Xiang Gao performs in one of the popular iMusic presentations. An Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center grant will fund work by Gao and Joyce Hill Stoner for an iMusic event on the topic of bullying.

Humanities grants

Interdisciplinary research center approves funding for projects


1:45 p.m., Feb. 4, 2013--The University of Delaware's Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center (IHRC) has awarded grants for 2013 to five projects that explore subjects ranging from the past — the New Sweden settlement in America, now marking its 375 anniversary — to the future, with the growing cultural and economic impacts of the video-game phenomenon.

Part of the College of Arts and Sciences, the IHRC was created in 2009 to strengthen faculty research and creative activity, support multidisciplinary research and teaching and foster public engagement in the humanities.

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Here are the projects recently approved for funding:

A conference will be held in November, with concurrent sessions at UD and in Sweden connected through a live video feed, on the archaeology and material culture of 17th century Sweden and New Sweden. The conference will commemorate the 375th anniversary of the establishment of the New Sweden colony along the Delaware River, with the first settlement at Fort Christina in Wilmington, Del. Lu Ann De Cunzo, professor of anthropology, in partnership with Lund University in Sweden and a host of historical institutions in the mid-Atlantic area, will host the conference. Titled "Encountering 'Others' in the Atlantic World: Perspectives from the Material World," the event will serve as an international forum on comparative colonialism. 

The University's Game Studies Research Group will host a symposium in fall 2013 and is developing a proposal for a new minor. The group began in 2011 with the purpose of examining how people in different disciplines approach games as a subject of study, with the premise that faculty members will learn as much from collaboration and dialogue with one another as from the literature of the field. The interdisciplinary group has attracted members from the departments of Communication, Foreign Languages and Literatures, and Computer and Information Sciences. The principal investigators for the project are Rachael Hutchinson, associate professor, and Phillip Penix-Tadsen, assistant professor, both of foreign languages and literatures.

Xiang Gao, Trustees Distinguished Professor of Music, and Joyce Hill Stoner, Rosenberg Professor of Art Conservation and an experienced lyricist and librettist, are collaborating on iMusic VII: Dorm Chatter, a musical about bullying and diversity on college campuses. The production is expected to be performed late this year or early next year as part of the Master Players Concert Series, of which Gao is artistic director. To prepare the script and lyrics, Stoner and Gao will conduct oral history interviews with a variety of UD students about exclusion, isolation, bullying and other sources of discomfort. The production will be accompanied by a packet for teachers, students and counselors and will tour to various locations, including schools.

A research project and inter-arts performance in spring 2014 will focus on pottery created by an early 19th century African American slave. “Dave the Potter’s Couplet Pots: Dancing History and Dred Scott" is a collaboration by Gabrielle Foreman, Ned Allen Professor of English, and Lynnette Overby, professor of theatre, with the poet Glenis Redmond. The work created by Dave the Potter, which is often adorned with couplets and short poems, was featured in a major exhibition at Winterthur Museum recently and is part of the Civil War collection at the Smithsonian. The performance piece will specifically feature pots created in 1857, the year of the infamous Dred Scott decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Stephanie Kerschbaum, assistant professor of English, in partnership with colleagues at Spelman College and Temple University, is pursuing a research project on higher education faculty members who have disabilities. “Uncovering an Invisible Demographic: Faculty, Disclosure, and Disability in Higher Education” will focus on the question of what it means — culturally, personally and professionally — to a faculty member who discloses a disability. Goals of the project include holding a symposium at UD, creating a faculty-development workshop to be offered nationally and offering policy recommendations. The project also has received University funding from the President’s Diversity Initiative and the Center for the Study of Diversity.

Photo by Evan Krape

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