Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Seminar on Rage: Call for Applications

—Grace Paley
Let us go forth with fear and courage and rage to save the world.

We live in angry times, confronted daily by images of rage pouring out in street protests, political rallies, and the oceans of social media that flow around us.  “Why are we so angry?” ask dozens of recent articles, books, and think pieces. Such emotions, however, are hardly unique to our moment and are the pivot around which some of our most powerful cultural narratives turn.  The book of Genesis is a catalog of human and divine rage stretching from the Garden of Eden to the near destruction of the world.  Achilles’ anger nearly laid waste to the ancient world and Irish bards record the story of Cuchulain, who exhausted his grief-fueled rage by battling the ocean waves until he collapsed.  More recently, we have seen the power of rage in protests, marches, and movements ranging from Hong Kong to Chile, from Black Lives Matter to the #metoo hashtag.  And so too have we seen its terrors in Charlottesville’s Unite the Right march and in violent attacks on displaced people around the world.

If rage is fundamentally human, then what should we do with it?  Is it, as James Baldwin argues, an emotion that “can only, with difficulty, and never entirely, be brought under the domination of the intelligence” or is it instead a potential source of energy and change?  These questions take on particular urgency now as the Unites States enters a fraught presidential election year and the city of Tulsa prepares to commemorate the 1921 Race Massacre. We plan to address the challenges posed by such emotions directly since questions about their value and power will shape our civic, social, professional, and personal lives in the coming year.

How, we will ask, have writers, artists, and musicians given shape to the experience of rage and helped us understand it origins, dangers, and uses?  How might we create a history of an emotion, defined, in part, by its resistance to argument, intellect, and, empathy?  What can brain science tell us about the relationship between rage and identity? Does the experience and value of rage change across time, culture, and language?  And how is rage shaped by aspects of human identity, cultural diversity, technology, and media?  Finally, what can the interdisciplinary study of rage teach us about our social lives, our political institutions, and our democratic values?

In order to support this work, the OCH invites applications from TU faculty across all the colleges to join the Interdisciplinary Humanities Seminar focused on the topic of Rage. The seminar will convene once a week through the fall 2020 semester and build on the expertise of each participant to launch an intensive investigation of rage, assisted by visiting speakers, artists, and performers.  The Center encourages interdisciplinary work and welcomes a broad interpretation of the theme that will carry our investigations across intellectual, critical, experimental, and aesthetic domains. All full-time TU faculty are eligible to apply.

Faculty Application for 2020-2021 Humanities Research Seminar

Description: The Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Seminar sponsored by the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities at the University of Tulsa seeks to generate new research, inspire innovative teaching, create campus community, engage the city of Tulsa, and support interdisciplinary work on topics of timely public and intellectual interest. This year, a group of approximately eight participants will be chosen to collaborate on a series of weekly seminar discussions. Fellows will receive support to then transform this work into substantive research and community projects, undertaken collectively or individually. Such projects could include scholarly papers, courses designed around the theme in question, creative works, or efforts designed to spur civic action and participation. TU faculty members, students, and members of the wider Tulsa community are all eligible to apply. If accepted, faculty fellows will become eligible for funding and research support designed to enable their work in and after the seminar. The Center’s advisory board will judge applications based on assessment of the proposal’s interdisciplinary appeal and its potential for sparking dialogue among the participants.

Theme: The theme for the 2020-2021 seminar will be Rage. The seminar seeks to explore this topic from a broad set of disciplinary angles, and we welcome applications from across TU’s colleges.  You are encouraged to interpret this topic broadly and in ways that are appropriate to your own field of expertise.

Application: Applications for participation in the seminar should include the following.

  • A current CV, including contact information.
  • Full responses to the three application questions listed below.

Applications should be sent by electronic attachment to

Application Deadline: March 15, 2020

Application Questions (no more than 1,500 words total):

  1. What is it about the concept of rage that most interests you? What are the questions that you would like to see addressed during the course of the seminar?
  2. How will participation in the seminar contribute to your teaching, writing, creative, and/or other kinds of work? What kinds of projects do you envisage arising out of your participation in the seminar?
  3. Provide a short list of works (books, images, performances, films, articles, etc.) that you have found important or provocative in relation to the seminar’s theme.

If you have questions about the application process, the seminar, or the Center, please contact Sean Latham ( // x2857 // @seanplatham).