While the Society for Humanities can no longer congregate in the A.D. White House, its members have found a way to create a sense of community beyond campus through a podcast.
Coined the “Humanities Pod” — to emphasize what co-director Prof. Annette Richards, music, calls a “pod-like” community feel — the new podcast features work by professors, fellows and researchers in the humanities.
The series consists of 30-minute episodes in which humanities scholars share their work surrounding this year’s Society for Humanities theme: “fabrication.” This theme traces ideas that have to do with making and crafting, production and reproduction, across the disciplines.
The first episode of the series, released in December, discussed recent research by Prof. Jon Parmenter, history, on the Indigenous dispossession of land-grant institutions including Cornell.
“Bringing visibility to the humanities at Cornell is important because the humanities are crucial to what Cornell is and does,” Richards said. “That’s not always obvious, especially at a time when the humanities are in many ways less visible than scientific research and sometimes seem to be undervalued.”
The A.D. White House, which houses the Society for Humanities, typically saw several events a week. German studies Prof. Paul Fleming, co-director of the series, explained that while the society had been considering the idea of a podcast for a while, the pandemic brought the idea to fruition.
“At the A.D. White House, we usually have an event a day, sometimes two, sponsored by the Society or simply taking place there. Now there’s nothing … now we’re producing content designed to go beyond the walls of the [A.D. White] House,” Fleming said.
However, the creators emphasized that the podcast is not just a pandemic project, but an initiative of great importance to the Cornell humanities community.
Max Mendoza ’22, an engineer in the Humanities Scholars program, appreciated seeing the impact of technological advances applied to the humanities. He hopes the Humanities Pod will be able to open his fellow Cornell students to new ideas and give validity to humanities research.
A.D. White House building coordinator and Society for the Humanities events coordinator Tyler Lurie-Spicer ’15 — the audio producer of the program — pointed out that since the A.D. White House is still not open to the public, the podcast offers a new way to foster community among fellows and integrate scholarship in the humanities.
Nevertheless, Fleming stressed that the “pod” is not meant solely for the Cornell academic community, nor is it meant to feel like another lecture.
With three episodes down, the directors hope the podcast reaches a diverse audience, whether that be undergraduate students, Cornell alumni or those intrigued by the humanities.