Center for Humanities

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Center for Humanities


The Center for Humanities advances research based on humanistic methods of scholarship among faculty and students in arts, human-centered social sciences, and humanities fields working in their disciplines and collaborating with faculty across Virginia Tech. Supporting scholarship this way is essential to realizing the center’s objective of foregrounding the overarching relevance of the humanities that will be broadly impactful both within and beyond the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

Beyond this, the center will collaborate with Virginia Tech’s legislative liaisons, the Department of Political Science, and the Policy Strategic Growth Area to focus on engaging legislators on matters of public policy related to the center’s major initiatives. The center will partner with the University’s Link office to engage corporate entities on matters of ethics and the impact of technology on humans. The center will also engage civic institutions pertaining to issues that bear directly on such areas as local residential life, health, security, and employment.

Call for Applications – Humanities Summer Stipends

The Center for Humanities at VT invites applications for 2 funding opportunities.

Upcoming Events

  • Faculty Research Talk with Katrina Powell Title Tent Cities, Resettlement Housing, and Rhetorical Constructions of Home in Narratives of Displacement Abstract The metaphor of "warehousing" has been broadly discussed in a variety of fields as a way to understand the implications of placing persons seeking refuge in long-term yet impermanent camps or resettlements. Warehousing keeps people "in protracted situations of restricted mobility, enforced idleness, and dependency, their lives on indefinite hold, in violation of their basic rights under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention" (Merrill Smith). In this paper, I examine rhetorical constructions of home, specifically within the recent surge of semi-permanent "housing" structures constructed by large corporations and marketed to donors. I suggest that these literal and figurative constructions, while claiming to be "durable solutions," are actually a continuance of warehousing and are ways to control, manage, and efficiently deal with the millions of people displaced due to natural disaster, civil unrest, government sponsored development, and immigration policy. Using a transnational feminist rhetorical approach, I analyze visual and linguistic representations of home to reveal that the so-called "security" of these in between spaces serve to further marginalize vulnerable populations and mask their precarity. Bio Dr. Katrina M. Powell is Professor of English and Director of the Center for Rhetoric in Society at Virginia Tech. She teaches courses in rhetorics of social justice, autobiography, and research methodologies and her research focuses on displacement narratives and human rights rhetorics across transnational contexts. She is the author of The Anguish of Displacement (UVA Press 2007, funded by a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship) and Identity and Power in Narratives of Displacement (Routledge 2015), editor of 'Answer at Once' Letters from Mountain Families in Shenandoah National Park (UVA Press 2009) and Practicing Research in Writing Studies: Reflexive and Ethically Responsible Research (with Pam Takayoshi, Hampton 2012). She has also published in JAC Journal of Rhetoric, Culture, and Politics, College English, College Composition and Communication, Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, and Prose Studies. Her current work focuses on the dissemination of displacement and refugee narratives and the ethical dimensions of archiving those narratives in alternative spaces. Lunch is provided 03/29/2019 12:00 PM - 1:15 PM Room 005 (ground floor) of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Building 200 Stanger St.
  • Faculty Research Talk with Gil Hersch TITLE Can your boss make you work out? ABSTRACT To what extent is corporate-level paternalism legitimate? Since there has been an increase in both quantity and variety of corporate level wellness programs and workplace well being policies in recent years, this is an important question to address. I compare corporate-level paternalism with state level paternalism, and argue that the former is more permissible than the latter. Consequently, if paternalistic policies are deemed legitimate by the state, they can be deemed fair game for corporations. To make this argument I rely on the difference between citizens, for whom the main expressive tool available is 'voice,' and employees, for whom 'exit' is the main expressive tool available (Hirschman, 1970). Focusing only on this difference, I argue that paternalistic policies are more permissible when the employee can avoid them through ending their relationship with the corporation (exit) than they are when the citizen can influence whether the paternalistic policy is implemented (voice). BIO Gil Hersch is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Virginia Tech Department of Philosophy and the Program in PPE (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics). Previously, he was a Postdoctoral Researcher at the George Mason University Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy. Hersch received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of California, San Diego in 2016. He earned a B.A. degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Hersch specializes in ethical issues at the intersection of economics and policy, especially as they relate to happiness and well- being. His dissertation is on the use of measures of well- being in public policy. Currently, Hersch is focusing on a project in which he defends the lack of a weighting algorithm for a dashboard of well-being indicators such as the OECD's Better Life Index. Lunch is provided 04/09/2019 12:00 PM - 1:15 PM Room 005 (ground floor) of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Building 200 Stanger St.