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 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 later in September.  Please check back for more information.

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?

This opportunity is in addition to the departmental support for graduation with distinction and Deans’ Summer Research Fellowships.  While you should have the support of your chair when making an application, these proposals do not require a departmental undertaking.

The next call for proposals will be made available later in September (please check back soon) for projects beginning in the current academic year (2014 – 2015), next summer (May – August 2015), next academic year (September 2015 – May 2016), or all periods.  The Steering Committee will consider requests that extend beyond a single term or academic year, as well as multi-year proposals, such as those that begin with mentoring in the sophomore year and continue through a senior honors thesis.

Support for Graduation with Distinction Programs

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. 

The next call for proposals will be posted later in September.  Please check back for more information.

The HWL effort augments a larger Trinity College of Arts & Sciences (TCAS) effort to strengthen the culture of undergraduate research by funding initiatives to increase the number of Duke students engaged in faculty mentored research that leads to graduation with distinction projects. TCAS is considering proposals from individual departments or programs, multiple departments or programs, as well as from institutes, centers, or other interdisciplinary combinations.

Project Search Expands to Include 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, partnered with a undergraduate students and a graduate student 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.

    • 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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