Franklin Humanities Institute
The Franklin Humanities Institute (FHI) is an interdisciplinary humanities center house within the John Hope Franklin Center at Duke University dedicated to supporting humanities, arts, and social science research and teaching. The institute's mission is to encourage humanistic inquiry throughout Duke campus and to raise public awareness of the humanities. Named after the prominent African American historian and civil rights activist John Hope Franklin, who retired from Duke in 1985 as the James B. Duke professor of History, the institute has also made a commitment to promote scholarship that enhances social equity, especially through research on race and ethnicity.
The Franklin Humanities Institute is part of a consortium of interdisciplinary research centers and institutes located at the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies at Duke.
The Franklin Humanities Institute was founded in 1999 by Cathy Davidson, then Vice Provost for interdisciplinary Studies, and Karla FC Holloway, former Dean of the Humanities and Social Sciences. In 2002, the Institute received a three-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a project entitled “Making the Humanities Central.” The grant was renewed for a second three-year cycle in 2005.
In Spring 2007, the FHI became the new administrative headquarters of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI), an international organization that supports interdisciplinary humanities scholarship and institution-building. Prior to moving to Duke, the CHCI was based at Harvard University.
Srinivas Aravamudan was the Director of the FHI before he took the position as Dean of Humanities at Duke University in 2009.
The Franklin Humanities Institute sponsors an annual residential seminar consisting of Duke faculty, graduate research fellows, a post-doctoral fellow, and professional staff at the university (e.g. librarians, IT specialist). Conceived as a “laboratory” for humanists from diverse disciplines, each annual seminar focuses on a theme or problem with broad historical, philosophical, or geographical scope. To date, there have been seminars organized around two general areas: “Race” (1999–2003) and “Art, Ideas, and Information” (2004–08). The 2007-08 seminar, Recycle, will explore the appropriation of cultural products in different contexts. The seminar will be co-convened by Neil De Marchi (Professor of Economics), Mark Anthony Neal (Associate Professor or African and African American Studies), and Annabel J. Wharton (William B. Hamilton Professor of Art, Art History and Visual Studies).
In addition to the Annual Seminar, the Franklin Humanities Institute also runs a dissertation working group for graduate students.
The FHI’s public programs include Wednesdays at the Center, a popular lunchtime conversation series open to the general public. Since 2002, series speakers have included the Harvard historian Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, the Ciompi Quartet violinist Hsiao-mei Ku, Radio France Internationale Correspondent Dominique Roch, the writer and human rights activist Ariel Dorfman, as well as John Hope Franklin himself.
The Mellon Annual Distinguished Lecture in Humanities has featured well-known scholars from many fields and from across the globe, including the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah (2007), the British filmmaker Isaac Julien (2006), the Dutch cultural theorist and video artist Mieke Bal (2005), the Indian historian Romila Thapar (2004), and the US literary critic Emory Elliott (2003).
In 2006, Duke joined five other American universities - Brown, Stanford, the University of Michigan, the Missouri School of Journalism, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison - in a venture with Apple Computer to test iTunes U, a web-based tool designed for faculty and students to share digital content, such as audio, video and images. As one of the participants on the Duke iTunes U project, the Franklin Humanities Institute has made a number of its public events available for download as video and audio podcasts.
- Official website
- Franklin Humanities Institute on Twitter
- Franklin Humanities Institute Podcasts at Duke iTunes U (iTunes required)
- Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes
- Duke University