Reading Groups

The Mandel Center for the Humanities supports faculty and graduate student reading groups on topics and themes related to the humanities. These groups provide an open environment for interdisciplinary conversations on subjects of broad interest to humanities scholars. Reading groups are encouraged to meet at least four times a year to discuss readings and host guest speakers, film screenings, or other events. The Center can provide funds of up to $1000 for refreshments, speaker fees, books, or other expenses. An additional $500 is available for groups to offer stipends to graduate student organizers/participants.

The Center is currently accepting proposals for reading groups for the academic year on a rolling deadline!

Apply here!

Current Reading Groups

Decolonizing Anthropologies

This collaboratively-shaped and facilitated reading group is centered in the anthropology department but open to all faculty, students and staff at Brandeis. We hold 1-2 meetings per semester and select texts by nomination and voting. Meetings are usually held at someone's home on an evening that works for as many as possible, and are facilitated by a student volunteer. In our first two years, we have read the following: Progressive Dystopia by Savannah Shange, Intimacies of Four Continents by Lisa Lowe; Lose Your Mother by Saidiya Hartman, and Savage Kin by Margaret Bruchac.

If you would like to join our list, please email Elizabeth Ferry at

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Developing Your Teaching Persona

Developing your Teaching Persona is a collaborative pedagogy reading group created with the intention of helping each other elevate our approach to classroom instruction. Meeting once a month beginning in mid-November we will discuss art of teaching, the craft of communicating our research to an undergraduate audience, and how to create a student-centered learning environment. We will supplement these discussions by inviting Brandeis faculty members to talk about their own classroom experiences. To accommodate everyone, sessions will be held in a hybrid format (although we will be serving food at some sessions so we hope to see you in person!).

For more information, please contact Sarah Sortino or Kerry Jo Green.

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Medieval and Early Modern Cross-Discipline Reading Group

This reading group facilitates conversations between medievalist and early modernists across departments, with particular focus on practical skill building and encouraging interdisciplinary collaborations. Aimed at graduate and undergraduate students, though faculty members are welcome to attend and participate, this group incorporates skill building workshops, such as learning how to use digital tools or work with archival materials, paired with relevant readings meant to encourage medievalists and early modernists to think about the application of these skills in their specific fields and future projects. This group also incorporates trips in the Boston area to promote the utilization of and familiarity with local resources. 

For more information, please contact Bailey Ludwig or Miranda Peery.

A hand holds a sign that reads "Black Lives Matter" in front of the Washington Monument.
Fighting Anti-Blackness in Our Curricular, Research, and Creative Spaces

Organized by: The interdisciplinary minor in Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation (CAST), Tom King and Toni Shapiro-Phim, co-chairs.

This ongoing and interdisciplinary MCH Reading Group aims to create a space for (1) uncovering and fighting anti-Blackness in our institutional, scholarly, creative, and curricular frameworks and practices; (2) facilitating our development as artists, researchers, educators, community-engaged practitioners, and administrators; and (3) following the leadership of our colleagues working in such areas as DEI research and implementation, Black and African American studies, and critical race studies and supporting, promoting, and celebrating their work at Brandeis. The MCH Reading Group welcomes participation by all faculty, administrative staff, and graduate students at Brandeis who (1) understand creativity, broadly defined, as a key component of their practice, research methodology, or object of study; (2) commit to centering the voices and knowledge of those whose lives have been rendered most precarious by anti-Blackness; and (3) commit to the process of learning together in community and to the principles for engagement established at our first meeting(s).

For more information, please contact Tom King or Toni Shapiro-Phim.
A sign at a protest that reads, "Love Our Planet."
Climate Change: A Threat to Human Civilization and Life as We Know It

This group discusses the interdisciplinary scholarship about the socio-political consequences of climate change and efforts to curb its damage. We also focus on the responsibilities of liberal arts universities in general, and Brandeis in particular, to create and spread knowledge of the threat and its relationship to other forms of injustice through scholarship, teaching, outreach, and creative work in all disciplines, including the humanities. For more information, contact Sabine von Mering

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Contemporaneity Reading Group

The contemporaneity group is an interdisciplinary group of 5-12 humanities faculty and graduate students who meet monthly throughout the academic year to discuss new scholarship on contemporary literature and culture. We bring in speakers once or sometimes twice a year and maintain an archive of readings from past sessions on LATTE. Any interested faculty or graduate students are welcome to join. For more information, contact Caren Irr

A poster with photos of speakers Professor Sophia Hsu  from CUNY, Professor Cassandra Smith from the University of Alabama, Professor Kyle Grady from UC Irvine, and Professor Manu Chander from Georgetown
Challenging Anti-Blackness in Literary Studies
This graduate student-led reading group works along side the Challenging Anti-Blackness in Literary Studies speaker series to deepen our engagement with the scholarship of the speakers with an emphasis towards key pedagogic implications to each scholar's work. Co-led by participants, the sessions meet via Zoom a few days before every speaking engagement and feature a different essay by or related to each upcoming topic in the series. Other topics are accommodated as group interest evolves and time permits: for instance, a session on Black bibliography is planned for May 2023. Occasionally Brandeis faculty may join us in. Contact Jenny Factor, to be added to our mailing list.

Past Reading Groups

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Public Humanities Reading Group

This reading group examined recent public humanities work across disciplines and cultivated public humanities projects at Brandeis. The group identified new publics for humanities scholarship, explored diverse media and genres for engaging audiences, considered opportunities for collaborating across institutional and professional lines, imagined viable public humanities enterprises, and analyzed the curricular implications of public humanities possibilities.