Humanities Fellows Program

Power and Enchantment

Explore, Imagine, Connect

The Humanities Fellows Program is a selective, close-knit, and interdisciplinary community of students and scholars investigating critical and contemporary questions about human experience from diverse perspectives. Sophomores excited about humanities fields have the opportunity to explore their interests while developing skills that matter in and out of the classroom and preparing to live productive and purposeful lives. In 2023-2024 our focus will be on Power and Enchantment.

The program combines an interdisciplinary humanities seminar and field experience in Washington, D.C. (spring 2023, depending on health and travel guidelines) with the opportunity to apply for mentored summer research and continued professional mentorship, career development and community.

Humanities Fellows:

EXPLORE the central questions about human experience that define humanistic inquiry in an interdisciplinary seminar that develops students' skills in critical thinking, argumentation, and written and oral communication.

IMAGINE a focused and immersive humanities research project under the close guidance of a faculty member and apply to pursue that project in a paid summer fellowship.

CONNECT with each other, mentors, UR alums, and career advisors to investigate internship, fellowship, and post-graduate opportunities while learning to match and market their skills to future jobs and careers.

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  • Why is the theme Power and Enchantment?

    While the story of modernity is often told as a triumph of secular, universal reason over “enchanted” worldviews, our theme focuses on how enchantment remains crucial in our world. The theme is meant to include projects such as: 1) studies of religion, magic, witchcraft, alchemy, and so on as historical, cultural, and political phenomena; 2) investigations into the ways contemporary scientific and cultural thought reignites questions about the “aliveness” of the world and the “agency” of nonhuman entities and systems; 3) studies of how people become enchanted by power and those perceived to be powerful; and 4) remembering that “enchantment” is etymologically related to singing, explorations of how aesthetic or artistic texts and experiences shape our sense of worlds, including by generating feelings like wonder and awe. These four broad sub-topics are not meant to be exhaustive, but rather to offer a quick sense of the diversity of projects we hope to gather under “Power and Enchantment.” We invite Fellows to approach the theme creatively and to propose projects that address the theme in unexpected ways, both directly or obliquely.

  • How does the program work?

    Spring 2023
    The program begins with a 1-unit spring seminar that explores how humanists examine and research a critical question of human experience. Our theme in 2023 is Power and Enchantment. Through a range of case studies encompassing a diverse range of voices from different historical eras, geographic locations, and cultural traditions, fellows will learn how humanities fields approach big questions: How have individuals and groups addressed themselves to, and felt addressed by, powers they take to be “beyond” their own, whether divine or natural? How have spiritual traditions and practices intersected with political projects and social experiments? What role do enchanted worldviews play in “secular” institutions like governments and schools, including in the humanities? Fellows will learn critical humanities research skills and experience the range and depth of humanistic inquiry while exploring an issue of critical importance to our contemporary world.

    Summer 2023
    Building off of the work of the seminar, Fellows will apply for a fully-funded, summer fellowship exploring a research or creative project of their own design. Under the close guidance of a faculty mentor, Fellows will develop skills in project development and execution, independent thinking and working, and can apply to present their results at national undergraduate conferences.

    Fall/Spring 2023–24
    In either fall or spring of 2023-24, Fellows will complete a half-unit independent study with their mentor to bring summer efforts to fruition and prepare to present at the A&S Symposium. Students will also work with their Career Services representative on how to research and apply for shadowing opportunities, summer jobs, and internships, match and market their new skills to future careers, participate in A&S NEXT, and learn about post-graduate fellowship opportunities.

  • What takes place in the classroom?

    In a collaborative and collegial seminar led by dedicated faculty, Fellows will discuss and dissect ideas both big and small, read classic and cutting-edge work in the humanities, improve their research and writing, and reflect on the key role that the humanities play in understanding contemporary issues.

  • What takes place outside of the classroom?

    If health and travel guidelines permit, the Fellows visit to Washington, D.C. puts classroom training to work and links theory and practice by teaching students to "read" a metropolitan capital through the lens of recovery and repair.

  • How do I come up with a research area?

    The Fellows discover their topics in a variety of ways. Some students come to the course with an idea from a class they’ve previously taken and others discover a new area of interest while working in the seminar. Don’t worry if you don’t have a topic: we don’t expect students to come to the program with anything other than an enthusiasm for learning new skills and approaches and a deep curiosity about how individuals and cultures evolve.

  • Who can apply?

    The program is open to sophomore students.

  • How to apply

    Applications are due by 5 p.m. on October 7th. Applications can be submitted here

    Information sessions will be held in the Humanities Commons (220 Humanities) at noon on September 13th and 9 a.m. on September 16th, and on Zoom at 9 a.m. on September 19th.

    You are also welcome to reach out to Humanities Coordinator Nathan Snaza ( with any questions.

Humanities Fellows Student Stories

Humanities Fellow Student Story
Read more about humanities fellow Victoria Charles’ work constructing a historical narrative of the black student experience at the University of Richmond.
Humanities Fellow Student Story
Read more about humanities fellow Hannah Maddy’s research looking for poetry in the ruins of ancient Pompeii.