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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Power of Expression

Celebrating University writers with “Books in the Humanities.”

April 17, 2020, by Dan Bernardi

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Does staying home have you looking for some new reading material? The fifth annual Books in the Humanities celebration offers a virtual showcase of recent works from Syracuse University along with links to author pages and ebook versions where available. Hosted by the Syracuse University Humanities Center, whose home is in the College of Arts and Sciences, with additional support from the Syracuse University Office of Research, the Syracuse University Bookstore and the Syracuse University Libraries, the showcase recognizes scholars from across the University who have published books in the humanities, broadly conceived. This year’s collection features 42 works published in 2019 by 41 different authors and editors from eight different schools and colleges within the University, making it a true interdisciplinary showcase.

A&S Dean Karin Ruhlandt considers the event a fitting way to demonstrate the impressive breadth of scholarship in the College of Arts and Sciences and beyond. “I am incredibly proud of the range of humanities writing in A&S and across campus, and encourage everyone to explore these offerings. Now, more than ever, the humanities are crucial for helping us understand and react to our shared human experience,” she says.

Typically, the event includes a public reception to recognize all of that year’s authors. There, the Syracuse University Bookstore sells books (and, if requested, authors also sign copies of their books). Although this year’s on-campus festivities have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Humanities Center and the Syracuse University Libraries collaborated to create an online research guide.

Schools and colleges represented include the College of Arts and Sciences, the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, the School of Education, the School of Information Studies, the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, the College of Visual and Performing Arts, the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, University College, as well as authors from the University Honors program, the Coalition of Museum and Art Centers, the Humanities Center, Syracuse Abroad, and the Division of Marketing and Communication.

The diverse selection of works released in the 2019 copyright year span a range of contemporary and historical subjects. Readers can delve into works taking up cartography, design thinking, feminist research, international relations, and social media’s wider impact, as well as the women’s suffrage movement, architecture, filmmaking and the history of rock music.

Vivian May, professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, and Director of the Syracuse University Humanities Center and of the Central New York Humanities Corridor, hosted the first “Books in the Humanities” reception in spring 2016 as one of several new initiatives during her first year directing the Center. The Center engages in broad outreach to learn about humanities books being published by Syracuse University faculty, staff, and students. To that end, the Center encourages anyone who will have a book coming out in the copyright year of 2020 to complete its author survey.

“Certainly, we are sorry not to gather together, meet the authors, and see all the books on display and even buy some books for our personal shelves,” says May. “However, the Libraries’ wonderful research guide helps us come together in a different way and, once on-campus activities resume, we invite everyone to stop by the Humanities Center's Sainsbury Library, 300 Tolley Humanities Building, to browse the books in person. We keep each year's collection of books on permanent display in Tolley for everyone's enjoyment.”

Since the event’s inception, the Syracuse University Libraries have played a fundamental role in developing an online guide. Each year, librarians and students have collaborated with the Center to curate this annotated reference tool, which also serves as a kind of commemorative digital “bookshelf” for each year’s collection. This year, digital humanities graduate student employee Zhiwei Wang assisted in the development with Patrick Williams, librarian for literature, rhetoric, and digital humanities, Michael Pasqualoni, librarian for the Newhouse School, and Tasha Cooper, collection development librarian.

“Syracuse University Libraries collaborates with the Humanities Center on projects throughout the year,” says David Seaman, Dean of Syracuse University Libraries, “and this celebration of University authors, scholarship, and research is always a highlight, even when we can only offer it virtually.”

John Liu, the University’s interim vice chancellor and provost and professor of biology says the guide represents the range of talents campus wide. “I am extremely proud of our faculty in humanities. Each year, they produce a spectrum of books of exceptional quality and productivity. The trend continues this year, with significant scholarship and high levels of research productivity by the members of our University,” says Liu.

Located in the Tolley Humanities Building, the Humanities Center cultivates diverse forms of humanities scholarship, sponsors a range of dynamic programming and partnerships, highlights the humanities as a public good, and underscores the relevance of the humanities for addressing enduring questions and pressing social issues.