Working Groups

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 Center with any ideas you may have for an interdisciplinary research group at

Abstract digital connection of nodes

Digital Technology in Education

The Digital Technology in Education working group, rooted in cross-disciplinary collaboration and community partnership, is dedicated to exploring the impact of digital technology, particularly Artificial Intelligence (AI), in education. This group focuses on critical issues such as the integration of Large Language Models (LLMs) in K12 and higher education settings, emphasizing a human-centered approach. Our work involves close engagement with teachers, students, administrators, and academic researchers, enriching our work with diverse perspectives. Through an emphasis on the importance of understanding the historical and rapid evolution of AI and its implications in language learning and education, the group aims to build scholarly and professional knowledge through critical reflection and practical application. Within our group's scholarly endeavors, we delve into the cultural and ethical dimensions of digital technology's role in education inherent in the use of digital technology within educational landscapes.

Contact: Mary Strawderman

Abolition text on colorful mural artwork

Abolition Studies

The HRC Abolition Study Group is made up of artists, activists, educators and researchers dedicated to abolitionist praxis in all of its formations. Through collective study, activism and group projects, we plan to become a lab, secure funding and begin to take on community work, students, and research/curricular projects in Fall 2023. 

Some potential subjects/projects may include, but are not limited to: navigating and transforming (or undoing!!!) the carceral university, resisting carceral feminism, indigenous abolitionist movements, mutual aid as abolitionist praxis, building alternatives to prisons/policing/surveillance, #CopsOffCampus research and movement building, defense campaigns/funds, cracking racial capitalism, abolition gardens, reparations, popular education, sousveillance movements, combating environmental racism and resisting genocide.

Contact: Liz Canfield

Signpost with arrows pointing in opposing directions


We say we want good lives-- the topic of ethics-- but it's difficult to know just what we mean. This research group meets to discuss ethics, or morality, from the perspectives of the humanities, social sciences, theology, natural sciences, professional fields, and beyond. The group considers questions including: How does morality shift with changes in social context? How do works of art make ethical arguments? What is the moral standing of nonhuman animals? How does moral change occur? The group reads a variety of texts, from Confucius' Analects to Emile Durkheim's Suicide to Toni Morrison's Beloved, as well as group members’ works-in-progress. Faculty and graduate students from all schools and colleges at VCU are welcome.

Contact: Ross Collin,

World globe on a dark background

Migration Studies

International migration is one of today’s most critical global issues and increasingly transforms sending and receiving societies. According to the UN, approximately 280 million (or 3.6 percent of the world's population) live outside their country of birth. In the United States alone, immigrants represent over 13% of the total population, bringing new opportunities and challenges to almost every sector of their host communities. For historical, economic, and political reasons, almost half of the 42 million migrants to the US originate in Latin America. In the Richmond area, the Hispanic population has grown by almost 200% in the past 15 years. This group seeks to explore ways to enhance VCU’s capacity as a center of research and expertise that will intensify its involvement initially with the local and regional Latinx and Latin American communities. Eventually, we want to contribute to the theoretical reflection upon migration broadly as well as the formulation of constructive policies toward all migrant populations at the local, national, and international levels. With migration broadly defined, this group of scholars seeks to build a dialogue along not only political and social dynamics but also cultural and environmental factors that shape the migration experience in Richmond, the United States, and beyond.

Contact: R. McKenna Brown,

statue of plato

Creation, Technology and Language in the Arts and Humanities

This reading group will explore questions surrounding the nature of language, specifically regarding its relationship to other forms of making and creativity. We intend to pay particular attention to the relationship between language and technology. Readings are likely to come from ancient, medieval, and contemporary philosophy and theory, but we look forward to developing the readings on an ongoing basis with participants. Faculty and graduate students from all schools and colleges at VCU are welcome. Read more about the Creation, Technology and Language in the Arts and Humanities group.

Contacts: David Golumbia,, and Adin Lears,

movie camera

Film and Media Studies

The Film and Media Studies group meets to discuss the history and theory of film and media. We discuss works-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. Faculty and graduate students from all schools and colleges at VCU are welcome.

Contact: Oliver Speck,

l.g.b.t. couple shares an intimate moment

LGBTQ 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. Faculty and graduate students from all schools and colleges at VCU are welcome.

Contact: Chris Cynn,

premodern era painting of a seated woman with a young man leaning over her shoulder

Premodern Society and Culture

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. Faculty and graduate students from all schools and colleges at VCU are welcome.

Contact: Catherine Ingrassia,

woman writing in a journal

Writing the First Book

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. Faculty and graduate students from all schools and colleges at VCU are welcome.

Contacts: Michael Hall,, and Caddie Alford,

Old-fashioned typewriter

The Second Book Writing Group

This writing group provides a supportive and rigorous forum for mid-career faculty to work on second (and third or fourth) monographs. This interdisciplinary book writing group will schedule meetings occurring regularly enough that each member can present work-in-progress once during the semester. Such sessions will offer substantive group discussion of each individual chapter or work-in-progress. Groups may schedule other, optional activities, as desired. Faculty from all schools and colleges at VCU are welcome.

Contacts: Cristina Stanciu,


Former Working Groups

Working groups that are no longer active.

aerial topographical view of grasslands and rock formations

Land Acknowledgement

This is a faculty-led group coordinating efforts between local Indigenous communities and VCU faculty, staff and students to produce a consultative land acknowledgment. The group understands land acknowledgment as a multidimensional process of respecting the past, present and future of Indigenous presence on this land. The goal of this group is to deepen our understanding of settler colonial history through learning about the region’s Indigenous past as well as its ongoing Indigenous presence. At present, universities across the United States—as key sites of cultural, social, and intellectual development—have started to accept the responsibility to acknowledge the ways in which a commitment to diversity and inclusion must include a reckoning with our historical and ongoing complicity in the violence and dispossessions of settler colonialism. The group met monthly to discuss proposed readings, meet Indigenous leaders in the community and draft recommendations for a land acknowledgment statement.

In 2022, the university convened a task force to initiate planning for VCU's formal land acknowledgement.

robert e. lee statue painted with protest graffiti

Memory and Monuments

Memory and Monuments brings together interdisciplinary scholars who are engaged with the historical reckoning around issues of race, power and memory, in our city and around the world. Although much of our work focuses on local sites of memory, such as Confederate monuments and African American landmarks, our initiative is deeply linked with the work of global scholars who are using the framework of memory studies to explore histories of racial injustice, civil conflict, nation building, state violence and political resistance. We welcome faculty and graduate students from all schools and colleges whose work engages or would benefit from memory studies in any context or discipline. In this working group, members will share their writings-in-process and readings to develop strategies for bringing memory studies to bear on issues of commemoration in Richmond and elsewhere. The goal of the group is to foster the intellectual growth and scholarship of its members; to provide mentoring for junior faculty and graduate students; and to increase the visibility of humanities fields on campus. In doing so, we aim to create a robust home at VCU for the study of memory and its material expressions.

This group became a lab in Fall 2023: Memory Studies Lab.

neon sign that says

Women and Leadership in the Humanities

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.