The Humanities Center at Harvard has received a $268,000 grant from the Andrew M. Mellon Foundation to help strengthen the role of humanities throughout the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS).
The grant, awarded last month, will help fund several new initiatives, including five annual interdisciplinary dissertation workshops for graduate students, two annual $17,500 dissertation fellowships, an annual graduate student conference, and an annual public lecture series targeted at undergraduates and the Harvard community at large.
“We are enormously pleased to have received this grant from Mellon, and are delighted at their continuing support of humanities initiatives,” said Marjorie Garber, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English and director of the Humanities Center. “This is an especially important time for the issues addressed by the humanities, both within the University and beyond.”
Zahr Said, a fifth-year graduate student in comparative literature, likes what she has heard about the grant. She said the programs the grant will fund are needed for practical academic purposes as well as to enrich the humanities community at Harvard.
“These are precisely the kinds of grants we graduate students need to pursue the opportunities for intellectual collaboration that are so vital, not only to the completion of our dissertations, but also to our growth as scholars in a larger community,” she said.
The overriding purpose of the grant is to bridge gaps between various parts of the humanities community within the FAS. For instance, one of the proposed interdisciplinary dissertation workshops is “Film Theory and Film Studies.” Such a workshop could bring together students writing dissertations on European, American, Indian, and Chinese film, among others. All of the students may be studying in different departments within the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, but the workshop would give them a chance to meet one another and exchange ideas and information.
Such workshops, with their focus on the dissertation, would prove tremendously valuable, Said explained.
“While I am currently involved in a Ford Research Workshop, which I find to be stimulating, it could be even more directed if its focus were on fueling, sustaining, and advancing the ideas and energy required to complete the dissertation,” she said. “What we have now is more of a guided exploration of shared intellectual questions and concerns still valuable, but not the same thing either substantively or methodologically.”
The Humanities Center will begin implementing the new initiatives this spring.