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UGA announces membership in a2ru

The University of Georgia has joined the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities, known as a2ru, a consortium of almost three dozen research-intensive universities committed to advancing interdisciplinary, arts-oriented research.

The Willson Center has initiated a new faculty research cluster that will serve as UGA’s point of connection to a2ru. Along with the Willson Center, the university’s membership is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Arts Council, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the Lamar Dodd School of Art and the Office of the Vice President for Research.

Arts Council Chair and Vice Provost Russell Mumper said that “the mission of the council is to foster an awareness and appreciation of the arts and to create an environment conducive to artistic innovation. The council seeks to involve all students in the arts as part of their educational experience, and to foster mutual and beneficial collaboration among campus units to integrate the arts into the fabric of the university. Therefore, joining a2ru is an important milestone for UGA and the council.”

“The University of Georgia’s growing faculty interest in arts research and interdisciplinary ventures aligns perfectly with a2ru’s core mission,” said Laurie Baefsky, executive director of a2ru. “The Willson Center’s broad programming within the arts and humanities will add much to a2ru’s expanding network and influence. I look forward to UGA’s participation and contributions as a2ru’s 35th partner.” UGA will participate in a2ru’s national conference Nov. 3-5 at the University of Colorado, Denver.

Joining the consortium is an important symbol of UGA’s commitment to art’s inclusion in interdisciplinary research and teaching, and it aligns UGA with other institutions that share this forward-thinking philosophy, said Chris Garvin, director of the art school. “Membership in a2ru allows UGA to join with other research universities who want to position the arts at the heart of academic life, treating them as a significant means of inquiry, integral to problem-solving and the production of knowledge.”

The faculty research cluster will be directed by Isabelle Loring Wallace, associate director of research and graduate studies at the art school and Willson Center associate academic director for arts and a2ru.

“The University of Georgia is deeply committed to arts-oriented research,” said Wallace, an associate professor of art history. “Through existing, interdisciplinary, campus-wide initiatives, it affirms the many intellectual benefits of art’s integration and asserts its indispensability for the production of advanced research. Membership in a2ru and the Willson Center’s new research cluster are further evidence of these priorities.”

The research cluster is accepting grant proposals from full-time, research-budgeted faculty. Projects may be creative or scholarly in form, and they may be disciplinary or interdisciplinary in scope. More information including instructions for applications is available here.

To learn more about the national a2ru organization, visit

NSF grant will help further research supported by Kretzschmar’s DIGI cluster

A digital humanities project to identify variations in Southern speech over time and space will be aided by a grant from the National Science Foundation. William A. Kretzschmar, Harry and Jane Willson Professor in the Humanities (department of English) and the project’s principal investigator, directs the Complex Systems and the Humanities research cluster, part of the Digital Humanities Initiative (DIGI) of the Willson Center, the UGA Libraries, and the UGA Press. Much of the current research will be presented on the website of Kretzschmar’s Linguistic Atlas Project, also affiliated with DIGI and the Willson Center DigiLab.

AARC holds international conference on archipelago June 28 at Pendennis Castle, Falmouth, England

The Atlantic Archipelagos Research Consortium,Pendennis Castle which engages international colleagues in the study and research of archipelago as a creative, intellectual, and political concept, held its 2016 annual conference on June 28 at Pendennis Castle, Falmouth, England. Willson Center Director Nicholas Allen, Franklin Professor of English at UGA and a founding member of AARC, gave the conference keynote address.

“Land’s End: Imagination, Culture, and Society at Coastal Edges” examined the interactions between culture, heritage, oceans, and wellbeing in liminal places where land meets sea, developing the themes of the inaugural AARC collection of essays Coastal Works, ed. Allen, Groom, and Smith (OUP, 2016). The aim was to consolidate current research and extend the AARC team into Europe in order to facilitate a collaborative ERC bid. It considered various distinctive forms of coastal heritage and how a dialogue might be fruitfully begun between them. “Land’s End” mixed short conference papers, roundtable discussion and an evening event of public talks, poetry readings and artwork.

A preliminary conference schedule is below. For more information, please visit the conference website.


Tuesday, June 28, Pendennis Castle, the Arundel Room:

9:30 a.m. – Introduction. Prof. Nick Groom

9:45 a.m. – Keynote: Prof. Nicholas Allen

10:45 a.m. – Round Table 1

11:45 a.m. – break

12:15 p.m. – Round table 2

1:15 p.m. – lunch

2:30 p.m. – Round table 3

3:30 p.m. – break

4:00 p.m. – Round table 4

5:00 p.m. – finish


7:00 p.m – Conference dinner, Falmouth

8:30 p.m. – The Poly, Falmouth: Public talk, Prof. Nicholas Allen; readings by Alan Riach, Isabel Galleymore, Ben Smith and Jos Smith, plus short artist’s talk.


Wednesday, June 29, Falmouth University (Wood Lane Campus) Rosehill Boardroom:


9:30-10:00 a.m. – Nick Groom & Jos Smith to introduce funding call‘Cultural Heritage of European Coastal and Maritime Regions’ (CULT-COOP-07-2017: expected deadline February 2017).

10:00-11:30 a.m. – Discussion consolidating Tuesday, establishing strengths/weaknesses of group, identifying new partners, establishing agenda

11:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m. – Plan a way forward looking ahead to the deadline.


DigiLab and digital humanities faculty in the news

Earlier this spring semester, crews from C-SPAN visited UGA to film classes taught by Stephen Berry and Scott Nesbit in the Willson Center Digital Humanities Lab for the cable news network’s American History TV series. The lecture by Berry, Gregory Professor of the Civil War Era in the department of history and Willson Center associate academic director for digital humanities, will air on C-SPAN 3 at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 14, again at midnight the same night, and finally at 12 p.m. Sunday, May 22. After the program has aired, it will be available in its entirety on the C-SPAN website.

In Berry’s lecture, from a class about coroners in the 19th century South, he discusses the role of a coroner as an agent of the state and talks about the records created from their inquests. A preview is embedded below.

The class taught by Nesbitt, assistant professor in the College of Environment and Design, is tentatively scheduled to air in late June.

The Willson Center Digital Humanities Lab, known informally as the DigiLab, is a state-of-the-art instruction space as well as an incubator and publicity hub for nationally recognized digital humanities projects. Opened in 2015, it is outfitted with flexible workspaces for individual or collaborative projects and with advanced technological resources. The DigiLab is located on the third floor of the Main Library, across from the newly renovated Reading Room and adjacent to the University of Georgia Press.

The DigiLab is affiliated with DIGI (Digital Humanities Research and Innovation), a course prefix and interdisciplinary certificate program that brings together courses taught across a range of humanities disciplines, including English, History, Classics, Geography, Romance Languages, Theater and Film, Historic Preservation, Art, and Music. The DIGI program also works closely with humanistic information science personnel at the Main Library, the Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, and the Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection. DIGI courses are always taught in a “collaboratory” model, involving students as true partners in research projects supported by the DigiLab.


English and creative writing faculty gather accolades


Magdalena Zurawski with Sonia Sanchez

to 2015-2016 Willson Center Faculty Fellow Magdalena Zurawski, who has won the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award for Companion Animal, her 2015 collection from Litmus Press. Zurawski (pictured with the poet Sonia Sanchez at the PSA Awards ceremony in New York City) is an assistant professor of English and creative writing and the author of the 2008 novel The Bruise, which won both a 2008 Lambda Award and the 2007 Ronald Sukenick-American Book Review Innovative Fiction Prize.

Ed Pavlić, professor of English and creative writing and a recent Willson Center Faculty Fellow, published two books in 2015: Let’s Let That Are Not Yet : Inferno (National Poetry Series, Fence Books),Pavlic Who Can Afford to Improvise? a blend of poetry, lyrical prose, and memoir, and Who Can Afford to Improvise?: James Baldwin and Black Music, the Lyric and the Listeners (Fordham University Press), “a meditation on the life, writings, and legacy of James Baldwin and their relationship to the lyric tradition in black music.” Let’s Let that Are Not Yet has been shortlisted for the 2016 Firecracker Awards for Independent Literary Publishing in Poetry, and the noted music author and critic Dave Marsh listed Who Can Afford to Improvise? first in his recent summation of the best music books of the last year. Pavlić has three more books completed or in progress: a novel, a collection of poems, and his eagerly awaited No Time to Rest: James Baldwin’s Life in Letters to His Brother David.

Willson Center announces 2016-2017 Faculty Research Fellows, OVPR Faculty Research Grant awardees

The Willson CenterWillson Fellows 2016-17 has awarded its 2016-2017 Research Fellowships to twelve members of the UGA faculty in the humanities and arts. These fellowships are awarded in partnership with the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. Willson Center Research Fellowships support excellence in arts and humanities research by providing course release from two normally assigned courses in one academic year.

The Willson Center Faculty Research Fellows for 2016-2017 are:

Yuri Balashov, Philosophy; LeAnne Howe, English; Kevin Jones, History; Amma Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin, Theatre and Film Studies and African American Studies; Peter Lane, Music; John Lowe, English; Barbara McCaskill, English; Cecília Rodrigues, Romance Languages; Amy Ross, Geography; Christopher Sieving, Theatre and Film Studies; Steven Soper, History; and Betsy Wright, Romance Languages.

We also acknowledge the recipients of the 2016-2017 OVPR Faculty Research Grants. Administered by the Willson Center, these awards support and encourage the development of strong programs of research and creative scholarship by both junior and senior faculty in the humanities and arts. The Faculty Research Grant is funded by the Office of the Vice President for Research through the University of Georgia Research Foundation.

The Faculty Research Grant awardees for 2016-2017 are:

Chris Cuomo, Philosophy; Angela Jones-Reus, Music; Derrick Lemons, Religion; Ari Levine, History; Alisa Luxenberg, Art; Susan Rosenbaum, English; Emily Sahakian, Theatre and Film Studies and Romance Languages; Marni Shindelman, Art; Stephanie Tingler, Music; and Martijn van Wagtendonk, Art.

Congratulations to all of these outstanding UGA faculty members for their well deserved honors and awards.

Full video of “A Conversation with Alice Walker” and David Haskell’s 2016 Odum Environmental Ethics Lecture now online

Two of the Willson Center’sA Conversation with Alice Walker most prominent events of the 2015-2016 academic year have recently been added to our Video page. “A Conversation with Alice Walker,” part of the acclaimed author and humanitarian’s visit to Athens and UGA as the inaugural Delta Chair for Global understanding, and David Haskell’s Odum Environmental Ethics Lecture on “The Forest Unseen: Ecology, Ethics, and Contemplation” are both presented in their entirety.

The Delta Visiting Chair, established by the Willson Center through the support of the Delta Air Lines Foundation, hosts outstanding global scholars, leading creative thinkers, artists and intellectuals who teach and perform research at UGA.

Alice Walker is the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in fiction, for her 1982 novel The Color Purple, which also earned a National Book Award. She has written six other novels, four collections of short stories, four children’s books, and volumes of essays and poetry.

Walker joined Valerie Boyd, associate professor in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, for a public conversation in the historic Morton Theatre in downtown Athens. Boyd is the editor of a forthcoming volume of Walker’s journals.

David Haskell is an author and professor of biology at The University of the South. Among many other awards, Haskell’s book The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature won the 2013 Best Book Award from the National Academies and was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction.

His visit to UGA was co-sponsored by the Willson Center, the Environmental Ethics Certificate Program, and the Integrative Conservation Ph.D. Program. Haskell’s lecture was the keynote for the Third Annual Symposium on Integrative Conservation.

The Odum Environmental Ethics Lecture is named for Eugene Odum (1913-2002), a UGA instructor from 1940 until his retirement in 1984. He has been called the “father of modern ecology” and was the author of the pioneering book Fundamentals of Ecology. Odum was instrumental in the creation of the Institute of Ecology at UGA, the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, and the Sapelo Island Marine Science Institute.

Digital Humanities projects affiliated with Willson DigiLab attract notice

US News MapTwo projects of eHistory, an initiative founded by Stephen Berry and Claudio Saunt of the UGA department of history and affiliated with the Willson Center Digital Humanities Lab, have launched websites in recent weeks and been written up in the national media.

CSI Dixie is headed by Berry, Gregory Professor of the Civil War Era in the department of history and Willson Center associate academic director for digital humanities. The web-based project uses 19th-century coroners’ records from South Carolina to create a detailed picture of how ordinary people died in the Victorian-era South, providing rare glimpses into suicide, homicide, infanticide, abortion, child abuse, spousal abuse, master-slave murder, and slave on slave violence.

The US News Map is a collaborative project by Berry and Saunt, Russell Professor of American History and chair of the department of history, with the Georgia Tech Research Institute. The interactive map allows users to see how awareness of key historical events and ideas spread across the country using data from nearly 2,000 U.S. newspapers – about 10 million pages – published between 1836 and 1924.

The GTRI’s informative article on the US News Map is here. The project has also been written about in the Washington Post, as well as in Slate and Mental Floss.

Slate has also published a piece on CSI Dixie, and the project was mentioned in The New York Times as well.


Spotlight on the Arts at UGA: Nov. 4 – 15

The Willson Center has organized or sponsored a variety of events for UGA’s 2015 Spotlight on the Arts festival, including film screenings in Athens and Atlanta, a tour of historic Oconee Hill Cemetery, a tailgate celebration before UGA’s football game with Kentucky, and an international conference on William Shakespeare and appropriation.