The Neubauer Collegium supports a number of large-scale collaborative projects that promote experimentation in the conceptualization of collaborative humanistic scholarship. These projects often involve short-term or long-term visiting fellows. Project activities include workshops, conferences, courses, performances, research assistance, deployment of new information technology, and other forms of collaboration that expand the boundaries of humanistic study, address questions that transcend any single field or methodology, and test new modes of engaging expertise and communicating research results.
2013-2014 funded Large-Scale Projects
Since the Renaissance, many scholars have overlooked the formative role our bodies play in shaping our minds, ignoring the influence that our movements have on our thinking and creative processes. But over the last several years, research in psychology, linguistics, and human development suggest that it is difficult to disentangle the workings of our minds from our physical sensations, leading to a new way of thinking about embodied cognition and changing how we think about learning and performing. This three-year project explores the relation between action, gesture, and sign language in order to develop a more nuanced, and theoretically motivated, understanding of how our bodies impact our minds and the minds of others. This project is core to the formative stage of a new Center for Gesture, Sign, and Language at the University of Chicago designed to provide a home for collaborations between members of the departments of Psychology, Linguistics, and Comparative Human Development, and to catalyze new collaborations with scholars interested in the performing arts.
The Game Changer Chicago (GCC) Design Lab is an emerging and experimental collaboration between faculty in English/Media Studies and the Biologic Sciences Division. This project, which sits within the Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Innovation in Sexual and Reproductive Health, explores how transmedia games and digital media open new paths to emotional and social health learning. The GCC Design Lab critically engages central theoretical questions in the digital humanities, new media studies, and the arts, while simultaneously offering new opportunities to study social systems related to sexuality, gender, reproductive health, and structural inequalities in urban communities. How can digital media and games augment reality to create different kinds of social encounters? How do new technologies make possible open-ended, multi-authored, and non-linear forms of storytelling? How can these modes of storytelling best be deployed in practice? This three-year project brings together scholars and practitioners in creative writing, new media studies, theater, education, social services, and medicine to foster experimental intersections between practice and theory (and practice as theory) while addressing pressing concerns in adolescents’ decisions about sexual and reproductive health. Building on two years of successful work, the GCC Design Lab creates space for hands-on experimentation and project development, fostering theoretical and practical insights into emerging literary and artistic forms.
Since the University’s inception, Chicago faculty have been pioneers in the study of the ancient world’s literary heritage, including the founding of modern scientific study of writing systems. Signs of Writing is a three-year research project designed to investigate, from a comparative and interdisciplinary perspective, the cultural and social contexts and structural properties of the world’s oldest writing systems – the world’s first information revolution. Particular emphasis is placed on the four primary, or pristine, writing systems from Mesopotamia, China, Egypt, and Mesoamerica, looking at the similarities and differences in the archaeological and paleographic records across regions and the psycho-linguistic processes by which humans first made language visible. Annual conferences and short- and long-term visiting scholars will integrate research from a wide range of disciplines. Organized broadly around the linguistic, social, and cultural contexts of early writing, the project will concern itself with a broad range of topics, including the origins and structure of writing systems, the relationship between speech and writing, reading and cognition, the adaptation of writing systems and bilingualism, scribal transmission and education, literacy, the materiality and archaeological contexts of writing, and the rise of literature.
As the state’s role has diminished in the face of privatization and globalization, from multiple directions there has been a resurgence of interest in forms of governance and organized power that do not resemble the unified sovereign state that is at the center of dominant scholarly traditions of political analysis and theory. This wave of empirical inquiry and theoretical debate is visible across history, sociology, and political science, spurring multiple forms of cross-disciplinary collaboration. This project aims to fuse these collaborations toward a focused and generative debate on the State as History and Theory. What is necessary is a reconciling of the realistic institutional paradigm predominating in the scholarship on the state with the requirements of everyday politics and democratic political theory – in short, a theory of the democratic state. University of Chicago faculty in history, law, political science, and sociology will cohere as a group around the year-long visit of Steve Sawyer from The American University of Paris, who will help sharpen and focus the group’s efforts to produce a new political theory of the democratic state.
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