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; communicate the richness of human culture to promote more diverse and inclusive social institutions; 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 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 associate 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.
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.
Elena Albarrán is a cultural historian of modern Mexico with research emphasis on childhood and visual culture. She is the author of Seen and Heard in Mexico: Children and Revolutionary Cultural Nationalism (University of Nebraska Press, 2015) and co-editor of New Approaches to the History of Childhood in Latin America: Between Practice and Representations (Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2012).
Cynthia Klestinec studies the history of medicine and the scientific revolution, especially anatomy, dissection, and histories of the body. The author of numerous articles and Theaters of Anatomy: Students, Teachers, and Traditions of Dissection in Renaissance Venice (Johns Hopkins, 2011), she has held residential fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Harvard Center for Renaissance Studies.
Jonathan Strauss, Professor and Chair of French, specializes in literature and culture from 1800 to the present and focusing on issues of subjectivity, mortality, and life. He is the author of Subjects of Terror: Nerval, Hegel, and the Modern Self (Stanford, 1998), Human Remains: Medicine, Death, and Desire in Nineteenth-Century Paris (Fordham, 2012), and Private Lives, Public Deaths: Antigone and the Invention of Individuality (Fordham, 2013). He has also edited a volume of diacritics (Post-Mortem: The State of Death as a Modern Construct, fall 2000) and was a recent fellow at Cornell’s Society for the Humanities. He is currently completing a book on the relations between literary language and the structuring of collective time.
Ann Elizabeth Armstrong holds both an M.F.A. in directing and a Ph.D. in theatre from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. She is co-director of the “Finding Freedom Summer Project,” an initiative that is nurturing various interdisciplinary humanities projects surrounding the history of the civil rights movement. She created a walking tour of Western College campus that explores the events that occurred on this site while activists trained for Freedom Summer in 1964. For this work, she has received grants from the Ohio Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Dr. Armstrong’s scholarship includes publications on feminist pedagogy, community-based theatre, theatre of the oppressed, and intercultural theatre. She is an affiliate in Women’s Studies and American Studies, and she also teaches in the Western College Program. At Miami, she teaches directing, dramatic literature and community-based theatre, and directs in the production season.
Elaine Miller, Professor and Chair of Philosophy, studies and teaches nineteenth-century German philosophy and contemporary European feminist theory, particularly aesthetics and the philosophy of nature. Her books include Head Cases: Julia Kristeva on Philosophy and Art in Depressed Times (Columbia, 2014), The Vegetative Soul: From Philosophy of Nature to Subjectivity in the Feminine (SUNY, 2002), and an edited collection, Returning to Irigaray: Feminist Philosophy, Politics, and the Question of Unity (SUNY, 2006). She has also published numerous articles in journals including Idealistic Studies, The Journal of Nietzsche Studies, and Oxford Literary Review.
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.
Pepper Stetler is Associate Professor of Art and Architecture History and Associate Director of the Miami University Humanities Center. She is the author of Stop Reading! Look!: Modern Vision and the Weimar Photographic Book (University of Michigan, 2015). Her essays on early twentieth-century German art and photography have appeared in publications of the Museum of Modern Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as well as numerous journals. In 2016, she received the Crossan Hays Curry Distinguished Educator Award from the College of Creative Arts. Her current research explores the dynamic relationship between photography and architecture.
Erin Elliott is the center's administrative assistant. She received her B.A. in English-Creative Writing from Butler University in 2007 and her M.S. in College Student Personnel from Miami in 2009. In addition to assisting with program coordination and communications, she manages the center's financial transactions, scheduling, logistics, and event planning.
Casey Kuhajda is a PhD candidate in English. His dissertation focuses on 20th and 21st century American literature, ecocriticism, intersectional environmental justice, and new materialisms. Casey was the 2018-2019 Graduate Fellow in the John J. Altman Program in the Humanities "Truth and Lies." His most recent publication (a co-publication with Dr. Anita Mannur), "Asian American Ecocriticism" appears in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Asian American Literature and Culture.
Sidne Lyon is a graduate student assistant at the Miami University Humanities Center. She is a doctoral student in America literature with interests in US empire, necropolitics, critical ethnic studies and thanatology. She has a background in archival administration focusing on preservation of visual culture and worked at one of the remaining independent, commercial-free radio stations in the US. Sidne assists with event planning, content creation for marketing, and social media.
Corinne Payne is a Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Philosophy double major with a minor in Disability Studies. She was a 2019 Undergraduate Summer Scholar. In addition to her academic commitments, Corinne is involved in the Miami University Color Guard and the national co-ed service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. She assists the center with office duties and public events.
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.