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Interest Groups

American Studies Consortium

Susan (Scotti) Parrish, Kyle Frisina and Yeshua Tolle

The American Studies Consortium (ASC) aims to support interdisciplinary, transhistorical scholarship on topics related to the literature, history, culture, and politics of the Americas. Throughout the year, we host pubic lectures, writing workshops, film screenings, and reading group meetings. Our events bring together faculty and graduate students from multiple departments to engage in cross-disciplinary investigation of American cultural production.

We welcome interest and participation from any student or faculty member interested in American history, literature, and culture.


Critical Contemporary Studies

Josh Miller, Hayley O'Malley, Matt Liberti, and Hanah Stiverson

Critical Contemporary Studies is a Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop dedicated to studying cultural production and politics from the 1960s to today. Our group facilitates cross-disciplinary dialogue about the complicated histories and pressing questions – socio-political, artistic, and technological – that structure contemporary life.


Digital Studies Workshop

Tung-Hui Hu, Megan Ankerson, Melissa Chalmers, Dimitri Pavolounis

The Digital Studies Workshop is an interdisciplinary forum committed to a critical engagement with digital-related knowledge. It is aimed at graduate students interested in the history, politics, and theory of digital culture, media, and information. Working in collaboration with Digital Studies faculty, the Digital Studies Workshop will support the growth of digital studies-based research at Michigan by providing an interdisciplinary intellectual space in which to share methods and models for thinking about and studying digital culture. To this end, the workshop will provide graduate students and interested faculty with the opportunity to present their work in a supportive environment, discuss cutting-edge scholarship, and meet with leading scholars in the field from Michigan and abroad.


Disability Studies Group

Petra Kuppers, Ai Binh Ho, Dawn Kaczmar

The University of Michigan Disability Studies Group aims to bring together students, faculty, staff, and community members interested in the growing interdisciplinary field of Disability Studies. This field views disability as a cultural and minority identity, not simply as a set of physical or mental conditions. We hope to foster a supportive and collaborative scholarly and social community and to generate further dialogue on disability as both a critical category of analysis and a unique creative resource. Through our discussions and events we aim to showcase disability culture; inspire more inclusive pedagogies; promote equitable education; and urge active leadership in the community. We will engage with the key questions in disability studies today, such as debates over bioethics and the boundaries of the body; the dilemmas pertaining to access, employment, and civil rights; or how ethnicity and race, among other aspects of identity, intersect with disability. This group will also be a forum for students and faculty members to discuss recent ideas and scholarship in Disability Studies; to plan events related to Disability Studies, including lectures by UM and non-UM scholars; and to get advice, feedback, and support on works in progress (abstracts, articles, papers, etc.).

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Drama Interest Group

E.J. Westlake (Theatre), Sheila Coursey

The Drama Interest Group (DIG) is an interdisciplinary group that brings together faculty and graduate students from the departments of English, Theatre, History, Romance Languages and Literatures, Classics, Asian Languages and Literatures, and more.

Early Modern Colloquium

Michael Schoenfeldt, Maia Farrar, Rebecca Huffman

Graduate students and faculty from around campus to participate in symposia, panel discussions, lectures and major conferences

Graduate students are integral, work with faculty to develop conference and panel ideas, writing and delivering papers, meeting and developing relationships with scholars from around and beyond the University

Forums have included panel discussions, single speakers, and discussions of pre-circulated papers


Eighteenth-Century Studies Group

  • Interdisciplinary ; monthly seminars (for faculty and advanced grad. students) to discuss current scholarship in the period
  • Members representing multiple departments in LS&A, plus a handful of regional institutions
  • Invites two outside speakers to campus each year
  • Holds two-hour seminars each week


I.D.E.A - Integrating Diversity and Equality in the Academy

Michael Awkward, Valentina Montero-Roman, Gabrielle Sarpy

This group seeks to create a community of scholars to think critically about the challenges of integrating diversity within the academy. Keeping in mind the University of Michigan's ongoing efforts to think about diversity, we hope to consider the role of diversity within the institution and the ways in which we can work through issues that affect our own academic communities. We imagine building from the work of scholars like Sara Ahmed who have begun to ask questions about what diversity is, what kind of work it is doing in higher education, and what we are doing when we use the language of diversity in opposition or tension with the language of "equality" or "social justice". Although there are many Rackham interdisciplinary communities for identity specific support, like the BHC or SCOR, this workshop aims to be more intersectional, cultivating discussions about diversity across race, gender, sexuality, class, and academic access (first generation students).


Language and Rhetorical Studies

  • The structure and history of the English language
  • Language’s function in discourse and discourse communities
  • History of rhetoric
  • Language ideologies
  • Language variation and change
  • Rhetorical strategies and their effects in the world
  • The relationship between linguistic practices and literary form
  • Literary practices
  • Activities likely will include: discussion of readings proposed by group members, sharing of group members’ research and works-in-progress, lectures from visiting scholars, attendance at national conference

Middle English Reading Group

Terri Tinkle

The Middle English Reading Group meets weekly to discuss primary literature. The group sets its reading schedule at the beginning of each term. Fall 2012 focuses on romance, starting with Marie de France and moving on to Horn, Havelok, and several other short works. All interested faculty and graduate students are welcome to attend. 

Modernist Studies Workshop

John Whittier-Ferguson, Amanda Greene and Aaron Stone

The Modernist Studies Workshop aims to facilitate lively discussion of multiple modernisms. Graduate students and faculty from departments across the university work together to explore aesthetic, social, political, and cultural questions raised by modernist art of all forms. Our group hosts several guest speakers each academic year. We also meet regularly to discuss work-in-progress, teaching strategies, and current scholarship in the field.


Mountaineering Culture Studies Group

George Hoffmann (Romance Languages and Literatures), Amrita Dhar, Crystal Lie

The Mountaineering Culture Studies Group will bring together scholars from different parts of the academy—and the world—to discuss and present work surrounding the literature and culture of mountaineering. The textual and, more recently, cinematographic traditions around mountaineering uniquely unite some of the most influential intellectual strands of our world: post-colonialist thought, eco-critical and conservationalist approaches to literature, discourses of travel and exploration, social and ecological changes from commerce and tourism, use of language to express severe physical experience, transnational ethnographies and anthropologies, oropolitical testimonies, and registers of language for recording extreme emotional experience. The Group will aim to make a lasting contribution to the academic—and wider—community by foregrounding a set of texts and concerns that probe and enlarge the scope of methodological and critical tools in scholarship across disciplines, and manners of enjoying responsibly the world we live in.


Nineteenth-Century Forum

  • Interdisciplinary group of graduate students and faculty from departments in LS&A
  • Graduate students organize the events for the year
  • Meets monthly to read a common text or discuss work-in-progress
  • Invites two outside speakers to campus each year 
  • Additional activities include roundtable discussions, symposia, and jobs workshops


Performance Studies

  • Reads recent performance studies publications
  • Workshops members' chapters and essays
  • Engages in practice-as-research activities, including organization and support of symposia, such as Sedimentations: Art, Culture, Nature (2007), The Anarcha Project (2007), Touching Time:  Bodies/Writing/Histories (2008), Eco-Performance (2009), Bodies/Experience/Environment (part of ArtsLab) (2010), Movement, Somatics and Writing (2011), Queer Dance (2012).

Poetry and Poetics Workshop

  • Provides an interdisciplinary forum for professors and graduate students to discuss work in progress on poetry, poetics, and lyric theory
  • Meets approximately three to four times a semester
  • Invites outside speakers to present and discuss their work
  • Has provided a forum for panel discussions, pre-circulation of conference papers, public lectures, article drafts, and thesis / book chapters
  • Participation of graduate students (Zoey Dorman, Talin Tahajianare current coordinators) has been integral in all aspects of the workshop’s running and planning
  • The workshop encourages attendance by students and faculty working in a range of languages and creative and scholarly disciplines


Research Reorientations Group

David Porter, Alice Tsay, Alexandra Kruse, Valentina Montero-Roma

An interdisciplinary group working towards building the scale and quality of reorientational studies, which is not the rewriting but the rethinking of dominant historical doxa in English literary criticism along a global, transnational and transpacific axis. Topics that reorientational studies take up include, but are certainly not limited to: Global English, Transpacific Nationalism, Global Commodities and Labor movements, Historicizing Globalization, Transnational Discourses and Bodies, Translation and Translingual Theory, Global Imaginaries, Virtual Worlds, Cosmopolitanism, Travel(ing) Texts, Pacific Island Studies, Orientalism(s), Sinology and Neo-Sinology, Western and Eastern Imperialism/ Literary Nationalism, Queer Asians/ Cosmopolitans, Theories of Geography and Space, and the role of the East in Contemporary Critical Theory. Projec ted activities include 1.) holding semester-long workshops for emerging dissertations that take up the framework of reorientation, 2.) bringing in a series of outside speakers who are leading figures in reorientational criticism, and 3.) helping to sponsor in-house conferences that deploy reorientational thinking as a methodology or theory.

Reorientations Interdisciplinary Workshop

Alice Tsay

The Reorientations Interdisciplinary Workshop aims rethink historical doxa along global and transnational axes, using intersectional methodologies to address interdisciplinary questions of temporality, space, and cultural convergence. Our group brings together scholars from departments including Art History, English Literature, Sociology, American Culture, Anthropology, and Chinese Studies as well as librarians, museum curators, and archivists in order to support our core ethos, which depends heavily on scholarly experimentation and a vibrant exchange across various disciplines. Organized around the theme of reorientation as a methodology, our group is committed to advocating a decentered approach to transnational studies in various time periods and regions.


Visual Cultures

Sara Blair, Phil Witte, Michael Pascual

The Visual Culture Workshop (VCW) at the University of Michigan is a Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop composed of faculty and graduate students with an academic interest in some aspect of visual culture,  including (but not limited to) photography, painting, digital media, print technologies, film , architecture, and curatorial modes.