In 2020-2021, Covid affected everything. It also revealed things. It certainly affected Clemson, and the Humanities Hub. When I look back to how devastating the pandemic clearly looked like it would be, in the Spring of 2020, what we have all achieved feels a little like a recovery, not that we have recovered, but that we were able to pick up pieces and to continue, to “recover” in that more minimal sense of the word. But that in itself was a revelation.

Pre-Covid, The Humanities Hub and Rhondda Thomas, Calhoun Lemon Professor of African American Literature, and Director of the Call My Name project received a grant from Clemson for a 2-year post-doc in Public Humanities and African American Life in Upstate South Carolina. After a national search, we hired Dr. La’Neice Littleton, who completed her Ph.D. at Clark Atlanta in May 2020, and we looked forward to hosting her on campus, setting her up in an office in Strode, and involving her in off campus public humanities work. Until Covid. At which point, La’Neice’s post-doc became largely remote and virtual, as the Hub, too, began to move online.

In addition to monthly off-campus partner meetings, we have sponsored and cosponsored a dozen events since October of 2020, including presentations by Claudia Rankine, Christopher Newfield, Nikky Finney, and a panel discussion of various changes and calls for change at Clemson in 2020. We have also hosted community readings of Rankine’s Citizen and Finney’s Head Off & Split; monthly meetings of the Assistant Professors Research Forum and of the Rural Geopolitics Reading Group (with members at Clemson, the National University of Ireland-Galway, and the University of Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy); and bi-weekly post-doc dissertation revision workshops. The Hub announced its annual internal Humanities funding decisions, a competitive process with independent internal peer review by the Humanities Hub Faculty Advisory Board (composed of faculty appointed from each of the University’s academic Humanities departments). We hosted a Faculty Manuscript Workshop, in which a guest expert joined a team of Clemson colleagues in reading and providing pre-submission feedback regarding a Clemson colleague’s book.

A year ago, overwhelmed by the demonstrable value of the sciences in the moment (and the increasing disregard for it in the infomercials then broadcast nightly from the White House), I worried, what did the world need from the humanities now? By early June, however, the social and political consequences of the novel coronavirus, and the national response(s) to it, revealed the continuing importance of the humanities. Systemic needs had become visible, and acute: for effective, consistent communication; for the evaluation of sources; for attention to logical and rhetorical implications; for a sense of historical perspective; for the quality of thinking that can sift for ethical, moral, and political consequences; for deliberative, but fast-moving analysis of great volumes of information; and for imagining other peoples’ lives and imagining new possibilities. The work of the humanities in other words.

With this realization, I wrote to many of my colleagues in the Humanities at Clemson, and I asked them if they would like to write a brief, accessible post about how what is happening now informs their research, and vice versa, as part of a series I called “Clemson Humanities Now.” This Spring, the 260-member Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes honored the contributions of Clemson Humanities faculty by selecting “Clemson Humanities Now” series as one of thirteen innovative “Responses to Rupture” selected for presentation at their annual meeting this summer.

Five years ago, the Humanities Advancement Board visited the Willson Center for the Arts and Humanities at University of Georgia, a visit which inspired the board to support the creation of the Humanities Hub. In the subsequent five years, the Humanities Hub became a reality, coordinating and sponsoring Humanities events and research, as has been chronicled in the pages of these annual reports. Along the way, we’ve been partner to NEH grants, off-campus and cross-campus collaborations, and a humanities post-doc. Now, the Hub will be represented, again, at the annual meeting of the CHCI. Part of what Covid revealed to me, as the Hub successfully continued operations through a global pandemic, was that its founding had been achieved. And so, believing there was no longer a need for a Founding Director, I proposed to Dean Vazsonyi that I step down from my role at the Hub and return to the classroom in the Fall. Dean Vazsonyi accepted, and a search for a new director, the first non-“founding director,” is currently underway. I look forward to learning who the new director will be, I have offered my services in the transition, and I thank you all for your support over the last five years, which have been a rich and rewarding learning experience.

- Dr. Lee Morrissey, Founding Director

Clemson welcomed National Book Award finalist Claudia Rankine in theFall of 2020. Rankine, a professor of poetry at Yale University, spoke via Zoom in November, and her book Citizen: An American Lyric, was the topic of discussion in a virtual event in anticipation of her virtual visit.

What is a font? What does it do? What is a disabled font? And how might a disabled font disclose our disability pride for us? In February 2021, Dr. Jen Scuro and Crip Technoscientist Amy Gaeta joined Dr. Jillian Weise to led a unique conversation: Cripping Times New Roman: A Workshop on Designing a Disabled Font.

In February 2021, The Humanities Hub hosted a panel discussion regarding the Call My Name project, the Woodland Cemetery Project, the Reclaim & Rename movement, and Students for Survivors at Clemson.

In March 2021, The Humanities Hub hosted a book launch event for Dr. Peter Eisenstadt's biography of Howard Thurman, featuring distinguished guests Dr. Walker Fluker and Dr. Vernon Burton.

In March 2021, The Humanities Hub hosted a conversation with critical university studies scholar Christopher Newfield about the state of higher education as it emerged from the global pandemic.

National Book Award winner Nikky Finney addressed the Clemson Literary Festival in March. Afterward, The Humanities Hub hosted a community reading of her book Head Off & Split.

Assistant Professors Research Forum

Workshopping draft articles and chapters brings new Humanities faculty from across the humanities departments together for discussions about their research, shared interests, and intellectual commitments.

Rural Geopolitics Reading Group

Whereas it is usually thought of in agricultural, depopulated or maybe resource extraction terms, the so-called “rural” is often home to the manufacturing facilities—often made possible by Direct Foreign Investment—that are no longer allowed to be situated in cities. We believe that this misunderstanding is deeply skewing politics, which are managed in urban centers and from which strategic misunderstandings of the rural reverberate in identitarian positions, often caricatures of imagined rurality.

The whole earth is planned, and zoned. In fact, the rural is not rural. Instead, the “rural” is actually the urban area’s staging ground. Because we still have a Virgilian and Romantic and Braudelian vision of the countryside, despite the fact that it is filled with warehouses and manufacturing (and organized tourist) sites, we need a new word or concept for what is emerging in formerly rural areas. In order to address the mental and political logjam that follows from the strategic efficacy of misunderstanding the rural, the Rural Geopolitics Reading Rroup (“RG2”) meets monthly to think comparatively and internationally about this dynamic, and about its impact on democratic representation and governance.

Members include Lee Morrissey, Rebecca Stoil (Clemson History), Brian McGrath (Clemson English), Archana Venkatesh (Clemson History), Dan Carey (Director, The Moore Institute for Humanities and the Social Sciences at the National University of Ireland-Galway), and Mauro Pala (Dipartimento di Lingue Lettere e Beni Culturali, University of Cagliari, Sardinia).

Research Fellows

Lightsey Fellowship: Stephanie Hassell (History), Claire Kirwin (Philosophy and Religion)

Humanities Hub Research Fellows: Pascal Brixel (Philosophy and Religion), Maya Hislop (English), Kumiko Saito (Languages), John T. Thames (Philosophy and Religion)

Faculty MS Workshop: Matt Hooley (English)

Humanities Hub Graduate Summer Fellowships

Humanities Hub Project Completion Grants: Rhondda Thomas (English) and Lee B. Wilson (History).


Betsy Goodale

Joe Hood

Billy Howell

Chris Loebsack

Carl Lund

Erica McElhaney

Jonathan Polson

Lowndes Pope

Pam Robinson


Joe Mai

Brian McGrath

Marshal Saif

Lee Wilson





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