Receive the Help of a Research Apprentice

This program places undergraduates into one-on-one collaborations with faculty. Each fall, faculty members apply for funding to hire student research apprentices. Awards are made on a rolling basis, starting in late September. As awards are made, the Humanities Center advertises research apprenticeship opportunities and students are invited to apply directly to faculty members. Faculty members can select their apprentices beginning in the second week of October.

Interested faculty should send a 1- to 2-page application describing 1) an ongoing or planned research project; 2) how an undergraduate might contribute to some aspect of the project; and 3) any qualifications the apprentice should have. Faculty may apply after the deadline, but the steering committee will begin to select suitable projects shortly after the deadline. In the past, most awards have been made in September, and once funding is exhausted, no more projects will be approved for the current academic year. To apply please send your proposal to

All awards for 2017 have been made. The next round of awards will be made after September 18, 2018. If you are a student and wish to be informed when the 2018-2019 application process begins please, click HERE.

If you are interested in past apprenticeship projects please visit our archival page.

2017-2018 Positions

All 2017-2018 Research Apprentice Positions have been filled at this time. Please check back in early October 2018 for open positions for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Materializing the Bible (Year 2)

James S. Bielo

Materializing the Bible is a digital scholarship project launched in July 2015, focused on attractions of religious tourism. The project curates a global, interactive catalogue of attractions that transform the written words of scripture into experiential, choreographed environments. It is intended for popular audiences as well as scholars in anthropology, religious studies, and related disciplines concerned with how materiality, the senses, entertainment, and sacred space intersect. The undergraduate apprentice who is selected will have multiple research opportunities available to them. Possible contributions include:

· Identify and implement digital resources for data presentation (e.g., interactive timeline);

· Qualitative data analysis (e.g., interviews; fieldwork video; archival materials)

Part of the initial work will be to propose further possibilities through exploring other digital scholarship projects. Students with interests in anthropology, lived religion, and/or digital scholarship are especially encouraged to apply.

Apprentice: Kaila Sansom

Paintings for the Visually Impaired

John Humphries

Most art is for the sighted. The visually impaired do not have access to much art, classical or contemporary. The Paintings for the Visually Impaired project strives to use digital and mechanical processes of fabrication to re-create original paintings into a format which is easier for those with visual impairments to experience. The project will prepare images for production, digitally sculpt solutions into wooden surfaces, and present these in a public forum. The successful apprentice will have some familiarity with digital imaging software (e.g. Adobe Photoshop), wood working and using a camera; mentorship will be provided where there are deficiencies in the skill set. Research apprentices will assist with 1) the processing of images using Adobe Photoshop techniques developed specifically for this project, 2) depending on existing skill set, prepare the wooden blanks used for digital carving, and 3) using notes and photography assist with documenting the project.

Apprentice: Molly Meyer

Participation, Performance, Contemporary Art, and the Insurmountable Video Archive

Annie Dell’Aria

Much of contemporary art incorporates the participation of the viewer. Interactive and socially engaged projects are activated and brought into being through participation, but how does this factor into art historical analysis and art criticism? The research apprentice for this project will assist the faculty advisor with finding ways to comb through and analyze hundreds of hours of video data from a recent participatory artwork, HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US, a work that featured a webcam in public space that was archived and livestreamed to the internet 24/7. Audio-visual data promises to be the next significant interdisciplinary “big data” research discussion. Together with the faculty advisor, the research apprentice will devise methods for watching samples of the archived feed, perform these methods while gathering quantitative and qualitative data from this archive, and begin synthesis of the research findings with the faculty advisor. The resulting article will both analyze the work of art through participation and be a self-reflexive examination of methods for tackling this unique research problem. The Research Apprentice will be appropriately cited in the article consistent with the level of engagement with the project.

The Research Apprentice assigned to this project does not need to have prior experience with art history or contemporary art, but should have an open mind about and interest in contemporary conceptual, video, and/or performance art. Basic knowledge of video software would be helpful, but not required. Attention to detail and ability to take clear notes and reflect on the method of research as well as conduct it would be helpful as well. The researcher should also be aware that video archive under study contains some instances of intolerant language and iconography.

Apprentice: Amanda Messeri

Heterogeneous Belonging and Ecopolitical Community

Suzanne McCullagh

This research is for a book project that explores the possibilities and limitations of understanding political community and belonging as populated and constituted by nonhuman entities and elements. The work argues that the dominant tendency to delimit political community from the natural and more than human world by seeing it as produced by exclusively human attributes and actions undermines our ability to think about both social and ecological justice adequately.

I am seeking an undergraduate research apprentice with an interest in environmental problems and questions from a humanities perspective. The apprentice will be majoring in a humanities discipline, have taken at least one philosophy course, have some familiarity with political theory, and possess strong analytic and writing skills. The research apprentice will:

· Consult in the development of the research process and plan.

· Participate in bi-weekly meetings to discuss research progress.

· Conduct book and journal article searches on key philosophical concepts and problems.

· Keep a log of research findings and organize research files.

· Collaborate in the writing of an annotated bibliography.

Apprentices: Sarah Camino and Angus Cady

Narrating the Afterlife of Nuclear Pacific

Yu-Fang Cho

Narrating the Afterlife of Nuclear Pacific is a book project on post-Fukushima transpacific literary and cultural works that grapple with the pervasiveness of military technologies as the condition of our modern way of life in the decades after US nuclear bomb tests in the Pacific and US introduction of nuclear energy in East Asia immediately after WWII. This project employs transnational feminist and critical ethnic studies approaches to examine the militarization of our everyday life. Under Professor Cho’s guidance, the undergraduate research will do some of the following: 

· Search online scholarly databases and digitized collections for images, newspaper articles, government documents, and other types of information on the Atoms for Peace Campaign and build an annotated bibliography of these sources.

· Read and annotate a list of recent secondary sources on both empirical and theoretical (especially new materialist) approaches to the circulation of nuclear waste across the Pacific, structured by the transpacific military industrial complex.

· Compile a bibliography of images and texts on atomic bombs and nuclear plants and nuclear waste repositories. I am especially interested in tracing how these objects and sites are signified and represented, and how their stories are narrated.

The candidate should possess basic research skills; have the ability to find and evaluate relevant academic and archival sources; have strong organizational skills; be able to identify and summarize key ideas clearly and effectively; and have strong reading comprehension of conceptually complex academic sources.  The ideal candidate would be someone interested in doing interdisciplinary research in the subject area, interested learning about transnational feminist and critical ethnic studiess, and open to learning new ways of compiling and analyzing information. 

Apprentice: David Farley

Chinese-language Scholarship on the Kirghiz Epic Tradition

Daniel Prior

The goal of this project is to survey Chinese-language research on the Kirghiz (Central Asian Turkic) epic tradition. I have a general sense of the field in China, but lack the linguistic skills necessary to form a detailed view of the scholarship. The apprentice or apprentices will help me survey the literature, then work on their own to produce English translations and/or summaries of key works. These will typically be articles in Chinese academic journals and monographs published by Chinese presses. Other tasks may arise as the work progresses. Knowledge of both Chinese and English (native Chinese and good English, or native English and excellent Chinese) is required; some interest in literature, history, oral tradition, or the minority nationalities of China is desired.

Apprentices: Dan Luo and Ruilin Shi

American Debt

Carolyn Hardin

American Debt is a book project that explores the everyday experience of indebtedness in American culture with a theoretically grounded contextual analysis. It examines Americans’ use of credit cards, payday loans, mortgages, and student loans through the lens of cultural discourses of morality, freedom, individual choice, and perpetual growth. The undergraduate apprentice selected to assist with this project will contribute to three research tasks: 

1. Search out research reports on particular debt issues produced by debt-focused think tanks including the Pew Research Center and the Center for Responsible Lending. 

2. Summarize particularly relevant reports, with direction about what key issues to focus on and how to identify important data and quotations for the book. 

3. Produce short bulleted reports on current interpretations of key events in the history of debt (ex. the 1978 Marquette decision or the Credit CARD Act of 2009) from sources Hardin provides within the existing literature on debt. 

An ideal candidate would either have previously taken Hardin's section of AMS205 or have some coursework in economics or finance.

Apprentice: Sarah Siegel

Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and the Poetics of Global Cinema

Kerry T. Hegarty

The end result of this project is a scholarly monograph on the work of Mexican/ Hollywood cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. In it, I delineate a broad poetics of Lubezki’s visual style, as well as create a critical framework for looking at cinematography as both kinetic art form and critical praxis. I foreground the signifying power of visual language for various reasons (cultural, technological, economic), and analyze how the technological and aesthetic elements of Lubezki’s cinematography build upon and mediate each other within specific production contexts.

The research apprentice should be familiar with the language of film analysis, as well as with library databases in film studies. He/she will be responsible for conducting literature searches, cataloging information from secondary source material (production notes, scripts etc.), collaborating on creating annotated bibliographies of key critical studies, organizing bibliography and endnotes, among other things.

Apprentice: Cameron Lodge

Agriculture and Empire in Ancient Neo-Assyria (Year 2)

Melissa Rosenzweig

A research apprentice is desired to help to manage and organize the Environmental Archaeology Laboratory where Professor Rosenzweig conducts research on ancient plant remains from the Neo-Assyrian empire (ca. 900 – 600 BCE) in the ancient Near East. In this lab (UPH 056) she analyzes the carbonized remains of seeds that have been recovered from several different archaeological excavations throughout the Middle East (Turkey, Israel, and Iraqi Kurdistan). As laboratory manager, the research apprentice will assist her in managing and organizing this archaeobotanical collection. Responsibilities include:

  • Cataloging and curating the archaeobotanical collection.
  • Keeping track of laboratory supplies and ordering products as needed.
  • Assisting with the acquisition of a comparative plant collection by compiling a list of the plant species to be requested from herbaria in Israel, Turkey, Iraq, and elsewhere.
  • Assisting with the maintenance of the laboratory equipment, which includes a number of microscopes, a muffle furnace (i.e. a laboratory‐grade charring oven), and a fume hood.

If the apprentice shows an affinity for the research, s/he can assist, under supervision, with some of the experimentation and analysis.

Prior experience is not required (training will be provided), but a scientific background is helpful, and attention to detail is a must. This apprenticeship is ideal for a student interested in humanities-based laboratory research, as well as a student interested in the study of ancient history or the environment. 

Apprentice: Amber Warren

Reflective Judgement

Elaine Miller

The research apprentice will need to be familiar with philosophy and ideally be a philosophy or other humanities major with an excellent academic record who is comfortable with theoretical texts (all in translation), and who is familiar with standard databases such as the MLA Index and the Philosophers' Index. The primary activity of this apprenticeship would be searching databases for secondary literature on reflective judgment, as well as primary texts that deal with this kind of judgment. A list would then be compiled as an annotated bibliography of articles that might contribute to the research. A secondary aspect of this research project is to examine artworks (particularly film) that display particularly well the possibility of a singular work being able to communicate across differences and to signify in an exemplary way, rather than through propositions or concepts.

The apprentice will gain knowledge of research techniques in the humanities and firsthand experience with the procedure of crafting a research project, including the need for constant reworking of the material in response to new source material.

Apprentices: Anne Lazarski and Sophia Fremont