Public Humanities at Yale represents an interdisciplinary collective that is housed within—but not exclusive to—the American Studies program. Developed in response to student initiative beginning in 2007, Public Humanities seeks to expand academic discourse beyond the confines of the classroom, academic publishing, and the academic conference circuit. By cultivating a dialogue with specialists in non-academic areas, students earning a Masters of Arts with a concentration in Public Humanities (en route to a Ph.D. in participating programs) are prepared for public intellectual work such as museum and gallery installation, documentary film and photography, and oral/community history. Our mission is to expand the concept of “audience” by building bridges to a wide range of local and regional institutions and their respective publics.
The mission of Public Humanities is fivefold:
1. To offer students an expanded curriculum in the methods, practices, and skill sets associated with the Public Humanities.
2. To cultivate and articulate best practices for collaborative and creative scholarly work. Of course all scholarship is collaborative and creative, though these aspects are too seldom foregrounded in our formal scholarly discussions or in graduate training.
3. To create new venues for intellectual work, both within Yale and across the city and the region.
4. To create new venues for non-academic expertise within Yale, and thus,
5. To create new conversations and to cultivate new relationships with contiguous institutions throughout the region (museums, libraries, archives, galleries, media outlets, historical societies, performance troupes, etc.) and with non-academic individuals who have much to offer in an academic setting (artists, photographers, curators, broadcast journalists, film makers, writers, etc.).
Distinct areas of focus beneath the broad umbrella of Public Humanities at Yale include Museums and Collections, Documentary Studies, Digital Humanities, Space & Place, History & the Public, and Arts Research.