Please join me in congratulating the recipients of the Humanities Research Center’s Residential Fellowships for Spring Semester 2018. Each year this program gives four faculty who are working on related issues or topics release from teaching responsibilities for one semester so that they can focus on their individual research projects and at the same time engage regularly with each other. Professors Andrew Alwood, Andrew Crislip, Vivian Dzokoto, and Sarah Meacham will be working together on “What We Ought To Feel: Instructions For Emotional Well-Being Across Cultures And Time.” They describe their joint endeavor as follows:
Contemporary culture is replete with advice on how we ought to feel and explanations of why we fail to feel what we should, in high profile moral advice (for example, the Dalai Lama in the New York Times) and well-funded public health initiatives (for example, VCU’s COBE Institute). Our interrelated projects aim to ground these pressing concerns in cross-disciplinary humanistic research that explores how humans across cultures and time have grappled with the goal of feeling good, as well as its inescapable shadow, emotional suffering.
Contemporary scientific research on emotion and well-being presumes the universality and transparency of such concepts as happiness, pain, and emotion. Yet these concepts are expressed in radically different ways in various languages, including those used by the group, Akan, Egyptian, English, and Greek. Group members draw on a range of methodological perspectives –from analytical philosophy, gender studies, anthropology and cross-cultural psychology, history, and philology — and are working on books and articles to study how diverse cultures define emotions and prescribe norms for emotional behavior and expression.
I would also like to thank and congratulate the other applicants, whose projects testify eloquently to the quality and vitality of research in the humanities here at VCU.
This will be the fourth group of faculty to benefit from this program and I look forward to many more colleagues doing so in future years. A call for a fifth round of applications will go out in the coming fall.
With all best wishes,
Professor of History and
Director, Humanities Research Center,