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Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence Program

In Spring 2013, the Humanities Institute began its Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence program, generously funded through the Office of the Provost. Every semester the Institute hosts a nationally renowned scholar for up to two weeks of class visits and public lectures. This program provides students and faculty the opportunity to interact with leading humanities scholars in small settings and gives the Tampa community the chance to hear lectures from these top scholars.


Fall 2017: Robin Fleming

We are thrilled to welcome medieval historian Robin Fleming as HI’s Fall 2017 Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence, a program begun in 2013 with the goal of bringing nationally renowned scholars to USF to work directly with students and faculty in addition to giving a public address. This program provides an opportunity for students to discuss academic work with some of the very best in their fields. Additionally, they get to see emerging research trends and scholarly work can cross traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Selected because of her stellar academic record (including a 2013 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship) and her broad interdisciplinary appeal, Robin Fleming will be at USF the week of Oct. 16. She is scheduled to work with students in anthropology, world languages, English, and history; she will also give a public talk on Tuesday, Oct. 17.

Fleming is professor of history at Boston College, where she teaches courses on late Roman and early medieval history, the Vikings, ancient and medieval historical writing, and material culture. She has written books on the people of Roman Britain and Anglo-Saxon England, using both written records and archaeological evidence to write historically rich stories about medieval life. In Britain after Rome (2011), Dr. Fleming builds an expansive and imaginative account of Britain between the departure of the Roman legions and the arrival of Norman invaders seven centuries later. Her research for the book was informed and inspired by the hoard of gold military objects from 7th and 8th century Britain that were excavated from a field in Staffordshire.

In addition to her 2013 MacArthur Grant, she is the recipient of grants or fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Harvard Society of Fellows; the Bunting Institute; the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Studies at Harvard University; and the Guggenheim Foundation. She is also a fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Royal Historical Society, and the London Society of Antiquaries.

Her public talk, “Remembering (and Forgetting) Dead Infants in Late-Roman and Early Medieval Britain” will be based on her current research projects: attempting to determine how Roman ways of life, identity, burial, and status marking changed once the Roman economy collapsed and connections to the wider Roman world began to unravel. The public event is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 17, at 6 p.m. in CWY 206, with a reception and book signing to follow.


Spring 2017: Peter Balakian

This spring, the Institute is proud to welcome Peter Balakian as our Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence the week of Feb. 13. Balakian has a diverse background in poetry, memoir, translation, history, and international affairs, making him an ideal candidate to work with students in a number of different academic disciplines. He is the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities in the department of English and Director of Creative Writing at Colgate University. His memoir, Black Dog of Fate, is winner of the Pen/Albrand Prize for memoir and a New York Times Notable book. His nonfiction book, The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response won the 2005 Raphael Lemkin Prize and a New York Times Notable book.

Additionally, Balakian's prizes and awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship; National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship; Emily Clark Balch Prize for poetry: Movses Khorenatsi Medal from the Republic of Armenia (2007); the New Jersey Council for the Humanities Book Award (1998) Daniel Varoujan Prize, New England Poetry Club (1986); and Anahid Literary Prize, Columbia University Armenian Center (1990).

In 2016, Balakian won the Pulitzer Prize for his poetry collection, Ozone Journal, which is praised for its historical depth and meticulously documented detail. The collection is a vivid journey through the personal and the political. The long title poem is a sequel to Balakian's acclaimed "A Train-Ziggurat Elegy" (2010). His persona excavates the remains of Armenian genocide survivors in the Syrian Desert and remembers New York City in the 1980s, ravaged by the AIDS crisis, the precarious context for his personal struggles against loss and catastrophe. His poems traverse wide swaths of time and space, from Native American Villages of New Mexico to the slums of Nairobi, to the Armenian-Turkish border-land. With sensual language and lyrical insight, they call forth the danger and beauty of contemporary life.

During his time at USF, Balakian will be visiting classes in English, Sociology, Africana Studies, and the Honors College. Additionally, he will be spending time with the Digital Heritage work group in the USF Library which is actively working to save ancient churches in Armenia.

Balakian will give a poetry reading at 6pm, on Thursday, Feb. 16th in CWY 206 with a reception and book signing to follow.  

Fall 2016: Michael Bérubé

This Fall, the Institute’s successful Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence program will offer students, faculty, and the public an opportunity to interact with Michael Bérubé, a renowned scholar whose work on literary criticism, disability issues, and academic freedom has established him as one of the foremost public intellectuals of his generation. Now the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Literature and Director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at Pennsylvania State University, Bérubé first drew widespread attention in the early 1990s for his essays in the Village Voice and Village Voice Literary Supplement (VLS), where he addressed topics such as political correctness, postmodernism, and cultural studies.

Bérubé will be in residence at USF the week of Sept. 26-30, and will visit classes in several departments. His public talk, The Meaning of Life" draws from his forthcoming book, Life as Jamie Knows It: An Exceptional Child Grows Up, and will discuss the devaluing of the lives of people with disabilities in important bioethical debates. Later in the week he will also facilitate a timely discussion on academic freedom.

Formerly a professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Bérubé moved to Penn State in 2001, to take the newly-created Paterno Family Professorship in Literature, from which he later resigned after the Jerry Sandusky scandal. A regular presence in the public sphere, he has written for newspapers and magazines, such as Dissent, the Nation, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Washington Post, and has been a featured commentator in the Chronicle of Higher Education for many years. Bérubé is the author of 10 books, including Public Access: Literary Theory and American Cultural Politics (1994); Life As We Know It: A Father, A Family, and an Exceptional Child (1996); What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts? Classroom Politics and "Bias" in Higher Education (2006). In 2015 (with Jennifer Ruth), he published The Humanities, Higher Education, and Academic Freedom: Three Necessary Arguments, and in early 2016, NYU Press released his ninth book, The Secret Life of Stories: From Don Quixote to Harry Potter, How Understanding Intellectual Disability Transforms the Way We Read.

Bérubé will speak at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 28th, in CWY 206, with a reception and book signing to follow. His discussion on academic freedom will be at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 29th in the Grace Allen Room (4th Floor of the Library).


Spring 2016: Terrance Hayes

The poems of Terrance Hayes were described in the New Yorker as “a wild ride without an off switch, an unbroken verbal arc propelled by his accelerating actions of mind.” We’re delighted to bring that excitement to USF, as we welcome Hayes as our Spring Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence. Terrance Hayes, a MacArthur “genius” fellow and professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh, has become one of the country’s most celebrated poets, addressing themes of popular culture, race, music, and masculinity.

His poetry collections include Lighthead (2010), which won the National Book Award, and was also a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award. Earlier collections were Wind in a Box (2006); Hip Logic (2002), a finalist for an LA Times Book Award and an Academy of American Poets James Laughlin Award; and Muscular Music (1999), which won a Kate Tufts Discovery Award. His most recent collection (2015) is How to Be Drawn, finalist for the National Book Award.

In addition to his MacArthur Fellowship, Hayes’ honors include the Whiting Writers’ Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim Foundation. In a 2013 interview, Hayes described his approach to poetry: “I’m chasing a kind of language that can be unburdened by people’s expectations. I think music is the primary model—how close can you get this language to be like music and communicate feeling at the base level in the same way a composition with no words communicates meaning?” Hayes will be on campus March 7-10, during which he will visit several classes, and will give a public reading on Wed., March 9, at 6 p.m. in CWY 206, followed by a reception and book signing.

Fall 2015: John Dupré

John Dupré is a Professor in the Department of Sociology and Philosophy, and Director of Egenis, the Centre for the Study of Life Sciences at the University of Exeter, U.K. Dupré's visit also helps to build the flourishing Global Academic Partnership between USF and Exeter.

After graduating from the University of Cambridge, and doing postdoctoral work at Oxford, he taught at Stanford University until 1996, before returning to the U.K. Philosophy had been dormant at Exeter, since the department was closed in the 1980s, and Dupre led its resurgence, with a central focus on the philosophy of science.

Dupré is the author of over 200 articles and chapters, as well as 10 books, including Processes of Life: Essays in the Philosophy of Biology (2012); Nature after the Genome (with Sarah Parry, 2010); Genomes and What to Make of Them (with Barry Barnes, 2008; and Darwin’s Legacy: What Evolution Means Today (2003).

At USF, he will speak on “Are you a thing or a process? And why it matters,” in which he argues that how we conceive of the nature of life has profound, real-world consequences. He notes that “philosophers, and perhaps the rest of us, generally think of the world as composed of things. Big things are made of little things, and the arrangement of these things -- atoms into molecules, molecules into living cells, cells into multicellular organisms, and so on – produces the behavior of big, complex things.” He goes on to argue that an alternative view sees the world as composed of processes. “Whereas a thing persists unless something happens to it, the continuation of a process is always actively maintained. Compare a mountain and a whirlpool. While the latter may last a very long time -- think of the Red Spot on Jupiter -- it does so as a consequence of activity. On this view things are mere eddies in the constant flux of being.”

Thus life is best understood as process: “Living processes are partly self-organizing, maintaining themselves by internally generated activity, an insight that gives a novel perspective on the age-old free will debate. And the equally hoary problem of personal identity -- in what sense an old man can be the same person as a child in the distant past -- is also transformed. Quite generally, we may wonder what is it for the temporal parts of processes to be parts of the same process? Is the Missouri river part of the Mississippi?” He asserts that addressing such questions offers fresh perspectives on many aspects of life, not least how we should think about pregnancy and reproduction.

Dupré’s many honors and recognitions include appointments as the Spinoza Visiting Professor at the University of Amsterdam; Distinguished Fellow at the University of Durham, and Diane Middlebrook and Carl Djerassi Visiting Professor of Gender Studies at Cambridge University. He has spoken at universities across the world, and in 2010 was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a past President of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science, and a member of the Governing Board of the Philosophy of Science Association, and he serves on multiple journal editorial boards. He has received grants worth several millions euros to advance his work.

Dupre will speak at 6 p.m., Tues., Nov. 3, in CWY 206, with a reception and book signing to follow.

Fall 2014: Henry Jenkins

Henry Jenkins is Provost Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California. Previously, he was the Peter de Florez Professor of Humanities at Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT).

He is a prolific writer, whose research has focused on how individuals in contemporary culture tap into and combine numerous different media sources, suggesting that media convergence should be understood as a crucial cultural process of the contemporary era. His work includes the field of critical video game studies, on which he has testified before the U.S. Congress. Recently, he completed a lecture tour of Western Europe. Jenkins first came to prominence as one of the first scholars to look seriously at the cultures of media fans, with his 1992 book Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. He went on to write the influential Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (2006) and Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture (2013). His work spans the disciplines, from literature to media studies, sociology, politics, and technology studies. His book, Reading in a Participatory Culture: Remixing Moby-Dick in the English Classroom (2013), was described by one reviewer as “one of the most exciting and breathtaking works on English education ever written.” Jenkins maintains an active media presence, frequently being called upon to comment on current issues and events.

While at USF, Jenkins will visit classes in several departments, engaging with students whose teachers have assigned his work. He will also give a public talk, “Could This Be What Democracy Looks Like? Participatory Politics, Transmedia Mobilization, and the Civic Imagination.” He notes, “Before you can change the world, you have to be able to imagine other possibilities and see yourself as a political agent. This is what we call the civic imagination.” He will discuss the work of the USC Media, Activism, and Participatory Politics research group, which has documented the ways innovative organizations are helping American youth to become more civically engaged and politically active. “Often, this new political language remixes and redeploys elements borrowed from popular culture—from the Hunger Games to Harry Potter to Superman—in order to develop shared frameworks through which they can change the world. What if we saw fantasy not as escapism but as a tool for promoting social justice?”

Jenkins will speak at 6 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 25, in CWY 206 (Military Science Building) with a reception and book signing to follow. For more information about Henry Jenkins, see; to hear a Tedx talk on Participatory Culture, visit



Spring 2014: Jacquelyn Dowd Hall

Historian Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, a noted authority on women’s history, labor history, and the American South visited USF for the week of February 24-28. She is the Julia Cherry Spruill Professor of History, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is past President of the Organization of American Historians, the Southern Historical Association, and the Labor and Working Class History Association, and an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She served as the founding director of the Southern Oral History Program from 1973 to 2011.

Her several books include Revolt Against Chivalry: Jessie Daniel Ames and the Women’s Campaign Against Lynching, and she has written many influential articles, including methodological discussions of oral history. In 1999, she was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Bill Clinton for her efforts to deepen the nation’s understanding of and engagement with the humanities. In 2013, she received the Mary Turner Lane Award for outstanding contributions to the lives of women at UNC-Chapel Hill.

During her week at USF, Hall visited several undergraduate and graduate classes in History, Gender Studies, Communication, and Sociology, and gave a public talk, “The Challenge of Writing about Dissident Women in the Shadow of the Long Cold War.”



Spring 2014: Li-Young Lee

Distinguished poet and memoirist Li-Young Lee, was in residence March 31- April 4 as a kickoff to 2014's National Poetry Month

Lee was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Chinese parents. In 1959, the Lee family fled Indonesia to escape the anti-Chinese sentiment that later exploded in the 1965 genocides; his family settled in the United States in 1964. Lee’s poetry explores the joys and sorrows of family, home, loss, exile, and love; he is author of four critically acclaimed books of poetry, including Behind My Eyes; Book of My Nights; Rose (winner of the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award); The City in Which I Love You (the 1990 Lamont Poetry Selection); and a memoir, The Winged Seed: A Remembrance, which received an American Book Award. His many other honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Lannan Foundation, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

According to a recent review of his work, “Lee is not only one of our best contemporary poets of the sacred, he is an authentic mystic … Confounding dichotomy, Lee calls into question the division between beginning/end, birth/death, past/future, man/woman, body/mind. Borders melt; language opens. These poems approach the very edge of the ineffable, that which cannot be articulated.”

Lee continued our tradition of presenting awards in the HI Poetry Competition at his public reading. He also visited several classes, and hosted a public Q&A on April 3.



Fall 2013: Caryl Phillips

Novelist, essayist and playwright Caryl Phillips, is often described as one of the premier “Black Atlantic” writers. Phillips, now Professor of English at Yale University, is a prolific and award-winning writer, much of whose work explores the experiences of peoples of the African diaspora in England, the Caribbean, and the United States, raising universal questions of culture and identity.

Phillips has received numerous awards, including the 1987 Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, for The European Tribe; the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (Britain’s oldest literary award), for his 1993 novel, Crossing the River, 2004: Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for A Distant Shore. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2000, and of the Royal Society of Arts in 2011. Most recently, he was the 2013 Arts winner of the Anthony N. Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence (ANSCAFE), regarded as the English-speaking Caribbean’s leading recognition program.

Dr. Caryl Phillips: The Burdensome Expectations of the Colonial Migrant



Spring 2013: Nell Irvin Painter

Painter is the Edwards Professor Emerita of American History at Princeton University. She has served as president of the Organization of American Historians and the Southern Historical Association. Painter has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the American Antiquarian Society. She has authored a number of books, including, The History of White People (2010), Creating Black Americans (2006), and Southern History Across the Color Line (2002). Read about Painter's USF residency.

Dr. Nell Irvin Painter: Can a Black Scholar Write About White People?



Spring 2013: Jorie Graham

Described by the U.S. Poetry Foundation as “perhaps the most celebrated poet of the American post-war generation,” Graham is the Boylston Professor of Poetry at Harvard. Graham received the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for her book, The Dream of the Unified Field, and her many honors include a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She was the first American woman to receive the prestigious British 2012 Forward Prize for PLACE (2012). She has also taught at the prestigious University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and served as a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets from 1997 to 2003. Read about Graham's Residency.