In the first year of programming, Pitt’s Arts and Humanities Microgrants are supporting up to twenty projects for individual faculty or teams. The $3,000 one-year microgrants are supporting high-quality, smaller-scaled research, scholarly, creative and artistic endeavors for faculty in the arts and humanities.
“The grants are intended to enhance and expand internal funding opportunities for arts and humanities faculty, as a resource to support existing projects, works-in-progress, or to test concepts where a smaller grant with fast decision-making could be transformative,” said Shelome Gooden, assistant vice chancellor for research in the humanities, arts, social sciences and related fields.
The Arts and Humanities Microgrants program runs twice per academic year (Fall and Spring). Cycle two is currently underway, and the Fall cycle of year two is projected for Monday, October 16, 2023.
The microgrants are intended to support a variety of research and creative activities in the humanities. This cycle's awards cover a range of projects including books, an annotated speech database, an archival research workshop, AI-generated 'repair' of ancient text and curatorial art.
Spring 2023 Cohort
Angie Cruz, Department of English
Il Palazzo, A Novel
Angie Cruz, Department of English
Il Palazzo is a novel that works as a fictional translation from an Italian who confesses his wish for a “morte bianca” (a workplace death) so he can leave his son an inheritance. The novel reveals the tensions between the new immigrants in Italy and the impact on the global economy on small businesses and families.
- Pilar Herr et al., Humanities Division, Greensburg
Chilean Parlamentos: Expanding the Pedagogical Profile of a Digital Humanities Project
Pilar Herr, Humanities Division, Greensburg
William Campbell, Humanities Division, Greensburg
Sean DiLeonardi, Humanities Division, Greensburg
Elizabeth Contreras, Humanities Division, Greensburg
This Digital Humanities project will provide scholarly English translations of and bilingual commentary on colonial Spanish treaties with Indigenous peoples of Chile. To position the team to leverage their current one-year NEH Translations Planning Grant to a proposal for the full three-year NEH Translations Grant for the main part of the project, the team will expand their vision for what they can do with their materials in a digital environment. They seek to take greater advantage of digital media to create a website that is more accessible and attractive to college students in general, and to engage their own students’ creativity in creating it. However, identifying the tools, content, design, and strategies best suited to their material and their team is a significant challenge. Momentum funding will enable the team to spend a week in July at the Institute for Liberal Arts Digital Scholarship (ILiADS) to workshop the project with other Digital Humanities scholars and teams.
- William Lychack, Department of English
The Burma Trilogy: An Account of the Monkhood and Other Sorrows in the Golden Land
William Lychack, Department of English
This year’s Pitt Momentum Funds will support the final research and writing of a series of general audience novels set in contemporary Burma (Myanmar). The purpose and goal will be a completed book manuscript consisting of three companion novels based on Lychack’s experiences in Burma as a Buddhist monk. The deliverable will be a finished submission to publishers by the spring of 2024.
- Edward (SpearIt) Madonado, School of Law
Muslim Prison Litigation: Advancing the Rule of Law through Litigation Praxis
Edward (SpearIt) Madonado, School of Law
This project examines Muslim prison litigation through the lens of Outcrit Jurisprudence. At its core, the work is about racial and religious repression and the difficulties of incarcerated people to access justice. The work lays a foundation for the Muslim contribution to prison law jurisprudence, which includes some monumental achievements; from the early days when Muslims played a central role in the evolution of the prisoners' rights movement to the present, where they are undoubtedly the most litigious religious group in prison. Muslims have expanded the rights of all people in prison and have impacted prison culture positively by importing more law and accountability into prison administration. The primary focus of this project is to underscore this legacy in litigation and recognize the immense influence of Muslims on the development of prison law and policy.
- Patrick McKelvey, Department of Theatre Arts
Supporting Actors: A Disability History of Theatrical Welfare in the United States
Patrick McKelvey, Department of Theatre Arts
This award funds the first phase of archival research for McKelvey’s second book, Supporting Actors: A Disability History of Theatrical Welfare in the United States. This book will offer a history of social services for disabled actors since the late nineteenth century. At the center of this history is The Actors’ Fund of America, an organization that has financed an impressive range of disability supports, including a retirement home, health clinics, addiction recovery programs, assistive technology grants, and supportive housing for people with HIV/AIDS. Supporting Actors is grounded in the archives of the Fund and allied organizations. These include the Edwin Forrest Home for Retired Actors (1873-1986); the Katharine Cornell Foundation (1931-1962); the Negro Actors Guild of America (1938-1982); and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (1988-Present). A series of questions animate the book: what ideas about care, dependence, and deservingness did these organizations institutionalize, and how did they change over time? What racial, gender, sexual, and class norms did they propagate? How did they interact with institutions of public welfare? To what extent have these organizations fomented disability activism? Throughout, McKelvey is especially interested in querying the relationship between theatrical welfare and Black, queer, and feminist disability history.
- Michael Meyer, Department of English
A Dirty, Filthy Book
Michael Meyer, Department of English
This nonfiction book takes readers into Victorian London, where the first great battle over access to birth control played out at the heart of the establishment. In an era of repressed sexuality and sex education, a brave single mother dared to publish an American pamphlet teaching contraception, welcomed her arrest, and defended herself against the Crown in a Westminster Hall trial some four decades before the first woman was allowed to pass the British bar. Newspapers from Devon to Dublin to Edinburgh covered the trial, bringing her message to breakfast tables across the United Kingdom. Sales of the pamphlet itself rocketed to 250,000 in a matter of months. Annie Besant would win her case, but lose custody of her children, as well as her reputation. Today her sacrifice and pioneering campaign is all but forgotten.
- Elizabeth Monasterios, Department of Hispanic Languages & Literatures
The Churata Papers
Elizabeth Monasterios, Department of Hispanic Languages & Literatures
The Churata Papers is a collaborative project aimed to transcribing and publishing critical and annotated editions of two unpublished manuscripts by Andean writer Gamaliel Churata (Arequipa 1897-Lima 1969). This is a literary corpus written over the first half of the twentieth century in a literary style that can be nearly impenetrable without critical annotation. The participants are Andean scholars Riccardo Badini (University of Cagliary, Italy) and Elizabeth Monasterios (University of Pittsburgh). The project has three major phases: planning, preparation of critical and annotated editions, and publication. The planning phase has been completed and the project is entering its second phase, which involves: (a) transcription of manuscripts, identifying ambiguous linguistic structures, odd expressions, and problems with the logical coherence of the text, (b) workshops to discuss progress and solve difficulties understanding Andean thinking, (c) archival research, and (c) writing of introductory essays. An Arts & Humanities Microgrant will allow me to conduct 7-day research at the Centro Interdipartimentale di Studi sull'America Pluriversale, University of Cagliary, which holds a collection of letters, notes, and other primary sources crucial to complete the annotated edition of the manuscript assigned to me. To date, no comprehensive scholarly examination has been undertaken of these materials.
- Mrinalini Rajagopalan, Department of History of Art & Architecture
Marks She Made: The Art and Architecture of Begum Samru
Mrinalini Rajagopalan, Department of History of Art & Architecture
Rajagopalan’s forthcoming book, Marks She Made: The Art and Architecture of Begum Samru, 1803-1836, offers a creative biography of an Indian woman ruler whose choreography of art and architecture were key to her elevated social, political, and financial station. Marks She Made will be the first full-length monograph on a South Asian female patron of art and architecture. The begum (title for a noblewoman in India) rose from modest beginnings as a courtesan in Mughal Delhi, to become the commander of her own mercenary army, and later the ruler of her independent territory of Sardhana (60 km northwest of Delhi). She was a trusted ally to the Mughal emperor and the English East India Company (two dominant political powers in north India at the time) and maintained diplomatic relations with two popes and King Louis Philippe of France by exchanging portraits, architectural drawings, and letters with these powerful men. Her patronage of art and architecture played a key role in establishing the begum as a powerful but non-threatening ruler, as an upholder and patron of the Catholic faith in India, a political ally to several European and Indian factions, and as a woman of great wealth coupled with remarkable charity.
- Omid Shekari, Department of Studio Arts
Omid Shekari, Department of Studio Arts
The core research of this project is to create a series of artworks to examine the in-between status of people of Iran, trapped between a duality in the formation and perpetuation of the politics in the Middle East where the post-colonial politics bounce back and forth between pseudo-democracy supported by the imperial West, specifically the US and a super nationalist dictator that justifies his failures by portraying himself as a hero of anti-imperialism and anti-west. The forms of the pieces start form the portraits of Pahlavi, the last monarch before the 1979 revolution and Khamenei, the current supreme leader. Shekari plans to create a few relief sculptures where the pieces wouldn’t be connected but juxtaposed next to each other something like a puzzle to create the whole image. The pieces would be a combination of 2D and 3D. The main materials would be plaster, concrete, paper and clay in addition to a few large paintings and drawings.
- David Tenorio, Department of Hispanic Languages & Literatures
Queer Nightscapes: Performance and Afterglow of Queer Mexicanidad
David Tenorio, Department of Hispanic Languages & Literatures
Queer Nightscapes: Performance and the Afterglow of Queer Mexicanidad, examines how queer and trans cultural practices of relajo (i.e., playfulness), dancing, cruising, and longing shape underground material infrastructures that enable queer and trans worldmaking during nighttime and beyond. Queer Nightscapes illustrates how performance and play enable circuits of queer and trans contact between affects, spaces, and bodies. By focusing on queer affective economies in the Global South, Tenorio decenters the U.S.-based queer optic and the geopolitical configurations of queer epistemology in the Americas. In conversation with queer and trans cultural workers and producers, Queer Nightscapes contributes to a nuanced understanding of the everyday affective negotiations with bodily consumption. In doing so, Tenorio’s book traces alternative modes of consumption and affective networks of joy and care amidst capitalist extraction.
- Christian Wildberg, Department of Classics
New Edition and Translation of the Corpus Hermeticum
Christian Wildberg, Department of Classics
Seventeen Hermetic tractates, most of them complete, are preserved in approximately 28 medieval manuscripts, of the so-called Corpus Hermeticum. The publication proposed here offers a substantially revised text and new English translation of all tractates. The traditional order of the treatises is quite clearly random, and in Wildberg’s translation, the tractates are ordered in a different way so as to make the entire collection, and the remarkable thoughts it contains, more accessible to readers. This project will help to bring out the overall cultural and philosophical significance to this body of text. The aim of the publication is to show that scholars must depart from the traditional approach to the Hermetica which reads them as poor derivatives of Western Greco-Roman philosophy. Appreciating the non-Greek character of core commitments Hermetic doctrine allows them to be assigned to an ancient Egyptian provenance.
Fall 2022 Cohort
Christopher Nygren, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
Alison Langmead, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
Annette Vee, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
Shaun Myers, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
Cuilan Liu, Dietrich School or Arts and Sciences
Song Shi, School of Computing and Information
Amanda Huensch, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
Marta Ortega-Llebaria, Dietrich School or Arts and Sciences
Jeremy Justus, University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown Campus
Mark DiMauro, University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown Campus
Aaron Henderson, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences