News & Announcements

  • Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow Durba Mitra meets with PHF Undergrad Fellows

    Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow Durba Mitra met with the Forum's Undergraduate Research Fellows, who invited her to discuss her research on how the “prostitute” and other figures of sexually deviant women became central to legal, social, and scientific discourses emerging in eastern India during the colonial period. Prof. Mitra touched on her History course, “The Sexual Life of Colonialism: Gender & Sexuality in the Colonial World,” which covers everything from Instagram filters to colonial postcards of South Asian sex workers. She also addressed the politics of the archive; specifically, how archival material available to intellectual and social historians becomes a lens through which they imagine the many things that have not been preserved.

  • Scott Enderle Appointed Digital Humanities Specialist Librarian at Penn

    The Forum congratulates Jonathan Scott Enderle on his new appointment as Digital Humanities Specialist Librarian at Penn Libraries. Scott is a 2011 graduate of Penn with a PhD in English. He was a Research Assistant and Graduate Humanities Forum chair for the 2010-2011 Penn Humanities Forum on Virtuality.

  • Constructed Blackness and the Case of Francis Harwood’s *Bust of a Man*

    Haptic Blackness: The Double Life of an 18th-century Bust, is a collaborative study of expatriate British sculptor Francis Harwood’s Bust of a Man (1758), made during the height of the transatlantic slave trade. Only two known copies of the bust exist in museum collections. Writing in the inaugural issue (Autumn 2015) of the online journal British Art Studies, authors Cyra Levenson and Chi-ming Yang, with photo-essay by Ken Gonzales-Day, are the first to image together the two different busts and consider both as objects in dialogue across time and space. Note the authors in this fascinating study, "Harwood’s figures connect moments in time when the contradictions of the raced body – its invisibility and hypervisibility – might give rise to new ways of seeing and feeling." Originally thought "ugly and terrifying," the bust today is seen as “exquisite and exotic.” How and why does this work resonate so profoundly with present-day audiences? Chi-ming Yang is associate professor of English at Penn, who last year was topic director of the Penn Humanities Forum on Color.

  • Historic Churches & Saints in Stunning 3D

    Prepare yourself for an immersive experience in stunning 3D of medieval architecture and sculpture in Northern Spain. Through the award-winning website RomanesqueSpain created by Liz Lastra, a Penn PhD student in art history, it is now possible to see historic Romanesque monuments and sites in detail once only conceivable if inches away on a scaffold. Lastra's project has been supported by PHF's former Digital Humanities Forum, the Price Lab for Digital Humanities, Penn's History of Art Department, and the Penfield Endowment. She also received the Delaware Valley Medieval Association's first Digital Project Prize for her work. Media coverage: "Seeing the Saints - Up Close," by Susan Alhborn, SAS Frontiers, Nov. 6, 2015.

  • Penn Museum SEX: A HISTORY IN 30 0BJECTS Exhibition Heats Up

    The Penn Museum has some really choice art and artifacts. So choice, in fact, that just thirty pieces from their vast collection can richly evoke the diverse ways that societies across continents and throughout the millennia have understood sex and sexuality, gender, and gender diversity. Presented to coincide with the 2015–2016 Penn Humanities Forum on Sex, "SEX: A History in 30 Objects" is curated by Dr. Lauren Risvet, the Robert H. Dyson, Jr. Associate Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology and Associate Curator of the Museum's Near East SectionFind out more on WHYY's NewsWorks with Peter Crimmins, PhillyVoice with Aubrey Nagle, and Penn's own Daily Pennsylvanian with Remi Lederman. And, be sure to come see for yourself! The exhibition runs from October 17, 2015 through July 31, 2016. 

  • Shaj Mathew reviews Orhan Pamuk's A Strangeness in My Mind

    Writing in the October 13 issue of the New Republic, Shaj Mathew reviews Orhan Pamuk's latest work, A Strangeness in My Mind, calling it "a novel of immigration (within one's own country) and the hardships and moral dilemmas that invariably attend such sudden, if voluntary, displacement." It is devoted mainly to recovering the memory of a particular journey common to many Turks who moved from village to city in the late 20th century. Writes Mathew, "if you listen closely enough to this novel, you may discover a secret history of Istanbul in [the main character] Mevlut's song." Shaj is a Ph.D. student in Comparative Literature at Yale and was a Mellon Undergraduate Research Fellow with the Penn Humanities Forum in 2013 and 2014 before graduating Penn in 2014. In addition to the New Republic, he has written for the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Lapham's Quarterly, Guernica, and others.

  • Noah Tamarkin Wins 2015 Prize from American Anthropological Association

    Noah Tamarkin, Assistant Professor of Comparative Studies at Ohio State University, has won the 2015 Prize for Exemplary Cross-Field Scholarship from the General Anthropology Division of the American Anthropological Association for his article "Genetic Diaspora: Producing Knowledge of Genes and Jews in Rural South Africa." The work examines Lemba DNA and genetic diaspora in South Africa and its associated politics of belonging. "Genetic diaspora" is a term Tamarkin introduced to help explain the histories and politics of race and religion. His research was conducted while a Penn Humanities Forum Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in 2012-13.

  • Betsy Casañas: Artist and Activist

    Muralist, activist, and educator Betsy Casañas was profiled for the Philadelphia Inquirer, by A.M. Weaver. The article explores how her art and teaching have influenced not only her own north Philly community, but also communities she has traveled to and created murals in all over the world. Casañas was a panelist for the event Public Art, as part of the 2014-2015 Forum on Color. Click-through to the event footage to see her discuss how she came to be an artist and why she believes art can transform people's lives.

  • Charleston and the History of White Fear

    In a June 19 LA Times op-edJason Ward, an associate professor of history at Mississippi State University who spent 2013–14 as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow with the Forum, places Dylann Roof's June 16 shooting of nine parishioners inside Charleston’s historic Emanuel AME Church within a long of history of white fear of African Americans “taking over our country,” to use the words Roof allegedly uttered as he opened fire. Ward notes that Roof “inherited a logic and a political legacy that defied statistics, the march of time, and any shred of common humanity.” This legacy was stoked by generations of white supremacists and seared into national consciousness by, among other things, Thomas Dixon’s novel The Clansman and the 1915 blockbuster film Birth of a Nation, which the novel inspired.

  • "Open Lab: Text Analysis with R" Starts June 5

    Penn Libraries WordLab, Swarthmore Libraries, and Early Novels Database are hosting an open lab this summer to work through Matt Jockers's Text Analysis with R. This weekly open lab focuses on computational text analysis using the free and accessible R Studio to reveal patterns in texts. No previous experience necessary. For details, email Katie Rawson. (Fridays, 2–4:45pm, Vitale II, Van Pelt Library).