Student Voices

  • Speaking History: Public Engagement at The UMMA

    Speaking History: Public Engagement at The UMMA

    By Lucy Smith, Doctoral Student in History and Women’s Studies   Jean – Antoine Houdon, the Parian sculpture, traveled to Mount Vernon in 1785 to cast a bust of George Washington. The life like and iconic Houdon Bust remains to this day at Washington’s ancestral home and became a familiar sight throughout my 3 years at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington. Even though I moved across the country …
  • The Humans of the Archives

    The Humans of the Archives

    By Alex Honold, Second year PhD student in Education Studies with a focus in history education and learning technologies.   Before coming to the University of Michigan, I taught high school US history and world geography. One of my favorite parts about teaching was introducing students to dramatic and thought-provoking primary source materials–diaries, oral histories, Nixon’s insane White House rants. Despite how impressive I thought my collection of primary sources was, I never gave much …
  • Expanding the Archive: Building a Digital Archive at the Arab American National Museum

    Expanding the Archive: Building a Digital Archive at the Arab American National Museum

    By: Meryem Kamil, Doctoral Candidate, American Culture “Take the banana, put it in a vat of rice overnight, and then use a hair dryer, and all the spots on the banana will disappear.” It’s a lunch break at the Arab American National Museum, and one of the staff is telling us about an internet prank he fell for as we laugh incredulously, passing around a box of Rocky Road flavored Oreos. I looked forward to …
  • Humanities, Communications, and Philanthropy: What I Learned Sharing the Barbour Scholars Story

    Humanities, Communications, and Philanthropy: What I Learned Sharing the Barbour Scholars Story

    By Elizabeth Harlow, Doctoral Candidate, English Language & Literature As the University of Michigan commemorated its bicentennial in 2017, one of its most storied programs also marked the major milestone of its 100th anniversary. I spent last summer learning and telling the history of the Barbour Scholarship as a Mellon Public Humanities Fellow on the Rackham Graduate School’s Development and Alumni Relations team. What is the Barbour Scholarship, you ask? One of the university’s oldest, …
  • Preparing for Humanities Careers: Suggestions for Doctoral Students and Departments

    Preparing for Humanities Careers: Suggestions for Doctoral Students and Departments

    By Matthew Woodbury, Doctoral Candidate, Department of History As a historian, when asked to explain what I do, one reply is to say I study change and continuity over time. This month that methodological approach takes a personal turn; there are a few changes on my horizon as I reach the final weeks of my doctoral studies and finish a research assistantship with Rackham Graduate School’s Humanities PhD Project. Like the end of a calendar …
  • Exploring Public Humanities at the University of Michigan Museum of Art

    Exploring Public Humanities at the University of Michigan Museum of Art

    By Michael Pascual, Doctoral Student, American Culture I have been in school for as long as I can remember. Except for one small break during my undergrad, I have been enrolled in every semester and quarter and class since I entered into preschool in my hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. I’m qualified to call myself a lifelong learner and, at this point in my journey, a researcher. My research begins with my interest in the representation …
  • From Angst to Advocacy: My Summer with the Michigan Humanities Council

    From Angst to Advocacy: My Summer with the Michigan Humanities Council

    By Emelia Abbe, Doctoral Student, English Language and Literature I’ve never been sold on the idea of a strictly academic career path. As a student in the humanities, I’ve constantly wrestled with how to make sense of the greater effects of my discipline on audiences outside of the university. The circular concept of researching to write articles that other academics then use to write more articles for still more academics is a frustrating one to …
  • “More than a sound, it’s a feel”

    “More than a sound, it’s a feel”

    By Nicole Navarro, Doctoral Student, Department of History When I was accepted as a Mellon Fellow at the Charles H. Wright Museum in Detroit, I was excited for an opportunity to work in a museum setting. I have a background in museums as I worked for two and a half years at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture prior to beginning my history PhD journey. I was motivated to apply for …
  • Transferring Skills and Building New Ones at Michigan Publishing

    Transferring Skills and Building New Ones at Michigan Publishing

    By Catalina Esguerra, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures This past summer, I had the opportunity to work with Michigan Publishing, a part of the UM library system and home to the University of Michigan Press and Michigan Publishing Services. Specifically, my fellowship was with their Editorial and Marketing department. I was tasked with researching competing presses – from their publishing plans to their website platforms – in order to identify Michigan’s strengths …
  • (Re)learning to Write

    (Re)learning to Write

    By Cecilia Morales, Doctoral Candidate in English Given that one of my goals in applying for a Mellon Fellowship was to discover the Ann Arbor community beyond the walls of UofM, my position as the Communications Intern at the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) was the perfect fit. AAACF maintains an extensive network of connections to donors and nonprofits in Washtenaw County, holding endowments that benefit a wide range of individuals and institutions. In short, …
  • Digitizing Digs: My Summer at the MATRIX Center for Digital Humanities & Social Sciences

    Digitizing Digs: My Summer at the MATRIX Center for Digital Humanities & Social Sciences

    By Allison Kemmerle, Doctoral Candidate in Greek & Roman History This past summer, I completed a Mellon Public Humanities Fellowship at the MATRIX Center for Digital Humanities & Social Sciences at Michigan State University. The MATRIX Center partners with community organizations like libraries and museums to digitize collections of cultural resources and make them accessible resources for education and outreach. When I applied for the fellowship at MATRIX, I was eager to learn about managing digital …
  • What I Did This Summer: My Mellon Fellowship Experience at the Wright Museum

    What I Did This Summer: My Mellon Fellowship Experience at the Wright Museum

    Originally written by Marie Stango for the Public Humanities section of the Discover Rackham blog in November 2015 How can scholars located in the academy make their skills and work relevant to the broader community? This question is a big one for many scholars in the humanities, particularly in my field, history. It is also a particularly relevant question for historians in my major fields of interest, African American history and women’s/gender history. Historians and other scholars …
  • “May the shadow of the moon fall on a world at peace”: Working at the Arab American National Museum

    “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 …
  • RESIST

    RESIST

    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 …
  • Speaking – and not only – in Code

    Speaking – and not only – in Code

    By Marisol Fila, PhD Student, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures I became interested in Digital Humanities during my first year of graduate school. I have always been curious about new technologies and getting to know some of the digital tools that could offer alternative approaches to the Humanities sparked my attention from the very beginning. I started familiarizing myself with general ideas of text mining and topic modeling through some workshops offered by the U …
  • Learning to Integrate: Exploring Environmental Humanities During My Mellon Fellowship

    Learning to Integrate: Exploring Environmental Humanities During My Mellon Fellowship

    By Catherine Fairfield, Doctoral Student in English and Women’s Studies For the last eight weeks, I’ve been taking part in the Rackham Mellon fellowship entitled was “Connecting with Environmental Humanities”. This involved working with the University of Michigan Library to develop strategies for the library to support the community of environmental humanities at our institution. The primary goal was to lay the groundwork for making a space in which scholars from different corners of UM who share …
  • Collecting Records, and Archival Experience Too: Mellon Fellowship at the Bentley Historical Library

    Collecting Records, and Archival Experience Too: Mellon Fellowship at the Bentley Historical Library

    By Matt Villeneuve, Doctoral Student in the Department of History The inestimable historian Barbara Tuchman once remarked that “To a historian, libraries are food, shelter, and even muse.” For those of us at the University of Michigan, we should add one more attribute to Tuchman’s list: laboratory. The historical library as laboratory – a place for experimentation, creativity, and discovery – succinctly captures what happens at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan every …
  • Learning About Digital Publishing and Collaboration at Michigan Publishing

    Learning About Digital Publishing and Collaboration at Michigan Publishing

    By Elina Salminen,  Ph.D. Candidate in the Interdepartmental Program in Classical Art and Archaeology This spring and summer, I have spent two months at Michigan Publishing, a part of the UM library system and home to the University of Michigan Press and Michigan Publishing Services, working on a project combining digital publishing, product development, and market analysis. Before my fellowship, I admittedly had a fairly hazy idea about what any of these things meant, but …
  • Reimagining the Possibilities: Mellon Mini-Course on Health and Humanities

    Reimagining the Possibilities: Mellon Mini-Course on Health and Humanities

    By Jallicia Jolly, PhD Candidate in American Culture Purposeful intellectual work meets publicly engaged humanities in “Health and Humanities” taught by Professor Alexandra Stern. The week-long intensive workshop in critical methods and social engagement invited graduate students to explore how we can use tools from the humanities and qualitative social science to mobilize our work. Importantly, the workshop asked: how does health humanities fit into your life? As I expected, health humanities fits in everywhere! …
  • Mellon Mini-Course: Editorial and Translation Work Within and Beyond Academia

    Mellon Mini-Course: Editorial and Translation Work Within and Beyond Academia

    By Elizabeth Nabney, PhD Candidate in Classical Studies I decided to attend the 2016 Mellon mini-course, “Editorial and Translation Work Within and Beyond Academia” because I wanted to learn more about alternative career options beyond academia where I could still make use of the skills I developed during my degree and potentially stay in an academic environment.  The course exceeded my expectations by taking a very broad definition of ‘editing’ and by informing me about a wide …
  • Mellon Mini-Course: Understanding Research Career Pathways through Health Humanities

    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 …
  • A Defining Humanities Experience

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

    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 …
  • Storytelling and Community-Building through Mellon Public Humanities Fellowships

    Storytelling and Community-Building through Mellon Public Humanities Fellowships

    By Christina LaRose, PhD Candidate, English & Women’s Studies I discovered the power of storytelling in the early 1990s when Princeton historian Dr. Alixa Naff interviewed my Syrian great-grandmother, Najla Simon, for her book, Becoming American: The Early Arab Immigrant Experience (Southern Illinois University Press, 1993). I became intrigued by Najla’s oral history, which Dr. Naff had recorded on several cassette tapes, and listened to them often while visiting my grandparents. By answering Dr. Naff’s thought-provoking …
  • A Historian’s Experience in Software Development

    A Historian’s Experience in Software Development

    By Ana M. Silva, PhD Candidate, Department of History Can a History PhD provide the skills for a career in software development? Two months ago, when I started working at the MATRIX Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at Michigan State University, I didn’t have a clear answer to that question. I had no previous training in computer science and, frankly, after five years in a PhD program in Latin American History, I thought …
  • “More Than You Think You Are”

    “More Than You Think You Are”

    By Emily Macgillivray, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of American Culture In 2002 pop-rock band Matchbox 20 released their third studio album, More Than You Think You Are. At the time, I was an angst-y, insecure, awkward, teenager. Fourteen years have passed, but grad school and particularly talks about the job market and “life after the dissertation” can easily bring up feelings of anxiety and self-consciousness, making me feel like a 15-year-old walled up in my room badly …
  • Diving into Philanthropy at the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation

    Diving into Philanthropy at the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation

    By Jennifer Alzate González, PhD Candidate, English Language and Literature Nonprofit grantmaking, impact assessment, the philanthropy sector — before my 8-week fellowship at the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, I had only the haziest idea what these terms meant.  And I often joked, to appreciative laughter, that my dissertation had nothing to do with these concepts.  But with the help of mentor Jillian Rosen and AAACF’s small, tight-knit staff, I found myself and my whole outlook …
  • Is Public Scholarship About Telling Stuff To More People?

    Is Public Scholarship About Telling Stuff To More People?

    By Cassius Adair, PhD Candidate, Department of English I love to talk at people, which is one of the reasons I speak on more panels than maybe I should. Last month I ran– literally jogged across the Diag like a tardy freshman– from academic job market training in Angell Hall to a public scholarship panel on Rackham. In a way this is a heavy-handed metaphor for my academic life: my research lives in one building, …
  • Putting the Humanities into Practice

    Putting the Humanities into Practice

    By Shana Melnysyn, PhD Candidate, Anthropology and History When I first considered applying for a Mellon Public Humanities Fellowship, I wasn’t very familiar with what the Michigan Humanities Council did, nor was I aware that every state in the U.S.A. has its own humanities council. But as soon as I started investigating their support for small-scale, community-based projects, I learned about their focus on the arts, literacy, history, and racial equity, and I knew it …
  • How I Spent my Summer Vacation:  A Historian’s Report

    How I Spent my Summer Vacation: A Historian’s Report

    By Jacqueline D. Antonovich, PhD Candidate, Department of History I’ll be honest with you. One of the best perks of being a historian are the summers. While grad student historians toil away the school year teaching, reading, writing, and attending lectures, we have the unbelievably cool perk of traveling all over the world during summer break. For historians, summer means hopping in a car, train, or airplane (often a combination of all three) and spending …