Note from the Interim Director

Jessica Winegar and students in Istanbul with the Kaplan Institute's Global Humanities Lab
Jessica Winegar, left, leading Kaplan's Global Humanities Lab in Istanbul

I am excited to come on board as the 2017-2018 Interim Director of the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities. This year’s theme is especially poignant and timely: TRUTH.

Northwestern’s Humanities Council selected this theme to create a year-long, campus wide conversation about knowledge crises and politics — both past and present — from humanistic perspectives. Each quarter, Kaplan is featuring a keynote event exploring this topic through a range of perspectives, including those of race, poetry, the media, the environment, and science. We will hear from distinguished scholars, artists, and practitioners such as Natasha Trethewey, Carol Anderson, Jane Mayer, Naomi Oreskes, Leslie Harris, and Peter Slevin, among others. Throughout the year, additional Kaplan co-sponsored events will explore the politics of truth from numerous other angles pertinent to the current academic and political moment. We invite you to these Truth Dialogues and hope to see you at many other of the artistic and scholarly performances, workshops, and talks that we co-sponsor across campus every year.

I am also very happy to welcome new scholars to our humanities community. This year, our second cohort of undergraduate and graduate Franke Fellows, coming from multiple disciplines, will develop their individual research projects and receive financial support and mentoring. They will join this year’s Kaplan Faculty Fellows and our postdoctoral fellows at our weekly lunch colloquia for dynamic discussions on a range of topics related to faculty and postdoctoral research. We are thrilled to have two new Postdoctoral Fellows joining us this year. Sarah Dimick (English) works in environmental humanities and Kaneesha Parsard (African American Studies and Latin American and Caribbean Studies) is a specialist in critical race studies.

This year, Kaplan continues its longstanding support of cutting edge undergraduate education that links the classroom with the world beyond. This past August we again hosted a two-week digital humanities faculty workshop to support new pedagogical initiatives. A new cohort of 47 top first-year students are participating in our Kaplan Humanities Scholars Program, where they will take innovative team-taught interdisciplinary courses on the themes of “Genocide, Resistance, and Resurgence: Native Peoples of the Americas” and “Who Do You Think You Are?” Students across Northwestern will participate in our spring break Humanities Plunge, which immerses them into the living and breathing life of the humanities in Chicago. We continue to support programs for teaching in prisons, and are delighted to renew our public lecture contributions to the Chicago Humanities Festival and the Evanston Public Library.

As we navigate these tumultuous times, we are freshly reminded of the crucial role of the humanities in nurturing diverse, critical, and historically informed perspectives. Join us and be a central part of that project.

Jessica Winegar

Interim Director, Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities
Harold H. and Virginia Anderson Chair
Associate Professor, Anthropology and Middle East and North African Studies