Over $96,000 in seed funding awarded to participants from the 2021 UNH Summer Institute in Public Humanities

Monday, October 18, 2021

The UNH Center for the Humanities is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2021 public humanities seed funding. Scholars who participated in the Summer Institute in Public Humanities will use their new skills and knowledge to undertake or expand publicly partnered humanities work. The following faculty, graduate students and undergraduates will be developing or continuing projects with Center funding, generously provided by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which also funds the Institute:

  • Shareefah Al’Uqdah, associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Psychoeducational Studies at Howard University, for “The DC Family Resiliency Project,” which will highlight — by sharing oral histories, creative expression and poetry — the strength and resilience that African American families within DC have utilized to overcome generational adversities, such as enslavement, crime, disenfranchisement and present-day gentrification.
  • Holly Cashman, professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at UNH, for “The Seacoast NH LGBTQ+ Oral History Project,” which seeks to collect personal life stories from a diverse group of LGBTQ+ individuals in the Seacoast New Hampshire region in order to create a publicly accessible archive and website that will enrich the public’s understanding of the local LGBTQ+ community and educate visitors about social change and the quest for equality across generations.
  • Jorge E. Cuéllar, lecturer and research associate in the Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Studies Department at Dartmouth College, for “The Central America Project,” a research-driven and public-facing website and database that synthesizes research and critical analysis on the current state of Central America. Envisioned as a public-facing project for students to practice public writing and do public humanities research, the project began as an incubator where students and educators could participate in the polarized conversation around Central America, insecurity, violence, migration and development, among other issues.  Funding has also been awarded to Cassandra Montemayor Thomas, class of 2023 at Dartmouth College, for her work on “The Central America Project.” She will focus on expanding the depth and breadth of the existing database, working with digital scholars and computer scientists on a user-friendly website, seeking grant funding, and researching and engaging with local community groups in the upper valley and across New Hampshire.
  • Edel Galgon, class of 2022 at Dartmouth College, for work on “Arboreal Environmental History of Dartmouth College,” in which she will undertake archival research and interviews to arrive at a set of knowledge that can be shared with the community through a pamphlet-guided walking tour, a CLIO walking tour and programming.
  • Brittany Hinkle, doctoral student in human development and psychoeducational studies at Howard University, for the “Psychd Podcast,” which documents the unique ways that African Americans succeed in graduate school and features current faculty members and community health clinicians.
  • Yizhou Huang, currently a postdoctoral scholar at Florida State University’s School of Theatre, for “Imagining a Post-Pandemic Global Asian Theatre,” a series of live events that will highlight Asian voices in the arts, combat anti-Asian hate and emphasize the global connections that impact how Asians are treated in the United States and globally. The project will also promote Asian presence in the arts sector.
  • Patrick Johnson, associate professor of filmmaking and of visual art at Wheaton College and the co-chair of the Wheaton Institute for Interdisciplinary Humanities, for “Community Media + Climate Crisis,” which intends to confront the climate crisis through digital stories that connect communities, feature climate actions at the local level, provide important factual information and center the humanities in the conversation around climate and climate justice.
  • Annie Kloppenberg, associate professor and chair of theater and dance at Colby College, for “New Community Engaged Performance,” which will create an integrated multi-arts performance to celebrate a new facility on campus, welcoming the community and using explorations of local histories and individual stories to create content.
  • Iyabo Kwayana, assistant professor in the Film and Media Studies Department at Dartmouth College for “Black Pearl,” a film, traveling exhibit and book depicting the experiences of ontological blackness in areas of the regional south.
  • Leah Niederstadt, associate professor of museum studies/the history of art at Wheaton College, along with alumni collaborator Sierra Proft (B.A. classics ’21) for “Cast Away: Public Sculpture at Wheaton College,” an interdisciplinary project that explores the history of public sculpture at Wheaton through archival and collections-based research, digital mapping and oral history, engaging alumni, faculty, staff and local residents.
  • Bethany Silva, research assistant professor in the Department of Education at UNH and director of the Community Literacy Center (CLC), for “Book to Art: Connecting Communities Through Literature and Art-Making,” supporting a multilingual iteration of Book to Art, a CLC initiative which allows children to read books and make art while celebrating and documenting culturally relevant ways of interacting with books.
  • Nirvana Tanoukhi, assistant professor in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College, for “Virtual Publics and Dialogue in the Memosphere,” which will create the institutional conditions for an informed and accessible conversation about memes that cuts across generations, disciplines and social domains. This will include a “Memetic Working Group,” a public lecture series and eventually a modular version of the project extending inquiry and engagement to high school students.
  • Sara Withers, senior lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at UNH, for “Visions and Views: New Americans in New Hampshire,” a photography- and ethnography-based project that empowers a small selection of Concord, N.H.’s new American gardeners from the Sycamore Community Garden to share their stories visually and narratively, relying on photovoice as the primary methodology and partnering with the Story Preservation Initiative and the Story Preservation Learning Lab. The project will engage with individuals and families from a wide variety of N.H.’s refuges communities (Nepali, Bhutanese, Rwandan, Congolese and others).
  • Nyla Wofford-Rogers, doctoral student in human development and psychoeducational studies at Howard University, for “The Black Marital Resilience Project,” which will use oral histories to create a documentary to be released via social media, website and YouTube.  The documentary will highlight the ways African American couples have stayed together, grieved and coped following the loss of a child. This healing-centered form of narrative expression will give voice to a marginalized community and strengthen marital relationships and will be undertaken in partnership with Don’t Shoot Guns, Shoot Cameras, a social and emotional learning-based program introducing DC’s underserved youth to filmmaking. 
  • Ethel Sara Wolper, associate professor in the Department of History at UNH, for “Remembering Mosul,” a digital archive on the damaged and destroyed shrines of Mosul and its environs, which will be converted during this phase of the project from an academic archive to a bilingual public humanities site, in collaboration with faculty at Koya University in Iraqi Kurdistan and the University of New Castle. The transformed site will feature a cultural forum exhibit space to showcase the work and collections of local stakeholders. Institute participant Kieran Mulligan (UNH class of ’22) will also be contributing research to the site.

Featured PROJECTS from the 2019 Institute

As our 2021 seed funding awardees begin their work, our 2019 alumni have been sharing their accomplishments of the past two years. COVID took an undeniable toll on the ability of public humanists to work with their community partners or plan public exhibitions or exchanges, necessitating a pause on many projects. However, a number of our seed funding recipients from the last Summer Institute adapted their projects so they could continue to work with community partners and find new venues for their co-created research. 

William Mason, assistant professor of music at Wheaton College, was in the middle of working with Somali Mainer’s Youth Network on a second concert featuring music and spoken word poetry that expresses what it means to be Somali-American when the pandemic hit, but he was able to mount a safe, scaled-down version of planned events last July. 

Mohamed Camara, professor of African studies at Howard University, created a website for his ongoing African Interfaith Peacebuilding Forum and began reaching out to African and international nongovernmental organizations and gathering documentation from peace-focused West African regional NGOs, which will eventually be uploaded and curated on the AIPF site. 

men on horseback
Photo Credit: Elena Creef.

Wellesley professor of women’s and gender studies Elena Creef launched “Remembering the Battle of Greasy Grass, aka The Battle of Little Bighorn,” making three trips to the Dakotas and Montana to “bear witness to the traveling band of modern warriors — which includes men, women and youth from the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations — along with a handful of other Native and non-native riders and supporters” to commemorate what is commonly referred to as Battle of Little Bighorn from the point of view of its Native victors, who have always referred to this historic event as the Battle of Greasy Grass (Pezi Sla). They have been making this ride since 1992 “in order to remember this ‘Victory Day’ from 1876 — one that historians call the ‘last stand of the Indians.’” (See more at www.battleofgreasygrass.com.)

Creef has presented on her work and published an article in Cultural Studies — Critical Methodologies chronicling her activities. Her multi-media website showcases her documentary photographs and podcasts in development.  

painting of man with thumb's up
Artwork shared with permission by Stories of Incarceration: Portraits from the Penobscot County Jail Storytelling Project. Featured image: "Scotty” Lizzy Schule."

Freedom & Captivity is a coalition-based, state-wide, public humanities project launched by Francis F. Bartlett and Ruth K. Bartlett Professor of Anthropology at Colby College Catherine Besteman to explore abolitionist visions for Maine. The project includes an online "Art on Abolition" exhibition juried from a national open call; a 12 series podcast; partner exhibitions at various galleries and museums across Maine; a program of events (webinars, film screenings, performances, talks, etc.) across Maine; arts and humanities workshops in Maine prisons; the production of film and documentary photography work on the theme; and background material and resources for further learning created for the website, including essays on Maine’s criminal legal system and incarceration timelines for the nation and for Maine.

Organizers have recently completed a 9-minute film called "The ABCs of Abolition," which can be seen here and are finishing "Art Inside," a photographic record created by four Maine-based professional photographers of art created by incarcerated people on view inside Maine’s five prisons. They will also begin work on an Art Book that documents and captures what was accomplished during the fall program and that will be made available on the Edovo tablets used by incarcerated people in Maine.

According to Besteman, “There have been wonderful synergies and partnerships emerging from this coalition. For example, several arts organizations are now partnering with prisons to provide arts and humanities programming inside. [Collaborators are] also contributing to a brand new (Mellon-funded) Prison Education Partnership by bringing the Freedom & Captivity faculty network into the partnership to continue to build out humanities-based course offerings to incarcerated students.”

Visit the Freedom & Captivity website at https://www.freedomandcaptivity.org/.

women on float
Photo shared with permission from Caribbean Mosaics' website: "The Ladies Auxiliary."

For Fiona Vernal, associate professor of history and Africana studies at the University of Connecticut, the seed funded project cascaded into three: Caribbean Mosaics, an exploration of Post-World War II Caribbean Migration to the Greater Hartford Region; Hartford Bound, a digital humanities project, which undertakes a spatial exploration of race, migration and mobility in Hartford; and From Civil Rights to Human Rights: African American, Puerto Rican and West Indian Housing Struggles in Hartford County, 1940-2019,” an exploration of the intersections of African American, West Indian and Puerto Rican history in Hartford through the lens of housing and segregation.

Vernal was also awarded the 2021 Provost’s Awards for Excellence in Community Engaged Scholarship for the suite of public facing projects she has assembled and now directs UConn’s Engaged, Public, Oral and Community Histories (EPOCH) initiative.

Other ongoing projects are documenting African Americans in the Essex National Heritage Area; creating a civic engagement exchange between Wellesley College students and faculty and Southern Middlesex Correctional Center; sharing Iranian citizens’ stories of experiencing the Muslim ban through devised theater production; and training veterans to process their service within “radical reading” communities.

The Next Summer Institute in Public Humanities: June 2022

In February of 2022 we will begin soliciting nominations from our New England Humanities Consortium and Howard University partners for the 2022 Summer Institute in Public Humanities at UNH, with applications due in March. The Institute will be held the week of June 6 at the Sheraton Harborside Hotel in Portsmouth. UNH faculty engaged or interested in public humanities work are encouraged to apply. A participant from this year’s virtual gathering reported that “the Institute’s openness to shepherding projects at different stages too was such a pleasure and so warm and conducive to critical, expansive creative thinking.” Over $150,000 in seed funding has been awarded to project participants since the Institute kicked off in 2019.

collage of photos from 2019 Institute showing individuals presenting and talking