5th Annual Conference on the Public Humanities


Jody Lewen, San Quentin Prison University Project

"The State of Public Humanities: Status Anxiety in Higher Education"

Despite widespread enthusiasm for public engagement within higher education, work that extends beyond the university still finds itself in an uncertain situation. Frequently unacknowledged in hiring, tenure decisions, and peer-reviewed scholarship, its value in academic-career advancement remains problematic. Lewen’s talk will ask us to consider the disparity between the egalitarian principles of higher education and the institutional ambivalence towards engagement with those who need the resources a university can provide the most.


The State of Partnership: Culture and Science

David Krakauer (Wisconsin Institute for Discovery)

Keith Woodward (Geography)

Daniel Kleinman (Sociology, Holtz Center)

Cutting edge collaborations like the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, the Digital Humanities Initiative, and the Humanities Research Bridge here at UW-Madison are all examples of a new educational and research paradigm. Instead of specialization, partnership has become the new model of academia. What has ushered in this recent transition and what developments have made is possible?

The State of Globalization: Mobility and Immobility

Andrew Mahlstedt (English)

Natalie Belisle (Spanish and Portuguese)

Tim Frandy (Scandinavian Studies)

Since it emerged into the public sphere in the late 1980s, the term “globalization” has connoted increasing mobility, borderlessness, hybridization, and fluidity.  Whether considered an economic, social, cultural, or political phenomenon, or some mixture of all, globalization is defined by movement.  But this fixation on mobility makes invisible the people and places left behind by globalization’s apparently inexorable progress. This panel will examine scholarly research that emphasizes people and places residual to the seemingly endless movement of globalization, and privileges the public consequences of this research.

The State of Funding: The Humanities and the Public

George Tzougros (Wisconsin Arts Board)

Mark Kenoyer (Anthropology, Center for South Asia)

Manon van de Water (Theatre and Drama)

The National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts have never lacked critics that label them excessive, unnecessary, and even unjustifiable programs for public support. But the past year of fiscal battles and department shut downs have moved those criticisms from philosophical debate to public policy. How are the value of the arts and humanities being redefined in the face of this transition and how are we to judge these new justifications?  And if private funding is increasingly becoming the source of support, how are we to understand the humanities and the arts in relation to the public?