Faculty Seminars

HCAH's Faculty Seminars offer time for colleagues across the disciplines to weigh concepts integral to contemporary humanistic inquiry and to examine their strategic usage in cultural and scholarly discourse. The Seminars aim to generate scholars who draw on myriad humanistic perspectives to enrich teaching, conversation, and research at Haverford.

The participants include a rotating complement of Haverford faculty selected from departments across the academic divisions and joined by Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows. Faculty Seminars meet throughout the academic year following a schedule established by their participants, but generally twice a month on a rhythm that allows both for extensive reading and continuity of focus. Though seminar members share responsibility for crafting a syllabus, the seminars are led by individual faculty members who make proposals to the Center for the seminars they would like to organize. A Steering Committee of faculty reviews proposals.

A schedule of seminars for 2-3 years in advance is in place. Faculty members may apply to join particular seminars that promise to enhance their own research and teaching interests and afford them rewarding collaborative or interdisciplinary interactions. In addition to offering opportunities to bring the faculty's research into a wider forum for debate and discussion, each seminar will have a broad thematic focus and a shared syllabus of works to be read and discussed in common. In some years, the theme of the faculty seminar dovetails with the focus of a Center speaker or performance/arts series, and the Center may sponsor additional opportunities for seminar participants to interact with visitors.

The Center Steering Committee considers applications to the seminar slated for the following academic year. Seminars are open to all tenure track faculty or those on a continuing appointment. The aim is to assemble faculty from a lively cross-section of disciplinary interests, research and teaching backgrounds, and career stages. Faculty across all three divisions are welcome to apply.

Past Faculty Seminars


  • Seminars convene regularly from September to May. The particular seminar’s meeting schedule is determined by the leader together with seminar members, but all seminars are expected to meet approximately 40 hours over the course of the year (for example, 7 three-hour sessions might be planned for each semester).
  • In considering applications, the Hurford Center's Steering Committee will seek to honor specific interests while also providing the broadest opportunities for interdisciplinary faculty participation for each seminar. Recent past faculty seminar participation may be a factor in the process. Seminarians (usually no more than 7) include a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow whose expertise will directly contribute to the success of the Seminar.
  • The Seminar presents opportunities for public exhibitions using College collections and other-sourced materials, under the curatorial direction of the Seminar participants and with the guidance of Matthew Callinan, Associate Director, Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery and Campus Exhibitions.
  • Seminar participants receive a one-semester course release and a discretionary book stipend (conditional to submission of final report), and seminar leaders receive an additional faculty stipend.
  • Funds are available to cover each seminar’s expenses, including books, xeroxing, videos, other materials, speakers, and refreshments.
  • After the conclusion of the seminar, participants will provide the leader and the Center a report. After reviewing the peer reflections, the seminar leader provides a summary report.

Propose a Seminar

Tenure track faculty or those on a continuing appointment from any department may propose a seminar. It should describe the intended topic and suggest a basic design for collective inquiry, along with relevant issues, traditions, or methodologies to be addressed.

Inasmuch as their authors are themselves writing at a moment of provisional understanding, proposals might well outline a set of enabling questions as well as focus defining concerns. While a detailed syllabus of readings need not be provided, proposals should offer some concrete illustration of foreseeable objects and methods of inquiry. There is no prescribed length, but a narrative of about 1-2 pages seems to be the norm. Faculty should indicate their preferred academic year and an alternative option.

For examples of seminar descriptions (those for 2011-12 and 2012-2013), please see the Past Faculty Seminars.


The Center currently has seminars scheduled through the 2015-16 academic year. We anticipate soliciting proposals for new seminars in fall 2014.

Join a Seminar

A call for applications will go out to faculty in September 2014 for the 2015-16 Seminar "Attending to the Dead," led by Hank Glassman (East Asian Studies).

Describe your interest in the seminar in a substantial paragraph and indicate specific ways that your teaching and scholarly interests might contribute to and/or benefit from the seminar. Save your file as a PDF, then Apply to Join a Seminar.


November 21, 2014
Open to all faculty on tenure track or a continuing appointment.

Email Application


  • "Revision/How Time Passes"


    Leader: Jill Stauffer, Philosophy/Peace, Justice and Human Rights

    Participants: Marilyn Boltz (Psychology), Robert Germany (Classics), Brook Danielle Lillehaugen (Linguistics), Casey Londergan (Chemistry), Lindsay Reckson (English), and Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow Roy Ben Shai (Independent College Programs, Peace, Justice and Human Rights)

    How does time pass in politics, in language, fiction, testimony, in the writing of history and elsewhere? This faculty seminar will gather together an interdisciplinary group of thinkers working on various themes related to time for a year-long conversation.

    Download Seminar Description

  • "Attending to the Dead"


    Leader: Hank Glassman, East Asian Studies

    A seminar in the cultural history of death. In particular, it focuses on the distillation and concretization of memory and affect in the form of monuments, gravestones, relics, paintings, sound recordings, photographs, and other objects.

    Download Seminar Description