Explore Public Humanities Hub Research Clusters Awarded: 2022

Please join us in congratulating the recipients of Public Humanities Research Cluster funding. In the 2022-24 competition, a total of $92,280 was awarded to five research clusters to promote research activity and collaboration among humanities scholars at UBC and beyond; to help collaborators leverage funding to secure additional support; and to foster more public-facing sharing of research.

Cinema Thinks the World
PI: Dr. William Brown, Film

The aims of the ‘Cinema thinks the world’ project are two-fold. Firstly, it will bring together numerous scholars working on and with film from around UBC in order to discuss their work with each other, with interested parties within the university, and with members of the general public. Secondly, it aims to develop a partnership with The Cinematheque in order to promote a scholarly film culture within the city and British Columbia more generally. The project will achieve these aims through two parallel series of events: an ongoing series of screenings (held potentially at Robson Square) that provide a focus for the creative and/or critical work of UBC faculty members, and which have as a general theme ‘cinemas of and for the world’; and a regular series of ‘think and drinks’ that involve small groups drawn from a wider pool of UBC faculty members leading discussions about films programmed by The Cinematheque, and which might also allow us to ‘think the world through film.’

Critical Humanities Consortium for Unsettling University Governance
PI: Dr. Mary Bryson, Language and Literacy Education

There are multiple publics with a keen interest in addressing and transforming persistent problems caused by the gradual erosion, under conditions of neoliberalism, of those academic freedoms that are a constitutive foundation of collegial governance. The “Critical Humanities Consortium for Unsettling University” cluster aims to establish an interdisciplinary team to advance knowledge and contribute to public discourse and policy, concerning minority faculty members, academic freedom and university governance. Recent research has quantitatively mapped intersectional demographics of faculty participation in university governance but has not qualitatively or conceptually analyzed either the experiences of minority academic leaders, nor the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) practices intended to address problems of systemic underrepresentation in governance. Managerial approaches to EDI maintain the status quo, foreclose on meaningful change to conditions of inequality, and degrade minority faculty participation in university governance. The cluster will secure collaborators and external funding towards the first national study of Canadian universities, experiences of minority faculty in academic leadership roles, and the institutional landscape where policies and practices are designed and implemented to address diversity-related gaps. The cluster will, as well, promote dialogue, institutional capacity-building and accountability regarding decolonizing EDI and university governance. We seek above all to make evident the challenges of, and new opportunities for, unsettling the entrenched colonial impasse in knowledge regarding university governance.

A Literary Journey to Yoshino: Cultures of Travel in Early Modern Japan
PI: Dr. Christina Laffin, Asian Studies

This project convenes ten UBC-based scholars in collaboration with US- and Japan-based digital humanities and Japanese literary specialists to create an accessible and visually compelling digital narrative to launch a new acquisition in Rare Books and Special Collections, a lavish travelogue manuscript depicting a journey to famous sites in what is now Western Japan. Junior and senior UBC scholars, students, and specialists from Japan and the US will produce an annotated edition of A Record of Yoshino (Yoshino ki, mid-17th c.); snapshots into the object’s materiality and the culture of travel in early modern Japan using ArcGIS StoryMaps; and a series of brief videos on the text’s materiality, representations of travel, and the processes of digitization, transcription, and translation. As scholars representing many disciplines (archival studies, art history, design, digital humanities, literature, and material culture), we will examine this valuable manuscript from multiple perspectives, consider pedagogical approaches, and highlight aspects of public interest. Events and deliverables include a skill-building workshop, ArcGIS Story Map, eight videos, and a public launch. The online resources will enable broader access to this manuscript, allow us to test digital tools rarely used for premodern literary materials, provide knowledge on the content and contexts for this exciting new acquisition, and connect it to early modern Japanese maps and poetry works in our Open Collections.

Sound Studies and the Humanities
PI: Dr. Tamara Mitchell, French, Hispanic and Italian Studies

Sound Studies has experienced a boom in the past three decades, with this burgeoning field movingbeyond the “visual hegemony” (Burdick 2001) to centre aurality, hearing, and listening in social and cultural analysis (Sterne 2003). Recent scholarship in humanistic sound studies suggests that attuning to sound destabilizes hegemonic power structures derived from reading-based knowledge systems (Ochoa Gautier 2014), opens a space for epistemologies that transmit knowledge via orality (Arias 2007, Robinson 2020), and unsettles R. Murray Schafer’s foundational notion of “the soundscape” (1977) by centring marginalized perspectives (Estévez Trujillo 2015).

In dialogue with these thinkers, the cluster in Sound Studies and the Humanities seeks to create an intellectual and collaborative space for UBC scholars working in the field of humanistic sound studies. This PHH Cluster attempts to foment collaborative thinking, resource sharing, promotion of relevant scholarship and pedagogical practices, and training of emerging scholars. Moreover, the Cluster aims to connect UBC scholars with the robust network of Canadian Sound Studies. To this end, the cluster proposes to organize a reading group and lecture series, produce podcast episodes, launch a website, and host a conference on humanistic sound studies. Finally, we will seek future funding to establish a permanent space for collaborative thinking among humanists.

Documentary, Visual Methods and Social Justice
PI: Dr. Shannon Walsh, Film

The Documentary, Visual Methods and Social Justice cluster brings together a range of scholars and artists working on documentary, visual and arts-based methodologies for social change. In this initial stage, the cluster will focus on deepening ties between scholars and artists working in these areas at UBC through building a website and online presence, an internal colloquium and retreat, the development of a Documentary Centre, and a public-facing screening and speaker series over the next few years. Key themes include revived ethics, decolonizing approaches to research and creation, and community-based engagement amongst the broader themes of methodologies and mediums.

This cluster would be the first of its kind in a Canadian university to bring together both documentary filmmakers and an interdisciplinary set of scholars and practitioners working with visual and arts-based methodologies. As documentary is heralded as “Canada’s national art form” and as such a cluster to begin to build networks at UBC across disciplines is vitally important.

The cluster includes graduate students working with visual, arts-based and documentary methods, creating vital networking and RA opportunities for students across the humanities.