Public Humanities Collaborative Project – Broadcasting World Literature

“Broadcasting World Literature” is part of a Public Humanities Initiative undertaken by myself and my PI Jeroen Gerrits at Binghamton University. The show began as  a collaboration between our campus radio station here at Binghamton, WHRW, and our graduate and undergraduate students in the Comparative Literature department who have been  involved in the production of a radio show on “world literature, stories, and public life.”  The show has been produced by the students themselves in conjunction with the WHRW radio station to increase the voice of humanists in the media.

Our inspiration for this comes from a number of resources. A few years back, Prof. Montenegro was the organizer for a panel at the Modern Language Association conference called: Strategies for Advocacy, Lobbying, and Activism in the Humanities https://humanitiesadvocacy.mla.hcommons.org/. This panel brought together a number of folks from humanities councils to the director a public humanities institute at the University of Iowa to graduate students from the University of California, Davis who presented on making a radio show in Spanish called Corre ve y huele (Translated as Run See and Smell) broadcast on KDVS (UC Davis). This was a one-hour program with interviews relevant to the community, music, and theatre. Prof. Montenegro received positive feedback about the panel even years post-conference with editors asking about the possible production of a collection about the subject (a possible future project).

Likewise other sources of inspiration are: “Careers in the Public Humanities” a podcast exploring the broad range of positions and prospects open to humanities PhDs beyond the tenure track. Produced by graduate students in the University of Rhode Island English Department with funding support from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Next Generation PhD initiative, each episode featured an interview with a PhD alum who used their disciplinary knowledge in unique ways. The series aimed to inspire current and prospective PhD students to embrace cross-disciplinary learning and to consider engaging in research that serves diverse literary and cultural publics. 

  In keeping with Binghamton WHRW’s commitment to freeform radio, the radio show is  student produced. The “Broadcasting World Literature” project has had a successful two years. Comparative Literature Graduate student, Daimys García, hosted a radio show for the first year that was broadcast on WHRW.  After coordinating with Digital Scholarship Librarian Amy Gay, the shows were recorded and are now available on the Binghamton ORB. Events included a visit from Juan Miranda, PhD (UC Davis) who gave a workshop titled “Community Radio en Español: Graduate School and Public Humanities.” Likewise, Mack Hagood, PhD (Miami University), gave a talk on “Sonic Self-Control: From Greek Myth to Beats Headphones” as well as a workshop called: “Doing Scholarship Out Loud: Digital Audio Production in the Humanities.”  In addition, undergraduate students who produced a podcast (also broadcast on WHRW) participated in the Center for Civic Engagement—Community Engagement Showcase. Comparative Literature Graduate Student Harper-Sherwood Reid has been the host for the 2019-2020 academic year and is working to amplify the show’s public humanities perspective and plans to include interviews with anthropologists, theologians, and librarians. We were lucky to have Comparative Literature major (and German Minor), Isabel Dietrich as the show’s engineer. The project has been  a great way to bridge the divide between graduate and undergraduate students on campus. 

We were able to secure a $2,000 SUNY Conversations in the Disciplines award for a one-day symposium on Public Humanities and World Literature for 2019-2020 that was unfortunately canceled due to COVID-19. For the 2020-2021 academic year, we look forward to working with our colleagues Prof. Joshua Reno, PhD and Prof. Lubna Omar, PhD to open up the broadcasting opportunities to anthropology students interested in thinking about narrative and ethnography.