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Award Recipients

The UF Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere recognizes the accomplishments of its fellowship and grant recipients, as well as the achievements of UF faculty and students who have received external awards.

Programs in the Public Humanities Grants

In 2013, the UF Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere (CHPS) launched its grants for Programs in the Public Humanities. The Public Humanities grant opportunity, supported by the CHPS Rothman Endowment, encourages and enhances collaboration between the University of Florida and individuals, groups, and organizations in the community by offering grants up to $3,000 to support public programs rooted in one or more of the humanities disciplines. By drawing on expertise from UF and community partners as co-applicants, these public humanities projects create new and exciting opportunities for collaboration between the university and multiple community organizations. Furthermore, these projects encourage community building, cultural understanding, and personal reflection on the values and experiences that connect us together as neighbors, colleagues, and community members to create a civil and morally responsible society. Through projects like these, the Center for Humanities and the Public Sphere seeks to promote broad civic engagement with the communities in which we live and teach.


Stephanie Birch (African American Studies Librarian, George A. Smathers Libraries) and Dr. Jacob Gordon (Chair, Alachua County African American History Task Force)

“Digital Collaborations on Black History in Florida Project”

This Libraries’ project team in partnership with the Alachua County African American History Task Force seeks to explore a new approach to transformative collaboration between Black community organizations in North Florida and the George A. Smathers Libraries. The purpose of the project is to cultivate new relationships with community organizations that are already engaged in localized historic preservation and programming. Through these new relationships for digital collaborations, the Libraries’ project team will enhance the online visibility of local Black histories and improve access to technological equipment and open-source digital humanities tools. Funds are requested to support a two-day workshop, Digital Collaborations on Black History in Florida, to be presented by the Libraries in July 2019 and attended by representatives from Black community organizations in North Florida.


Dr. Maria Coady (Bilingual Education, College of Education)and Susana Cordova Martin (Coral Way Elementary School), Ileana Fuentes (Founding Director, The American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora), Bess de Farber, Brittany Kester, Perry Collins (Smathers Libraries)

“Revealing a Hidden History: The Coral Way Elementary School Bilingual Experiment (1962 to 1968)”

A partnership between the College of Education, Bilingual Education Program, the George A. Smathers Libraries, staff members at Coral Way Elementary School, and the American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora, plans to present two programs to reveal the previously hidden story documenting the history of the first public bilingual school in the country. The project team plans: a) an Inservice presentation and open dialog at Coral Way Elementary School for faculty and staff; and b) a public presentation and discussion at the American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora. The programs were conceived by the two partners which are situated in the southwest Miami neighborhood bounded by Coral Way, 19th Street and 12th Avenue, approximately 15 blocks east of Calle Ocho, the heart of Miami’s Cuban community.


Please visit our Previous Public Humanities Grants Recipients

Rothman Faculty Summer Fellowship Recipients

(Photo Credit: Timothy Sofranko)

In 2010, the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, with the support of the Robert and Margaret Rothman Endowment for the Humanities, began a program to award summer fellowships to faculty in the humanities disciplines. The objective of these fellowships is to allow recipients to make significant progress on existing creative/research projects during the summer months. The most recent recipients are below:


Nina Caputo (Associate Professor, History)

“A Jew in the Margins: Petrus Alfonsi and the Figure of the Medieval Convert”

Petrus Alfonsi converted from Judaism to Christianity in the early 12th century and quickly rose to a position of significance in Iberia and beyond. Shortly after converting, he penned Dialogi contra iudaeos, a dialog between Petrus and his pre-conversion Jewish self, Moses. Both events took place at a time when converts to Christianity played an increasingly active role in shaping the public discourse concerning the legal and theological role of Jews and Judaism in the Christian world. Yet, the convert was an ambivalent figure among Christians and Jews alike. This book examines the religious and cultural factors that informed the way Alfonsi crafted a textual self-representation first as a convert and then as a Christian, which shaped the reception and interpretation of his work from the twelfth through the sixteenth century.


Delia Steverson (Assistant Professor, English)

“African American Literature and Disability: Toward a Black Critical Disabilities Studies Approach”

Representations of disability permeate African American literature, from the beginning of the African American literary tradition to the contemporary period. In African American Literature and Disability: Toward a Black Critical Disabilities Studies Approach, I examine the myriad ways that African American authors conceptualize black identity through disability rhetorics, which particularly focus on theories of embodiment. Throughout history, disability as an identity has been largely stigmatized. Yet, the black body since its inception in the western world, as I argue, has been constructed as inherently disabled. In my project, I attend to how, in African American literature, race and disability collude at a given historical period. I suggest that the ways in which narratives about race and disability are constructed historically both subconsciously and consciously affect the way African American authors consider notions of black identity in their works. Situating the texts historically, using a methodological approach which I label a Black Critical Disabilities Studies Approach, I examine how black authors construct the black self as posited through narratives of race and disability. If awarded the Rothman fellowship, I aim to complete both a chapter for this manuscript and a shortened article dedicated to Delores Phillips’s novel The Darkest Child(2004).


Rae Yan (Assistant Professor, English)

“Correspondences on the Human Frame: Anatomy, Literature, and Form in the Victorian Era”

In 1828, a national crisis erupted in Britain following the revelation that the unmet demand for anatomical subjects in medical schools had prompted two body-snatchers, William Burke and William Hare, to commit murder for profit from sales of “fresh” bodies. As a result, the British government and public were suddenly plunged into a new era where the value and practices of anatomy needed to be redefined for a modern age. In Correspondences on the Human Frame, I trace this critical reshaping of anatomy as subject by uncovering a forgotten history of collaboration between scientific and literary writers attempting to negotiate what “anatomizing” should mean in the face of a major biomedical ethics scandal. Reading nineteenth-century scientific treatises alongside short stories, novels, and literary essays on anatomizing as representational practice, I argue that nineteenth-century thinkers of diverse intellectual and class backgrounds were attempting to promote “anatomy” as more than just a material practice of dissection. Recovering a series of such “lost correspondences,” I locate in the scientific and literary prose an idealized concept of anatomy as a universal practice aligning artists, philosophers, and scientists in the common pursuit of an ethical approach to studying and representing bodies.


Velvet Yates (Lecturer, Classics)

“The ‘Chain-Saw’ in Archaic Greek quarries on Naxos and Paros”

Investigating the mysterious grooves in the stone surrounding the unfinished Apollonas Colossus on Naxos, this project proposes the ancient Greeks’ usage of a large ‘chain saw’ in marble quarrying. It sheds light on the poorly understood marble quarrying and carving processes of ancient Greece, and suggests that the production of large-scale marble statues was very much a team or even a community effort.


Please also visit our Previous Faculty Fellows.

Tedder Family Doctoral Fellowship and Rothman Doctoral Fellowship Recipients

(Photo Credit: Timothy Sofranko)

In 2012, the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, with the support of the Tedder Family Endowed Research Award in the Humanities, began a program to award summer fellowships to doctoral candidates working on humanities topics who have passed their qualifying exams by the application deadline. This fellowship may be used to cover research expenses, including travel, related to their dissertation project. Work on projects with interdisciplinary appeal is particularly encouraged. Additional awards may be granted with funds from the Rothman endowment. The most recent recipients are below:

2019-2020 Tedder Doctoral Fellows

Kaitlyn Muchnok, Department of History

Kaitlyn Muchnok, a PhD Candidate in the UF History Department, was awarded a Tedder Family Doctoral Fellowship to support her dissertation, which explores Florida’s female juvenile justice system from 1945 to 1970. By the time these state institutions integrated in 1967, Florida officials had expanded their authority over young women substantially and committed thousands of girls to both state reformatories, mostly for “sex offenses” or “social interaction problems.”

Kyra Rietveld, Department of Art and Art History

Kyra Rietveld, a PhD Candidate in the UF Department of Art and Art History, was awarded a Tedder Family Doctoral Fellowship to support her dissertation, which considers the uniquely local images of the goddess Artemis.  These began to transform throughout the Greek-speaking world in parallel with a push for a universal Greek identity after the Persian Wars.  This project examines the tension between the global and local, the new technology of image making through replication, and the traveling of not only humans but also images.

2019-2020 Rothman Doctoral Fellows


Mark Hodge (Art + Art History)

Ancient Sarcophagi and Roman Religion in Late Antiquity

We think of the twenty-first century obsession with taking and enhancing self-portraits as a product of the digital age. But contemporary western society is not unique in its fixation with self-representation and expression through portraiture. Ancient Roman citizens were just as obsessed with visual modes of self-representation, leading to the large proportion of portraiture among what is traditionally considered to be Roman art. It is somewhat counterintuitive then to see the development and use of so-called “blank” portraits on sarcophagi later in the Empire. These portraits maintain the shape of a head but their smooth marble lacks any facial features. These blank faces can seem as shocking within the context of Roman culture as a selfie with a featureless, blank face would today. This project contends that we can better understand the unique features of Roman sarcophagi in late antiquity, such as blank portrait faces, by placing them within the context of a shift in Roman religious experience and expectation that occurred between the second and fifth centuries. This shift is characterized by a movement away from the site-specific and collective characteristics of traditional civic religion to the simultaneously universalizing and personalizing character shared by mystery religions, neo-Platonic philosophy, and Christianity.


Arianne Boileau (Anthropology)

Colonial Life in the Maya/Spanish Borderlands: A Zooarchaeological Perspective on Political Economy at Lamanai, Belize

My dissertation investigates change and continuity in Maya political economy following Spanish contact at Lamanai, Belize. I combine the analysis of archaeological animal remains and historical documents to examine how individuals and groups of different statuses and occupations responded to the realities of Spanish colonialism through their use of and attitudes towards animals. It is essential to contextualize the archaeological faunal data within the broader sphere of culture contact in Mesoamerica. To this end, I am planning to travel to the Archivo General de Indias (Seville, Spain) to collect historical data to better understand Maya and Spanish decision-making with regards to animal use. The research trip is an important component of my research, as it will provide valuable historical documents that are not otherwise available and have not priorly been researched to answer questions regarding Colonial Maya political economy. More broadly, my project is one of the first to examine, at the household and individual levels, the political and economic response to colonialism in the borderlands of Spanish contact. As such, it informs the history of colonialism in the Americas and the broader anthropological study of political economy.


Madison Cates (History)

Landscapes of Destruction, Landscapes of Preservation: Poverty, Planning, and the Bulldozer Revolution in the Postwar South, 1945-1994

My research seeks to understand the complex politics of land use and economic development in shaping the rise of the Sunbelt South after 1945. With the quickening pace of rural depopulation and white flight to the suburbs during this time, planners and policymakers worked feverishly to boost the economic fortunes of places left behind. However, economic growth brought pitfalls as well for urban and rural communities. Namely, massive public works projects, urban renewal, and pollution-heavy industries threatened to destroy many southern landscapes. Thus, my work seeks to answer: how did a diverse cast of southerners try to reconcile their desire to attract decent paying jobs with their attachments to their traditional senses of place and community life?

Using individual case studies from the Mountain and Lowcountry Souths, my research shows how grassroots struggles over land use and development contained broader implications for changing constructions of race and place in the United States. Whereas the general trajectory of the existing scholarship emphasizes the ideological shifts that followed suburbanization, my work seeks to shift the focus of the field to the material transformations that linked rural, urban, and suburban areas.


Daniel Fernández (History)

Weaponizing Solidarity: Spanish Republican Exiles, Identity, and the Cuban Revolution, 1929-1976

My dissertation project examines the impact of Spanish migration to Cuba in the twentieth century, including how Cuban and Spanish revolutionaries recalibrated the relationship between former colony and its colonizer to forge a transnational solidarity network that helped consolidate the Cuban Revolution after 1959. My dissertation, “Weaponizing Solidarity: Spanish Republican Exiles, Identity, and the Cuban Revolution, 1929-1976,” reveals that Spanish Republican exiles were at the vanguard of Cuba’s 1940s antifascist mobilizations, of armed insurgency in Cuba’s 1950s struggle against U.S.-backed dictatorships, and of the 1959 Revolution’s most important institutions. More broadly, my research redefines the meanings of revolutionary identity, transforming the spirit of 1930s movements for national liberation into transnational and internationalist processes.


Meagan Frenzer (History)

The Dancing in the Devil’s Playground: The Intersection of Labor, Morality, and Pleasure in Chicago’s Dance Halls, 1910-1930

My dissertation, “Dancing in the Devil’s Playground: The Intersection of Labor, Morality, and Pleasure in Chicago’s Dance Halls, 1910-1930,” dives into the rich social and political ecosystem with the dance hall at its center. Throughout the early twentieth century, dance halls developed as an urban leisure and labor space that evoked both excitement and condemnation. Dance halls welcomed diverse participants, including patrons, employees, musicians, undercover investigators, social reform activists, and municipal leaders. The meeting of this diverse group of individuals exemplified the growing tension between past and present during the 1920s, where the social reformers and activist organizations held middle-class agendas that at times, clashed with the lived reality of Chicago’s increasingly evolving political, social, cultural, and religious environment. My research argues that merging labor, leisure, and pleasure within the context of dance halls challenged social activists’ neat categories of moral and sinful.

To social activist organizations, dance halls became not just a den of sin, but the epicenter from which the perceived social disease of immoralities spread. Largely, why did some Chicagoans in the 1920s believe the city was turning into the “devil’s playground,” while others continued to dance the night away?


Mary Ibarrola (Anthropology)

Placemaking in the Borderland: An Archaeological Perspective on African and African Descendent Peoples Negotiations within Colonial Florida’s Evolving Political Landscape

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Florida’s residents experienced frequent geopolitical stress. Colonial documents detail two centuries of international conflict on the peninsula and the resulting borderland was a landscape in which claims to identity, property, and liberty were under constant negotiation. In order to better understand the ways that African descendent peoples dealt with this insecurity, this study will examine the tactics and strategies employed by people of African descent to adapt – in particular, through the everyday creation of place. This research will consist of a comparative archaeological analysis of six Florida sites; these sites range from the Second Spanish Period through the Territorial Period (1736-1860) and were occupied by individuals of varying legal and social status but overlapping ethnic and racial categorization. The study will examine three key categories of archaeological evidence: site distribution, site arrangement and architecture, and flora and fauna. While African descendent peoples were constrained by the decisions of more powerful actors and the colonial structure in which they operated, they also transformed and reproduced that structure through their actions. It was through the ongoing negotiation of space and spatial relations, the very constitution of place, that they enabled their continued existence.


Oren Okhovat (History)

The Portuguese Jewish Atlantic: Constructed Identities and Cross-Cultural Networks in the Seventeenth Century

My dissertation examines the seventeenth-century network constructed by the Portuguese Jewish community of Amsterdam to connect their various Dutch Atlantic settlements. Using the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao as a focal point, I inquire into the extent to which Portuguese Jews living in the Dutch world maintained continuous links to the Iberian world through colonial economic, social, and cultural interchanges. As the capital of the seventeenth-century Dutch Caribbean, Curaçao’s entanglement with Spanish America through Portuguese Jewish trans-Atlantic activities challenges the classic compartmentalization of the early modern world into neat religious and political borders. It also challenges the popular notion of an early modern Spanish and Portuguese empire devoid of Jews by speaking directly to the revisionist approach of Atlantic history, which urges scholars to consider an interconnected Atlantic world. My goal is to determine whether Iberian imperial culture impacted diasporic Portuguese Jewish elites and how they inversely adapted their Judaism to modernizing European identities. By measuring the prevalence of Iberian culture on the Dutch Caribbean and the mutual impact that the Dutch colonial enterprise had on both Spanish and Portuguese America, I further aim to include the Dutch colonial world within the framework of Latin American history.


Clemens Ottenhausen (Art + Art History)

Documenta’s Elective Affinities: Modern Art’s Comeback in Postwar Germany

My dissertation will provide the first comprehensive English analysis of the international art exhibition Documenta which started 1955 in Kassel, Germany, and is currently preparing its fifteenth edition to open in 2022. I will discuss Documenta in the context of mid-century art history, exhibition architecture, and its role in rehabilitating political practices in the visual arts. My work will intervene in the existing German literature’s preference given to chronological and outdated historiographic approaches that reinforce false ideas of authorship and neglect the debates that dominated art history and the humanities at the time. Tracing the continuities and changes within the art during the 1950s, I will argue that Germany’s Jewish and political culture was not only neglected but purposefully ignored following the trauma of World War II. My goal is to show how the exhibition benefited from the violence that had taken away all the aesthetic and cultural influence from the Jewish and political avant-gardes during the Third Reich. I claim that it left postwar society with a vacuum which later generations used, in the 1968 student protests’ long aftermath, to turn Kassel and Documenta into an important platform for the negotiation of new political and ecological artistic practices.

Please also visit our Previous Doctoral Fellows.

National Humanities Center Faculty Summer Residency

Beginning in 2018, the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, with the support of the Robert and Margaret Rothman Endowment for the Humanities and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has supported a one-month faculty residency at the National Humanities Center (NHC) in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.  This year’s recipient is below:



Trysh Travis, Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies Research

“‘Lee was a Gentleman’: Understanding Women’s Polite Racism  in the Confederate Monument Controversy” 

In the wake of the Charlottesville riot in 2017, the Dallas (Texas) Parks service removed a statue of Robert E. Lee from the city park bearing his name near the center of town. To anti-racist activists, removing such monuments is a straightforward and long overdue rejoinder to systemic racism. Recent opinion polling shows that for many liberal white people who see themselves as pro-diversity and/or not racist, it can be considerably more complex. “‘Lee Was a Gentleman’” mixes personal narrative and cultural history with insights from contemporary feminism to explore the roots of this complexity, using the Lee statue in Dallas as a case study of a broader phenomenon. Travis explores the origins and development of the Park from the statue’s dedication in 1936 through the present, situating it within the racialized urban history of central Dallas. Her family has lived near the Park for several generations, and she winds the stories of her widowed great-grandmother and her daughters, as well as her divorced mother and herself, through this history in order to examine the ways that the race and class ideals emblematized by the statue (deliberately and otherwise) influenced our understandings of gender. The resulting essay does not claim to resolve the question of what do with Confederate monuments, but it does respond to the American Historical Association’s 2017 call for discussing “historical context in any consideration of removing or re-contextualizing” them.

Please also visit our Previous National Humanities Center Faculty Summer Residency Recipients

National Humanities Center Graduate Student Summer Residency

Beginning in 2019, The Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere — with the support of the Director Barbara Mennel’s Waldo W. Neikirk Professorship — supports Ph.D. students in UF’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for a two-week themed residency at the National Humanities Center that focuses on practical teaching, research, and professionalization skills.


Luc Houle, Department of History

“Objects and Places in an Inquiry-Based Classroom: Teaching, Learning, and Research in the Humanities”

Luc’s dissertation research tracks the movements of a thirteenth-century Count of Provence to open new avenues of inquiry into understandings of medieval power.  At this residency, he learned to use ArcGIS mapping software to bring these movements into focus in ways that are visual, digital, and shareable.  In addition, he learned specific techniques to use primary sources, such as archives, objects, and maps, to spark curiosity among students in the classroom, empowering them to ask and answer questions for themselves.



Library Enhancement Program in the Humanities

Beginning in 2009, the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere has used funds from the Rothman Endowment to sponsor a grant competition among University of Florida faculty to expand the existing University of Florida library collections in areas in and related to the humanities that are currently underserved. Resources may include print, digital, or audio-visual media that enhance scholarly research and teaching in the humanities as well as affiliated disciplines. Requests that address the needs of broader constituencies of the University beyond the immediate applicants are judged especially favorably. The most recent recipients are below:



Ali Mian, Department of Religion; Megan Daly, Smathers Libraries

“Collection Enhancement in Islamic Studies”

The Library Enhancement Grant achieved collection enhancement in Islamic Studies, particularly in three areas: (1) Islam in South Asia, (2) the history of Muslim theology, mysticism, and legalism, and (3) gender, sexuality, race, and migration in contemporary Islam. Enhancement in these three areas not only supports the interests and research of faculty and the graduate students and undergraduate students who work with them, but also provides new resources for related fields which overlap with the areas of focus. The large Muslim population on campus and in the surrounding community will also be served well by this addition to the library collection.


Rachel Carrico, School of Theatre + Dance;  Sarah Politz, School of Music; Alan Asher, Smathers Libraries

“Multimedia Resources for Dance and Ethnomusicology”

This funding acquired titles, in DVD and book formats, which document music, dance, and culture in Africa and the Atlantic Diaspora. These materials support current and proposed curricular offerings and student research in Dance and Ethnomusicology primarily, but also in Theatre, Musicology, Music Education, African and African American Studies, Latin American Studies, and other programs in the humanities and humanistic social sciences. This grant augments courses and directed student research by providing multimedia resources that lie beyond departmental annual acquisitions budgets. Most important are the video resources that are fundamental to pedagogies in these fields. When teaching the performing arts, video resources are essential tools that allow students to witness the performances that they read about and analyze.


Leah Rosenberg, Department of English; Pamela Gilbert, Department of English; Rae X. Yan, Department of English; Jessica Harland Jacobs, Department of History

 “Bridging Caribbean and Victorian Studies: The Morant Bay Rebellion as Boundary Object”

For Jamaica, the 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion and its violent suppression were cataclysmic, resulting in over 1,000 deaths, floggings, and property destruction. It ended representative government in the colony. In England, these events resulted in riots and a fierce debate among England’s leading intellectuals about the conduct of Governor Eyre and the nature of race and Empire. Morant Bay is a defining event in Jamaican national historiography and literature and in the study of Victorian England. However, scholars of Caribbean literature rarely address the events in England, and Victorianists rarely address the significance of the event for Jamaica. This grant funded the digitization of primary literary and historical sources on the Rebellion for the Digital Library of the Caribbean ( and the UF Digital Collections ( for a digital collection of primary sources, scholarship, and pedagogical materials. The project is a collaboration among scholars in Victorian and in Caribbean Studies at UF and other institutions to create a dialogue between the two fields by integrating the two halves of this story in courses in the two fields. This funding significantly advanced dLOC’s collection in anglophone Caribbean literature and history and pedagogical materials as well as its function as a platform for scholarly collaboration.


Vasudha Narayanan, Department of Religion; Jonathan Edelmann, Department of Religion; Megan Daly, Smathers Libraries

“Hindu Traditions”

The grant from the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere funded the expansion of the Smathers’ Libraries collection in Hindu Studies. Because Hindu Traditions is one of five major fields of study and expertise in the Religion Department, and because the University of Florida and Gainesville area is home to such a rich, large Hindu community, this update to the Smathers Libraries collection was especially important.


Please also visit our Previous Library Enhancement Program Recipients.

Publication Subvention

The following faculty members and graduate students are among those who have received prestigious recognition and support for their research and publications. A selection of recent awards and accomplishments are listed below:


Ingrid Kleespies, Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Professor Ingrid Kleespies was awarded a Publication Subvention Grant to support her forthcoming co-edited volume, Goncharov in the Twenty-First Century, to be published by Academic Studies Press in June 2021. This volume offers a close look at the life of Ivan Goncharov (1912-91), a canonical Russian author whose career as a loyal civil servant interplayed with his significant literary output as a creative social critic to play a formative role in the development of Russian literary culture.

Maya Stanfield-Mazzi, Art + Art History

Professor Maya Stanfield Mazzi was awarded a Publication Subvention Grant to support her forthcoming book, Clothing the New World Church: Liturgical Textiles of Spanish America, 1520–1820, to be published by the University of Notre Dame Press in Spring 2020. This book takes a hemispheric look at the many forms of textile art fashioned for the adornment of churches, priests and church attendants, and statues of saints. By exploring the connections between important fabrics and the work of Amerindian artists, this book sees cloth as key to establishing and maintaining Catholicism in the New World.


Please also visit our Previous Publication Subvention Grant Recipients.

Recipients of External Awards

The following faculty members and graduate students are among those who have received prestigious recognition and support for their research and publications. A selection of recent awards and accomplishments are listed below:


Fiona McLaughlin, Linguistics

National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship
“Trans-Saharan Literacies: Writing across the Desert”

Duncan Purves, Philosophy

National Science Foundation Collaborative Research Grant
“Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Policing: An Ethical Analysis”

Oren Okhovat, Ph.D. Candidate, History

Open Study-Research J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship in Spain
“Portuguese Jews and the Spanish Empire: Constructed Communities and Cultural Crossroads, 1580-1700″

Fiona McLaughlin, Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (LLC)

National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship
“Trans-Saharan Literacies: Writing across the Desert”

Steven Klein, Political Science

American Academy in Berlin Hans Arnhold Center Berlin Prize Fellowship
“After Crisis: Karl Polanyi and the Politics of Capitalism”

Alex Smith, Ph.D. Candidate, Political Science

Congressional Research Grant from The Dirksen Congressional Center
“The Art of Political Negotiation: How Heresthetics Change Legislative Inertia on Civil Rights”

Laken Brooks, Ph.D. Candidate, English

Publicly Active Graduate Education (PAGE) Fellowship from Imagining America
“‘Designing Sideways’: Book Design as Disability Justice”

Reading Groups

In 2018, The Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, with the support of the Robert and Margaret Rothman Endowment for the Humanities, offered an inaugural funding opportunity for reading groups in the humanities. Groups use this as an opportunity for scholarly exchange on a shared topic of interest related to the humanities. Their long-term goals may include exploring the possibilities of a shared research agenda, deepening interdisciplinary knowledge, learning from one another, organizing a symposium, and developing future grant proposals. This program allows participants from across the campus and beyond to explore complex issues at a moment when cross-disciplinary collaboration is crucial to address shifting domains of knowledge and a rapidly changing world.


Across disciplines, podcasts are an accessible medium for public communication, education, and entertainment. Large scale institutions and news outlets are now using podcasts to enable anytime, anywhere listening. However, while numerous resources address “how to make a podcast,” few texts examine how to integrate podcasts into pedagogy. This reading group examines how analyzing and creating podcasts can expand humanities scholarship, teaching, and public engagement. Specifically, the group investigates how podcasts can help scholars more readily communicate humanities research to public and expert audiences; how instructors can use podcasts as multimodal or supplemental teaching in face-to-face and online courses; and how to teach students to create podcasts themselves, in order to provide students with tangible, publicly useful learning outcomes. The long-term goals are to contribute to UF’s teaching and research community by holding several one-hour Podcasting Workshops throughout the year and to create Canvas assignment templates on podcasts.

Convener: Dr. Andrea Caloiaro, University Writing Program

Dr. Jessica-Jean Stonecipher, University Writing Program
Samuel R. Putnam, Marston Science Library
Shannon Marie Butts, Department of English
Tiffany Esteban, Humanities and Social Sciences Library West

One of the critical challenges currently facing the University and the world at large is the very survival of the Humanities as a distinctive mode of intellectual inquiry. As universities across the country have come under ever greater budgetary pressures, they have increasingly been asked to produce “useful” knowledge, hence the ascendance of the so-called STEM disciplines. The simultaneous decline of the Humanities – in terms of enrollments and majors – seems to confirm the suspicion that these disciplines are “useless” and thus not worth pursuing and supporting. Faced with this situation, many humanists have understandably responded by trying to appear to be “useful,” by “applying” humanistic inquiry to various real-world problems. This is all to the good. Humanists have indeed cultivated a distinctive mode of learning and reasoning that can and should contribute to the greater good. This group proposes, however, to challenge that rarely examined premise: that knowledge should be instrumental, should lead to practical results. We willingly admit that the Humanities are essentially “useless.” But it is precisely the practical, non-instrumental nature of humanistic inquiry, we maintain, that makes it so valuable, so important.

Convener: Prof. Robert Kawashima, Department of Religion

Prof. Deborah Amberson, Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
Prof. Nina Caputo, Department of History
Dr. Nathan Rothschild, Department of Philosophy

After the 2008 financial crisis, historians started to rethink traditional categories of economic activity. Rather than focus on the familiar story of manufacturers, merchants, and managers, the so-called “new history of capitalism” seeks to integrate the informal economic lives of counterfeiters, smugglers, and gamblers into the story of capitalism. Because this is a U.S-centric field, this reading group explores how informal economies work within and beyond the United States. This reading group plans to pursue two long-term goals: to organize and host an interdisciplinary conference at the University of Florida on informal economies across the globe and create an annotated bibliography for researchers interested in informal economies beyond their own areas of expertise.

Convener: Prof. Sean Adams, Department of History, Hyatt and Cici Brown Professor of History

Prof. Steven Klein, Department of Political Science
Timothy Blanton, Department of History
Christopher Calton, Department of History
Jeffrey Hartmann, Department of History

It is no secret that humanities majors are declining in large numbers across the country. The University of Florida has not been immune to this steady decrease in humanities majors in favor of more “marketable” options. This group brings together faculty and staff members who work closely with undergraduate students to examine how we can better translate the valuable, marketable, and highly sought-after skills gained from academic study of the humanities. Backed by a plethora of professional association and industry resources, as well as frontline experiences from three different units on campus, this group aims to create tangible assets to assist UF students in their major-career exploration.

Convener: Dr. Melissa Johnson, UF Honors Program

Ryan Braun, CLAS Lecturer for Beyond 120
Brittany Grubbs, CLAS Lecturer for Beyond 120
Jackie Pedota, Assistant Director for Career and Industry Engagement for the Career Connections Center / CLAS Embedded Liaison
Kristy Spear, University Honors Program Advisor
Prof. Joe Spillane, Associate Dean of Student Affairs for CLAS / Director of the Academic Advising Center

Please also visit our Previous External Award Recipients.