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Humanities Beyond the Book (HBtB)

My project developing and implementing a speaker series for Humanities graduate students on how to Fund and Do Sponsored Research in the Humanities


Often, humanities departments, faculty, and graduate students focus on single-author publication – of books and journal articles – as the primary output of humanities research. This approach to research is rapidly becoming less effective for scholars in the humanities due to both reductions in line funding or grants for publication (publishing, subventions, image rights, or indexing) as well as fellowships and funding for course buyouts. In addition to these changes, interest in new research areas such as digital humanities, innovation development, and public humanities as well as varied research methods including collaborative, engaged, or community is growing as the humanities work to express their value in the funding world.

The landscape of humanities research is changing due to funding priorities from research sponsors and a groundswell of graduate students seeking to develop alternate, mixed methods, or non-standard dissertations and research projects.

Graduate students want to engage in these types of projects and incorporate these methodologies but often struggle as such projects are often ineligible for tenure and thus discouraged. In concert with these funding and research trends broadly in academe, graduate students may struggle to connect with faculty who have been able to successfully navigate these changes in order to receive effective mentoring for their own career and research planning. How do young scholars navigate the changing dictums of tenure, funding, alternative pathways, and their desires to generate new, often unique frameworks for research?

The Humanities Beyond the Book Speaker Series

This graduate student focused speaker series offers a two part answer:

1) information about alternate styles and methods of research which have been successful for humanities researchers in order to develop and implement our research visions and

2) a reorientation to research and project design that bridges what sponsors see as high value (read fundable) research outcomes and our disciplinary dictums for publishing as the primary research outcome.


The goal of this panel series is to assist humanities graduate students in parsing the currently changing world of academic research and funding, these panels will offer insight from successful faculty and well-known administrative specialists across contemporary research topics and funding concerns.

Programming Highlights

January 2019 Research Skills: Developing Your Capacity for Humanities Research Funding

February 2019 Research Areas: Collaborative, Engaged, & Community-Based Research

March 2019 Research Areas: Digital Humanities, Innovation, & Public Humanities Research

April 2019 Research Training: The Benefits and Purpose of Postdoctoral Research Jobs


Two of the planned panels focus on research types or trends and two of the panels focus on developing research skills and capacities. Each panel topic is aimed at helping young scholars feel empowered to engage with corresponding academic conversations, to determine skills they would like to develop, and to chart their own research trajectory in line with their personal career goals.

Speakers in the series are drawn from UNC’s faculty and administrative specialists to design conversational panels with Q&A sessions. This format is intended to help graduate students begin to explore their own research interests in a structured way as well as creating space for humanities graduate students to network with successful faculty, administrative personnel, and other like-minded students.


The panel series also dovetails nicely with ongoing University initiatives including the recent Next Generation Humanities PhD. Planning Grant and the current Andrew W. Mellon funded alternative PhD training and pathways grant through the College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School. Moreover, this series connects to existing funded research opportunities such as the Richard Bland Fellowship Professional Pathways Program and the Maynard Adams Public Humanities Fellowship Program, further generating a matrix of learning, community, and support for graduate students interested in these various research alternatives.

Follow the project on Twitter @BeyondtheBook19 and on Facebook \BeyondtheBook

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