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Research/Creative Groups: 2023-2024

The Humanities Collaborative is sponsoring seven groups for the 2023-2024 academic year . These groups are pursuing public, critical, creative, or digital humanities projects, as well as sponsoring programming that reaches undergraduate- and graduate-student audiences.

Current groups are conceived expansively, to include critical workshops, works-in-progress, and public outreach. Please check back soon for more details about each group and their upcoming events!

Note: University departments or affiliations are listed in parentheses.

The Carceral Studies Research Group investigates the social, cultural, and political implications of incarceration. By including criminologists, sociologists, political scientists, as well as legal scholars and practitioners, we identify mutual areas of interest that could deepen our understanding of mass incarceration in South Carolina. We seek to promote a more nuanced understanding of the social, cultural, and political implications of incarceration, and to produce research that will inform policy decisions related to the criminal legal system. By interacting with students and engaging with the community, our events will help to raise awareness of the issues related to incarceration and foster a more informed public debate on important issues facing the state.


The Comics Studies at USC Working Group is an interdisciplinary collaboration that works to support the USC community in the study and teaching of comics and to aid in the development and use of USC’s significant comics-related resources. The group seeks to build from these resources to establish USC as a hub for comics studies and comics culture throughout the state and region. During the next year the group envisions taking steps to augment the existing network of faculty, students, and practitioners around USC, enhancing the accessibility and encourage the use of the University Libraries’ remarkable comics collections, and provide a forum to discuss and present both the work of the group’s members as well as key innovations and interventions in comics studies and practice.


  • (PI) Mark Minett (Film & Media Studies and English)
  • (Co-PI) Michael Weisenburg (Rare Books) 
  • (Co-PI) Qiana Whitted (English and African American Studies, Eisner Award Winner) 
  • Dawn Campbell (Women’s and Gender Studies)  
  • Northrop Davis (Media Arts) 
  • Andy Kunka (USC Sumter—English, Eisner Award Nominee)  
  • Patrick S. Lawrence, faculty at USC-Lancaster
  • David Shay (Rare Books) 
  • Timothy Simmons (Thomas Cooper Library)
  • Marius Valdes (Studio Art—Design and Illustration)  
  • Susan Vanderborg (English)

The Founding Documents Research Group seeks to educate USC undergraduates on America’s most important foundational documents and the African-American struggle for freedom in fulfillment of the South Carolina REACH Act. The research group consists of five postdocs in the African-American Studies and History Departments. Current projects include collaboratively planning a one-day teaching symposium on the founding documents with Clemson University, a roundtable discussion at the second installment of the Omohundro Institute's five-year conference series celebrating the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, and the publication of a documentary reader of primary sources related to the founding documents. Both the teaching symposium and documentary reader are intended to help educators around the state teach the documents required by the REACH Act. The roundtable discussion is intended to help educators in other states as they implement similar curriculums related to the founding documents.


  • (PI) Dr. James Risk, Faculty Associate for CAS’s Founding Documents Initiative and Instructor for History
  • Dr. Kendall Deas, Founding Documents Post Doc for African American Studies
  • Dr. Tamika Howard, Post Doc for African American Studies
  • Dr. David “Mac” Marquis, Founding Documents Post Doc for History
  • Dr. Madeline Steiner, Founding Documents Post Doc for History
  • Dr. Jeffery Williams, Post Doc for History

Classically, the study of perception aims to understand its limits what is the lowest level of physical stimuli that can be detected. It seeks to define thresholds, the boundaries between the visible and invisible. The topic of (in)visibility within the humanities can take on many meanings, such as the thresholds between public and private spaces, the believed and ignored, the shown and hidden, surface and depth, the masked and unmasked. Our collaboration bridges the science and philosophy of perception with the aesthetics and physicality of making, as we question the meaning of visibility and invisibility, culminating in a public exhibition and symposium. We hope to understand how the line between states of visibility and invisibility may be both marked and mutable, and open points of critical inquiry within the present cultural moment.


  • (PI) Melanie Palomares (Psychology)
  • (PI) Sara Schneckloth (School of Visual Art and Design -SVAD)
  • Stephanie Allen, Undergraduate (SVAD Studio Art and English, Honors College)
  • John Ceballes, Instructor (Philosophy)
    Brent Dedas
    , Associate Professor (SVAD Studio Art)
  • John Fitz Rogers, Professor (School of Music)
  • Carleen Maur, Assistant Professor (SVAD Media Arts)
  • Beth Myers, Instructor (Psychology)
  • Mary Robinson, Professor (SVAD Studio Art)
  • Katherine Ryker, Associate Professor (School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment, Geology Education)
  • Jennifer Vendemia, Associate Professor (Psychology)
  • Doug Wedell, Professor (Department of Psychology, Director, Institute of Mind and Brain)

Despite its historic and contemporary importance, lumbering, manufacturing, and conserving South Carolina’s forests had been grossly under researched until this year, when members of this group began meeting to share findings and generate content for a new anthology that will, we believe, not only shift the narrative about the industrial history of the state but also launch important efforts in environmental humanities and other fields. The timing is auspicious as we approach the confluence of several notable anniversaries: the 2024 centennial of the death of the Chicago lumberman whose will established the Francis Beidler Charitable Trust that, in the 1970s, facilitated the creation of both Congaree National Monument/Park and SC Audubon’s Francis Beidler Forest, each of which will soon mark their 50th anniversaries and the 2027 centennial of the founding of South Carolina’s Forestry Commission, an important state agency that presaged South Carolina Parks.  


  • (PI) Jessica Elfenbein, Professor of History, USC Columbia
  • Debbie Bloom, Librarian and Project Archivist, Columbia
  • Jordan Davis, PhD student, Anthropology and Archeology, University of Texas, Austin (2022 MA recipient, USC’s Anthropology program)
  • T. Robert Hart, Instructor of History, University of North Carolina, Wilmington
  • Al Hester, South Carolina Parks
  • Mark Kinzer, National Park Service, Atlanta
  • Matt Johnson, Francis Beidler Forest, Audubon SC
  • Erin “Maggie” Kemp,MA candidate, Geography, USC Columbia
  • Andrea L’Hommedieu, Oral Historian, USC Columbia
  • Stevie Malenowski, MA candidate, Public History, USC Columbia
  • Tom Lekan, Professor of History, USC Columbia
  • Lynn Robertson, guest curator, former Director, McKissick Museum

SouthernGauge is a film screening series in Columbia, SC that brings experimental, independent, and new cinema to the greater Columbia area. Bringing together faculty and staff from the Moving Image Research Collection, School of Visual Art and Design and Data and Communication, SouthernGauge celebrates the underground and the experimental while also fostering community collaboration through regular 16mm and digital screenings and new media experiences throughout the city.


  • Carleen Maur, Faculty in School of Visual Art and Design
  • EB Landesberg, Faculty in School of Visual Art and Design
  • Laura Major, Staff in the Moving Image Research Collection
  • Chaz Evans, Faculty in School of Visual Art and Design
  • Kimberly O'Quinn, Staff in Moving Image Research Collection
  • George Fetner, Staff in College of Information and Communication

In our first year of support from the Humanities Collaborative, the Transpacific Intercultural Collaboration Research Group focused on reading and discussing existing scholarship on the subject. During our second year of support, we hosted public events and began conceptualizing original research projects. For the 2023-2024 academic year, we have shifted our focus to developing and publishing members’ new scholarship. To facilitate this major goal, the research group will hold a series of peer-to-peer writing workshops over the Fall and Spring semesters. At the end of Spring semester, we plan to present our individual research projects in an academic symposium that will be open to the public and will feature invited participants and keynote speakers from both this university and other institutions. We also envision the research produced during this process resulting in a peer-reviewed edited volume on the topic of transpacific intercultural collaboration.


  • (PI) Kunio Hara, Associate Professor (Music)
  • (PI) Gregory Patterson, Associate Professor (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures)
  • (PI) Amanda Wangwright, Associate Professor (School of Visual Art and Design)
  • Byeongwon Ha, Assistant Professor, Media Arts (School of Visual Art and Design)
  • Fang Man, Associate Professor (Music)
  • Chihchi Sunny Tsai, Ph.D. Student


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.