Undergraduate Research

Our Goal

Humanities Writ Large aims to infuse the undergraduate experience with opportunities to conduct humanities research and thereby learn how humanities fields contribute valuable new knowledge through humanistic analysis, perspective and methods. This is a provocative challenge to the traditional paradigm that research needs to be restricted to faculty and graduate students experts, and also supports Duke’s broader goal of increasing undergraduate research in all fields. Our belief is that early exposure to humanistic research and analysis helps students become more thoughtful architects of their own education and more sophisticated consumers of the humanities throughout their lives.

Faculty Funding Paths for Undergraduate Research

Support for Departmental Undergraduate Research Showcases

The Humanities Writ Large initiative seeks to support innovations in mentored research for undergraduates specifically within the humanities and interpretive social sciences that lead to graduation with distinction projects. 

In addition to the funds available from Trinity College of Arts & Sciences for Graduation with Distinction Programs, Humanities Writ Large is interested in expanding the public presentation of undergraduate research projects in the humanities and interpretive social sciences.  Based on the model established by the Department of Romance Studies, we would like to support departments that put on extended research showcases where both distinction projects and earlier-stage research papers are presented to the broad membership of the department and other audiences, which might include faculty, other students, and families. Selected classes in the department that meet during the research showcase attend as both audience members and respondents.  If you are interested in pursuing this model, please reach out to us for further conversation.

New Configurations of Undergraduate Research

All faculty who teach undergraduate students are regularly invited to submit proposals to develop new spaces and innovative configurations for mentored undergraduate research within or connected to the humanities or interpretive social sciences. The next call for proposals will be posted about December 1, with proposals due February 20, 2015. 

The Humanities Writ Large Steering Committee is eager to support a wide range of research methods and possibilities for collaboration, innovation, and distinctive types of learning.  We encourage you to come up with intriguing proposals of “new configurations” that experiment with unexplored structures for undergraduate research:

  • Could there be a small team summer project that could send 3-4 distinction students to an archive or a research site with the supervision of a faculty member or advanced graduate student?
  • Is there a way of connecting Trinity humanities and interpretive social sciences distinction students with faculty and projects in other schools during the academic year?
  • Are there innovative forms of showcasing the final product?
  • Could you engage a small group of second-semester freshmen and / or sophomores in a research project that will set the stage for a graduation with distinction research project?
  • Could you take on an unusual research assignment by partnering with other faculty within or across departments or schools who would bring students with different perspectives to work on the same topic?
     

Project Search Now Includes Humanities

Beginning in Fall 2013, incoming first-year students at Duke have a new pre-orientation option.  Project Search – founded in 2009 – is a two-week program designed to provide research opportunities to students who have not had substantial lab experiences prior to admission.  Last year for the first time pSearch included an option for students who are interested in learning to do research in the humanities.  Philip Stern, Associate Professor of History and co-director of the BorderWork(s) Lab, has led this program in its first three summers, partnering with undergraduate students to guide a group of incoming students through a range of techniques and tools that are important to humanities scholars and researchers.  

Students in the humanities track in pSearch live and socialize with students in the original biology sequence.  They give their final presentations in a combined group so the students have the opportunity to learn about work in a range of fields.

2014 - 2014
Assistant Professor of History Nicole Barnes brings archival research into her first-year seminar, Chinese Medical Beliefs and Practices.  Starting in Spring 2015, and...Read More about Chinese Public Health Posters
2016 - 2016
Recent events at Duke and on campuses around the United States have highlighted students’ concern about understanding our own institutional history.  Campus conversations...Read More about Duke History Revisited
2015 - 2015
As the number of living Holocaust survivors shrinks, the urgency to document their life stories increases. In 2012, the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in...Read More about Holocaust Education Mobile Application
2015 - 2015
The Lee D. Baker Scholars Program offers a select group of outstanding Duke undergraduates the opportunity to extend and deepen their Writing 101 work in the form of an...Read More about Lee D. Baker Scholars Program
2013 - 2013
Professor Sheila Dillon leads a project that seeks to produce a database and digital map of the archaeological remains of ancient Athens. This project is a collaborative...Read More about Mapping Athens
2012 - 2012
ARTHIST 390S/HIST 390S - Mapping Knowledge in Renaissance Rome: Raphael's School of Athens, was co-taught by Professors Sara Galletti and John J. Martin during Spring 2013. ...Read More about Mapping Knowledge in Renaissance Rome
2014 - 2014
The German Department provided support for undergraduates to undertake 3 - 6 week research projects in Berlin seeking to answer specific questions in the following fields:...Read More about Mapping Multiculturalism in Berlin
2015 - 2015
This project is focused on transforming an inaccessible audio archive of historic North Carolina folk music into a vital, publicly accessible digital archive and museum...Read More about NC Jukebox
2012 - 2012
This project is part of a multi-year research and teaching initiative that will result in independent research and senior distinction theses for undergraduates.  A team of...Read More about Old Stones, New Technologies
2013 - 2013
The research project Platforms and Passageways explores the informational walls that inhibit resettlement and reconstruction in the aftermath of war and disaster. It draws on...Read More about Platforms & Passageways
2013 - 2013
Perhaps the best way to get a jumpstart on your four years at Duke is to participate in a pre-orientation program. One of these, pSearch, is designed as an introduction to...Read More about pSearch - Humanities
2015 - 2015
This HWL project expands the undergraduate research component of two major projects by Pedro Lasch, Associate Research Professor in Duke's Department of Art, Art History and...Read More about Public Art & Socially Engaged Education
2014 - 2014
Since 2014, the Emergence Lab has been a site of interdisciplinary teaching, research, and collaborative creative work at the undergraduate, graduate, and faculty levels....Read More about The Emergence Lab
2011 - 2011
Professor Charles Piot (Cultural Anthropology, African and African American Studies and Women's Studies) formed a small research team – four undergraduate students – that...Read More about Togo, Summer 2012
Students Refresh the Archive for Duke History Revisited
Eight Duke undergraduates spent six weeks at the beginning of last summer doing intensive research in the Duke University Archives as part of Duke History Revisited. The program, directed by University archivist Valerie Gillispie and assistant...Read More about Students Refresh the Archive for Duke History Revisited
Pedro Lasch's Curricular Intervention in Venice
HOW TO KNOW: The Protocols and Pedagogy of National Abstraction, a new piece by visual arts professor Pedro Lasch, was presented recently as part of the 2015 Creative Time Summit at the Venice Art Biennale. It is part of a larger series of highly...Read More about Pedro Lasch's Curricular Intervention in Venice
Chinese Medicine Class Research Trip to Washington, D.C.
Nicole Barnes' freshman seminar, Chinese Medical Beliefs and Practices, recently made a trip to the National Library of Medicine in Washington, D.C. "The students consulted the library's collections of Chinese public health posters—one of the...Read More about Chinese Medicine Class Research Trip to Washington, D.C.
What Do These Six Questions Have in Common?
“How does media shape a child’s perception of race, both of herself and others?” “How has domestic and global international policy concerning direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising for pharmaceuticals affected the use of prescription drugs in the U.S...Read More about What Do These Six Questions Have in Common?
pSearch Humanities Returns for Year Two
Project Search: Humanities—“pSearch”—is a pre-orientation program designed to introduce incoming students to research methods and opportunities in the humanities and interpretive social sciences at Duke. The session this year begins on August 3 and...Read More about pSearch Humanities Returns for Year Two
New Course Teaches Socially Engaged Art in Concept and Practice
Pedro Lasch, Associate Research Professor in Art, Art History & Visual Studies, is teaching a Spring 2016 course Social Art Practice and Socially Engaged Humanities, that is connected to a Humanities Writ Large supported project on Art Biennials...Read More about New Course Teaches Socially Engaged Art in Concept and Practice
Sex Work Discourse in Germany: Historicizing the Legalization Debate
This past summer I worked on my research project examining discourses on sex work in Germany. Enacted by the German Bundestag in 2002, the Act Regulating the Legal Situation of Prostitutes was passed formally recognizing sex work as labor. Prior to...Read More about Sex Work Discourse in Germany: Historicizing the Legalization Debate
Racism in German Children's Literature
This research project is about German public opinion of racism in children’s books- based on a small selection of opinion and other newspaper articles pertaining to the topic. The project was originally intended to analyze children’s books from...Read More about Racism in German Children's Literature
Afro-Germans: Bridging the Gap Between 29 Years
What exactly does it mean to map multiculturalism? Perhaps even more difficult is, what exactly we mean when we say multiculturalism? When I decided to apply for the Mapping Multiculturalism grant, these were the first two questions I needed to...Read More about Afro-Germans: Bridging the Gap Between 29 Years
Immigration and Integration in German Museums
I researched how German museums present immigration and integration and how this impacts public understanding.  I visited around thirty museums and memorials and interviewed museum curators, whose museums specifically focused on migrants or...Read More about Immigration and Integration in German Museums
Duke in Tuscany Opportunity
Undergraduate students are encouraged to attend a seminar on "Envisioning Digital and Invisible Landscapes in Italy" at Smith Warehouse, Bay 10, Room A266 on Monday, November 18, 2013, from noon to 1:00 p.m. This seminar will be focused on the study...Read More about Duke in Tuscany Opportunity
Undergraduate Research: History 2012/13
In the academic year 2012-13, Duke's History Department received funding to support research leading to Graduation with Distinction. The following students received support for their distinction projects. Elizabeth Blackwood: "Peace by Piece:...Read More about Undergraduate Research: History 2012/13
Undergraduate Research: Classical Studies 2012/13
Rhyne King did research during the summer of 2013 in preparation for his senior thesis on the historiography of the Achaemenid Empire. The object of his thesis is to compare the Greek sources about the empire (Herodotus, Ctesias, and Xenophon)...Read More about Undergraduate Research: Classical Studies 2012/13
Undergraduate Research: Theater Studies 2012/13
DON TUCKER: Highest Distinction for his original toy theater performance WALTZ Don Tucker’s distinction project, Waltz, was a toy theater performance, created and directed by the student. By using Toy Theater (a form of puppetry that utilizes...Read More about Undergraduate Research: Theater Studies 2012/13
Undergraduate Research: Cultural Anthropology 2012/13
The Department of Cultural Anthropology was awarded funding for both summer mentoring and a year-long thesis writers workshop. Six students completed projects that resulted in Graduation with Distinction: Jessie Narloch: “ ‘Everything That Has a...Read More about Undergraduate Research: Cultural Anthropology 2012/13
Undergraduate Research: History 2011/12
In the academic year 2011-12, Duke's History Department received Humanities Writ Large funding to support research leading to Graduation with Distinction. The following students received support from their distinction projects from this fund....Read More about Undergraduate Research: History 2011/12
Old Stones and New Technologies: Computer Vision and Medieval Walls
Professor Caroline Bruzelius (Art, Art History & Visual Studies) and Professor Carlo Tomasi (Computer Science) led a team of Duke undergraduate students on a research trip to Naples over Spring break. They used the opportunity to test a new data...Read More about Old Stones and New Technologies: Computer Vision and Medieval Walls
Social Stoplighting: Participatory Methods for Post-Conflict Reconstruction
Social Stoplighting is a participatory planning method that combines community assessment workshops with digital geo-referenced maps. The goal is to create tools that facilitate participatory politics and community development, tools that can be...Read More about Social Stoplighting: Participatory Methods for Post-Conflict Reconstruction
An Undergraduate Research Experience: Foreign Gods and Ancient Greek Identity
Last summer (2011), as a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, I began research on my Classical Studies Senior Honors Thesis. My topic of choice is the incorporation of foreign gods into the Greek Pantheon and what such incorporation reveals about...Read More about An Undergraduate Research Experience: Foreign Gods and Ancient Greek Identity
Undergraduate Research: Theater Studies 2011/2012
Ragtime, the musical, ran in Reynolds Theater April 5-15, 2012. It was a collaboration between the Departments of Theater Studies, Music, Dance and the student groups Hoof 'n' Horn and Duke Chamber Players. It was also Nathaniel Hill's senior...Read More about Undergraduate Research: Theater Studies 2011/2012
Undergraduate Research: Music 2011/12
Martin Connor created his impressive and ambitious Senior Distinction Project, “Haitian Requiem,” as a musical expression of tribute and remembrance for the victims, heroes, and lost souls of the Haitian Tragedy of 2010. Mr. Connor created a musical...Read More about Undergraduate Research: Music 2011/12
Undergraduate Research: Cultural Anthropology 2011/2012
The Department of Cultural Anthropology was awarded funding for both summer mentoring and a year-long thesis writers workshop. Seven students completed projects that resulted in Graduation with Distinction. One of the graduate student mentors, Netta...Read More about Undergraduate Research: Cultural Anthropology 2011/2012
Undergraduate Research: Theater Studies 2012/13
DON TUCKER: Highest Distinction for his original toy theater performance WALTZ Don Tucker’s distinction project, Waltz, was a toy theater performance, created and directed by the student. By using Toy Theater (a form of puppetry that utilizes...Read More about Undergraduate Research: Theater Studies 2012/13