• Citron Public Lecture 

ISI 'Dissent' fellow, Malcolm Sen, interviewed by the Chicago Review of Books

In May of 2017, the Chicago Review of Books published an interview with current ISI ‘Dissent’ fellow  Malcolm Sen (English) about the role of literature in our collective understanding of climate change, and specifically about the importance of climate change fiction (“cli-fi”) and its social and artistic relevance. 

Welcoming our 2017-18 Faculty Fellows

On September 22, this year's faculty seminar on ‘Dissent' held its first meeting. This year, ISI has chosen twelve faculty members as its incoming fellows. Over the course of the coming year, the fellows will approach the seminar’s theme of ‘Dissent’ from a variety of perspectives, ranging from economics and public policy to theatre, and from political science to management. The fellows receive a generous research allowance, and will be participating in our yearlong faculty seminar.

This year’s fellows come from a great variety of departments across campus. They include (from left to right): Lee Badgett (Economics and Public Policy), Bogdan Prokopovych(Management), Malcolm Sen (English), Laura Furlan (English), John Higginson (History), Hande Gurses (Comparative Literature), Barbara Cruikshank (Political Science), Marian MacCurdy (English), Kathryn Lachman (Comparative Literature), Megan Lewis (Theatre), Roberta Marvin (Music and Dance), and Christopher Couch (Comparative Literature).

We welcome this year’s fellows, and look forward to many engaging and intellectually stimulating meetings in the coming academic year!

Celebrating the ISI and Stephen Clingman

On September 13, the ISI celebrated its seventeenth year of existence, originally as the Interdisciplinary Seminar in Humanities and Fine Arts, and since 2012 as the ISI. This was also a fitting occasion to pay tribute to our founding director, Stephen Clingman. The tribute consisted of remarks from Julie Hayes, Dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, from former ISHA/ISI fellows Milliann Kang and Jenny Adams, from past residents, including Daniel Kanstroom of Boston College, ISI's most recent resident, and finally, words of appreciation and a reading by Caryl Phillips, the Institute's first resident. The ISI wants to thank Stephen for his tireless efforts in creating the Institute, developing it into what it has become today, and championing interdisciplinarity in and outside of the academy. 

A message from Stephen Clingman

As I contemplate stepping down as Director of the ISI at the end of June, it’s amazing to think that in our two incarnations (ISHA/ISI), we have been under way since 2001. In that time we have hosted close to 170 fellows in our faculty seminars. We have had a run of successful residencies with such figures as Caryl Phillips, Jean and John Comaroff, and (most recently) Daniel Kanstroom. We have held lectures, workshops and community meetings, and cosponsored significant events across campus. We have hosted national and international symposia on Chinua Achebe and James Foley.

For me it has been an honor, a pleasure, and a privilege to be part of it all, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I am grateful to a succession of Provosts and Deans for funding us. I am grateful to an extraordinary run of graduate assistants whose help has been invaluable over the years. I am deeply grateful to the members of the ISHA and ISI boards, who have been a collegial and intellectual family in this project. And I am grateful to everyone in the ISI community for your generosity, energy, friendship, tolerance and enthusiasm in our collective inquiries and engagement. I have learned an enormous amount from our exchanges; it has been a thrill to get to know you.

John Kingston has been with us from the start, and I know that with him at the helm, the ISI will be in the best of hands. I look forward to seeing the institute’s sustained programs and new directions over the next phase of its existence. Here’s to a brilliant and enriching future, ISI!

A message from John Kingston

I look forward both with enthusiasm and more than a little modesty to becoming the second Director of the Interdisciplinary Studies Institute. The source of my enthusiasm is obvious: ISI has organized, funded, and otherwise promoted many of the most interesting and significant events that have taken place on this campus since its inception as ISHA more than fifteen years ago.

The source of my modesty is equally obvious: the principal source of ISI's success has been Stephen Clingman's thorough understanding of the enormous scholarly and creative riches and opportunities offered by this campus, its faculty, and its students. I've been fortunate to be a member of ISHA's and then ISI's board long enough to have learned at least a little of how Stephen has used that understanding to draw effectively on the talents of UMass's faculty and students to accomplish all that ISI has. I look forward to maintaining all the activities that ISI has organized, funded, and promoted during Stephen's directorship, and to working toward substantially expanding the scope of the Institute's activities. Finally, watch this space for information about an event to honor Stephen early in the fall.

ISI Assistant Amanda Waugh Lagji Accepts Tenure Track Position at Pitzer College

Amanda Waugh Lagji, ISI Assistant since Spring semester of 2012, successfully defended her dissertation titled, “Waiting for Now: Postcolonial Fiction and Colonial Time” on March 29, and will join the faculty of Pitzer College as an Assistant Professor of English and World Literature for the 2017-18 academic year. In March, Amanda won the 2017 Graduate Student Caucus Essay Award for the Northeast Modern Language Association.

We would like to thank Amanda for her many considerable contributions to the Institute over the past five years, and wish her all good fortune as she moves out to California to begin her career at Pitzer!

John McCarthy, Former ISI Fellow, To Focus on Position as Senior Vice Provost

Former ISI “Transformations” Fellow and Professor of Linguistics John McCarthy, is relinquishing his role as Dean of the Graduate School to devote more time to his duties as Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, as well as to his linguistics research. John has been tremendously successful in his position as Dean; we wish him all good luck going forward. 

Former ISI Fellow Elizabeth Chilton Named Dean of Harpur College at Binghamton University

Elizabeth Chilton, Professor of Anthropology, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement, and former ISI fellow (2009-2010 and 2012-2013) has been named Dean of the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences at Binghamton University in New York. In addition to twice being a member of our seminars, Professor Chilton offered valuable support to the Institute, especially during our transition from ISHA to the ISI. We wish her all good luck in her new position!

Linda Sarsour, “The Resistance: Organizing in the Age of Trump”

On Friday, April 28, the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies is hosting Linda Sarsour, award-winning racial justice and civil rights activist and national co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington for a lecture. Sarsour will speak at 3:30 p.m. in the Mahar Auditorium on the UMass campus. ISI is among the many cosponsors of the event, which will be free and open to the public.