Literature offers programs, projects, and research initiatives outside the classroom. These reflect a wide range of faculty research interests, including: digital media, pedagogy, and archives; global culture; colonialism, postcolonialism, and the literature of travel; early modern literature and culture; and science, technology, and modernity. In addition, close collaboration between the Literature and Comparative Media Studies/Writing programs at MIT underpins ongoing research on such topics as television history, the history of the book, and popular literary, visual, and musical culture.
The particular work of individual Literature faculty may be found on their webpages. Below are several major ongoing collective initiatives that combine research and pedagogy and provide outreach to global communities of students, scholars, and friends.
Since 2000 the New Bedford Whaling Museum (NBWM) has partnered with the Melville Society Cultural Project (MSCP) in programming for the annual Moby-Dick Marathon and in maintaining the Melville Society Archive in the Museum’s library. The two organizations have produced two Summer Institutes for School Teachers with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
Literature Section’s Senior Lecturer Wyn Kelley was co-director of the 2020 Summer Institute and one of six Melville scholars from the MSCP who served as lead faculty of the Institute.
Programs in Digital Humanities
“Advancing the humanities with code, communication, and community.” The Digital Humanities lab is a vibrant community of practitioners who use state-of-the-art digital tools to enrich education and research in the humanities. The lab’s programs integrate digital and humanities education, teaching, and research.
A key element to the DH Lab is the wealth of projects conducted and supported within the field of digital humanities; from Faculty Fellowships, SHASS Affiliated Projects, to Grants, and cross-institute collaborations.
MIT Global Shakespeare Project
Peter S. Donaldson
Since its launch in 2010 the MIT Global Shakespeares Video and Performance Archive has been at the forefront of efforts to use modern technologies as tools for understanding the continuing relevance of Shakespeare in the modern world. Through the archive and focused educational initiatives the project is playing a major leadership role internationally in moving Shakespearean scholarship and teaching toward new models that draw from the full range of global theatrical production. Working with a global network of editors and collaborators, MIT’s Shakespeare Project is expanding its collections and developing authoring tools for education that can be easily used at all levels — from advanced scholars to university and high school students and the general public.
The French+ Initiative at MIT gathers scholars working across the humanities and social sciences, whose research and teaching center on the French and francophone cultures and societies.
The French+ Initiative hosts the MIT Global France Seminar and cultural events. Its many connections, including teaching exchanges, an Arts Sponsorship, a Visiting Professorship, a Book Prize, and a cultural immersion trip for MIT students, promote local and international collaborations.
The French+ Initiative is a member of the “Centers of Excellence in the US” network administered by the French Embassy.
The Dickens Project
A multi-university consortium with numerous member institutions in the US and several foreign countries. It promotes the study and appreciation not only of the work of Charles Dickens but, more broadly, of the literature and culture of nineteenth-century Britain and other industrializing nations. It also seeks to bring together a unique collection of communities – professors, graduate students, undergraduates, high school teachers and students, and lay readers. Every year, this diverse community of 250-300 people comes together at the “Dickens Universe” in Santa Cruz, California, for an intense week of lectures, seminars, and conversation about all matters Dickensian, Victorian, and modern. Professor of Literature James Buzard has represented MIT at the Dickens Universe for over a decade. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Dickens Project and co-director of the Dickens Universe.
ANNOTATION STUDIO is a digital annotation tool developed in MIT’s digital humanities lab, the HyperStudio, in a collaboration between Wyn Kelley (Literature) and Kurt Fendt (HyperStudio Director), Annotation Studio provides a digital workspace in which users may 1) upload a text and select and annotate elements of it, with particular attention to its multimedia sources and adaptations, and 2) use their findings for research and writing projects in humanities classrooms. Such an approach can create lively social communities, help students appreciate literary works more fully, and heighten their sophistication in using their digital-literacy skills.
For more information:
Ancient & Medieval Studies Colloquium Series
Margaret MacVicar Memorial AMITA Oral History Project
The Margaret MacVicar Memorial AMITA Oral History Project seeks to preserve the rich and diverse experiences of MIT alumnae by documenting the lives of women who attended MIT. Through the auspices of UROP, undergraduate students conduct background research on the lives of their subjects and then interview them to learn about their experiences in detail. The project was conceived as a way to provide a history of experiences of women who often pursued careers untraditional for women.
The project is named in memory of Margaret MacVicar, class of 1964, the founder of UROP. The project is directed by Margery Resnick, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies. AMITA members began raising an endowment for the project in 1990.
The oral histories are a resource for researchers of the history of women in the fields of science, engineering, technology, and architecture; the role of women in higher education; and the evolution of the involvement of women at MIT.