Call for Papers – High Stakes Humanities: Being Human During Covid-19

In a matter of a few days in early 2020, many of the questions that occupy us, rather quietly, as scholars of the humanities were dramatically transformed by COVID-19. Our inquiries have taken on dramatic new lives before our eyes, becoming shared life-or-death questions about how human societies work and how culture determines our collective fate. Every question we ask—about ethics and publics, about the social contract and individual rights, about race making and xenophobia, about ideas of home and conceptions of gender, about narrative and representations and power—has taken on a new urgency for us and for the world beyond the academy.

The Michigan Humanities Collaboratory seeks submissions for High Stakes Humanities: Being Human During COVID-19, an ambitious humanities response to the COVID-19 pandemic to be published by University of Michigan Press. We are soliciting short, intellectually rigorous essays, podcasts, audio or visual content that probe the current crisis from multiple disciplinary perspectives, thinking through the pandemic from multiple vantage points. This is a pop-up scholarly project. We are not seeking new research so much as we are looking for deep responses from a range of humanities scholars at the University of Michigan to this remarkable moment in history. Essays should be 2,000-15,000 words long; the scale of audio or visual submissions will be determined in consultation with the editorial board. All submissions should be intended for a broad audience. (Think readers of a New Yorker article.)

We invite University of Michigan scholars from any humanities field and/or subfield to propose a contribution which generates thinking (reflective, informative, speculative, responsive, creative, etc.) on the pandemic and the questions it has raised.

  • What insights can you bring to readers struggling to make sense of the COVID-19 world?
  • What elements of the current situation have struck you most forcibly?
  • What does your field/subfield offer in terms of tools and specific content?
  • In general, how does your field/subfield help readers expand their understanding of the pandemic?

We’re aiming for the widest possible representation of disciplines and perspectives: philosophy, history, sociology, anthropology, literary and cultural studies from all over the world, film and media, religion, art, music, poetry, drama and performance, linguistics, rhetoric, US ethnic studies, disability studies, environmental studies, indigenous studies etc. We want your thinking about the pandemic to enter the public conversation in an authoritative, prestigious, widely marketed and promoted form.

We intend for longer contributions and collections of shorter contributions to appear as short e-books on an expedited timeline. Ebook publications will be available open access via the Amazon Kindle Store and other retailers of digital books as well as the University of Michigan Press’s digital publishing platform, Fulcrum. Fulcrum allows for the integration of audio files and video files as well as other digital affordances. Thus, we encourage contributors to think creatively about the format of their essay.

Abstracts of 500 words should be submitted between June 1 and June 30 to with the subject line: “High Stakes Humanities.” Submitted abstracts will be reviewed on a rolling basis throughout the month. Editors will respond within two weeks of receiving an abstract. Final submissions (2,000-15,000 words for written work) will be due on August 1. For works that are audio or visual, editors will discuss expectations for final submissions with individual contributors based upon the abstract. Submissions will be reviewed by an editorial committee including current and former Humanities Collaboratory steering committee members, Humanities Collaboratory project grant participants, and representation from the Press’s Executive Committee.