News & Announcements

  • Elizabeth Della Zazzera lands Mellon/ACLS Public Fellowship

    Congratulations to Elizabeth Della Zazzera (Research Assistant, 2014-15; PhD, History, 2016) on her 2018 Mellon/ACLS Public Fellowship, during which she’ll serve as Digital Producer at Lapham’s Quarterly. Elizabeth participated in the 2014-15 Penn Humanities Forum on Color as both the Graduate Research Assistant and Chair of the Graduate Humanities Forum.

  • Thanks for the memories, Jim English!

    Colleagues near and far joined the Wolf Humanities Center earlier this month in toasting Jim English for his eight years as Director of the Penn Humanities Forum and the Wolf Humanities Center. Under his leadership, Penn received major gifts to endow and make permanent the programs of the Penn Humanities Forum as the Wolf Humanities Center, and to endow a new digital humanities lab, the Price Lab for Digital Humanities.

    Since becoming Director in 2010, Jim has hosted and helped to support over 250 public events which have helped to place the center and its scholars at the forefront of many fields of emerging humanistic research, including environmentalism, disability studies, transgender medical ethics, and cultural network mapping.

    He has also led over 175 research seminars whose 180 faculty have received fellowships from the Forum/Center. "One of the great things about the Wolf Humanities Center,” says Karen Redrobe, Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Professor of Cinema and Modern Media and incoming director of the Wolf Humanities Center, “is the opportunity it makes for faculty to learn from each other” in a seminar setting. Jim consistently has drawn wide admiration from colleagues in those seminars for his inclusive approach to scholarship. 

    From everyone he has worked with while director—students, staff, and scholars—Jim is best celebrated for being modest, thoughtful, generous, deliberative, and a welcoming friend. Timothy Rommen, Davidson Kennedy Professor in the College and three-time faculty advisor of the Undergraduate Humaniites Forum, speaks for all of us in saying, "Thanks, Jim, for being a model of how to be a colleague, and for empowering the people around you to be their best selves.”

    Following a sabbatical in 2019, Jim will continue at Penn as the John Welch Centennial Professor of English and Faculty Director of the Price Lab for Digital Humanities. 

  • Deaf/Hearing Story Slam Offers Insights for Both Communities

    Our first ever Deaf/Hearing Story Slam on March 27th opened to a full audience at the Ibrahim Theater! Led by the inspiring and electrifying, Wink Smith Jr., performers were welcomed to the stage to share personal tales of survival and reconciliation, with interpreters making both Hearing and Deaf performers accesible to attendees. The show proved to be a special experience for both Deaf and Hearing attendees: performer Jean Spraker shared her experience working closely with interpreters and engaging with the audience, while Michael Lieberman came away from the Story Slam eager to know more about the history and culture of the Deaf community. Here's hoping for more events like this one in the future!

  • Storytellers Wanted! Wolf Center's First-Ever Story Slam

    The Wolf Humanities Center is hosting our first-ever story slam on March 27th at International House! Both hearing and Deaf storytellers will participate, with professional ASL interpreters translating. We are looking for participants with stories that mark the arrival of spring by telling of returns, renewals, or miraculous comebacks. If you're interested in telling your 5-minute story of  Rebirths, Returns, and Comebacks, send us a brief proposal in the form of a written work or an audio clip no later than February 19, 2018. We'd love to hear from you! More information

  • Penn Cinema Studies' Rahul Mukherjee Explores Ruination

     Rahul Mukherjee, Dick Wolf Assistant Professor of Television and New Media Studies, recently published an article in the Journal of Visual Culture. In Anticipating Ruinations: Ecologies of ‘Make Do’ and ‘Left With,’ Mukherjee examined how decimated spaces, such as nuclear fallout zones, apartments slated for demolition, and e-waste relate to the “explicitly political process” of ruination. His research was conducted while a Penn Humanities Forum Faculty Fellow in 2016-17. In Fall 2017, Mukherjee organized Documenting Nuclear Afterlives as part of the Wolf Humanities Center’s Forum on Afterlives. The event brought together three documentary filmmakers for screenings and discussion about communities around the world living in proximity to nuclear reactors and radiation.

  • Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow Meg Leja on Death, Disease, and Demons

    Wolf Humanities Center Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow Meg Leja has been tracking cultural advances made possible by technical and theological aspects of death in the Middle Ages. Her research is the subject of her course, Death, Disease and Demons, which plays to the interests of a diverse group of students. “Some people are interested in the health sciences aspect in terms of medical practice and hospice care,” says Leja. “Then there are students who are interested in the more theological aspects of the issue and the history of the Middle Ages. It gives a diversity of perspectives.” Overall, the course offers a different way of understanding history through the development of tools and techniques, and Penn students are able to bolster this experience through the use of resources available at Penn Library and beyond.

  • Regional Fellow Christopher Lee featured on NPR’s "To the Best of Our Knowledge"

    Wolf Humanities Center Regional Faculty Fellow Christopher Lee's book _Jet Lag_ (Bloomsbury), was recently featured on the NPR program "To the Best of Our Knowledge" as part of a segment on a show about exhaustion. You can listen to Lee's interview or the full show here.

    As Lee explains, the book is not a self-help publication, but "a short work of cultural criticism about acceleration and modernity". For Lee, "Jet lag is what global capitalism feels like". The book focuses on film, art, and literature by Sophia Coppola, Chris Marker, Noah Baumbach, Ridley Scott, Tarkovsky, Klee, Yves Klein, Cioran, Thomas Pynchon, etc. It also engages with the work of contemporary critics like Lauren Berlant, Jonathan Crary, Kathleen Stewart, and Enda Duffy. Christopher Lee is Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies at Lafayette College.

  • WUHF Faculty Director Tim Rommen Named Davidson Kennedy Professor

    Timothy Rommen, Professor of Music, has been named Davidson Kennedy Professor in the College. An ethnomusicologist who specializes in the music of the Caribbean, Rommen is the author of two books, including "Mek Some Noise": Gospel Music and the Ethics of Style in Trinidad, which was awarded the Alan P. Merriam Prize by the Society for Ethnomusicology. At Penn, he is currently Interim Chair of the Department of Africana Studies and has served as Undergraduate Chair and Graduate Director for the Department of Music, faculty director of the Wolf Undergraduate Humanities Forum, and a member of the SAS Personnel Committee and the Faculty Senate Subcommittee on Research. He received his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Chicago. The Davidson Kennedy chair was established in 1994 through the bequest of the late Josephine Rankin Kennedy and is named in memory of her husband. The chair supports a distinguished faculty member who displays excellence in teaching, innovation in curriculum development, service to students, and first-rate scholarship.

  • PHF Associate Director Jennifer Conway Retires

    After 18 years with the Penn Humanities Forum, Jennifer Conway is retiring from her position as Associate Director. Jennifer joined the Forum just after its inaugural festival, Celebration of Philadelphia Writers, in the spring of 1999. In her time at PHF, she helped produce almost 1,000 events and graciously welcomed more than 700 visiting scholars and faculty, postdoctoral, and student fellows through the doors of multiple Forum locations on Penn’s campus. 

    Jennifer worked with faculty director Wendy Steiner until Jim English, John Welsh Centennial Professor of English, came on in 2010. “Jennifer has been the heart and soul of the Penn Humanities Forum through its entire history. With her intelligence, warmth, and breadth of knowledge she has established a great fund of goodwill for our center and for the humanities at Penn generally. Her retirement is a real loss for the institution.” Jim says, “For me personally it is a bittersweet thing. I will miss her deeply, but I also know how much she looks forward to the fun and travel of a vigorous retirement. Thank god for cellular communications technology! For the next year at least Jennifer’s cell number will be my panic button.”

    The Forum has been fortunate to grow under Jennifer’s leadership and anyone who worked with her will be quick to echo her praise. The numerous lives she has touched reaches well beyond the PHF fellows and staff and deep into the Penn and Philadelphia communities. There is no doubt that she will continue to make her mark on whichever community she chooses to be a part of.

  • Joshua Bennett reads from his debut collection, "The Sobbing School"

    In October 2016, poet, scholar, and Penn alumnus Joshua Bennett returned to campus for a poetry reading of his debut collection, The Sobbing School. Figures as widely divergent as Bobby Brown, Martin Heidegger, and 19th-century performance artist Henry Box Brown, as well as Bennett’s own family and childhood best friends, appear and are placed in conversation to suggest a world that always lies beyond what we are socialized to value, inviting other ways of thinking about connections and alliances. While an undergraduate at Penn, Bennett's many honors included an Andrew W. Mellon Research Fellowship with the Penn Humanities Forum. Listen in as Bennett reads from The Sobbing School at Penn's Department of Africana Studies on October 12, 2016.