Posted March 21, 2007

Fellowship lets PhD candidates create, teach original courses

The Center for the Humanities— housed in the College of Liberal Arts — is built on the premise that much of Temple’s most challenging and innovative study and research is interdisciplinary. To encourage a high level of interdisciplinary teaching and research in its students, the center’s faculty fellows, collaborating with the center’s director and associate director, annually select two graduate fellows to join their ranks. The 2007/2008 CHAT fellows are doctoral candidates Patricia Crouch (English) and Andrew McKevitt (history).

Unlike most other graduate teaching opportunities, the CHAT fellowship allows Temple students to pitch and instruct courses of their own design, based on their original research.

While the fellows, who receive one year’s tuition remission and $13,600, use one semester of their funding to support their dissertation research, the other semester provides them the opportunity to teach any course they can dream up, as long as it draws from interdisciplinary research. In fact, according to CHAT Director Richard Immerman, the only other qualification for a fellowship is that applicants must be advanced CLA graduate students whose scholarly interests are “imaginatively interdisciplinary.”

Next spring, Crouch will teach “The Bible in Early Modern England: Revolutions Textual, Religious, and Political” for the English and religion departments. McKevitt will teach “Anime and the Globalization of Culture,” which is cross-listed in History, American Studies, Asian Studies and — breaking down the barriers between colleges — Broadcasting, Telecommunications, and Mass Media in the School of Communications and Theater.

“These two students’ projects impressed us all. They were both so innovative, it’s terrific,” Immerman said. “.I am so proud to be able to say that I direct a center that attracts these types of applicants.”

Crouch’s course is an outgrowth of her dissertation, “Reading the English Revolution: The Literature and Politics of Typological Interpretation.” Crouch said that her course will focus on the Bible as a material text and explore how shifts in its physical form and reception — from new translations to inclusion of artwork — shaped the English Reformation and English Civil War.

“Reading is active; it can really reshape society,” she said. “For contemporary students, studying literate technologies of the past helps them to understand the radical transformations we’re seeing today in new media technologies, such as wikis.”

McKevitt, who has interests in anime as well as in late Cold–War-era history, said that his course will use Japanese animation as a case study to teach students about post-World War II cultural globalization.

“Students encounter globalization and entertainment on a daily basis,” said McKevitt of the relevance of his course. “Students today are so wired to the Internet and communications technologies, and one of the features of contemporary globalization is the widespread proliferation of new media technologies. These factors have all enabled the globalization of anime.”

McKevitt’s course is also an extension of his dissertation, “Consuming Japan: Culture, Power, and the Globalizing of America, 1973-1989,” which will focus on Reagan-era consumption of Japanese animation, VCRs and automobiles.

In addition to their teaching and research duties, CHAT fellows are expected to take part in a bi-monthly seminar to discuss their research with CHAT graduate associates.