016 summer fellow at the Luxembourg Humanities Research Institute and an Undergraduate Summer Scholar. She helps the center with office work and public events.
Polly Heinkel received her B.A. in English Literature from Miami in 2007 and her M.A. in Theatre Studies in 2012. In 2016, she received her M.F.A. in Theatre Directing from the University of Essex, UK. In addition to assiting with program coordination and communications, she manages the center's financial transactions, scheduling, logistics, and event planning.
In 1990, John W. Altman (Miami, 1960) made a major gift to create a Visiting Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities at Miami University. In 2008, Miami University awarded a $250,000 Presidential Academic Enrichment Award for the creation of a humanities center. At that time, Mr. Altman worked with the university to transfer his gift to the new Humanities Center, which was inaugurated in 2009 by President David Hodge and Dean Karen Schilling. The Founding Director of the Center was Allan Winkler, Distinguished Professor of History, who served from 2009-2011. Timothy Melley, Professor of English and Affiliate of American Studies, served as Interim Director for a semester in 2010 and then took over as Director in the summer of 2011.
In 2015, the Humanities Center won a prestigious $500,000 NEH Challenge Grant. The award is the largest and most prestigious offered by the NEH, and Miami was the only existing humanities center to receive a 2015 award. The award will be the basis of a new $2 million endowment to support collaborative faculty and student inquiry. In his award letter to Miami University President David Hodge, NEH Chairman William Adams called the Miami University Humanities Center a “model for integrating undergraduate training into advanced multidisciplinary scholarly efforts in the humanities.”* This award challenges Miami University to raise $1.5 million, creating a $2 million endowment to underpin the center’s work and create three pioneering programs for faculty research, student apprenticeship, and transformational teaching.