Past Initiatives (Public Humanities)

Humanities Without Walls Career Diversity Workshops

The Humanities Without Walls (HWW) Career Diversity Summer Workshop is an intensive two-week interactive experience for PhD students in the humanities that is facilitated and curated by the HWW team. The workshop is designed to help participants explore diverse future careers beyond and including the tenure track. Through a series of workshops, participants learn how to leverage their skills and training toward careers in the public humanities, the private sector, the non-profit world, arts administration, public media, and many other fields.

The very concept of “humanities without walls” commits us to the work of social justice in the context of career diversity programming, and HWW works to create sessions which help us grapple with the long history of inequities based on race, indigeneity, gender, and class. Participants are typically invested in the pressing social justice issues of our time and are seeking ways to bring humanistic values, insights, and skills to their work lives, whether in the public, nonprofit, or private sector. Previous HWW Summer Workshop Fellows have come from a variety of humanistic disciplines, with experience in community building, museum curation, filmmaking, radio programming, social media, project management, research, writing, and teaching.

In the past, UW-Madison graduate students were invited to apply to this program.

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Past UW-Madison HWW Fellows

Stepha Velednitsky


Stepha Velednitsky (she/they) is an educator, writer, and cartographer currently completing a PhD program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Geography. While on the editorial board of the Edge Effects digital publication, Stepha discovered her passion for multimedia storytelling through writing, editing, and podcasting. She currently serves on the stewardship council of Kolektiv Goluboy Vagon, a network of queer, gender-marginalized, post-Soviet Jewish immigrant-settlers in North America. In her fieldwork, she has been collaborating with a workers’ rights organization in Israel/Palestine to examine how migrant live-in caregivers’ experiences produce disabling effects across lines of citizenship, race, and gender.

Fernanda Villarroel


Fernanda Villarroel is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Art History, with a Minor in African Studies, and a MA in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin Madison. Her dissertation, “Feminine Figurations in Contemporary art From Lagos, Nigeria,” explores how contemporary artist from Lagos respond to various forms of injustice and loss by embracing the projected weakness and denied power of the feminine. She has conducted extensive fieldwork in Nigeria with support from the African Studies, Global Studies, the Graduate School, the Kohler Foundation, Foreign Languages and Area Studies (FLAS), in addition to the Mellon-Wisconsin Fellowship, Fulbright-Hays groups Studies Abroad, and Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (D.D.R.A.). Throughout her research, she has contributed to the development of mayor curatorial projects in Nigeria, as the exhibition Pretext, Preludes, Presumption: New Works by Peju Alatise in 2016, the catalogue for the first Nigerian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2017, and the Art Summit Nigeria:The Future of Art, in 2018.

Carly Griffith


Carly Griffith is a Geography Ph.D. student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she researches property law and inheritance practice in the rural Upper Midwest and Northern Great Plains. She holds a B.A. in Visual Culture & French Studies from Colby College and an M.A. in Public Humanities from Brown University. Griffith is an editor at Edge Effects, a digital magazine of environmental humanities and the primary publication of the UW-Madison Center for Culture, History, and Environment. As part of my Ph.D. program, she teaches courses in historical geography and environmental history and enjoys her work with undergraduate students. Finally, she is a writer and leads a writer’s group for graduate students in the environmental humanities that supports both creative and scholarly work.

Alexandra Lakind


Alexandra Lakind holds degrees from Interlochen Arts Academy, The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and New York University in educational theater and performance. In addition to maintaining her art practice, she is a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Curriculum & Instruction and Environment & Resources. She is a graduate affiliate of the Center for Culture, History, and Environment; a fellow at the Holtz Center for Science & Technology Studies; and co-founder of Terra Incognita Art Series, a platform showcasing artistic responses to the Anthropocene. Presently, she is a collaborator on an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Humanities without Walls funded project titled Gardens for a Changing Climate—a cross-institutional partnership between Gallery 400 (University of Illinois at Chicago) and UW-Madison. She has written about her collaborations, exploring organizational design and educational pedagogies in publications such as Journal of Childhood Studies; Journal of Learning through the Arts; International Journal of Designs for Learning; Global Studies of Childhood; and Gastronomica. Through implicit and explicit, academic and performative routes, she hopes to foster supportive communities prepared to process unanswerable dilemmas together.

Katie Schaag


Katie Schaag is a PhD candidate in English Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a specialization in Performance Studies and a minor in Fine Art and Creative Writing. Her dissertation, Conceptual Theatre, explores the political potential of thought experiments in African American avant-garde drama and feminist performance art. She co-founded the Art + Scholarship Borghesi-Mellon Workshop and the Madison Performance Philosophy Collective, and co-curated a series of Theory-Practice Collaboratories and Mad Theory symposia. She is a consultant at DesignLab, a transmedia storytelling center, where she empowers students and faculty to translate their ideas into new forms for diverse audiences.

Adam Mandelman


Adam Mandelman recently completed his PhD in Geography at UW-Madison. He was the developer and founding managing editor for Edge Effects, a digital magazine of UW-Madison’s Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE). He currently manages Wisconsin 101, a participatory history project devoted to retelling Wisconsin’s history through objects.

Megan Marsh-McGlone


Megan Marsh-McGlone is a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Interdisciplinary TheatreStudies, with an area of focus in avant-garde performance and a minor in Visual Culture. She works in the department of Molecular Biology as a project and research assistant for evolutionary biologist Dr. Sean B. Carroll. Megan also holds an MA in Theatre Research from UW-Madison. Megan’s performance art work is influenced by a 4 month intensive workshop she completed with Leslie Hill and Helen Paris of Curious focusing on Autobiology. Her current art practice and scholarly work focuses on lactation, medical science, and societal expectations of new motherhood.

Marcus Cederström


Marcus Cederström recently earned his PhD in Scandinavian Studies and Folklore from UW-Madison. He is a public folklorist whose research focuses on Scandinavian-American immigrant women and the intersections of immigration, labor, and creative expression. He also spends time working with indigenous communities on questions of pedagogy and sustainability. Currently, Marcus is the Community Curator of Nordic-American Folklore for the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic.

Jaime Vargas Luna


Jaime Vargas Luna is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese at UW-Madison, with a minor in Latin American History. His work focuses on performances and negotiations of social identities (especially feminisms, queer narratives and indigeneities) in colonial and post-colonial Peru. He is the co-founder of the publishing houses Sarita Cartonera and [sic] libros; and of the creative reading project Libros, Un Modelo Para Armar, and is a former literary adviser for Casa de la Literatura Peruana. Currently, Vargas Luna works as a Spanish instructor at UW-Madison, and volunteers for the Monday editions of A Public Affair in WORT 89.9 fm.

Public Works Incubator

A Faculty Award for the Production of Public Scholarship

With support from the A.W. Mellon Foundation, the Public Works Incubator supported the production of public scholarship by tenured or tenure-track faculty in the humanities and related social sciences at UW-Madison. It was designed to provide crucial support for faculty who wish to find new outlets, venues, or media for their scholarship.

Award Details

The Public Works Incubator program supported humanities scholarship intended to reach a general audience. The program offered an award of up to $7500 to support this scholarship. Funds may be used for a wide-range of activities, including: summer salary; research and travel expenses; publishing workshops; consultation services; and more. The program was meant to provide a pivotal moment of support – either in the early development of a project or as it nears completion – with funding that would not otherwise be available to the scholar. We meant not only to provide additional funds to support such projects, but also to provide scholars with the additional time, feedback, services, and venues for developing and completing their projects. Such resources might not otherwise have been available to them within academia, and may have significantly contributed to the project’s successful appeal to a general audience.

206-2017 Award: Thomas Dale and Jacob Esselstrom (Art History)

Project: Mount Athos image archive, including digitization and cataloguing of approximately 2,000 images which will be available via the UW Digital Library, and a public exhibition of select images at Chazen Museum in spring 2017.

Mount Athos, a peninsula in Greece which is home to twenty Orthodox monasteries and is also a World Heritage Site, is viewed by many as the last vestige of Byzantium. It is a major pilgrimage destination but allows limited access and women are forbidden. The image archive, a collection of 20,000 slides, is the result of regular visits to Mount Athos by Emeritus Professor Frank Horlbeck, a specialist in Medieval and Early Christian art and architecture and a highly-accomplished photographer. The archives includes Mount Athos architecture, icons of the monasteries, rare images of festal rituals, aspects of daily life of the monks, and more. This project will make the image archive a useful and accessible resource for scholars, students, Orthodox Christians, and a world-wide public, by cataloguing and digitizing the images for incorporation into the UW Digital Library, and mounting an exhibition of select photographs and original icons from Mount Athos, to be on view in the Chazen Museum in spring of 2017.

The OpEd Project

A Workshop on Writing Public Opinion Pieces

In December 2014, the Center for the Humanities hosted Teresa Puente and Deborah Siegel, workshop directors for the OpEd Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the range of voices and quality of ideas that circulate in public discourse. Twenty-two UW-Madison faculty members in the humanities and related fields were selected to participate in a two-day workshop devoted to the art and craft of writing powerful, convincing opinion pieces for online, broadcast, and print media.

The Workshop

Workshop topics included: presenting ideas quickly and powerfully under pressure; sourcing and credibility; developing powerful, evidence-based arguments; and strategizing how to contribute to a larger public conversation. OpEd Project mentors worked with participants on drafts, accompanied them in exercises designed to expand how they think about expertise, and helped them translate scholarly research into the lingua franca of public debate. Participants left the workshop with a solid op-ed to will submit for publication.

Published OpEds by UW Faculty

Snoop Dogg Feels the Bite of Parsi Legal Culture by Mitra Sharafi,; 7/03/2015

Here’s why the UW System Needs Tenure by Caroline Levine, Stevens Point Journal; 6/12/2015

Caroline Levine: Don’t Believe the Lies about UW and Tenure by Caroline Levine, The Capital Times; 6/08/2015

Rethinking Why to Prioritize Girls’ Education by Kathryn Moeller, Huffington Post’s The Blog; 3/08/2015

The Changing Face of the Legal Profession by Mitra Sharafi, Minneapolis Star Tribune; 02/16/2015

Can we Wait 100 More Years to Reach Gender Parity in Congress? by Aili Mari Tripp, Huffington Posts’s The Blog; 12/23/2014


The Public Humanities Conference

The conference sought to demonstrate that the humanities have never been strictly confined to classrooms.

The annual conference gathered scholars, community partners, and students at and around UW-Madison for a day dedicated to discussing the importance of literary, visual, and cultural engagement to the practice of public life. Drawing on the principles of the Wisconsin Idea, this conference sought to promote public engagement as integral to higher education. Each year, we featured a keynote speaker who provided new ways to reconfigure the boundaries of the university and the public. Keynotes included Jody Lewen, of the San Quentin Prison University Project, Michael Bérubé, former President of the Modern Language Association, and Julie Ellison, Founding Director of Imagining America.

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2015 Conference

The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records

How did a Wisconsin chair company, producing records on the cheap and run by men with little knowledge of their audience or the music business, build one of the greatest musical rosters ever assembled under one roof?

Jointly released by Jack White’s Third Man Records and John Fahey’s Revenant RecordsThe Rise and Fall of Paramount Records 1917-1932 is a two-volume omnibus of art, words and music from the label that “would become a ‘race records’ powerhouse, its sound and fortunes directly linked to the Great Migration.” Join us for three days of music, conversation, and workshops to celebrate this historic release, and explore the legacy of Wisconsin’s own Paramount Records.

Sounds Transformed: From Analog Capture to Digital Formats Thursday, April 23 at 3:00 pm Room 313, University Club Building, 432 E. Campus Mall Free and Open to the Public. Directions and Parking Information here.

  • Jeremy Morris, Assistant Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, UW-Madison
  • Craig Eley, ACLS Public Fellow, To the Best of Our Knowledge
  • Dean Blackwood, Owner, Revenant Records; Executive Producer, The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records
  • Amanda Petrusich, Author, Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78 RPM Records (2014)

With Paramount as the starting point, this panel will examine how capture and playback of sound has evolved from early analog and electrical recording technologies to new digital formats, and how this affects the value of the recording as cultural artifact.

Music in a Box: The Containment and Commodification of Paramount Records Thursday, April 23 at 5:30 pm Room L140 Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, 800 University Ave. Free and Open to the Public. Directions and Parking Information here.

  • Ann Smart Martin, Stanley and Polly Stone Professor of Art History and Director, Material Culture Program, UW-Madison
  • Craig Werner, Evjue-Bascom Professor of Afro-American Studies, UW-Madison
  • Dean Blackwood, Owner, Revenant Records; Executive Producer,The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records
  • Amanda Petrusich, Author, Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78 RPM Records (2014)
  • Moderated by Steve Paulson, Executive Producer,To the Best of Our Knowledge

This moderated conversation will “unbox” the Paramount Records story, discussing notable songs, addressing issues of commodification, the creation of artificial barriers between “black” and “white” music, the early history of the phonograph and record cabinet, and the subsequent physical containment of music.

The Other Sides of Paramount Records  Friday, April 24, 2015 at Noon Wisconsin Historical Museum, 30 N. Carroll Street Free and Open to the Public. Directions and Parking Information here.

  • Tom Caw, Music Public Services Librarian, Mills Music Library, UW-Madison
  • Dean Blackwood, Owner, Revenant Records; Executive Producer, The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records

Though best known for its blues recordings, Paramount released hundreds of records in dozens of genres, including work by a number of local Wisconsin artists recording Old Time (or Hillbilly) music, polka, and dance orchestra, including Stoughton’s own Jack Penewell, playing Hawaiian steel guitar. Come hear the music and tales of the musicians who made it.

Music and Media: Live Sounds, Silk Screens, and the Story of Paramount Records Saturday, April 25 – 9:30am to 1:00pm Bubbler Room, Madison Public Library, 201 W. Mifflin Street Free and Open to the Public. Directions and Parking Information here

  • Matthew Bindert, Printmaker and Artist-Mentor at Artworking
  • Simon Balto, Musician and PhD Candidate in History and Afro-American Studies, UW-Madison
  • Jeffrey Kollath, Public Humanities Program Manager, UW-Madison Center for the Humanities

Join us for a music-filled, hands-on, all-ages Saturday morning workshop featuring a live performance by local musician Simon Balto, a record album silk screening workshop with graphic artist Matthew Bindert, free art projects, and a listening lab with record players, reel-to-reel tape decks, and more, all while learning about Wisconsin’s very own Paramount Records, a record label based in Grafton, WI that released some of the most influential blues, jazz, and folk records of the 20th century. Art supplies donated by Mad City Music Exchange. More information here, from our co-hosts at the Madison Public Library.

2014 Conference

7th Annual Conference on the Public Humanities 

The Public Good

Friday, April 25, 2014

  • Morning Plenaries, 9:00 am – 12:15 PM. Varsity Hall 1 @ Union South
  • The Value of the Humanities, 9:00 – 10:00 AM. Chancellor Rebecca M. Blank, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • What are the Humanities For? 10:15 – 11:30 AM. Christopher Newfield, Professor of Literature and American Studies, University of California-Santa Barbara
  • Panel Discussion, 11:30 AM – 12:15 PM. Discussion of morning plenaries with UW-Madison faculty members Rob Nixon, English; Lynn Nyhart, History of Science; Russ Shafer-Landau, Philosophy; and special guest Doris Sommer, Professor of Romance Languages & Literatures and Director of the Cultural Agents project, Harvard University. Moderated by Sara Guyer, Director, Center for the Humanities, UW-Madison.
  • Hands-On Workshops, 1:45 pm – 3:30 PM (concurrent). Madison Central Public Library
  • Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, 1:45-3:30 PM. The Bubbler (ground floor), Kelly Hiser, Center for the Humanities Public Humanities Fellow, Madison Public Library
  • Humanities on the Radio: Telling Stories in Sound, 1:45-3:30 PM . Room 301/302 (3rd Floor)  Stephanie Youngblood, Center for the Humanities Public Humanities Fellow, Wisconsin Public Radio, and Erika Janik, ProducerWisconsin Public Radio’s Wisconsin Life.
  • Kids as Cultural Agents: Humanities Programming for Young Audiences, 1:45-3:30 pm. Room 301/302 Center for the Humanities Public Humanities Fellows Heather DuBois Bourenane and Gabriella Ekman, Great World Texts in Wisconsin; Anna Zeide, Madison Children’s Museum; and special guest Doris Sommer.
  • Roundtable Discussion and Reception, 3:45 – 6:00 PM. Madison Central Public Library
  • Engaging Madison: 10 Years of the Public Humanities Exchange (HEX), 3:45-5:00 PM. Room 301/302 Mytoan Nguyen, 2009-10 HEX Scholar, Madison Metropolitan School District; Janelle Pulczinski, 2010-11 HEX Scholar, Oakhill Correctional Institution; and Alexandra Rudnick, 2013-14 HEX Scholar, East Madison Community Center. Moderated by Greg Downey, Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication, UW-Madison.

Launched in 2005 as the Center for the Humanities’ first public humanities program, and now approaching its tenth year, the Public Humanities Exchange (HEX) provides opportunities for UW-Madison graduate students to work in partnership with educational, correctional, arts, and community organizations to develop new models for engaged humanities scholarship. Meet the people behind three recent projects, hear about the impact of HEX, and learn how your organization can become a HEX partner.

Reception, 5:00-6:00 PM. Join us to celebrate our fellows, project leaders, and community partners.

2013 Conference

6th Annual Conference on the Public Humanities
Friday, March 8, 2013
De Luca Forum, Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery

In 2013, the Conference on the Public Humanities focused on the relationship between the Arts, Performance, and the Humanities. Panels will address the public orientation, political possibility, and contemporary context in which these disciplines find and redefine themselves.

  • 9:00-9:15 Opening Remarks*
  • 9:20-10:05 Making Public Arts: Faisal Abdu’Allah (Arts Institute Artist in Residence) and Henry Drewal (Art History, UW-Madison)
  • 10:10-11:00    ExpresARTEMural & Documentary Presentation (originally funded by the Public Humanities Exchange program)
  • 11:00-11:05- Break
  • 11:10-12:10 Making Public Humanities: Josh Calhoun (UW-Madison, English) & Jonathan Senchyne (UW-Madison, School of Library & Information Studies)
  • 12:10-1:20 Lunch
  • 1:25-2:10 Making Public Art: Colin Kloecker (Works Progress, Minneapolis, MN)
  • 2.15-2:45 Making Justice Public Nancy Buenger (Institute for Legal Studies Fellow, UW-Madison)
  • 2:50-3:00 Break
  • 3:00-4:00 Making Arts Public: Anne Pasternak (Executive Director, Creative Time, NYC)

*Coffee and Pastries will be provided

**Due to scheduling conflicts, Lynda Barry will no longer be a presenter at the Conference. Please check back soon for more information.


2013 Keynote Speaker

Anne Pasternak joined Creative Time in the fall of 1994 as the Executive Director. Since that time, the organization, which began commissioning innovative public work in New York City in 1974, has collaborated with hundreds of artists to ignite the public’s imagination, explore ideas that shape society, and bring groundbreaking public art to millions of people around the world. Thanks to Pasternak’s vision, Creative Time recently began presenting national and global projects and initiatives, making it the only public arts organization with programs that have reached from New York to New Orleans, Haiti to Hanoi, and Dubai to Denver.

In addition to her work at Creative Time, Pasternak curates independent exhibitions, consults on urban planning initiatives, and contributes essays to cultural publications. She lectures extensively throughout the United States and Europe, and has served as a guest critic at Yale University.

Other Speakers Include:

Faisal Abdu’Allah is an internationally acclaimed British artist who creates iconographic imagery of power, race, masculinity, violence, and faith to challenge the values and ideologies we attach to those images and to interrogate the historic and cultural contexts in which they originate. In addition to being a Senior Lecturer in Fine Arts at the University of East London, he still occasionally cuts hair at his barber shop/studio in Harlesden, London, called Faisal’s.

Henry J. Drewal is an art historian specializing in the arts of the Yoruba-speaking peoples of West Africa and the African Diaspora. His six years of research and study in Africa included apprenticeships with Yoruba sculptors. He is the author of Beads, Body, and Soul: Art and Light in the Yoruba Universe (1998); Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought (1989); Gelede: Art and Female Power Among the Yoruba (1983, 2nd Edition, 1990), and numerous articles in African Arts and other journals. He is currently working on an exhibition/book project about the visual history and culture of the African water spirit, Mami Wata, and books on Ijebu-Yoruba and Afro-Brazilian art history.

Together, Faisal and Henry will discuss FauHaus, an art laboratory they are currently co-teaching, which is composed of student practitioners from visual arts, performance, art history, and visual culture. Referencing the legendary Bauhaus—a space where multiple disciplines were encouraged to flourish side by side—FauHaus (F for Faisal, H for Henry, Haus for UW-Madison) is grounded in Drewal’s theory of sensiotics, which considers the crucial role of the senses in understanding arts and culture. It takes as a guiding principle the understanding that the modern brain houses a complex mind that retains the thoughts of its predecessors. “The Modular Nature of Human Intelligence,” the “understanding that human instincts or cognitive programs evolved to solve the adaptive problems faced by our ancestors makes understanding the ancestral world important….”

Nancy Buenger is currently a Fellow at the Institute for Legal Studies and a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Center for Law, Society & Justice (CLSJ), an undergraduate program interrelating law, the humanities, and social sciences. Dr. Buenger holds a doctorate in history from the University of Chicago, and is the recipient of the 2010-11 Law and Society Postdoctoral Fellowship at Wisconsin and the 2009-10 Alumni Fund Fellowship at the University of Minnesota Law School.

Nancy has been partnering with youth caught up in the juvenile justice system in Madison as a public component of her research into the court of chancery in the United States. As part of that project, she has assisted with artistic and video work that documents young people’s experience in that court system in an attempt to educate her students, employees and administrators in the juvenile system, and the broader public about the lives of those inside it.

Colin Kloecker is a Twin Cities-based artist, designer and cultural producer working at the intersection of public engagement and civic design. In 2009, after 2 years of creating innovative public programs like Solutions Twin CitiesSalon Saloon, and Give & Take, Colin and his collaborators founded Works Progress, an artist-led public design studio that he now co-directs with his wife and creative partner, Shanai Matteson. Works Progress creates collaborative projects that inspire, inform and connect; catalyzing relationships across creative and cultural boundaries and providing new platforms for public engagement.

Jonathan Senchyne is an Assistant Professor of Library and Information Studies in the field of print and digital cultures at UW-Madison. He is also affiliated with the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture. He is at work on his first book, a study of the resonant materiality of paper and the politics of sense in early and nineteenth-century American literature and culture.

Jonathan’s work focuses on a period in American literary history when, unlike the present, paper was new media. He looks at the intersection of print and material cultures in literary, popular, and ephemeral texts about all aspects of paper in the 18th and 19th centuries, with attention to how paper is imagined to organize and mobilize concepts of publicity, sexuality, gender, race, and authorship. His interests in the digital humanities stem from present attempts to rethink paper (journals and books printed on paper, scholarly presentations i.e. “to give a paper,” etc) and also uses of new media for publicly-engaged scholarship. He has contributed to digital humanities projects such as In Media Res and the Keywords for American Studies teaching wiki collaboratory.

Joshua Calhoun is an Assistant Professor in the English Department at UW-Madison. His current research explores ecologies of writing and reading, especially the poetic interplay between literary ideas and the physical forms they are made to take as sixteenth- and seventeenth-century texts. Made from recycled clothes, slaughtered animals, and felled trees, poetic texts in Renaissance England were filled with visible traces of ecological matter. He argues that the flora and fauna from which a text was made were legible, significant elements of its poetic form. Joshua also leads hands-on workshops on the history of papermaking, and occasionally teaches a community education course called “Shakespeare Out Loud.”

ExpresARTE is a collective of Latino youth activists in Madison that uses creative expression and storytelling as a tool for social change and social justice. Through art, the group promotes leadership, skills, knowledge, and voice to address issues affecting the Latino community.  Our overall goal is to use art and storytelling to understand the lived experiences of Latinos and how they are affected by multiple systems (school system, juvenile justice system, and in the community).  We hope that multiple art forms can serve to heal ourselves, educate each other, and create connections between our personal stories and systems of injustice.

2012 Conference


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

2011 Conference

4th Annual Conference on the Public Humanities
March 25, 2011


  • Julie Ellison (University of Michigan), “Reorganizing the Humanities”
  • Michael Bérubé (Penn State), “There is No Such Thing as ‘The Public’”

Panel: “International Public Humanities”

  • Greg Mittman (History of Science, Faculty Respondent)
  • Erika Robb Larkins (Anthropology, Public Humanities Fellow)
  • Sarah Besky (Anthropology)

“Integrating Disciplinary Interests with Public Engagement”

An open discussion with Julie Ellison

HEX Project Showcases

Literacy Network

David Paul Hudson (English)

David’s service learning class at the University of Wisconsin collaborates with ESL populations at the Literacy Network to create an anthology of literacy narratives to be distributed locally.

Oakhill Correctional Institution

Colleen Lucey (Slavic Languages and Literature); Janelle Pulzcinski (Comparative Literature); and Laurel Bastian (Writing Fellow)

Colleen continues a HEX project developed by Naomi Olson in 2009 for inmates at Oakhill Correctional Institute to develop critical communication skills through reading and writing.  Students analyze plays by Russian and Eastern European authors, drawing on the literary devices in these texts and using them as a reference point for their own writing.

Janelle and Laurel engage inmates in conversations around historically and artistically critical texts. While the texts for both classes will be accessible for a wide range of students, themes will encourage conversation around subjects such as race, class, loss and family.

2010 Conference

Keynote Addresses

“The Power of the Humanities to Change Lives: The UW Odyssey Project”

Emily Auerbach, Professor of English and Director, Odyssey Program, UW-Madison

“Cultural Agents All”

Doris Sommer, Ira Jewell Williams Jr. Professor of Romance Languages & Literatures, Harvard University; Director, Cultural Agents


What does a Public Scholarship Project Leave Behind?

  • Rebecca Lorimer (English)
  • Andrew Stuhl (History of Science)
  • Naomi Olson (Slavic Languages and Literature)

What are the outcomes of public scholarship?  What should they be?  This presentation explores these questions by addressing several kinds of project outcomes: 1) internal products, or the “stuff” (paperwork, insights, data) yielded by projects; 2) external products, or those oriented toward a project partner or larger community, such as organized events or promotional materials; and 3) internalized products, in which the experience or process of the project is the main outcome.  Three examples of public scholarship in Madison, Wisconsin form the basis of this discussion

Queer People/Queer Approaches: Engaging with OutReach, Madison’s LGBT Community Center

  • Kristina Kosnick (French and Italian)
  • Liz Vine (English)
  • Stephanie Youngblood (English)
  • Linda Lenzke (LGBT Community Activist and HEX project participant)

This panel will address both the advantages and the challenges of negotiating identities, communities, activism and academics in an LGBTQ context.

Other People’s Politics: Negotiating the Personal, the Community, and the Academic

  • Mytoan Nguyen (Sociology)
  • Djurdja Trajkovic (Spanish & Portuguese)
  • Mary Claypool (French and Italian)

In this panel, the presenters consider the politics involved with creating a HEX project that is related to a personal research interest, meets a need in the community, and is respected by the university.

HEX @ Public Schools

  •  Emma Schroeder (Geography)
  • Patricia Rengel (Spanish and Portuguese)
  • Michael Kwas (History)
  • Anya Holland-Barry (Musicology)

Four public scholars describe and analyze their project goals, day to day experiences and theoretical themes within a public school environment.

Poetry, Memory, and Public Humanities: The Role of Conversation

  • Christopher Syrnyk (English)
  • John Bradley (English)
  • Mark Lounibos (English)

Three Hex scholars report on their work with seniors teaching poetry and life narratives and reflect on the conversations that emerged in these project’s public contexts.

2009 Conference

Keynote Addresses

“Pushing the Envelope: Life Inside Academia (and Out)”

Julia Reinhard Lupton, Professor of English, University of California-Irvine; Founder of HOT (Humanities Out There)

“Justice, Privilege, and the Role of the University in Society”

Harry Brighouse, Professor of Philosophy & Educational Policy Studies, UW-Madison


“Humanities and Food: Harvesting the Pedagogical Possibilities”

“Digital Humanities for a Wider Public”

2008 Conference

1st Annual Conference on the Public Humanities