ADVANCING THE OUTREACH, SCHOLARSHIP AND TEACHING OF THE HUMANITIES AT CLEMSON.
FROM THE DIRECTOR
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