“May the shadow of the moon fall on a world at peace”: Working at the Arab American National Museum

By Mika Kennedy, Doctoral Candidate in English Language and Literature At time of writing [August 2017], I’m in rural Nebraska. I left the Interstate many miles ago, and the towns here follow the rail line. They are punctuated clusters of buildings and gas marts, and billboards celebrating Sinclair Oil. There’s going to be a total solar eclipse in a few days, and there are signs announcing that, too. The Orientals already know that, though. Or at least, that’s what this Nebraskan shopkeep said. The Orientals all know, because birthing babies during […]

Winter Semester Course – “Public Humanities at the Crossroads”

In Winter 2018 Professor Julie Ellison (English Language and Literature) will be teaching “Public Humanities at the Crossroads.” Part of Rackham’s Mellon Public Humanities initiative, the seminar asks students to take an interdisciplinary approach to the topic and is framed around three questions – “What is the public project of cultural fields now? What do publicly active humanists do? Where, how, and with whom do you start?” Course requirements include developing a collaborative relationship with a regional non-profit. Participation will provide experience in conceptualizing and writing grants, managing projects, and working […]


By Peggy Lee, Doctoral Candidate in American Culture RESIST My last day at the NEH in August 2017 was the same day the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH) collectively walked out of their jobs. I myself was counting down the hours until I could leave the NEH, feeling only accountable at that point to the project directors, many of whom had invested a lot of time travelling to D.C. for a one-day convening, my last day. Project directors are the point people in NEH-funded projects; they are […]

A Digital Humanities Project in Tibetan Studies

By Shana Melnysyn Dr. Alex Gardner is the Executive Director and Chief Editor for The Treasury of Lives, a digital humanities project that comprises “a biographical encyclopedia of Tibet, Inner Asia, and the Himalayan region.” Dr. Gardner received his PhD in Asian Languages and Cultures from University of Michigan in 2007. Dr. Alex Gardner began his post-PhD career path with a stroke of luck. After finishing his doctorate in Buddhist Studies at University of Michigan, Dr. Gardner received a postdoc at the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (now the Buddhist Digital […]

Bringing Humanities Training to Professional Storytelling and Public Engagement

By Estevan Rael-Gálvez, PhD. Former State Historian of New Mexico, Executive Director at the National Hispanic Cultural Center and Sr. VP of Sites at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  Dr. Rael-Gálvez, writer, strategist, and principal of the consulting firm Creative Strategies 360°, received his PhD in American Culture from the University of Michigan in 2000. Along with my upbringing in a mountain village of northern New Mexico, where I formed my core values and learned my love for storytelling, an especially important part of my journey was my graduate […]

Mellon Public Humanities Courses at U of M

As part of the Mellon Humanities Doctorate in the Twenty-first Century initiative at Michigan, four faculty each year are developing courses designed to increase doctoral students’ capacities for a wider range of careers. The goal is to integrate these courses, and others like them, into departmental curricula.

Mellon Mini-Course: Understanding Research Career Pathways through Health Humanities

This is the first in a new series of blog posts by participants in Mellon Public Humanities Mini-Courses.  By Amanda Greene, PhD Candidate, English Language and Literature I decided to go to grad school because I wanted a research career. When I began my program, I assumed that this was necessarily synonymous with the elusive R1 university, tenure track position. Over the last year, though, I’ve come to understand that the university is not the only place where rigorous humanities research is possible and have started to see a diverse […]

A Defining Humanities Experience

By Rachel Cawkwell, PhD Student in English Language and Literature Humanties. It was one of the several misspellings of the word humanities that I made while transcribing four hours of audio from focus groups I conducted this summer. Each new sentence seemed to result in a…creative…new version of the word. But this one gave me pause. It may be a fault of my humanistic training that I look for meaning in too many places, including my spelling mistakes, but it seemed important to dwell on the connection of humanities with human […]

The Next Generation of the Humanities, or A Good Problem to Have

By Malcolm Tariq, PhD Candidate, Department of English Language and Literature On my first day at the National Endowment for the Humanities, I met the Director of Human Resources. When the director learned in which division I’d be working he responded, “Oh, he’s going have fun.” The staff member agreed: “Yeah, he’s going to have fun.” The receptionist nodded her head in agreement. “Yes, fun.” I didn’t know what to think of this. Months before, I had a Skype interview with three staff members and some phone calls with the Director of […]

How I (Unknowingly) Prepared for My Museum Career

By Matthew Jaber Stiffler, Researcher at the Arab American National Museum and Lecturer at the University of Michigan. Dr. Stiffler received his PhD in American Culture from U of M in 2010. My transition from academia to the world of cultural museums was, initially, supposed to be a temporary exile. My graduate career, eight years in all, was intended to be the prelude to a long and fruitful career as a tenure-track professor. I was attracted to every aspect of the TT lifestyle: flexible work schedule, summers “off”, spending every day […]