Active Collaborative Research Clusters

The Northeastern Humanities Center’s Collaborative Research Clusters give faculty the opportunity for a range of interdisciplinary research collaborations with awards up to $2,000. These clusters bring together scholars and practitioners from different disciplines, both within and outside the university community, around a common issue of humanistic significance. The purpose is to facilitate productive discussions and collaborations among the participants, with a view toward the development of joint projects, conferences, publications, and grant applications.

The Humanities Center funds a wide range of themes and topics. Past groups have organized around such topics as critical social theory; sexual citizenship; urban environmental governance; food; and race and visual culture studies.


 “Crisis and Pedagogy – Teaching about conflicts and mass atrocity”

Gordana Rabrenovic
Associate Professor of Sociology and Education;
Director of the Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict

Natalie Bormann
Associate Teaching Professor of Political Science

There is no denying that visual representations of conflict and atrocity are absolutely integral for our understanding – but they are also highly contested means by which to understand those exact conflicts.  This is especially true in the realm of education and pedagogy.   This research cluster group wants to explore the impact of crises and conflict on pedagogy in general, and on the teaching of conflict across disciplines in particular.

This research group is a continuation of a previous collaborative cluster on mass atrocities and genocides (“Horrific Blindness – Mass atrocities and genocides from Armenia to Darfur”).  During the previous cluster, the group circled back repeatedly to questions on how our engagement with conflict and atrocity informed the modalities, ethics, and practices of teaching about conflict in the classroom.   As such, this cluster is looking to address a set of questions that are at the nexus of crises and pedagogy. This cluster also looks to not only explore how and when global conflict ‘meets’ the classroom, but also how it does so across disciplines.

“The Digital Feminist Commons: Fostering Feminist Methodologies in the Digital Humanities”

Elizabeth Dillon
Chair and Professor of English;
Co-Director, NULab for Text, Maps, and Networks

Julia Flanders
Professor of Practice in English;
Director, Digital Scholarship Group

Moya Bailey
Assistant Professor of Cultures, Societies and Global Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Elizabeth Polcha
Doctoral Candidate, English department;
Research Lead, Early Caribbean Digital Archive;
Encoder, Women Writers Project.

Nicole Keller Day
Doctoral Candidate, English department;
Acquisitions Lead, Early Caribbean Digital Archive;
Encoder, Women Writers Project.

Digital humanities discourse has recently been subject to criticism for its lack of cultural and political theoretical foundations. As DH scholar Alan Liu explained in his 2011 MLA talk, “the lack of cultural criticism in digital humanities…will stunt the growth of our field.” In response to calls like Liu’s for more cultural criticism, our Research Cluster aims to contribute to the thriving digital humanities research community housed at Northeastern’s NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks and Digital Scholarship Group (DSG) by generating a broader discussion on how feminist research intersects with digital research.

Building on digital feminist initiatives like #TransformDH and Fem Tech Net, which prioritize collaboration, inclusion, and accessibility, we see the field of digital humanities as receptive to the shifting nature of interdisciplinary cultural and political research. Northeastern’s participation in the Graduate Consortium in Women’s Studies, an interdisciplinary scholarly group in the Boston area, is evidence of Northeastern’s dedication to feminist scholarship and community, making it an ideal environment for a digital feminist commons. This cluster group aims to build a network of feminist criticism in DH by congregating feminist digital researchers within Northeastern’s community as well as within the surrounding Boston area. This network will mobilize a shift in the way digital research is conducted in the Boston area and ultimately lead to new scholarly opportunities for the field as a whole.

“Collective resilience, trauma and recovery”

Dr. Silvia Dominguez
Associate Professor of Sociology and Human Services

This research cluster will examine community resilience and collective trauma in various contexts, such as preparing for and recovering from natural disasters brought on by the rapid pace of environmental change, strengthening against terrorist attacks, recovering from war and civil conflicts, and countering the community level effects of chronic, pervasive neighborhood violence. The goal of the research cluster is to share and draw upon theoretical and empirical research from different disciplines and bodies of literature in order to better define collective trauma and to create policy frameworks for building resilience, addressing collective trauma, and promoting recovery in these diverse contexts. This cluster is planning to host an end of year conference including scholars, practitioners and policymakers who deal with collective resilience, trauma and recovery in their work. Through intellectual exchange, we aim to draw attention to the need for policies to build resilience and address collective trauma, as well as provide a framework for crafting those policies.

“The Plain English Jury Instruction Project: Identifying and Addressing Exclusion in the Justice System”

Janet Randall
Professor of English

How we comprehend language is a rich area of psycholinguistic inquiry and researchers have been working to identify the factors that facilitate or impede language processing. Our findings have important theoretical significance in understanding the human language mechanism, but they also have important implications for real-life contexts, which have not been widely pursued. This cluster will take the next step – to translate our psycholinguistic findings into practical, implementable, action in the legal arena — aimed at addressing exclusionary practices in the jury system and improving social justice.

“The Future of Global Reproduction: Technology, Law, Religion, Art”

Suzanna Walters
Professor of Sociology;
Director of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program

Kiki Samko
Program Coordinator, WGSS

This cluster group will examine questions of reproductive justice and freedom through lenses of technology, law, religion, and art. This will allow for connections across disciplines and colleges. The goal of this cluster is to culminate the year with a day-long symposium addressing questions of reproductive justice across disciplines from both academic and activist standpoints.

Issues of reproductive justice are increasingly on the academic and public frontlines, as more and more restrictions are put in place by local and national jurisdictions. And the model of reproductive justice broadens both activist and academic purviews, linking discussions of abortion access with wide-ranging concerns about reproductive technology, reproductive tourism, the traffic in reproductive labor and its relation to other vectors of globalization, and how all these issues are imagined in popular culture, in art, in literature, in law. Students and faculty alike will find this topic critical in the current political environment and find the interdisciplinary “take” on global reproduction to provide a fruitful route for feminist theorizing.

“The Sustainable Humanites”

Christopher Parsons
Assistant Professor of History

Building on the 2015 Green City Spaces Colloquium, the primary goal of this research cluster will be to integrate methods of humanistic inquiry more fully into the sustainability research and educational mission at Northeastern. Common readings in erocriticism, environmental ethics, environmental history, and other related fields will provide a core avenue for discussion about the broader project of the sustainable humanities.