What Do We Mean by Humanities Research Now? — An Obermann roundtable

What Do We Mean by Humanities Research Now? — An Obermann roundtable promotional image

Across the country, humanities centers act as incubators for cutting edge questions, creative collaborations, publicly engaged projects, and experimental forms of humanities scholarship. To kick off our conversation about the challenges new forms of research pose to existing metrics, we’ve gathered directors of four humanities centers. Join us as they offer their perspectives on emerging humanities research questions, methods, and formats, and the challenges these pose to current metrics, reviews, and reviewers.


  • Anne Basting is a Professor of English and the incoming Director of the Center for 21st-Century Studies at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. 
  • Antoinette Burton is the Maybelle Leland Swanlund Endowed Chair of History and Director of the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Illinois Champaign Urbana.
  • Javier Durán is Professor of Border Studies in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Director of the Confluence Center for Creative Inquiry at the University of Arizona.
  • Sylvester Johnson is a Professor of Religion and Culture, Assistant Vice Provost for the Humanities, the Founding Director of the Center for Humanities, and Executive Director for the Tech for Humanity initiative at Virginia Tech.
  • Moderator: Teresa Mangum, Director of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies

Free and open to all, but registration is required: REGISTER to receive the Zoom link.

About this new series from the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies:

For many faculty members in the last decade the forms of artistic practice, scholarship, and research have undergone a sea change. Empirical methodologists in the social sciences engage with ethnographers. Artists take deep archival dives to prepare for plays and paintings. Engineers collaborate with anthropologists and English professors. Humanities scholars and technologists form international ArcGIS teams. Yet as the Mellon-funded Humane Metrics Initiative in the Humanities and Social Sciences, the American Council of Learned Societies, and other professional organizations frequently point out, our systems of evaluation have not kept pace with these new methodologies and forms. This year, the Obermann Center is hosting a series of conversations across the disciplines to highlight the many experimental, cutting edge, even controversial creations, discoveries, interpretive work, empirical studies, STEM experiments, publicly engaged and interdisciplinary projects that ask us to expand our understanding of research and what it means to be a research university. All discussions will be virtual, free, and open to the public.

Hosted by the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies with support from the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Photo credit: Laurent Laveder, www.laurentlaveder.com, from his "Moon games" series. 

Friday, September 17, 2021 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Virtual Event
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Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Erin Hackathorn in advance at 319-335-4034 or erin-hackathorn@uiowa.edu.