The Humanities Research Center’s Interdisciplinary Research Groups foster conversation and creativity across conventional disciplinary boundaries by bringing together faculty and graduate students from different departments with common interests. Group members meet on a regular basis to discuss books and journal articles of common interest and/or their own work-in-progress. The Humanities Research Center provides space and administrative support for group meetings.

Proposals for new groups are always welcome. Please contact the director, Brooke Newman, at with any ideas you may have for an Interdisciplinary Research Group.

The following groups are convening in the 2018-2019 academic year:

Critical Environmental Thought

Contacts: Aspen Brinton, School of World Studies (, Jesse Goldstein, Sociology (, and Travis Williams, Sociology (

This reading group will discuss texts from the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences that are relevant to critical engagements with environmental change. We are specifically interested in exploring work that deals with themes such as environmental racism, sociotechnical systems, climate change politics, decolonial and anti-racist praxis, and environmental activism (global and local). We intend to bring scholars together that are working in or interested in exploring interdisciplinary fields such as world ecology, indigenous studies, environmental humanities, political ecology, and environmental justice. The group will be a forum to discuss scholarly works-in-progress as well as a platform for community engagement. Participants are welcome from all schools and colleges at VCU.

Film and Media Studies

Contact: Oliver Speck, School of World Studies,

The Film and Media Studies group meets to discuss the history and theory of film and media. We discuss work-in-progress by VCU faculty and graduate students as well as important work of interest to the group. All approaches to film and media studies — historical, sociological, and theoretical — are welcome.

LGBTQ Studies

Contact: Chris Cynn, Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies,

The LGBTQ Studies group meets regularly to discuss group members’ works-in-progress and books or articles addressing LGBTQ topics from a wide range of disciplinary and methodological perspectives.

Premodern Society and Culture

Contact: Brooke Newman, Department of History and Interim Director, Humanities Research Center,

This group examines a broad range of questions and issues relating to medieval, early modern, eighteenth-century, and early nineteenth-century society and culture.  It meets two or three times a semester to discuss a participating member’s work-in-progress — usually a draft book chapter or journal article. All disciplinary and methodological approaches are welcome.

The Nineteenth Century

Contacts: Mimi Winick ( and Adam Abraham (, Department of English

This group explores questions relating to the period from the end of the Napoleonic wars to World War I across multiple disciplines and cultures. It meets two or three times a semester to discuss a participating member’s work-in-progress  (usually a draft book chapter or journal article), workshop a member’s upcoming presentation, or critique a new scholarly work of wide interest. All disciplinary and methodological approaches are welcome.

Writing the First Book

Contact: Samaneh Oladi Ghadikolaei, Religious Studies / School of World Studies,

This writing group provides a supportive and rigorous forum in which junior faculty can engage with each other as they work on their first scholarly monographs. The group reads and discusses draft chapters, book proposals for submission to presses, and applications for fellowships and grants. It also invites senior colleagues to visit, talk about their experiences in writing and publishing their first books, and share strategies for successful and timely completion of a book project.

Women and Leadership in the Humanities

Contact: Catherine Ingrassia, Department of English,

The goal of this group — open to colleagues across gender, rank, and discipline — is to provide a forum for informed and supportive conversation about women’s career trajectories and their experience of leadership roles, broadly defined, in the academy.