Cogut Institute for the Humanities

2022–23 Annual Report

The humanities, shaping our thinking and our world

From the Director

This past academic year witnessed a surge of programming activity at the Cogut Institute. In part the result of pent-up desire for intellectual engagement due to the extended pandemic, it also underscores the deep investment of our community of scholars in research that expands our capacity to respond to our present challenges and crises in meaningful ways.

We hosted or cosponsored a record 57 research-based and community-building events and conferences on topics such as climate change, disability and race, and the interplay of religious belief and history. Our flagship Greg and Julie Flynn Cogut Institute Speaker Series brought three high-profile speakers to campus for particularly timely conversations about the importance of independent news media to democracy, Asian American experiences, and the impact of AI on human thinking.

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Amanda Anderson
Amanda Anderson, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of English and Humanities

Expanding humanistic research across Brown

Disability Studies

Students and faculty alike have expressed strong interest in increased support of research and collaboration around disability studies. In this context, Cogut Institute postdoctoral fellow Emily Lim Rogers and Theatre Arts and Performance Studies professor Leon Hilton piloted the Disability Studies Working Group, a network for connecting disability scholars at Brown and offering programming to the wider community. The group convened or cosponsored seven public events, as well as a graduate student reading group.

Emily Lim Rogers also guest-hosted “Disability Narratives and Research Creation,” the most recent episode of the “Meeting Street” podcast, featuring anthropologist Megan Moodie exploring the intersection of disability studies and creative practice.

Sami Schalk Poster

Liat Ben-Moshe Poster

Times of AIDS Cultural Production Poster

Cover of the Brown Journal of Medical Humanities, issue 1

Brown Journal of Medical Humanities

The institute is underwriting the launch of the Brown Journal of Medical Humanities, led by a team of undergraduate seniors interested in providing a platform at Brown for humanistic perspectives on medicine, by practitioners, caregivers, and patients.

The team spent the year gathering and editing submissions and raising awareness through student-focused programming. The first issue was published in May 2023. It featured creative nonfiction, essays, poetry, comics, and artwork, building a strong foundation on which to grow the journal’s reputation.

Read the first issue

Enriching research through scholarly community

The Fellows Seminar serves as an incubator for some of the most exciting humanities research at Brown. It brings together scholars across disciplines and stages of career — from undergraduates to faculty — to share and workshop in-progress research and to explore each other’s ideas collaboratively. This practice not only results in highly tested thinking and writing but helps scholars forge connections beyond their home departments.

Hear this year’s undergraduate fellows share their thoughts on how the seminar enhanced their study at Brown and helped prepare them for the next phases of their educational and professional growth.

Congratulations to the five undergraduate fellows, who graduated with honors and earned awards in comparative literature, international and public affairs, literary criticism, sociology, and South Asian studies.

  • photo of Alexander Avila

    Alexander Ávila

    Project: “Legitimate and Illegitimate Resistance in Pandemic Times”
  • photo of Mia Freund

    Mia Barzilay Freund

    Project: “A Recovered Canon: Tracing a Lineage of Women's Literary Invention from Aphra Behn to Jane Austen”
  • photo of Chong Jing Gan

    Chong Jing Gan

    Project: “Islands in Migration: Singaporean (Trans)national Identity in Diasporic Literature”
  • photo of Ren L[i]u

    Ren L[i]u

    Project: “Towards Crip-of-Color Transsexual Erotics: Trans, Disabled Poetics as Technologies of Understanding Third World Othering and Belonging”
  • photo of Catherine Nelli

    Catherine Nelli

    Project: “Investigating Indology: Divergences between Colonial French and English and Contemporary Sanskrit Reception of Classical Indian Texts”

All four outgoing postdoctoral fellows, who were with us since fall 2021, secured teaching positions at top-tier universities:

  • Veronica Fitzpatrick — Adjunct Assistant Professor of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University
  • Adrián Emmanuel Hernández-Acosta — Assistant Professor of Religion and Literature at the Institute of Sacred Music and Yale Divinity School at Yale University
  • Mariah Min — Assistant Professor of English at Brown University
  • Emily Lim Rogers — Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University

Meet the Fellows

Fostering dialogue about our complex world


Programs open to the public in 2022–23

36 in-person, 19 hybrid/virtual


Attendees around the world


Event YouTube video views

Greg and Julie Flynn Cogut Institute Speaker Series

The institute’s flagship speaker series brought to campus three high-profile speakers with broad, timely relevance to interdisciplinary research and cultural dialogue. Amy Goodman, executive producer of the Democracy Now! independent news program, spoke about the critical importance of independent news media to the future of democracy. Acclaimed poet and novelist Ocean Vuong reflected on the challenges currently faced by Asian American and LGBTQIA+ creators. And Meghan O’Gieblyn, an essayist and Wired columnist, discussed the emergent field of AI writing and how it calls into question the status of our own human thinking. Speakers also offered special seminars open to undergraduates from all disciplines.

Amy Goodman before a large audience

Ocean Vuong and Daniel Y. Kim

Meghan O'Gieblyn

“ I found Meghan O’Gieblyn incredibly interested in hearing the perspectives of the participating students and helpful in providing a context through which we could understand the impact of large language models and artificial intelligence chatbots on writing. ”

Undergraduate Student feedback
The insitute’s environmental humanities initiative engaged with contemporary debates on the politics of invasive species, climate change, and environmental exploitation. Among its events were presentations of new work by ecocultural scholar Catriona Sandilands (York University, Toronto), author Elizabeth Rush (Brown), visual artist Carolina Caycedo, and anthropologist Jerry Zee (Princeton University).
This symposium brought together an international cohort of 14 scholars to explore the challenges of writing histories of the world at a time characterized by suspicion of grand, totalizing narratives. Scholars responded to recent ground-breaking works by scholars David Graeber, David Wengrow, and Alain Schnapp. Wengrow and Schnapp offered commentary.
The Humanities in the World initiative hosted this series of webinars featuring authors whose work engaged with or exemplified forms of knowledge based on belief: historian Manan Ahmed (Columbia University), novelist Geetanjali Shree, and anthropologist Omar Kasmani (Freie Universität, Berlin). The series was linked to a graduate collaborative humanities course, “On Belief,” co-taught by Leela Gandhi and Vazira Zamindar.
This Cogut Institute series hosted screenings and discussions of an international trio of films considering issues of gender, sexuality, and interracial politics (Todd Haynes’ “Far from Heaven,” 2002); religion and class (Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “La ricotta,” 1963); and the ways in which politics and cinema itself shape perceptions of reality (Abbas Kiarostami’s “First Case, Second Case,” 1980).
The Spring 2023 Political Concepts conference, subtitled “The Literature Edition,” explored the relationship between politics and literature. Fourteen scholars gathered to present and discuss how concepts drawn from the realm of literature can shed light on political life, including “dialogue,” “performative,” and “exposure.”

Cultivating new generations of humanities practitioners

The courses offered by the institute provide students with training in the disciplinary and collaborative research methodologies essential to humanities practice in the world today. During the 2022–23 academic year, courses covered topics such as histories of violence, climate crisis, medieval conceptions of gender, and disability in the context of capitalism.


Courses offered in 2022–23


Collaborative humanities seminars


Courses taught by institute fellows


Departments and unit represented

Preparing graduate students for professional life

The annual Project Development Workshop serves as the capstone seminar for the Doctoral Certificate in Collaborative Humanities. Students across disciplines pursue research in a dynamic community environment that not only enriches their research but allows them to experiment with important professional skills such as writing introductions for each other’s work and giving conference presentations. In the spring 2023 workshop, students presented on topics in the fields of American studies, comparative literature, English, French and Francophone studies, modern culture and media, music, and theatre arts and performance studies.

Bonnie Jones discusses her work

Banu Bargu talking with Arnav Adhikari

“ This is a rigorous course that is structured in a way to guide you through acquiring specific skills needed in professional academic life — whether these are new skills or ones you have already learned, it’s incredibly useful to move through these as a group with trusted guidance. ”

Student evaluation

Congratulations to recent doctoral certificate recipients

Ten doctoral students from seven departments completed the doctoral certificate this past year: Ahmad Abu Ahmad, Arnav Adhikari, Fabrizio Ciccone, Chanelle Dupuis, Andrés Emil González, Bonnie Jones, Henry Neim Osman, Jack Quirk, JD Stokely, and Anna Wright. The total number of graduates now comes to 55 in the program’s fifth year. Congratulations to all!

All doctoral certificate recipients

Support humanities research at Brown

Brown University is a world leader in humanities research, producing some of the most potent voices on our historical and cultural heritage. Scholars at Brown across all disciplines continually demonstrate that humanities methods and perspectives remain essential to research and practice that matter to broad audiences and offer viable solutions for our increasingly complicated world.

You can help the Cogut Institute advance the research and teaching of humanities scholars at Brown. A gift in support of these priorities will contribute to growing the humanities faculty, extending financial support to scholars, and expanding our public programming:

  • Humanities Initiative Professorships
  • Interdisciplinary initiatives, such as Environmental Humanities at Brown and Disability Studies
  • Our essential Director’s Innovation Fund

To learn more about how your gift will make an impact, please contact Sarah Santos, Director of Development for Academic Initiatives, at or (401) 863-1894.

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