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Humanities at Richmond

Embracing Complexity

In the humanities, knowledge is fluid rather than stable and absolute. Instead of being frustrated by this, humanists embrace it, developing a flexible mindset equipped to deal with the uncertainty of our world.

Humanities Fellows Program

An interdisciplinary seminar for sophomore students interested in humanities fields.Learn more.

2018-2019 Tucker-Boatwright Festival: Beyond Exoticism

Performances, lectures, artist residencies, and films that investigate expression across difference and recognize the ethical ambiguity and aesthetic complexity this entails.Learn more.

2,000 Years of Cultural Tradition

Humanities students join a community of scholars whose work builds on 2,000 years of cultural tradition. However, they soon find that the deep questions debated throughout history are just as relevant and meaningful in today’s society.

“The ability to nurture a sense of community among humanities departments and to share in the intense experience of independent research altered my own academics as I incorporated new and different disciplines into not only my research but also my other

Taylor Baciocco, '16, 2015 Undergraduate Humanities Fellow

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An Examined Life

Living an examined life enables one to collaborate meaningfully with others and is a prerequisite to living courageously, selflessly, and in the service of the public good. At Richmond, the humanities are focused on developing the intellectual resources to put an examined life into practice.

Our scholarly community is comprised of over 100 faculty members in 15 departments and programs, all of whom are experts in their chosen field, as well as dedicated teachers and mentors. 

The Humanities in Arts & Sciences Advisory Board  guides humanities-related activities across the School and our campus.

Religious studies professor Douglas Winiarski received the 2018 Bancroft Prize in American History and Diplomacy for his book, Darkness Falls on the Land of Light: Experiencing Religious Awakenings in Eighteenth-Century New England. The book examines how ordinary people in 18th century New England learn to experience religion differently than previous generations.

Humanities Scholarship Repository

Faculty Accomplishments

  • Calvillo Book

    Art history professor Elena Calvillo published the book Almost Eternal: Painting on Stone and Material Innovation in Early Modern Europe.

  • Gunkel Book

    Classics professor Dieter Gunkel co-edited the book Language and Meter, and contributed a chapter to the book on Rigvedic Versification.

  • Tilton, Arnold Grant

    Rhetoric professor Lauren Tilton and mathematics professor Taylor Arnold received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop software that will analyze how moving images such as film, television, and news broadcasts shape cultural norms.

  • Rankine Article

    Classics professor and A&S Dean Patrice Rankine published “Afterlife: Du Bois, Classical Humanism and the Matter of Black Lives,” in the International Journal of the Classical Tradition.

  • Winiarski New England Society Book Award

    Religious studies and American studies professor Douglas Winiarski has been awarded a 2018 Book Award for nonfiction by The New England Society for his work, Darkness Falls on the Land of Light: Experiencing Religious Awakenings in Eighteenth-Century New England.

  • Rankine Article

    Classics professor and A&S Dean Patrice Rankine published “Epic Performance through Invencão de Orfeu and ‘An Iliad:’ Two Instantiations of Epic as Embodiment in the Americas,” in Epic Performances, from the Middle Ages into the Twenty-First Century, published by Oxford University Press.

  • Seeley Fellowship

    History professor Samantha Seeley has been awarded a Kluge Fellowship from The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress for her book project, “Race and Removal in the Early American Republic.”

  • Summers Article

    History professor Carol Summers published "Scandal and Mass Politics: Buganda's 1941 Nnamasole Crisis" in the International Journal of African Historical Studies.

  • Outka Exhibition

    English professor Elizabeth Outka developed the exhibition "Pandemic: Richmond," now on view at the Valentine.

  • Ayers receives 2018 Avery O. Craven Award

    Edward Ayers, Tucker Boatwright Professor of the Humanities and president emeritus, was awarded the 2018 Avery O. Craven Award for his book The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America.

Co-Creating Knowledge

Humanities faculty and students work closely together in the classroom and through student-designed, faculty-mentored research. They ask hard questions of each other, resulting in the co-creation of new knowledge. After experiencing that collaborative environment, students enter the world prepared to make a contribution in the workplace, or to society as a whole.

The Undergraduate Humanities Fellows Program pairs a summer of faculty-mentored student research with a semester-long collaborative course team-taught by two humanities faculty members. Students are exposed to discussions and experiences that can broaden their thinking in their individual areas of focus, including a Fall Break trip to cultural institutions in New York City.

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Upcoming Events

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Humanities Conferences

Students—looking to present your research? Check out the following opportunities:

Notre Dame Undergraduate Scholars Conference- fall
Imagining America- October (opportunity for faculty-student collaboration)
Undergraduate Conference in Medieval and Early Modern Studies- December
Undegraduate Research Network for Research in the Humanities- February
Humanities Education and Research Association- March (opportunity for faculty-student collaboration)
National Council on Public History- March (opportunity for faculty-student collaboration)
Virginia Humanities Conference- March (opportunity for faculty-student collaboration)
Institute for Liberal Arts Digital Scholarship- June (opportunity for faculty-student collaboration)
Phi Alpha Theta Biennial Convention (history research)

From the Classroom to the Real World

There is a seamless transition between the abstract thinking done in the classroom and the real-life demands of the job market. Humanities students can analyze problems, develop solutions, and communicate effectively with others, while exhibiting empathy, adaptability, and independent thinking.

As a result, they enter the world and their chosen profession with a formidable set of skills and capabilities, and mindset of curiosity and inquiry. But humanities students do not merely bring training and a set of skills to their profession; they bring the full weight of their humanity.

of employers agree students should have experiences that teach them to solve problems with people who have differing viewpoints. Source: AAC&U
percent of employers agree college students should acquire civic knowledge and judgement essential for contributing to their community. Source: AAC&U
of employers that agree a candidate's ability to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than his or her major. Source: AAC&U

Alumni Perspectives

Carmen Hermo

"Rather than define you at an early stage in your life, the liberal arts allows you to prepare and position yourself as a writer, researcher, thinker, and individual. I found that later internships and hands-on experience shaped my specialization, but that my liberal arts background from the University of Richmond was the ideal foundation for my eventual career."

Carmen Hermo, '07
Major: art history
Current Occupation: Assistant Curator, Collections, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York

Humanities in Practice

The most pressing global problems do not have simple, black and white solutions. The humanities prepare students to confront today's challenges with flexible habits of mind, a strong moral compass, and the ability to critically examine complicated and rapidly changing social realties. They are equipped to effectively negotiate a globally integrated world, as well as shape a life that is rich with meaning because they recognize the full range of human value and potential.

Additional partners in humanities practice include University Museums, the Modlin Center for the Arts, the Center for Civic Engagement, the Digital Scholarship Lab, Boatwright Memorial Library, and UR Downtown.

Documenting a Historically Black High School

Writing Richmond

“Our courses are not about who writes the most polished term paper with the most sophisticated argument. It’s all about being willing to take risks and put yourself in situations that may not be comfortable, challenge your beliefs, and try a lot of things that you’ve never tried before," said American Studies professor Laura Browder.

In Browder and Patricia Herrera's course Documenting a Historically Black High School, students wrote and performed a documentary drama about the history of Richmond's Armstrong High.


Have questions about the humanities at Richmond? Contact program coordinator Dr. Nicole Sackley.