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

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 round of proposals are due November 6, 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?

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.

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.  pSearch now includes 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 former 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.

You can learn more about their experiences at twitter.com/pSearchduke.

See the pSearch 2014 Wordpress site for more information.

    • Romance Studies Undergraduate Research Conference 2014

Re-thinking what "research" looks like

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    • Student blogger Andrew Soltoff recently wrote about humanities research, which defies the stereotypes "of people in white lab coats [who stare] solemnly into microscopes or operate complex contraptions with unpronounceable names."

Don't overlook library research resources, Simon says

Andrew Simon T'10, who majored in Arabic and did a DukeEngage project in Yemen in '07, found great assistance and even financial reward from Duke Libraries for the research he conducted on the Middle East.  more

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