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Robert Penn Warren Center

Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities

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Faculty Fellowships

"Working for Equality and Justice: Theorizing from and with Lived Resistance to Economic Inequality and Injustice"

Application Deadline: Friday, November 20, 2015

The Topic. The 2016/2017 Fellows Program at the Warren Center will examine the topic “Working for Equality and Justice: Theorizing from and with Lived Resistance to Economic Inequality and Injustice.”  The project co-directors are: Brooke Ackerly (Associate Professor of Political Science) and Melissa Snarr (Associate Professor of Ethics and Society, Divinity School). 

One of the key challenges to the moral and political legitimacy of nation-states, international orders, corporations, organizations, families, and communities is economic inequality and injustice. Economic inequality is a timeless topic recently invigorated by social scientific scholarly work such as Thomas Piketty’s Capital and Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman’s analysis of U.S. tax records. Qualitative and quantitative social sciences continually bring new data to bear on the problems of economic inequality, spawn myriad discussions on the nature and dynamics of varied political economies, and raise pressing issues for ethics and politics.

The Warren Center seminar will turn to the humanities for the study of inequality and injustice in two ways. First, we will consider how scholarship in the humanities can be informed by the experiences of those people who are living with the inequalities and injustices we are exploring.  Secondly, we will look to humanistic scholarship to tell us how to do this work well .

What might we learn--in and through the humanities--by listening to, researching with, and documenting those persons and organizations that resist economic inequality and injustice? How might our theory building about equality and justice be challenged, enhanced, and expanded when this “lived resistance” is a primary site for our academic work on these issues? What research methodologies are appropriate for a humanities scholar who wishes to engage with lived experience? What does it mean to listen to, to research with, and to observe those struggling to survive and transform economic inequalities and injustice?

Engaged research has a long history in the social and biomedical sciences. With great respect for these methods, we seek to cultivate and enjoy a community of humanities colleagues who would like to further, develop, and interpret what engagedhumanities scholarship requires.  The Warren Center will cultivate a space of collegial exploration and scholarly production that addresses a timely and vital ethical, political, and academic challenge. 

The Program. Each year, the Warren Center sponsors a Fellows Program with a particular thematic focus involving VU faculty members and one year-long visiting fellow. 

The seminar will include the two Vanderbilt University faculty co-directors, additional Vanderbilt faculty participants, and one William S. Vaughn Visiting Fellow from an institution other than Vanderbilt. The group will meet weekly and will have access to generous program funds from the Warren Center that can be used for visiting speakers, conferences, or other appropriate program‑related expenses. The seminar provides an unusual opportunity for scholars with a variety of specializations to work cooperatively on a common issue in a sustained manner. 

Faculty Participants. The Warren Center operates under the aegis of the College of Arts and Science, and in past years participants in its Fellows program have been almost exclusively faculty members from within the College of Arts and Science. Although the majority of the participants in the 2016/2017 program will also come from the College, we also encourage participation from faculty members from the other divisions of the University. We seek applications from our colleagues in the other schools, and look forward to welcoming individuals from those units as Warren Center Fellows. Faculty participants may have offices in the Center, and are awarded individual research funds in the amount of $4,000. 

Application Process. Applicants should send a copy of their curriculum vitae (NO MORE THAN FIVE PAGES) and a statement of one or two pages in which they describe the relation of the topic to their own scholarly project to Warren Center Seminar Coordinator Joy Ramirez . Applicants should also notify their department chairs. 

Applications are due by Friday, November 20, 2015.

 Questions? If you have questions about the program or the application process, feel free to contact the Warren Center (343-6060) or the executive director, Mona Frederick.

Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities

VU Station B #351534