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Gildenhorn Recital Hall
Wednesday, September 23, 2015 - 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM

Huang Yi’s work lies at the intersection of modern dance, visual arts and robotics.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A $1.25 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will fund research, education and training at the intersections of digital humanities and African American studies at the University of Maryland in an effort to prepare a diverse community of scholars and students whose work will both broaden the reach of the digital humanities in African American history and cultural studies and enrich humanities research with new methods, archives and tools.

The grant, Synergies among Digital Humanities and African American History and Culture: An integrated research and training model, awarded to the College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU) and co-directed by the Arts and Humanities Center for Synergy (Center for Synergy) and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), will support a faculty project director, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and staff in ARHU and the University Libraries. It also includes money to run workshops, to deliver public programming, to digitize materials from significant archival collections, to support faculty research and to integrate digital work into a number of innovative undergraduate curricular initiatives including UMD’s First-Year Innovation & Research Experience (FIRE) program, a new initiative to expose first-year undergraduates to rich research experiences, mentorship and social activities that are known to impact academic success.  

“Maryland’s project enhances the role of digital tools in African American studies as well as the contributions of the field to digital discourse while also making a commitment to widening the reach of the digital humanities both within academic communities and outside the walls of the university,” said Mariët Westermann, vice president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The College of Arts and Humanities has made serious investments in digital humanities and African American culture and history, hiring faculty clusters in both digital humanities and African American literature and history, adding to the strong community of digital humanist and African Americanist scholars already spread across the campus’s many colleges.

“This venture could not be more timely or important,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “It builds on our vital strengths in the humanities, increasing access to important source material on race and culture in America, while creating a new generation of technology-savvy researchers.” 

The thematic focus of the project, African American labor, migration and artistic expression, incorporates the broad intellectual interests shared by a large group of prominent scholars, students and staff on campus, and represents some of the campus’s greatest strengths. Specific research projects will be undertaken in collaboration with The Center for the History of the New America, which houses the Archive of Immigrant Voices; The David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Art and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora with its collection of over 50,000 objects that chronicle the development and understanding of the study of African American visual culture; and the UMD libraries’ recently acquired George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archive, a preeminent research collection for the study of American labor history.

At Maryland, digital humanities as a recognized field can be traced back to the founding of MITH in 1999, which has grown to international acclaim due to its transformational research at the intersection of technology and humanistic inquiry. The project will apply MITH’s innovative digital humanities incubator model to introduce scholars, students and cultural heritage professionals to new modes of research through a series of workshops, tutorials and detailed consultations. Strong in traditional arts and humanities fields as well, the university is also home to the Center for Synergy, the new humanities center at Maryland, which will provide an interdisciplinary bridge between departments and centers and facilitate the public facing events, curricular initiatives and websites connected with the project.

“This ambitious project enables scholars in the region to leverage the remarkable resources we have on campus,” said Bonnie Thornton Dill, professor of Women’s Studies, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, and principal investigator of the Mellon grant. “To explore the histories of the African American population in the U.S., scholars will work with the rich and diverse data sets and archives found in these interdisciplinary centers.”

These resources together offer a new lens and framework for thinking and teaching about Black life in America, specifically investigating the way in which migration has shaped the history of Black people, as both forced and free laborers, and linking those experiences to visual and material culture.  

“Students and faculty researchers might investigate questions about labor activism among Caribbean Americans or explore visual representations of work as they examine the relationship of Black artists and the labor movement,” Ms. Thornton Dill said.

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ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
The University of Maryland is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 37,000 students, 9,000 faculty and staff, and 250 academic programs. Its faculty includes three Nobel laureates, two Pulitzer Prize winners, 49 members of the national academies and scores of Fulbright scholars. The institution has a $1.8 billion operating budget, secures $500 million annually in external research funding and recently completed a $1 billion fundraising campaign.

ABOUT ANDREW W. MELLON FOUNDATION
Founded in 1969, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies by supporting exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work. 

PHOTO CREDITS

Spotlight Image:

"Five generations on Smith's plantation, Beaufort, South Carolina"
Timothy O’Sullivan, 1862—Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Preston Sampson
Power and Purpose, 2008
Paper pulp painting
49.5 “ x 97
© 2013 Preston Sampson
 
500 Laborers from Barbados/Deck Scene, September 2, 1909,
Panama; NARA identification number 185-G-1128
 
Inset 1:

500 Laborers from Barbados/Deck Scene, September 2, 1909,
Panama; NARA identification number 185-G-1128
 
Inset 2:

Hunter, Clementine (1886-1988)
Wash Day, n.d.
Oil on canvas
15.375” x 19.5”
© 2013 Cane River Art Corporation
 
Inset 3:

Local 900 President Ed Gaskin speaking at big Balboa union meeting, May, 1952.
© University of Maryland, University Libraries
http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/32406

 

5/12/15

BY LAUREN BROWN
PHOTO BY JOHN T. CONSOLI

This week only, the landscape of downtown College Park is a little more whimsical. And thoughtful. And connected.

Students in a new public art and design course have installed five temporary artworks on streets, in open spaces and in other nooks of the city for view May 11–16, in hopes of sparking conversations about the relationship between the university and College Park.

On Monday, passersby paused and drivers turned their heads to stare at the works, such as reflector-covered poles lining a sidewalk, a blown-up globe between a pair of park benches, and three platforms bearing chairs and tables and festooned with a canopy of colored ribbons, on a grassy area just outside City Hall.

Architecture Associate Professor Ronit Eisenbach, with sculptor and art Professor John Ruppert and urban planning Professor Gerrit Knapp, director of the National Center for Smart Growth, taught the “Making Place Work” class to a mix of art, architecture and landscape architecture students.

“We wanted them to think about spicing up College Park a bit, and raise possibilities about what could happen here,” she says.

The course is supported by UMD’s Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship andPartnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS) program, in which students and faculty work with local governments in Maryland to solve real community problems.

The students first explored the challenges the city and university are now confronting to make College Park’s downtown more vibrant, diverse and attractive. Then, split into teams, they explored different concepts in the city-campus relationship, such as blurring the boundaries between them or emphasizing the quiet areas or creating a place to mingle. They worked with the property owners—the university, its foundation and the city—to secure short-term use of the spaces, and raced to design and build their visions.

Architecture graduate student Prakruti Hoskere was glad to get experience in collaborating and constructing a design on a budget, and has enjoyed watching people interact with her team’s piece, “Room Garden.”

“I really feel that these projects can help make College Park a better place,” she says.

For more information, visit makingplaceumd.wordpress.com. Passersby can connect via Twitter #CPMakePlace.

 

4/17/15

By Sissi Cao/The Diamondback

Environmentalism might sound like science to some, but Terry Tempest Williams said it takes a humanitarian perspective to fully understand it.
Williams, an award-winning nature writer, came to speak at the arts and humanities college’s Dean’s Lecture Series at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center on Thursday night to talk about the humanities, her writing and the environment.
About 50 people attended the event featuring the environmental humanitarian, who is known for her books Finding Beauty In A Broken World and Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place. She currently teaches at Dartmouth College.
“I grew up with the value that community comes before individuals. I believe community is the vehicle for social change and the vehicle for empathy,” Williams said.
The writer was born in 1955 and grew up in a Mormon family in Salt Lake City, Utah. She called herself “a free spirit in a conservative religion,” recounting events in her early life that led her to the path of writing and supporting environmental activism.

 

To read more, click here.

Benjamin Banneker Room, Stamp
Wednesday, April 08, 2015 - 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM

As a part of Sex Week, please join us for an artist's workshop about consent and changing rape culture.

Lobby, Physical Sciences Complex
Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Terry Tempest Williams and members of Narrative4 will lead an environmentally themed story exchange at the University of Maryland.

Gildenhorn Recital Hall, The Clarice
Thursday, April 23, 2015 - 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM

A lively mix of performance art, video and talk will showcase international activists who are strategically using art for social justice.

Grand Ballroom, Stamp
Monday, April 06, 2015 - 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM

Student performers, music and dance groups are coming together to raise awareness for victims and survivors of sexual violence for the first night of Sex Week.

The Clarice, Gildenhorn Recital Hall
Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM

Terry Tempest Williams, award winning author of “Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family & Place” and “Finding Beauty in a Broken World,” will discuss the role of the humanities in environmentalism.

3/9/15

 

By Jeremy Snow, The Diamondback

 

After 10 years of saving money, two years of planning and nine months of renovation, the Old Greenbelt Theatre is ready for showtime.

The more-than-75-year-old single-screen movie theater near Crescent Road in Greenbelt will reopen to the public as a nonprofit theater later this month. Caitlin McGrath, a university English professor who is now the theater’s executive director, said the theater could offer special events and screenings as well as internships for students.

Though it had long been underperforming and had been closed for the last nine months, McGrath said she thought that with enough support, the location could become a community staple.

“It felt like a really good fit where I could use my strengths as a film academic and connections in that world, and also with the community on this campus to breathe new life into the theater,” she said.

The theater will continue to screen mainstream movies at night, but it will now hold events, film series and special screenings for the first time, McGrath said. For example, she hopes to start by showing Oscar-nominated movies and other notable films from the nine months during which the theater was closed for renovation.

McGrath said she hopes the theater becomes a cinematic hub for the university, as students can easily reach it via the 130 Greenbelt Shuttle-UM route.

 

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