Our mission is to nurture the humanities locally and globally, engage diverse perspectives past and present, and enrich public dialogue with humanistic approaches.
We seek to foster creative scholarship, transformative teaching, and intellectual collaboration by bringing the work of humanities departments and programs into dialogue with the creative arts, social sciences, natural sciences, and technology.
The Humanities Council is the academic home to the undergraduate certificate program in Humanistic Studies (HUM) and the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities (IHUM), as well as the Ferris Seminars in Journalism and the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Seminars in Writing and Publishing, which bring distinguished journalists and nonfiction writers to teach undergraduate seminars each year. We also support certificate programs in American Studies, European Cultural Studies, Linguistics, and Medieval Studies, along with graduate initiatives in the Ancient World, Classical Philosophy, and Renaissance and Early Modern Studies.
The Humanities Council is also home to the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts, in which postdoctoral fellows spend three years on campus, teaching and pursuing research. We foster intellectual exchange within and across the humanities and bring the campus together for major intellectual occasions such as the Gauss Seminars in Criticism, the annual Belknap Visitor in the Humanities Council, the Stewart Seminars in Religion, the Eberhard L. Faber IV Lectures, and the annual Humanities Colloquium.
The ongoing programs of the Council are overseen by an Executive Committee representing a broad spectrum of the Council’s activities. These activities include a program of Visiting Fellows—distinguished scholars from around the world who spend a period of time in residence in Princeton participating in the life of the University; the Old Dominion Professors, a small group of faculty members in the humanities and the humanistic social sciences who devote a year to intensive research and discussion; the Behrman Professors, who dedicate three years to teaching in the Humanistic Studies Program; the Old Dominion Faculty Fellows, members of the faculty from all four divisions who come together for monthly seminars; and the Behrman Fellows, associate professors who meet regularly for discussion. The Council also hosts a series of Faculty Seminars to share work in progress and for interdisciplinary conversation about recently published work.
The Edmund N. Carpenter II Class of 1943 Chair in the Humanities brings a senior scholar to Princeton on a permanent shared appointment between a department and the council.
See a list of the Humanities Council’s more than 46 participating centers, programs, committees, and interdisciplinary initiatives.
Research and Teaching Collaborations
The large-scale projects below are undertaken with multi-year support from the Humanities Council.
The Humanities Council supports groundbreaking initiatives that have the potential to change the way the humanities are conceived and taught.
As a catalyst for collaborative projects, and a coordinating force for those with shared interests, the Council enables faculty to develop new programs and to create new intellectual communities and broaden the scope of their activities.
We nurture new programs in emerging or underrepresented fields, provide the resources and connections necessary for growth, and, in some cases, help programs establish themselves as autonomous, independently funded entities.
Recent priorities and initiatives include the following:
New Media and Technologies
The Council is currently investing in the growth of Film Studies and Journalism and was an early supporter of the Digital Humanities Initiative and the Princeton Prosody Digital Archive, both of which received multiple years of start-up and project grants. We currently support the newly formed Center for Digital Humanities with programming funds and a postdoctoral fellow, offering a “digital humanities” track in our Humanistic Studies certificate program and funding the course “Introduction to Digital Humanities.” We co-host an undergraduate Digital Media Bootcamp each year with the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning.
The Council supports innovative programs that are explicitly cross-disciplinary or cross-divisional in their conception and outcomes. In particular, we encourage faculty to conceive and develop team-taught courses with new possibilities for creativity and scholarship. The Council’s Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities (IHUM) recently reached its full cohort of 15 doctoral students, and the undergraduate certificate program in Humanistic Studies graduated its first cohort of students in 2014. We have supported new courses, initiatives, and working groups in such fields as environmental humanities, urban humanities, and medical humanities.
The Council supports initiatives that consider race, class, ethnicity, national identity, gender, and sexuality in a transnational, comparative, and interdisciplinary perspective. We have been the primary supporter of the Princeton and Slavery Project, providing research grants for postdoctoral fellows and funds for innovative, digital, and media-oriented courses in which undergraduates participate in the research project. The Council supports the Program in American Studies, which is in the process of establishing curricula for Asian American Studies and American Indian Studies. Through Gardner Magic Project grants, the Council was the initial and primary supporter of the Ferguson is the Future workshop on arts, activism, and black speculative fiction, and we provided significant funds for two recent Princeton University Art Museum exhibits, “Kongo Across the Waters” and “The African Presence in the Renaissance.”
The Council is committed to global humanities and diverse perspectives, supporting work that transcends regional boundaries. We develop courses with international, interdisciplinary, and comparative approaches and help support instruction in less commonly taught languages, such as Sanskrit, Medieval Latin, and American Sign Language. The Council also supports international faculty seminars and course-related student travel, most recently to China, India, Peru, France, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Romania, and Brazil. We have been a major supporter of L’Avant-Scène Theater Workshop activities here and abroad, and in 2016, we sponsored our first-ever Summer Journalism Course in Greece, located in Athens and Lesbos and focused on the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean region. In spring 2018, under the auspices of the Humanities Council, the Comparative Antiquity Collaboration, a new three-year global initiative invites ideas, proposals, and applications from Princeton faculty and graduate students.
The Council supports or is a home for initiatives with a public humanities orientation, including Journalism, and provides funds for digital archives that make materials widely available to researchers and the public. The Council was part of a Princeton University coalition that has been awarded a $25,000 matching grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for the “Next Generation Humanities PhD” planning grant. On its tenth anniversary, our 2016 Annual Humanities Colloquium took up the topic of “Citizenship and the Humanities.” We have supported Law and Public Affairs Humanities Fellowships and the development of a public-oriented website for the Princeton and Slavery Project, along with an art installation that has a public, documentary component. In November 2015, the Council hosted a Community-University Summit of local leaders in public humanities, with an address by the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Creative Arts and Humanities
Through a new Belknap Teaching Fellowship, the Council enables humanities departments to bring distinguished practitioners to Princeton to teach for a semester. Visitors have included a Latin American theater director, who taught in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, a grassroots political organizer teaching in Religion, and a museum curator co-teaching with an historian on “Art and the Environment.” The Irish performer Iarla Ó Lionáird is the Council’s yearlong 2016-17 Belknap Fellow in Music, co-teaching in both fall and spring two interdisciplinary courses in Music and Irish Studies. The Council encourages team teaching between faculty in the Lewis Center and the humanities, including a graduate course on “Drawing the Line,” co-taught by a poet-scholar and a visual artist. Our “Global Conversation” series bridges “arts and ideas,” bringing practitioners to campus from around the world. The Council also helped to establish the Edwards Collective for the Arts and Humanities, an undergraduate residential community in Edwards Hall (in Mathey College) that mixes creative artists and humanities scholars.
The Council Chair and Executive Director lead an administrative team that is responsible for day-to-day operations and activities.
The Council is located in the Andlinger Center for the Humanities, named in honor of University benefactor, Gerhard R. Andlinger ’52.