College of Arts and Sciences
Dean's Office

Varner Hall, Room 217
371 Varner Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4485
(location map)
(248) 370-2140
Fax: (248) 370-4280
cas@oakland.edu

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Center for Public Humanities

Center for Public Humanities

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The mission of the Center for Public Humanities is to advance excellence in public humanities and the arts to support and enrich Southeast Michigan’s diverse learning communities.

Founded in September 2019, the Center endeavors to establish a prestigious platform from which Oakland’s public intellectuals can offer humanistic scholarship and creative work in alternative, accessible formats for the benefit and enrichment of the region’s populace. We aim to reduce access barriers that might prevent the general public from engaging with the humanities.

Through its Community Advisory Board composed of OU faculty and community leaders, the Center solicits programming ideas directly from the public. Listening to their suggestions enables the Center to build networks of interest to address crucial debates within the humanities and the arts today.

Illustration by Courtney Jentzen

Contact Us: humanities@oakland.edu

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Support Our Mission

Practice "Care"

The Center for Public Humanities announces “Care” as its 2020-21 Public Humanities Theme. 2020-21 events will draw from literature, dance, crisis communication, history, and research from other humanistic disciplines. In such daunting times, the arts and humanities bring us back to core values like kindness and compassion.

While we take every precaution to safeguard our neighborhoods, we encourage you to continue to turn to the arts and humanities online for solace. Whether laughing with comedians, crying with our favorite actors, learning from trusted journalists, or relaxing with musicians, artists, and writers, the humanities can replenish our inner reserves of courage.

FALL EVENTS

  • The Flawed Victory of Women's Suffrage

    September 8th, 7:00 PM. ONLINE.

    OU history professor Karen Miller examines what women's suffrage accomplished, and what it failed to achieve.

    Supported by the Department of Women and Gender Studies and the Center for Civic Engagement.

  • Creativity and Community during Covid-19: A Look at Chinese Social Media

    October 12th, 5:30 PM. ONLINE.

    Bowdoin College Associate Professor Belinda Kong shows how ordinary people in China use social media to create community amidst Covid-19.

    Generously funded by Student Affairs & Diversity.

  • Great Michigan Read Book Club: What the Eyes Don't See

    November 18th, 2:00 PM. ONLINE.

    Join us for an online book club to discuss Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha's What The Eyes Don't See, a powerful first-hand account of the Flint water crisis. Facilitated by Professors Adolfo Campoy-Cubillo, Mark Navin, and Michael Doan. Space is limited! Please register by September 28th.

    This project is funded by Michigan Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Read our Fall Newsletter

Join #WordsForResilience

A Community Literary Project

#WordsForResilience brings together communities of students, faculty, and writers from Oakland University and Michigan to address the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects on our world through the beauty and power of language. The project’s weekly offerings include Favorite #WordsForResilience (favorite literary quotes shared by OU faculty and students) and New #WordsForResilience (new creative work by OU faculty and students, and other Michigan writers). We look forward to gathering thoughts and reflections from across our campus and state, and invite replies, including other quotes or other new work, from our online community.

#WordsForResilience Editor Katie Hartsock is an assistant professor in Oakland’s Department of English. She is the author of the poetry collection Bed of Impatiens (Able Muse Press, 2016), and her poetry is forthcoming or has recently appeared in journals such as Poetry, The Greensboro Review, Ecotone, Birmingham Poetry Review, Grist, Image, Pleiades, Pericles at Play, and elsewhere.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS:

New #WordsForResilience: The editor invites submissions of short creative work, including poetry, flash fiction, and flash nonfiction. Poems should be 12 lines or less, and prose should be around 150 words. We are looking for submissions of literary merit that simultaneously confront the challenge and anxiety of our current moment, and give their readers strength to meet these strange days. New work may directly address the pandemic, or not. Authors of new work will retain all copyright. The Center will provide links to each author’s website or social media accounts.

Favorite #WordsForResilience: The editor invites OU faculty and students to share their favorite literary quotes they have turned to in this time. So we can post these with no concerns regarding permissions, literary quotes need to meet the Twitter limit of 280 characters (with spaces) or less. A brief contextualization can preface the quote; for example, “W. H. Auden wrote, in the last lines of his poem ‘September 1, 1939,’ thinking of fellow Americans on the eve of the country entering WWII, ‘May I, composed like them / Of Eros and of dust, / Beleaguered by the same / Negation and despair, / Show an affirming flame’.” (preface + quote = 270 characters, with spaces). The Center will credit sources of favorite quotes by providing links to websites or social media accounts and will, whenever possible, offer links to more information about the quoted author.

We are currently accepting submissions for both New and Favorite #WordsForResilience on a rolling deadline. Please read previous #WordsForResilience on on Facebook Twitter, and Instagram.

Submit your New or Favorite #WordsForResilience

Meet Us

headshot of John Corso
John Corso-Esquivel 
Director
John Corso-Esquivel is an associate professor of art history at Oakland University. He writes about contemporary art and the intersections of politics, activism, and aesthetics. His book, Feminist Subjectivities in Fiber Art and Craft: Shadows of Affect (2019), was published through Routledge’s Gender and Art series.

Community Advisory Board

headshot of Adolfo Campoy
Adolfo Campoy-Cubillo
works as an associate professor of Spanish. His research interests include Postcolonial Studies and Medical Humanities. He is the author of Memories of the Maghreb (Palgrave 2012), critical translations of Ramón J. Sender's Imán and José Díaz Fernández's El Blocao, as well as articles and book chapters with the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, Revista de Estudios Hispánicos, and Routledge among others.

headshot of Dan Clark
Dan Clark
is a historian whose research involves oral history, interviewing people about their experiences. He also enjoys raising vegetables in a community garden and running on trails.

headshot of Dominique Daniel
Dominique Daniel
is a lifelong and passionate advocate for the humanities, especially history, librarianship, and digital humanities. She likes to use old and new information technologies to share her passion through instruction, exhibits, publications, and more.

headshot of Mary Hartson
Mary Hartson
is an associate professor of Spanish at Oakland University. She is an avid traveler with a particular passion for Spanish food and culture. Her research interests include historical memory, Spanish cinema, and masculinity studies, and she has authored a book called
Casting Spanish Masculinity: Negotiating Identity in a Consumer Age.

headshot of Kimmie Parker
Kimmie Parker
is an artist, professor, graphic designer, and writer. Her practice oscillates between the practical and the theoretical, the intellectual and the emotional, the Apollonian and the Dionysian—with endless curiosity as the common thread.

headshot of George Sanders
George Sanders
is an associate professor of sociology at Oakland University. His research explores the ways people establish meaningful interpersonal relationships through cultural and creative expressions.

headshot of Joe Tardella
Joseph Tardella
is a graduate of Wayne State University with an undergraduate degree in Psychology and graduate degree in Social Work. Until his recent retirement, he served in an executive position with Southwest Solutions, a non for profit, multi-service organization serving the southwest Detroit community. He is currently enrolled at Oakland University as a postgraduate student.

Student Interns

Enna Castro
Graphic Design
Enna Castro is a senior at Oakland University and a Graphic Design major. She is passionate about the power of creativity and design to better our lives.

Carrie Elliott
Social Media
Carrie is a senior graphic design major and writing and rhetoric minor. Check out her portfolio here.

Our Values

Statement of Solidarity and Commitment to Anti-Racism

The Center for Public Humanities acknowledges the pain and loss that Black and brown citizens disproportionately endure due to racist violence and police brutality. The activism in response to the murder of George Floyd and other Black Americans has been precipitated by the ongoing systematic manifestation of anti-Black violence. The Center commits to a steadfast position of anti-racism to support our students, staff, faculty, and community members. We support journalists and all citizens who exercise their freedom of speech to expose and oppose institutional racism to build a more just society. We continue to seek and support conversations across campus and the region to strengthen our position against racism in all its forms.

Land Acknowledgment

Niinwe nmiigwechendaanaa maanda aki.
Maanda Oakland University teg.
Pane gwanda Ojibwek, Odawak miinawa Bodwe’aadamiinhak.
Giibidaawok maanpii.

We acknowledge that the land on which Oakland University stands is the ancestral land of the Ojibwa, Ottawa, and the Potawatomi Nations.

A land acknowledgment offers a way to open a dialog. We at the Center for Public Humanities see this acknowledgment only as a beginning—we recognize that the arts and humanities have been practiced in Southeast Michigan long before the arrival of Europeans. As we learn how best to serve residents of the Tri-County Area, we pledge to be a positive voice to celebrate past achievements and amplify present and future contributions by Indigenous and Native American artists and humanists in this region.

We extend our sincere gratitude to Kenny Pheasant of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians for translating the land acknowledgment into Anishinaabemowin.

Past Events

Recent Events

January 18, 2020 (Saturday)
Webinar: Envisioning the Public Humanities at OU

  • Dr. Susan Smulyan, Professor in the Department of American Studies at Brown University and the Director of the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage, offered an engaging keynote talk. Dr. Smulyan offered different definitions of “public humanities” and shared case studies from Brown University. Guest speaker and OU alumna Kara Noto offered an account of her experience in the MA program in Public Humanities at Brown. Though initially planned as a luncheon, this event was rescheduled as a webinar to accommodate for inclement weather.

October 17, 2019 (Thursday)
Toni Morrison Film Screening

  • Coinciding with National Arts and Humanities Month, the Center screened the acclaimed 2019 documentary, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am to pay homage to the Nobel laureate writer and tireless advocate of the humanities. Kresge Fellow and poet Nandi Comer introduced the film and premiered her poem, “In Praise of More Important Things: For Toni Morrison.”

Recent Press

Hill, Katelyn. "Snow Can't Stop the Public Humanities.The Oakland Post, January 22, 2020.

"New Oakland University Center for Public Humanities the First in Michigan.Oakland University News, October 7, 2019.