University of Southern California
USC Dornsife: College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Working Groups

The Levan Institute for the Humanities supports interdisciplinary working groups with the goal of fostering intellectual exchange and advancing research on topics in the humanities (broadly construed) that are not already addressed by an existing department or program. Working groups are primarily addressed to faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students. They may involve participants at other institutions. 

How to Propose a New Working Group

Proposals for new working groups are invited every Spring for groups starting the following Fall. Proposals for new working groups can be submitted online using this form. Previous working groups are available here.

Working groups should have at least two conveners from different departments or units at USC; at least one of the conveners must be a tenure-track or tenured professor based in the humanities or humanistic social sciences. Working groups may organize discussions of work in progress, conversations around shared readings, or any activities that advance scholarly dialogue and the research agendas of participants. Groups are expected to meet regularly during the academic year and must be open to new participants. Groups are welcome to include participants outside of USC, and at institutions other than universities. Existing groups that the Levan Institute does not currently support are eligible to apply; existing Levan working groups are eligible to reapply as we wish to foster long-term conversations and collaborations. Awards are modest ($250–$500 for the academic year) and aimed at facilitating conversations, not organizing events. Proposals for new working groups should indicate the group's title and description, information for each convener, and an estimated budget.


Current Working Groups

Capitalism in the Global South

What is the Global South? This group will discuss its historical and contemporary formation, with a focus on capitalism, race, empire, and the modern state.

Coordinators: Daniel Delgado, Wolf Gruner, Issay Matsumoto

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Confronting the Second Space Age: From Cosmic Speculation to Astro-Capitalism

This working group examines the challenges and concerns associated with the resurgence of interest in interplanetary exploration, space tourism, speculative mining, and extraterrestrial colonization.

Coordinators: Meredith Hall, Ella Klik, and Jennifer Petersen

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Documenting the Undocumented

We will help shape new historical and humanities scholarship on the residents of the United States that lack legal status, usually referred to as “undocumented.”

Coordinators: George Sanchez and Julia Brown-Bernstein

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Environmental Humanities

A discussion of foundational and cutting-edge scholarship in the environmental humanities. We aim to better understand relationships between humans and the natural world, broadly construed, across the past, present, and future. We are motivated by an increasingly urgent need to analyze and address anthropogenic ecological change in all its complexity.

Coordinators: Devin Griffiths and Sean Patrick Fraga

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Latinx Media

This working group studies Latinx Media in its various manifestations: TV, film, music, art, theater, journalism, etc . We will read classic and recent texts on Latinx Media and discuss works in progress presented by members.

Coordinators: Elda María Román and Jonathan Leal

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Sound in Sacred Spaces

An exploration of sound in sacred spaces, with perspectives from performance, sciences, humanities and religious tradition.

Coordinators: Chris Kyriakakis and Scott B. Spencer

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Sound Studies Working Group

We are scholars from a range of disciplines with a focus on media and culture within Sound Studies frameworkOur group’s interest lies in the emergence of sound, hearing versus listening of voice and sound, and sonic reproduction.

Coordinators: Sarah Kessler and Anna Sbitneva

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  • University of Southern California