Dear Arts and Humanities Community,
It is a true honor (and, let’s face it, a humbling challenge) to step into the directorship of the College Arts + Humanities Institute at IUB. But with the support of IU’s amazing collection of scholars working in the arts and humanities, I look forward to serving in this role with energy and vision in the coming years.
For those who do not know me, I have been a faculty member in the Department of Gender Studies since 2004, serving as its department chair from 2015 - 2019. I am presently Provost Professor and the Jean C. Robinson Scholar in Gender Studies. I also hold affiliate or adjunct status in The Media School, American Studies, Cultural Studies, The Department of English, and the Kinsey Institute. Trained in both nineteenth-century transatlantic literature and feminist theory, I primarily teach and publish in areas related to film and television studies, popular culture, visual culture, the novel, and media (as broadly construed), with a particular emphasis on interdisciplinary expressions of identity and power as expressed through gender and sexuality. My most recent book takes up the television auteur Ryan Murphy (Ryan Murphy’s Queer America, Routledge, 2022), and previous books considered reality television, literary celebrity, and mediated Mormonism. The next frontier in my body of scholarship will be a monograph on mediated age and aging, called Audacity!
I have been very fortunate to go through the tenure-track ranks in a n interdisciplinary department that encouraged me to follow the idea over and above other priorities like defining the field, and this very simple animating idea – that the passion of the idea itself finds fruition when recognized, nurtured, and cultivated and this, in turn, can help shape one’s unique academic voice – is the driving force of my commitment as the director of CAHI. I want to help people grow their work in whatever soils will feed it best, as supported by the College through CAHI. I will also continue CAHI’s long and distinguished contribution of bringing speakers of note to campus, and I look forward to pairing with the Arts and Humanities Council to create a dynamic and engaging space for the study, experience, and celebration of the arts and humanities.
Creating new knowledge is sometimes messy and often confusing, and my aim is for CAHI to foster risk taking and feed the well springs of creativity and intellectual engagement at their source. As the inimitable Whitney Houston says to Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard, “nobody gets good” without acting outside of their comfort zone. Or to quote Goethe, who is admittedly a bit more canonical, “boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” What this means in practical terms is that CAHI is committed to fostering diversity in ways large and small. We will work to help faculty build projects and bring them to fruition, and we are committed to being a parnter in the intellectual process along the way.
With Ellen Wu (Associate Professor in History and Asian American Studies), who has agreed to serve as Associate Director, we will continue the research support and special events that have made CAHI distinct. We will also continue to develop innovative and bold partnerships that will foster both scholarship and the broader environment of the arts and humanities here on the Bloomington campus. We are also happy to welcome to campus CAHI’s new postdoctoral fellow, Beaudelaine Pierre, who received her PhD in Gender and Women’s Studies from the University of Minnesota. And, as always, we are beholden to the excellent staff of CAHI, Alex Teschmacher and Shaina Sanders, and the continuing connections with the Arts and Humanities Council, all of whom create such a dynamic and welcoming environment.
One of our first initiatives will be to create an Affiliate Program that will allow IUB faculty to self-nominate as allied faculty to CAHI. Affiliation provides an important way to be visibly linked to the profile of the Institute and to further the research aims that are part of our mission.
We have several events planned for the coming year. These include:
- the Reproductive Rights on Screen Film Festival
- poet and writer Kevin Young at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater
- fiction writer, journalist and radio producer Daniel Alarcón, also at the Buskirk-Chumley
- Women in Dance, a Meet the Artist event with IU Dance artists/scholars Beatrice Capote, Selene Carter and Elizabeth Shea
- a Meet the Author event with Raiford Guins (author of Atari Design: Impressions on Coin-Operated Video Game Machines), in conversation with Logan Brown
As always, please consult our website and calendar frequently. We’ve got a lot going on, and we welcome your involvement and engagement.
Wishing you passion and productivity!
Brenda R. Weber, Director
Provost Professor and Jean C. Robinson Scholar