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Message from the Director

face of woman wearing glasses black and white

Welcome Drake faculty humanists and humans!

As we enter the 21-22 academic year, I am honored to accept the directorship of the board of the Center for the Humanities.

New this year: Qualtrics-based grant application forms will be available on the grant description pages starting August 9th. This new system will streamline the application process. It will also undoubtedly have some flaws and room for improvement: I will be grateful for your insights and feedback!

If you know me, you know well that I am not, by nature, much of an "administrator" (I'm an introvert and bad with numbers, for starters!), but I am very human. I am a creative writer and artist who is deeply interested in science and technology, and in the insights that come at the borderlands of our creative and intellectual pursuits, and our academic disciplines.

I am also a mother, and a mere mortal, whose experience of the past pandemic year was, as I am sure yours was, something like a crucible that burned away inessential and impermanent things and left an iron-hard core of compassion, and passion for the things that most matter in our short time on this Earth.

In this coming year, I hope the Center’s resources can help faculty regain their footing after these staggering experiences, and create opportunities and alliances among faculty not typically included under the heading “humanities" -- for, behold this human-and-inhuman world which we have wrought! Machine intelligence is our Main Street, catastrophic climate change is now our cottage home -- all while we understand ourselves as nodes in a network, and have, for the past year at least, observed together the real-time evolution of a virus that seeks to hack our cells -- while we rewrite RNA to defend ourselves!

Homosapiens, homotechnologicus, homocatastrophicus, call us what you will, our wisdom and our technologies interact with socially-constructed fictions in a physical world which affects everything about us. Homocatharticus? Homoinquisitus? Our emotions change the weather. Our wonder defies gravity, espies distant moons, and wanders ancient riverbeds on Mars. 

Homocollaboratus? We do none of this alone.

May the coming year keep us safe and healthy (and in-person), may we all pursue our ideas and discoveries to meaningful ends and begin some new conversations. Please apply for a grant if the Center for the Humanities can help you achieve your goals, whatever they may be, wherever they may take you, dearest humans.

Send inquiries to my Drake email: amy.letter@drake.edu

Amy Letter
Department of English
Director, Center for the Humanities   
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