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John Corso-Esquivel
Director, Center for Public Humanities
Associate Professor of Art History
Wilson Hall, Room 320
(248) 370-3380

Community Advisory Board
Adolfo Campoy-Cubillo
Dan Clark
Dominique Daniel
Mary Hartson
Kimmie Parker
George Sanders
Joseph Tardella
Josephine Walwema

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Member, Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes

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Center for Public Humanities

Center for Public Humanities

June 4, 2020 Message from the Center for Public Humanities Director and Community Advisory Board

The Center for Public Humanities acknowledges the pain and loss that Black and brown citizens disproportionately endure due to racist violence and police brutality. The activism in response to the murder of George Floyd and other Black Americans has been precipitated by the ongoing systematic manifestation of anti-Black violence. The Center commits to a steadfast position of anti-racism to support our students, staff, faculty, and community members. We support journalists and all citizens who exercise their freedom of speech to expose and oppose institutional racism to build a more just society. We continue to seek and support conversations across campus and the region to strengthen our position against racism in all its forms.

2020-21 Theme
to be "Care"

The Center for Public Humanities announces “Care” as its 2020-21 Public Humanities Theme. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, our upcoming programs aim to examine different aspects of “care.” 2020-21 events will draw from literature, dance, crisis communication, history, and research from other humanistic disciplines. In such daunting times, the arts and humanities bring us back to core values like kindness and compassion.

While we shelter-in-place to safeguard our neighborhoods, we encourage you to continue to turn to the arts and humanities online for solace. Whether laughing with comedians, crying with our favorite actors, learning from trusted journalists, or relaxing with musicians, artists, and writers, the humanities can replenish our inner reserves of courage.


A Community Literary Project

#WordsForResilience brings together communities of students, faculty, and writers from Oakland University and Michigan to address and feel strengthened to brave the current Covid-19 pandemic and its effects on our world through the beauty and power of language. Shared via social media channels, the project’s weekly offerings will include Favorite #WordsForResilience (favorite literary quotes shared by OU faculty and students) and New #WordsForResilience (new creative work by OU faculty and students, and other Michigan writers).

Once a week, OU’s Center for Public Humanities will share a #WordsForResilience posting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We will invite replies, including other quotes or other new work, from its online community. We look forward to gathering thoughts and reflections from across our campus and state. We hope to add to the incredible energies of literary and artistic communities that have come together in this time of social distancing.

#WordsForResilience Editor Katie Hartsock is an assistant professor in Oakland’s Department of English. She is the author of the poetry collection Bed of Impatiens (Able Muse Press, 2016), and her poetry is forthcoming or has recently appeared in journals such as POETRY, The Greensboro Review, Arion, Ecotone, Birmingham Poetry Review, Grist, Image, Dappled Things, Pleiades, Pericles at Play, and elsewhere.

Call for Submissions

New #WordsForResilience: The editor invites submissions of short creative work, including poetry, flash fiction, and flash nonfiction. Original submissions of poetry should be 12 lines or less, and creative prose submissions should be around 150 words. Work that directly or indirectly references the pandemic, and the many sudden shifts to everyday life and tasks resulting from it, is welcome. We are looking for submissions of literary merit that simultaneously confront the challenge and anxiety of our current moment, and give their readers strength to meet these strange days. Please note that we want writing with nuance, which goes beyond the merely “inspirational.” As Auden wrote in the last lines of his poem “September 1, 1939,” as he thought of fellow Americans on the eve of the country entering WWII, “May I, composed like them / Of Eros and of dust, / Beleaguered by the same / Negation and despair, / Show an affirming flame.”

Authors of new work will retain all copyright. The Center will provide links to each author’s website or social media accounts.

Favorite #WordsForResilience: The editor invites OU faculty and students to share their favorite literary quotes they have turned to in this time of this pandemic. So we can post these with no concerns regarding permissions, literary quotes need to meet the Twitter limit of 280 characters (with spaces) or less. If applicable or necessary, a brief contextualization can preface the quote; for example, “W. H. Auden wrote, in the last lines of his poem ‘September 1, 1939,’ thinking of fellow Americans on the eve of the country entering WWII, ‘May I, composed like them / Of Eros and of dust, / Beleaguered by the same / Negation and despair, / Show an affirming flame’.” (preface + quote = 270 characters, with spaces).

The Center will credit sources of favorite quotes by providing links to websites or social media account and will, whenever possible, offer links to more information about the quoted author.

We are currently accepting submissions for both New and Favorite #WordsForResilience on a rolling deadline.

Submit your New or Favorite #WordsForResilience

the Center

The mission of the Center for Public Humanities is to advance excellence in public humanities and the arts to support and enrich Southeast Michigan’s diverse learning communities.

Founded in September 2019, the Center endeavors to establish a prestigious platform from which Oakland’s public intellectuals can offer humanistic scholarship and creative work in alternative, accessible formats for the benefit and enrichment of the region’s populace. We aim to reduce access barriers that might prevent the general public from engaging with the humanities.

Through its Community Advisory Board composed of OU faculty and community leaders, the Center will solicit programming ideas directly from the public. Listening to their suggestions will enable the Center to build networks of interest to address crucial debates within the humanities and the arts today.


Hill, Katelyn. "Snow Can't Stop the Public Humanities.The Oakland Post, January 22, 2020.

"New Oakland University Center for Public Humanities the First in Michigan.Oakland University News, October 7, 2019.


January 18, 2020 (Saturday)
Webinar: Envisioning the Public Humanities at OU

  • Dr. Susan Smulyan, Professor in the Department of American Studies at Brown University and the Director of the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage, offered an engaging keynote talk. Dr. Smulyan offered different definitions of “public humanities” and shared case studies from Brown University. Guest speaker and OU alumna Kara Noto offered an account of her experience in the MA program in Public Humanities at Brown. Though initially planned as a luncheon, this event was rescheduled as a webinar to accommodate for inclement weather.

October 17, 2019 (Thursday)
Toni Morrison Film Screening

  • Coinciding with National Arts and Humanities Month, the Center screened the acclaimed 2019 documentary, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am to pay homage to the Nobel laureate writer and tireless advocate of the humanities. Kresge Fellow and poet Nandi Comer introduced the film and premiered her poem, “In Praise of More Important Things: For Toni Morrison.”