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Humanities Education Focal Group

Humanities Education Focal Group (HEFG) explores issues concerning teaching and learning in the humanities, including research on student learning, innovation in pedagogy, the role of new technologies in humanities instruction, and professional issues for humanities teachers at all educational levels. In recent years, the HEFG has hosted speakers on a variety of current issues, ranging from alternative academic career paths to research on foreign language acquisition at the university level. It is chaired by Professor Russell Berman (German Studies) and coordinated by PhD candidate Emily Goodling (German Studies). DLCL affiliates can join the group by logging in with their SUNetID. 

We have an exciting line-up of events for the 2017-18 academic year – please scroll down for more information about upcoming events. Join our mailing list by contacting Emily Goodling ( 


Upcoming Events:

Winter Quarter, 2018

Andrew Wood, January 22nd, 12:30pm, Pigott Hall 252

The Accidental Entrepreneur:  The Humanities PhD Who Started His Own Business

While working on a PhD. in German Studies at Stanford, Andrew Wood started a business teaching acting in San Francisco, using his training as a director at the Yale School of Drama.  He completed his doctorate and moved the business to Los Angeles, where it has been recognized by as a top Los Angeles acting school.  In this talk, Andrew will reflect on his experiences starting and growing the business, share the many lessons he learned, and talk about how his experience pursuing and attaining a doctorate has intersected with this process.

Andrew Wood is a graduate of the MFA Directing program at the Yale School of Drama, and he has a Ph.D. from Stanford University in literature.  In 2004, he founded his acting studio in San Francisco, and expanded it to Los Angeles in 2008. His students have appeared on acclaimed shows such as Curb Your Enthusiasm, Homeland, The Office, Westworld, The Man in the High Castle, Animal Kingdom, Training Day, 13 Reasons Why and Chasing Life, among others. He contributes to Backstage as a Backstage Expert. He is the Artistic Director of Uranium Madhouse, a Los Angeles-based theater company which he founded in 2011. He has produced and directed four productions for Uranium Madhouse, including a production of his new, authorized translation of Bertolt Brecht’s A Man’s A Man, which was co-sponsored by the International Brecht Society and the Goethe Institut Los Angeles.  His blog has been recognized as a top blog for actors by Peer Hustle and Feedspot, and his writing has appeared on the acting website Stage Milk.  The Los Angeles lifestyle magazine Voyage LA recently profiled Andrew on its website.


Carlos Alonso, March 1st, 5:00pm, Pigott Hall 252

What Are We Saving When We Say We Want to Save the Humanities?

In this lecture, Carlos Alonzo analyzes the current situation of the Humanities as a field of study, and of the University as an institution, in our era or universal commodification.  He also considesr some of the proposals that have been advanced to preserve both.

Carlos J. Alonso is the Morris A. and Alma Schapiro Professor in the Humanities, and has been Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University since 2010.  He is a specialist in Latin American intellectual history and cultural production, and in modern literary and cultural theory. He is the author of Modernity and Autochthony: The Spanish American Regional Novel (Cambridge UP), The Burden of Modernity: The Rhetoric of Cultural Discourse in Spanish America (Oxford UP), and editor of Julio Cortázar: New Readings (Cambridge UP). From 2000-03 he was Editor of PMLA, one of the premiere journal of the Humanities in the United States, and was a member of the committee that produced the recent Report of the MLA Task Force on Doctoral Study in Modern Language and Literature in 2014. 


Harriett Jernigan, March 14th, 12:30pm, Piggott Hall 216

It Was Never about Any of That: (Re)Framing a Life in the Humanities

What happens when you realize the academic brass ring is—for whatever reason—out of reach? And what happens when you realize it was never about any of that anyway? How do you reframe your understanding of the humanities and your place in it?

Harriett Jernigan studied German and Creative Writing in New College at the University of Alabama and then earned her PhD in German Studies at Stanford University. She has taught a wide range of subjects in the Humanities at a variety of levels in the U.S. and Germany, works as a translator, and currently lives and teaches in Berlin, where she is conducting research on learner autonomy and storytelling.


Past Events: 

Fall Quarter, 2017

The Best Decision Ever: Thriving in Business with a Humanities PhD – Kathryn Hume

Hume will share how she went from academia and a degree in Comparative Literature to becoming a technology executive, underscoring how the contemporary workplace provides opportunities to teach, learn, and even impact the future of education. 

Thursday, November 9th

12:00-1:00 PM

Pigott Hall, Room 252

Kathryn Hume is Vice President Product & Strategy for, a SaaS startup applying AI to drive growth and customer satisfaction for large enterprises, and a Venture Partner at ffVC, a seed- and early-stage technology venture capital firm, where she advises early-stage artificial intelligence companies and sources deal flow. As the former Director of Sales and Marketing at Fast Forward Labs (Cloudera), Kathryn helped Fortune 500 companies accelerate their machine learning and data science capabilities. Prior to that, she was a Principal Consultant in Intapp's Risk Practice, focused on data privacy, security, and compliance. A widely respected speaker and writer on AI, Kathryn excels at communicating how AI and machine learning technologies work in plain language. She has given lectures and taught courses on the intersections of technology, ethics, law, and society at Harvard Business School, Stanford, the MIT Media Lab, and the University of Calgary Faculty of Law. She speaks seven languages, and holds a PhD in comparative literature from Stanford University and a BA in mathematics from the University of Chicago.


The Curse of Illegibility – Adam Morris

A graduate of Spanish and Portuguese, Morris will discuss his current work as a literary translator and author, including the benefits and hidden pitfalls of approaching the literary industry with a humanities PhD.

Wednesday, November 15th

12:00-1:00 PM

Pigott Hall, Room 252

Adam Morris is an author, editor, and translator. He graduated from Stanford with a PhD in Spanish & Portuguese in 2015. His translations have been supported by the 2012 Susan Sontag Foundation Prize for Literary Translation and a 2017 PEN/Heim translation grant. His translations and essays have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, n+1, BOMB, Music & Literature, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. His first book, American Messiahs, is forthcoming from Liveright/W.W. Norton in 2018.


Past events

Spring Quarter 2017


When and How to Recruit Arts and Humanities Students: Field Observations

A workshop with David Wilson, D.M.A. (Stanford PhD student, musicology)


Tuesday, May 23, 12:00-1:00 pm

Pigott Hall (building 260) room 216


What encourages students to explore the arts and humanities? When and why do students decide they are not "that kind of student"? How do we make humanities and the arts appealing courses of study in high school and college? Join us for a conversation with David Wilson, academic and vocal arts performer and instructor. Participants are encouraged to speak from their own disciplinary perspectives in this open workshop as we consider possibilities for increased and collaborative recruitment. 


Discussion will be based on a presentation of Wilson's experiences as well as two brief readings*, which consider music education. (Please note that the Evans article focuses on 14- to 19-year-olds in the British educational system.) We welcome participants to consider commonalities and differences between the points raised in the readings and their own disciplinary experiences.



* Readings can be downloaded from the event webpage for this workshop:


Winter Quarter 2017

We are thrilled to welcome Stacy Hartman, a graduate of the German Studies PhD in the DLCL, to return to Stanford in her role as Program Coordinator of the MLA's Connected Academics project. She will lead two excellent events for us this February:
"Humanists at Large: Humanities Education in an Age of Precarity" 
A talk by Stacy Hartman, PhD, Program Coordinator of "Connected Academics," MLA
Thursday, February 16, 12:00-1:00 pm
Pigott Hall (building 260) room 252
The humanities, both within and without the academy, appear to be in a state of permanent precarity, always on the verge of extinction but never actually collapsing altogether. One area in which this precarity is keenly felt is in employment for early-career humanists, who are less likely now than ever to find full-time, tenure-track employment within the academy. This leaves many young humanists with two options: pursue a series of short-term, part-time teaching contracts or become “humanists at large.”
In her talk, Stacy Hartman will argue that today's climate calls all of us to become “humanists at large,” wherever we find ourselves in relation to the tenure track. She will consider the implications of this argument for humanities education and explore such questions as: How does changing our conception of our present moment from one of “crisis” to one of “precarity” alter our thinking? How might humanities education, particularly at the doctoral level, adapt to its permanently precarious circumstances? Finally, what does it mean to be a humanist at large in the so-called “post-truth” era?
Workshop: Transferable Skills and Résumés for Humanities PhDs
Facilitated by Stacy Hartman, PhD
Friday, February 17, 12:00-1:30 pm
Pigott Hall (building 260) room 252
This 90-minute workshop provides an introduction to articulating transferable skills and writing a nonacademic résumé. What do we bring to the table as humanities PhDs, and how can we articulate our strengths for nonacademic job applications? What kind of résumé works best for humanities PhDs? Participants have the chance to index their skills and interests, analyze job ads in the light of transferable skills, begin working on their résumés, and receive feedback on their materials. 

Fall Quarter 2016

The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy (A Book Discussion)

Friday, November 4th at 12:00 pm
Pigott Hall (260), Room 216

Please join us for our first event of the academic year, when we will discuss the book by Maggie Berg and Barbara K. Seeber.  

A brief description of the book: If there is one sector of society that should be cultivating deep thought in itself and others, it is academia. Yet the corporatisation of the contemporary university has sped up the clock, demanding increased speed and efficiency from faculty regardless of the consequences for education and scholarship.In The Slow Professor, Maggie Berg and Barbara K. Seeber discuss how adopting the principles of the Slow movement in academic life can counter this erosion of humanistic education. Focusing on the individual faculty member and his or her own professional practice, Berg and Seeber present both an analysis of the culture of speed in the academy and ways of alleviating stress while improving teaching, research, and collegiality. The Slow Professor will be a must-read for anyone in academia concerned about the frantic pace of contemporary university life.

The first 20 to RSVP will receive a complimentary copy of this book.
Please specify which chapter of the book you would like to discuss in your RSVP.

Thank you to everyone who attended the Slow Professor​ Book Discussion on November 4th! We are excited to share a blog post written by one of the attendees, Chris Golde, BEAM Career Counselor for Humanities PhDs and former Associate VPGE, available here:  |  Please feel free to reach out if you are interested in attending follow up discussions about slowing down in our teaching, research, and professional community.


2015-2016 Events 

Reimagining the Doctoral Experience

Sidonie Smith
Professor of English, University of Michigan
Director of Institute for the Humanities
Former President, Modern Language Association
Thursday, April 28, 2016, at 12:00 pm 
Room 252, Building 260
We are thrilled to welcome Professor Smith back to Stanford, to talk about her recent book, "Manifesto for the Humanities: Transforming Doctoral Education in Good Enough Times," available in full at the link. 
To quote Professor Smith: "The 'Grand Challenge' confronting academic humanists is the imperative of sustaining passionate conviction about the value of studying the humanities...Responsibility for that sustainability -- in the academy, in the nation, and around the globe -- lies in part with humanities doctoral students, now or soon-to-be entering careers, who are driven by the desire to continue conversations, journeys and discoveries, whether they take place in archives, in the logic of the assertion, or in the dirt of the dig." 

Why Should We Care About Common Core?

A Series co-sponsored by the HEFG and H&S Dean's Office. 

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is currently implementing a new K-12 curriculum across public schools in California. Common Core will significantly change how children learn both humanities and STEM. In English and Language Arts, for example, the standards suggest that students should move toward reading 70% non-fiction texts by senior year of high school, to develop "college- and career-level reading" using "complex texts and their academic language." As educators, we must become informed about this policy and consider how it will alter our teaching in the coming decade. In conjunction with the School of Humanities and Sciences Dean's Office, we invite you to join us for two events about Common Core and its implication for college-level humanities. On April 8th, Professor Michael Kirst and Sr. Lecturer Jennifer Wolf will introduce the Common Core Standards for grades 6-12. On April 14th, we gather as a community to begin a dialogue about how Common Core could change our own approach in the classroom. 

The Humanities in Tomorrow's Schools:
"Almost Everything Changes" 

A Lecture Discussion with: 
President Michael Kirst of the California State Board of Education
Dr. Jennifer Wolf, Senior Lecturer, Stanford School of Education
April 8th, 12:00 pm, 
Terrace Room, Margaret Jacks Hall

We will be focusing on the English and Language Arts standards of the Common Core.
You can check them out here, on pg 46-54:


Common Core and Humanities Education:
Are WE "College-ready"?

A Roundtable with: 

Professor Russell Berman, Director of Thinking Matters and Introductory Seminars
Emma Dunbar, Assistant Principal, Presidio Middle School, San Francisco
Professor Dan Edelstein, Faculty, Summer Humanities Institute and Stanford Humanities House
Dr. Deborah Tennen, Chief Content Officer at Shmoop e-learning platform

April 14th, 5:30 pm,
Third Floor Lounge, Building 260

Reading from PMLA:
Lisa Zunshine, "The Secret Life of Fiction,"
John David Guillory, "Common Core and the Evasion of Curriculum"

Hors d'oeuvres will be served. 



Thinking Otherwise: Sustained Consideration in a Climate of Immediacy

A Dialogue with:

Chanelle Adams, Editor of Blue Stockings Magazine (
Ralph E. Rodriguez, Brown University, Associate Professor of American Studies, Ethnic Studies, and English

Friday November 13th, at 12:30 pm
Pigott Hall (260), Room 216


We like. We tweet. We share. But do we really think?

In this dialogue, Adams and Rodriguez will discuss the constraints and possibilities of thinking in an era of immediacy. As the classroom, activism and writing increasingly demand an ethos of rapid knowing, Adams and Rodriguez are interested in what it looks like to not know – yet. How is today's culture of snap-back online dialogue changing how we think and relate to each other? How do we work with rather than eschew difficult issues? As teachers of the humanities, how do we find space to "consider"? To what extent does "snapping back" come at the cost of authentic discourse? 


Snapping Back, Slowing Down. The Feminist Think Piece Industrial Complex, by Chanelle Adams:

Calling IN: A Less Disposable Way of Holding Each Other Accountable, by Ngoc Loan Tran

Why I Use Trigger Warnings, by Kate Manne


The Illusion of Safey, by Roxanna Gay.(please see PDF on event page)


How do we conceptualize and frame service in the humanities?
How can it become a more integrated part of our lives as humanists?
How might understanding teaching and research as service affect the sort of work that we do?

Co-sponsored by the Office of Community Engagement, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Haas Center for Public Service