Humanists at Work


As a supplement to our Humanists at Work events series, the Mandel Center for the Humanities supports projects at Brandeis where humanistic study interfaces with communities beyond the university, and where students, faculty, artists and practitioners collaborate across the boundaries of discipline and profession.

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What Could a Dissertation Be?

Fall 2022

For a video of the event click here

PhD dissertations in the humanities and social sciences have traditionally been scholarly proto-monographs. However, increasing numbers of PhD students are exploring alternative formats for communicating their research — formats such as a series of articles, graphic novels, films, public-facing blogs, apps and podcasts. Graduate departments are increasingly supporting these new forms, as are the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) and the Mellon Foundation. In this seminar, current Brandeis PhD students Nai Kim (English) and Yi He (English) joined Anna Williams (Assistant Lecturer and Co-Director of the Writing Center, Birmingham-Southern College) and Iván González-Soto (PhD Candidate, UC Merced) to discuss the benefits and challenges of non-traditional dissertations.

Mandel Stairway (decorative photo)

GSAS/Mandel Career Fellows

Mandel is a proud sponsor of the GSAS Career Fellowship.  This fellowship gives GSAS students across all disciplines skills to help them prepare for careers in academia, non-profits, industry and beyond. The goal of the program is to foster a community of students committed to planning for their post-MA or PhD future. We also hope that fellows act as ambassadors who encourage a robust discussion on professional and career development in their departments.
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GSAS/Mandel Career Diversity Skills Grants for PhD Students

Fall 2021

In Fall 2021 the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Mandel Center for the Humanities piloted a new program that funded 10 PhD students from a range of departments to take a 10-week transferrable skills course at the Rabb School of Continuing Studies. The courses were intended to complement PhD training, offer skills, and widen career options for graduate students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences.

Read more about the success of this innovative program here!

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Recall this Book Podcast

Recall this Book is a podcast hosted by John Plotz and Elizabeth Ferry that seeks to shed light on pressing contemporary topics with a backwards or sometimes sideways look: each episode draws on a book or books from the past or an unexpected quarter to look at a current topic in a new way. Featuring interviews with writers talking about their own books, or scholars talking about the books that are helping them navigate best the world in which we live, these lively discussions hash out difficult present-day issues.

New From Recall This Book

In Memoriam: David Ferry (1924-2023) “I feel the feathers softly gather upon My shoulders and my arms, becoming wings. Melodious bird I’ll fly above the moaning Bosphorus, more glorious than Icarus,  I’ll coast along above the coast of Sidra  And over the fabled far north Hyperborean steppes.” — from “To Maecenas”, The Odes of Horace, … Continue reading "125*David Ferry, Roger Reeves, and the Underworld"

NYU professor Sonali Thakkar’s brilliant first book, The Reeducation of Race, begins as a mystery of sorts. When and why did the word “equality” get swapped out of the 1950 UNESCO Statement on Race, to be replaced by “educability, plasticity”? She and John sit down to discuss how that switcheroo allowed for a putative anti-racism that nonetheless … Continue reading "124 The Reeducation of Race with Sonali Thakkar (JP)"

In this fantastic recent episode from our colleagues at Novel Dialogue, Sheila Heti sits down with Sunny Yudkoff and John to discuss her incredibly varied oeuvre. She does it all: stories, novels, alphabetized diary entries as well as a series of dialogues in the New Yorker with an AI named Alice. Drawing on her background in Jewish Studies, Sunny … Continue reading "123* Sheila Heti speaks about awe with Sunny Yudkoff (JP)"

In this episode, Elizabeth and John talk with Derron Wallace, sociologist of race, ethnicity, and education, and Brandeis colleague, about his new book The Culture Trap, which explores “ethnic expectations” for Caribbean schoolchildren in New York and London. His work starts with the basic puzzle that while black Caribbean schoolchildren in New York are often … Continue reading "122 The Culture Trap, with sociologist Derron Wallace (EF, JP)"