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Working Groups

The Mandel Center for the Humanities supports faculty and graduate student working groups on topics and themes related to the humanities. Faculty or graduate student coordinators administer their own workshops and are responsible for their content, but upon request the Center will provide a small budget for such costs as publicity, audiovisual equipment, guest visitors, and refreshments.

Workshops might meet only occasionally for a brief period of time, as interest dictates, or they might become regularly scheduled events running through the academic year. Whatever their size and subject, each workshop provides an open environment for interdisciplinary conversations on subjects of broad interest to humanities scholars and interested members of the public from Brandeis and the larger community.

List of Working Groups for the 2012-2013 Academic Year:


Contemporaneity Working Group

The contemporaneity reading group meets once a month to discuss analyses of major trends in the study of contemporary art, literature and culture. This interdisciplinary faculty/graduate student group also discusses big ideas about how and why to study contemporary arts and culture in a global context. Sessions in 2011 were devoted to topics such as the cultural effects of neoliberalism, the emergence of new genres, the affective turn, and humanities and Hegel in the 21st century. Sessions have attracted a mix of faculty and humanities graduate students from English, Romance Studies, Art History, and NEJS. One of the major goals of the group is to increase opportunities for substantive intellectual encounters among members of different departments. New participants are always welcome, as we work on a drop-in basis. Regular attendance is invited but in no way required. Contact person: Caren Irr,  irr@brandeis.edu

Digital Research and Analysis Methods Working Group

Within the last 5-10 years, the humanities and humanistic social sciences have witnessed a series of technological changes, which are dramatically modifying the ways we do research. This group, comprised of faculty, graduate students, LTS employees, and advanced undergraduates, addresses these changes and offers a chance to share research and projects on this topic. Meetings occur every 3 or 4 weeks in which we discuss and offer feedback on a particular project in progress, though we might also hold topic-focused meetings on particular aspects of digital humanities research. We hope that this working group will enable Library and Technology Services to understand researchers’ needs better and to support digital-methods projects more extensively; we also are interested in publicizing scholarly work being done by LTS’s alt-ac employees, many of whom have advanced degrees. Contact person: David Wedaman, wedaman@brandeis.edu

Graduate Roundtable in European Studies

The purpose of this group is to provide a forum for graduate students to share their work with their fellow Europeanists and to build a supportive, inclusive European studies community at Brandeis. In the past, we have held graduate student paper sessions and topical discussions, sometimes with faculty respondents. This year, we hope to expand the group's mission and to increase the profile of European studies on campus through public panel discussions, screenings of European films, and other public events. The group currently includes mainly students from history and political science, but in the past members have also hailed from anthropology, musicology, and International and Global Studies. Our group can only be enriched by further diversity of perspective. Our meetings occur about 3 times per semester and usually last 2 hours or more. They are at irregular intervals, and their timing is determined by queries sent out to the email list. However, they tend to occur at about one month intervals. Contact Drew Flanagan, Ph.D student in history, to receive email notification of meetings and events, dflanaga@brandeis.edu

Interdisciplinary Working Group on Religion

The Mandel working group on religion meets once a month to bring together faculty and graduate students from different disciplines who are engaged in the study of religion. This group is intended to provide the Brandeis community with a new forum for the interdisciplinary study of religion. One goal of the working group is to support the research and writing of faculty and advanced graduate students and to give early-stage graduate students a place to explore the field of religion. A second goal of the group is to foster a broad, intellectual community around the study of religion. We will primarily discuss and offer feedback on particular works in progress, though we might also hold meetings to discuss scholarly works on religion of mutual interest. We plan to invite one or two scholars of religion to give talks open to the public. Participation in any given workshop is open to the Brandeis community, but the working group contains a core group of participants who commit to attending regularly. Meetings last 60 minutes. Contact: Lincoln Mullen, lincoln@lincolnmullen

The Mediterranean World in Global Perspective

The Mediterranean, broadly defined, sits at the crossroads of three civilizations: European, Middle Eastern and African. Its histories and cultures, thrice rich, are nonetheless often placed on the periphery. This study group will provide Brandeis students and scholars with an opportunity to place the Mediterranean world at the center of academic discourse.The primary goal of the MW peer study group is to encourage communication between departments. In each 2 hour session, participants present their work in significant detail, and hear feedback from scholars specializing in related disciplines. Sessions will open with a detailed but informal presentation by one of the group's members, concerning an important question the presenter is facing in his/her research. The presentation should be accompanied by a precirculated draft of anything that the presenter is working on and wants to share, and a light amount of outside reading designed to draw the group's attention to a particular problem. The presentation will shift into a discussion of the presenter's work and of the larger questions that it implies. We would especially encourage discussion of the common themes that seem to emerge.Contact: Michelle Mann, zilliah9@brandeis.edu

Previous Working Groups


Conflict and Peace, Music and Cinema Working Group

Does music adequately explore the issues of conflict and conflict resolution in cinema? What do films tell us about power? These questions as well as others are the basis for a working group that has been informally discussing films that use music to explore conflict and peace.

In/security and Un/certainty

Uncertainty and insecurity pervade our world, and yet the achievement of security and the assurance of certainty remain personal and political goals for many. Humanistic critique and consideration of these categories is essential. We consider doubt and ambiguity as ways of knowing, with global consequences for boundaries, meanings, and perceptions of ways of being and relations with others.


Propose a Working Group

Proposals for working groups should include the name of your group,  subject of study, and a few stated goals or intentions. Please tell us how often you plan on meeting, which students and faculty members the group is open to, and if you intend on bringing in any outside speakers or guests. Proposals should be about one page in length, include the names and departmental affiliations of any core or founding members, and estimate the group's yearly budget. Email proposals to Conley Wouters, MCH program assistant, wouters@brandeis.edu.