Billie Jean King, Cornell West, Elizabeth Pryor, and Bob Woodward. The words interdisciplinary, collaborative, inclusive, global, and public are superimposed.

Spring '21 Featured Events

View full offerings for 2020-21

elizabeth outka
Elizabeth Outka, Ph.D.

January 29, 2021

Contagion Aesthetics: Modernist Literature and the Influenza Pandemic

12:00 p.m. (virtual event)
Registration link for "Contagion Aesthetics"

The speaker for this virtual event is Elizabeth Outka, Ph.D., professor of English at the University of Richmond, and author of the award-winning book, "Viral Modernism: The Influenza Pandemic and Interwar Literature," which investigates how one of the deadliest plagues in history—the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic—silently reshaped the modernist era.

HRC Speaker Series

carolyn eastman
Carolyn Eastman, Ph.D.

February 8, 2021

The Strange Genius of Mr. O: The World of the United States' First Forgotten Celebrity

4:00 p.m. (virtual event)
Registration link for "The Strange Genius of Mr. O"

The speaker for this virtual event is Carolyn Eastman, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of History in the College of Humanities and Sciences at VCU. Eastman uses the career of a now-forgotten celebrity of the very early 19th century to tell a new story about the intersection of political culture and celebrity—at a moment when the United States was in the midst of invention.

Meet VCU's Authors

carl suddler
Carl Suddler, Ph.D.

February 19, 2021

Presumed Criminal: Black Youth and the Justice System in Postwar New York

12:00 p.m. (virtual event)
Registration link for "Presumed Criminal"

The speaker for this virtual event is Carl Suddler, Ph.D., assistant professor of history at Emory University, in conversation with Michael Dickinson, Ph.D., assistant professor of history in the VCU Department of History. Suddler's first book, "Presumed Criminal: Black Youth and the Justice System in Postwar New York," was published in 2019. His research examines the intersections of youth, race and crime in the U.S.

HRC Speaker Series

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Presumed Criminal: Black Youth and the Justice System in Postwar New York

Carl Suddler, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of History
Emory University

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Gay Inc.:
The Nonprofitization of Queer Politics

Myrl Beam, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies
Virginia Commonwealth University

More podcasts (transcripts available) >>>

Melis Hafez

Faculty Spotlight: Melis Hafez

Melis Hafez, Ph.D., is a historian of the nineteenth century with a focus on the Ottoman Empire, a Muslim-ruled, multiethnic, polyglot and multiconfessional empire that stretched over what is today called the Middle East and the Balkans. Her research is focused on the cultural history of the Ottomans during the nineteenth century when the empire experienced land losses, social and economic upheavals, and extensive, transformative reforms. Her current book project examines the historical development of deontological morality as a form of social intervention in the late Ottoman Empire between the 1870s and 1920s.

“I am working on a group of Ottoman moralists, largely based in Istanbul, the imperial capital. They came from diverse ethno-confessional origins (Greek Orthodox, Turkish-speaking Muslim and Armenian Ottomans) and subscribed to different, yet fluid ideological and moral positions.”

The Humanities Research Center has supported Hafez's work on many levels—through travel and research grants, intangible resources like intellectual exchange with peers and collaborative research groups as well as an HRC residential fellowship in spring 2020.

“I have received several external fellowships in recent years, including two NEH fellowships, but my own institution’s appreciation of my research is invaluable to me. This is not something that translates into numbers in ledgers, perhaps, but it certainly contributes to the sense of intellectual belonging to one’s institution, being a member of an academic home. The Humanities Research Center has supported my travels to overseas that allowed me to conduct research at the dusty, salty archives of Istanbul, Turkey. Just like my first book "Inventing Laziness: The Culture of Productivity in Late Ottoman Society" did in the past, my current book project, "Ottoman Moral Entrepreneurs: Cultural Politics and Moral Citizenship in the Ottoman Empire," benefits from the Center’s support, both monetarily and intellectually.”

Additionally, the Humanities Research Center provides a forum for faculty like Hafez to cross disciplines, collaborate and find connection. “The Humanities Research Center offers many options for collaboration—reading groups, workshops, panels and more structured collaboration projects, like the residential fellowship.”

Her fellowship in spring 2020 coalesced a group of academics whose regions of focus range from India, Iran, Peru and Turkey to examine the topic Indigenizing Reform: Cultural and Political Transformations in the Global South. “Together, we are looking at specific changes and reform movements in four different localities of the Global South. We focus on diverse parts of the world and come from different disciplines, including history, religious studies and international studies. This diversity allows our collaboration to take place not only on a comparative level, but also on a connective one. Personally, I leave each meeting with a new set of perspectives, questions and a renewed sense of what I am doing.”

The mission of the Humanities Research Center is centered on providing an intellectual space for collaboration and exchange for promising faculty like Melis. Research like hers on the cultural history of the nineteenth century Ottoman Empire benefits greatly from formal and informal support that the Center provides.

“I am very fond of the edge effect concept: When the edges of two different ecosystems meet, a zone of transition and exchange is created. I find it very useful in explaining the importance of collaboration and interdisciplinary exchange in scholarly pursuits. The edge effect is what happens when academics and students emerge out of their own disciplines and collaborate across fields.”