Humanities Lab Proposals Now Being Accepted for 2023-24

Orange quotation box over brown background; text: Call for proposals: Humanities Labs at FHI. Apply by 3.31.2023.

Deadline: March 31, 2023

Information Session

Monday 3/20 3:30 pm: Interested in proposing a Lab? Join us at this virtual info session – bring your questions!  Register here >>


The John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute is soliciting proposals for 1 or 2 new Humanities Labs to begin in the 2023-24 academic year. The new Lab(s) will receive funding for 2-3 years, contingent on successful annual reviews.

We invite proposals centered on collaborative, interdisciplinary faculty research in the humanities around a theme, a geographical area, a historical period, a genre, a concept, a paradigm, or another well-defined object of your choosing. While all topics are welcome, we would be particularly interested in proposals that address areas of studies that are still in nascent development at Duke and could be energized by the presence of a Humanities Lab, such as (and by no means limited to) Disability Studies, Trans Studies, Indigenous Studies, and Critical approaches to AI/algorithms/digital technology. Projects that focus on or otherwise engage substantially with earlier historical periods – such as ones addressing Religion and Secularism or Political Theology – are also encouraged.

As a focal point, we ask that each proposal include plans for a faculty/grad seminar on the topic of the Lab. We also encourage collaborations with journalists, artists, curators, designers, translators, architects, writers, activists, musicians, and other thinkers and makers who bring humanistic expertise to engagements with a variety of publics, as well as possible connections to partners outside the US, including those working in languages other than English. We welcome projects that range across departments and, if appropriate, schools (Law, Pratt, Nicholas, etc.)

Support for the Labs

Applicants may propose Lab budgets of $25,000 to $40,000 annually. The Lab’s budget should cover the cost of both core operations and programming. Operations budget may include faculty course releases (limited to one course per lab per year, contingent on Department Chair and Divisional Dean approval), graduate assistantships, undergraduate salaries, student staff assistance with programming, etc. Programming budget could be used for short-term residencies, visiting speakers, public events, Lab research projects, and related expenditures.

The Lab spaces at the FHI’s Smith Warehouse home are designed for flexible programming, from smaller public events to class meetings to group collaborations. To encourage intellectual cross-pollination across the FHI, each Lab may be asked to share space with other FHI programs that are thematically related, e.g. the Entanglement Project.

The FHI will support the Lab in budget and financial management, HR/payroll, facilities, and computer/AV maintenance. The new Lab will receive programming and logistical assistance from an FHI staff member as well as graduate assistant(s) hired by the FHI. Other members of the FHI staff may also be available for more specialized services, for example consultation on scholarly publishing and digital projects, as well as occasional videography.


Each Humanities Lab proposal should identify two to three regular-rank (tenured/tenure track, PoP, and Research) faculty members who will serve as the Lab’s co-directors, and two to three additional core faculty affiliates. The co-directors can be comprised of faculty from the humanities, arts, and interpretive social sciences, or humanities/arts/interpretive social sciences faculty along with faculty from other Schools. Affiliated faculty may be drawn from Arts and Sciences as well as Duke’s professional schools, other University Institutes, the Library, or the Nasher Museum. To avoid over-commitment of junior faculty time and effort, no more than one Lab co-director should be at the Assistant rank.

Proposal Guidelines

Proposals should include the following components:

  • A 2-3 page intellectual rationale, describing the Lab’s central research objectives. This statement should include:
    • A brief description of a faculty/grad seminar to be embedded in the Lab;
    • A brief descriptions (1/2 page each) of 1 to 2 other potential projects that the Lab might undertake in pursuit of these research objectives, e.g. publications, exhibitions, digital or multimedia projects, collaborations with individual or institutional partners, curricular and co-curricular projects, etc. We encourage you to conceptualize at least 1 major project that would span the life of the Lab. For models and ideas from past Labs, feel free to contact FHI Associate Director Chris Chia (
  • A list of faculty participants (co-directors and core affiliates). Co-directors must sign the proposal.
  • An outline of the budget categories in which the lab plans to use its $25-40K annual funding. Please indicate any additional funds that the Lab will be able to draw upon (e.g. through existing projects and grants) or plans to raise funds from external or other Duke sources.
  • Additional materials:
    • Approval letters from the appropriate Department Chair and Divisional Dean for any Lab faculty member intending to request a course release.
    • Letters of support from the Department Chair and Divisional Dean for Lab co-director at the Assistant rank.

Complete proposal should be submitted electronically to by Friday, March 31, 2023. Approval/support letters from Chairs and Deans may be submitted separately to the same email address.


Please email

A Champion for the Humanities

Ranjana Khanna Reappointed as Franklin Humanities Institute Director

Headshot of Ranjana Khanna at the Franklin Humanities Institute.Professor of English, Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies and Literature Ranjana Khanna has been reappointed to a second term as director of Duke University’s John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute. The reappointment follows the recommendation of a university committee chaired by Harris Solomon, Fred W. Shaffer Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology.

Established in 1999, the Franklin Humanities Institute leads interdisciplinary education and research programs that engage faculty, students, staff and community members as well as local and global partners. From sparking new collaborative research projects and hosting short residencies to supporting humanities labs, incubating global partnerships and encouraging public engagement, the FHI creates opportunities for scholars at all levels.

Khanna has served as director since 2018. Under her leadership, the FHI has strengthened its role at the forefront of national and international conversations on the future of the humanities and of humanities centers within universities.

In addition to supporting and highlighting fundamental research in the humanities across periods and locations, Khanna has encouraged collaboration among humanities scholars, together with researchers in the social and natural sciences, on some of the world’s most pressing societal problems.

A current focus is the Entanglement Project, which addresses the historical, cultural and political shifts in our understanding of the concepts of race, climate and health that shape our present. Scholars consider what constitutes “justice,” “health” or an “ecology in which one can thrive” as philosophical, imaginative and culturally-shaped concepts that carry long and complex histories necessary to understanding the present and shaping the future.

With two colleagues, Khanna leads Humanities Unbounded, a five-year initiative funded by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant to nurture collaboration and inventive expressions of the humanities at Duke.

Khanna is recognized for her contributions to the fields of postcolonial, feminist and psychoanalytic theory and literature. Her books include “Algeria Cuts: Women and Representation, 1830 to the Present” and “Dark Continents: Psychoanalysis and Colonialism.” She earned a B.A. and a D.Phil. from the University of York in the U.K.

A Duke faculty member since 2000, Khanna has held several leadership roles and earned praise for her work with students. She received the Graduate School Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring in 2015. Among her current research collaborations is a project on race and mental health in the southern United States.

Khanna has been the recipient of fellowships from the Rockefeller and Ford foundations, the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University, and others.

Learn more about the Franklin Humanities Institute and sign up for the mailing list.

Explore Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Through Story+

Four images of students working together, with logo and text Story+.

Deadline: February 22, 2023

Student applications are now open for this summer’s Story+ research program. Applications are due on February 22 but will be evaluated on a rolling basis, so students should apply as soon as possible.

Story+ is a six-week summer research experience for undergraduate and graduate students who work in small teams to bring academic research to life through dynamic storytelling. In 2023, the program will run in person from May 17 through June 30. Graduate and undergraduate students will receive a stipend for their participation. Please see details and application information.

Story+ is administered by the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute in conjunction with Bass Connections, with support from Duke University Libraries.

2023 Story+ Projects


The undergraduate research stipend will be $3,150. While we will help connect you to on-campus housing resources, room and board arrangements (on or off campus) are the responsibility of participants.

Graduate student project managers, whose commitment is for a similar time frame with more limited hours, will receive a stipend in line with graduate student summer funding requirements and expectations. The details of these stipends will be shared as soon as they are available.

Generally, students receive their stipends in two equal payments at the end of each program month, May and June. Please be aware that policies may require different payment paperwork and longer approval processes for students in select categories, including (but not limited to) international students, non-Duke students, DKU students, non-US citizens. In such cases, you may not receive your stipend according to the timeline mentioned above. Please email and/or contact the visa office and/or reach out to your financial aid advisor for guidance on making summer plans.



When applying, you’ll be able to select, and rank, up to three different Story+ projects.

For the application, you’ll be asked to provide the following information:

  • Resume
  • Unofficial Transcript
  • A one-paragraph Statement of Interest per project chosen (250 words)
  • A one-paragraph Contribution Statement per project chosen detailing the experiences, strengths, skills, interests, and abilities in humanities research you bring to the project (250 words)
  • Up to two References (no actual letters, just names and email addresses)

The priority deadline for all student applications is 11:59 pm on February 22, 2023, but we will evaluate applications on a rolling basis, so please get your application in as soon as you can.


For any questions about the program or application, please contact

We strongly encourage you to review what project leaders indicate as to the desired qualities of team participants and if they request any supplemental materials for you to upload. Full details about each Story+ project can be found on the Story+ page.

Human Rights Summer Research Grants Available for Undergraduate and Graduate Students

Deadline: March 24, 2023

Currently enrolled Duke undergraduate and graduate students are invited to apply for summer research funding from the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute. The goals of the grant are to strengthen global research opportunities for students interested in developing, implementing and working in human rights. Special consideration is given to students whose research projects contribute to a senior thesis or project, or to students enrolled in the Human Rights Certificate.

Students are encouraged to seek supplementary funding to complete their planned research needs from other Duke sources.

NOTE: Due to the pandemic, some restrictions may apply to the ability to travel. We will inform all applicants of any special considerations. 

Grants are available up to $2,000. 

Eligibility and Criteria

Students from all backgrounds and academic disciplines are encouraged to apply. Graduating seniors or graduate students in their final year at Duke are not eligible.

Students must be directed by a member of the Duke University faculty and conducted over a period no less than 2 weeks during the summer. Students are expected to be in frequent contact with their advisors and the DHRC@FHI throughout the duration of the project.

Projects involving interactions with human subjects online will need approval from the Duke Institutional Review Board. Read more here.

The deadline for 2022 applications is March 24, 2023. Please click here to apply.

Take Advantage of the Faculty Book Manuscript Workshop Program in Spring 2023

Image of a book on a table, with text reading faculty book manuscript workshops.

Deadline: November 1, 2022


The Franklin Humanities Institute’s Faculty Book Manuscript Workshop Program provides support for the development and completion of scholarly monographs. It provides a structure for generating constructive, informed criticism on near-final book manuscripts, at a moment in the writing process when authors can most effectively utilize feedback. The aim of the program is to transform already excellent scholarly projects into superior published works.

The FHI introduced the Faculty Book Manuscript Workshop Program in 2008 and developed it with generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation from 2011 to 2015. In recognition of the support that the program provides for faculty research, it is now funded by the Provost as part of the university’s academic strategic plan, Together Duke.

The Book MS Workshop award includes funding as well as logistical support. (Note that it does not include fellowship or course-release funding.)


All regular rank faculty in the humanities, arts, and interpretive social sciences, regardless of seniority, are eligible to apply, but Assistant Professors will receive priority consideration. We are also interested in translations, collaborative projects, and innovative major publications in a variety of formats and platforms.

Timing and leave

Junior faculty are strongly advised to apply for the workshop in advance of their junior leave. While the award does not include funding for additional leave, the FHI commits to assisting workshop recipients who plan to apply for additional leave in order to support the final revisions of their manuscripts.

When applying, applicants should consider carefully their anticipated writing schedule.  The FHI will work with each awardee to schedule their workshop, based on a realistic due date for a complete draft of the book manuscript, which will be sent to participants at least one month prior to the workshop date.

For digital or multi-modal projects, a workshop earlier in the research and writing process might be more useful; feel free to consult the FHI about timing at

Deadline to apply

The deadline for proposals is Tuesday, November 1, 2022.

Workshop details

Each workshop convenes two senior scholars whose work is relevant to the subject of the book in question, an acquisitions editor from a major scholarly press, and a select group of local faculty from Duke and area universities.

The Faculty member whose project is the focus of the workshop will select each participant. The FHI will handle all logistics related to the workshop, including sending formal invitations to workshop participants, making travel arrangements for external guests, scheduling the workshop, reserving a room, printing and distributing manuscripts to workshop participants, providing catered meals, and issuing honoraria. This allows faculty to focus on finishing their manuscripts in the months approaching the workshop.

The half-day workshop begins with presentations from the invited guests, each of whom will be asked to make a formal presentation of their thoughts on the strengths of the draft and areas for further development. The author responds, and an open discussion with the group follows, continuing over a working lunch.

Workshops are closed, and groups are limited to 15 total participants, selected by the author.

Note about Covid-19 arrangements 

Since Fall 2020, a dozen workshops have taken place via Zoom; participants valued the stimulating and substantive discussions, and authors found them rewarding. In 2022-23, we hope to resume some in-person workshops if health and safety guidelines allow.  If you have questions about workshop arrangements during these unprecedented times, please contact Sylvia Miller at the email below.

Proposal requirements and selection criteria

Proposals should focus on scholarly manuscripts being produced with the aim to secure a publishing contract.  One workshop per year may be dedicated to digital or multi-modal projects.

Authors and their projects will be selected based on the potential significance of the finished work to the field in question, and the potential impact of the work on the author’s career. The applicant’s academic accomplishments will also be taken into account.  Workshop proposals must include the following components:

  1. A one-page summary of the project in development, including a schedule for completion. In this summary, applicants should also include a statement indicating whether the work is under contract with a publisher, a list of publishers who have expressed interest, or a list of publishers the applicant feels would be ideal for the project but who have not yet been approached.
  2. A one-page narrative explaining why and how this opportunity will be important to the process of completing the work. If appropriate, applicants should include a brief statement specifying their tenure and/or promotion timelines in this narrative.
  3. A list of prospective invitees to the workshop, to include: (1) two scholars external to Duke; (2) one acquisitions editor at a major scholarly press (not necessarily an editor who has been approached); and (3) a list of general invitees to the workshops from Duke and area universities. The list may include no more than 15 people, and should be divided into areas of relevance, with each prospective participant in each area ranked according to preference. Please note that this list is intended to give the review committee a sense of the proposed workshop and will not be considered final. Applicants should not make advance commitments to anyone on their list beyond confirming the general interest of the prospective participant, if this is deemed necessary. Applicants should be sure to include more than one scholar in each category.
  4. A firm date for completion of the book manuscript.
  5. A current curriculum vitae.
  6. Proposals must be submitted by 5:00 PM on Tuesday, November 1, 2022 via email attachment (Word and PDF) to Please include the phrase “Book MS Workshop Proposal” in the subject line.  Please combine items 1-4 above in a single document.
  7. Applicants will be notified whether or not their applications have been successful three to six weeks from the submission deadline.


Email fhi@duke.eduor

Digital Humanities Summer Research Grants for Ph.D. Students

Digital Humanities Summer Research Grants.

Deadline: March 20, 2022

The Digital Humanities Initiative at the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute is offering Digital Humanities Summer Research Grants to humanities Ph.D. students interested in developing their DH knowledge and projects. The grants are considered non-compensatory awards.

Grant recipients will be expected to consult with Duke Digital Humanities Initiative faculty/staff on their project plans upon receiving the award, to participate in at least one PhD Lab group meeting of grantees in Spring 2022, and to present their grant outcomes at a PhD Lab group event in Fall 2022. Grantees will also be encouraged to join the DHI community at events, workshops and other activities throughout the year.

Awards will be $2,750, paid out in May and June 2022. The deadline is March 20 with notifications by April 1.

Learn more and apply.

Comments Sought in Regular Review of Director Ranjana Khanna

A university committee is seeking comments as part of a regular performance review of the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute (the FHI) director, Ranjana Khanna. Regular reviews of institute directors are to be conducted in the penultimate year of their term by a committee formed by the provost in consultation with the Executive Committee of the Academic Council. Such a committee has been appointed to review Khanna, who was appointed for a first term as director in January 2018.

Members of the review committee are:

  • Harris Solomon, Fred W. Shaffer Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology (chair)
  • Jeffrey Baker, Professor of Pediatrics
  • James Chappel, Gilhuly Family Assoc Professor of History
  • Polly Ha, Associate Professor of the History of Christianity
  • Jennifer Nash, Jean Fox O’Barr Women’s Studies Distinguished Professor
  • Joseph Winters, Alexander F. Hehmeyer Associate Professor of Religious Studies and African and African American Studies

An important part of the review process is the solicitation and consideration of comments from the university’s many constituencies. Comments on performance and suggestions for the future are important to the committee’s work.

The charge to the committee poses several questions for the review, including Khanna’s effectiveness in the following areas:

  • Ability to provide intellectual and organizational leadership for an institute intended to engage, support and invigorate the humanities and interpretive social science communities at Duke
  • Ability to develop and foster successful interdisciplinary collaborations with leadership from departments, schools and other units across campus that have a humanistic or interpretive social science dimension, or that have the potential to benefit from engagement with such a dimension)
  • Effectiveness in engaging faculty from multiple schools and departments in the work of the FHI – we are interested in learning why some faculty do engage with FHI while others do not
  • Effectiveness in mentoring faculty leaders and pivotal senior and research staff who are responsible for directing key and emerging initiatives in the FHI
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity, inclusion and excellence through leadership in hiring practices, faculty engagement, the forging of strategic priorities, and the mentoring of staff members
  • Administrative competencies regarding effective management of the FHI budget and staff
  • Effectiveness in engaging students—both undergraduate and graduate students—in FHI activities and programs
  • Overall effectiveness as the leader of a nimble, diverse organization

The committee invites you to share your thoughts by email or letter. Communication should include the nature of your interactions with Director Khanna so that the committee can understand the context of the comments as fully as possible. The committee will discuss responses, and a summary will be included in the written report to the provost.

The committee would appreciate receiving comments by April 14, 2022.

Ways to respond:

Information collected will be compiled in a report, without attribution, which will be submitted to the provost, the vice provost of interdisciplinary studies, and the dean of humanities at the conclusion of the review. Responses will be kept confidential. While a list of those from whom feedback is received will be part of the record, it will be in an appendix of the report which will not be shared. No comments or observations will be attributed to any individual in any report of the committee.

Humanities Projects Invited for Summer 2022 Story+ Program


Deadline: November 1, 2021

Faculty are encouraged to link a Story+ project proposal to a 2022-2023 Bass Connections project team. Those wishing to do so must submit a joint proposal through the Bass Connections RFP process.

About Story+

Story+ is a six-week summer program that immerses interdisciplinary teams of students, faculty and staff in humanities research and public storytelling. Story+ promotes inquiry-based learning and vertically integrated collaboration through projects that may be driven by archival research, oral history, textual analysis, visual analysis, cultural criticism or other humanistic research methods.

Small teams of undergraduates, supervised by graduate student mentors, collaborate on focused projects that contribute to the broader research, teaching, scholarly communications, and/or public engagement agendas of Duke faculty, Duke librarians, nonprofit organizations and other University or non-University project sponsors. Story+ final projects have taken the form of writing, exhibits, websites, annotated archives, short films/videos, podcasts, social media content and other genres.

A typical Story+ team consists of a project sponsor, a graduate student mentor and three undergraduate researchers. Project sponsors benefit from the opportunity to engage a team of students, who are provided with appropriate guidance and mentoring through Story+, in producing a tangible product that may further their work. Story+ undergraduate students learn how to conduct rigorous interpretive research in a team setting, connect academic knowledge to broader social issues and communicate their research stories with diverse audiences – within and outside the University – in a complex media environment. Graduate mentors get the distinctive pedagogical and professional opportunity to manage a complex collaborative project and facilitate the network of relationships that such projects entail.

Call for Proposals Story+ 2022

The Franklin Humanities Institute invites proposals from Duke faculty, archivists, artists and other campus and community members for the Summer 2022 edition of Story+. We anticipate we’ll gather again full-time, fully in-person for Story+ Summer 2022. In order to provide options for our diverse student population, though, we are interested in accommodating proposals for projects that are full-time and fully remote. Please indicate your preferred format in your proposals.

We seek projects of any topic that are anchored in humanities research methods and questions, with well-defined project goals that can be feasibly completed in six weeks. Outcomes of past Story+ teams have ranged from finished products (e.g., a completed curatorial plan a physical exhibit or a published research report), prototypes or pilot projects (e.g., a prototype online teaching module or a proof-of-concept audio podcast), as well as preliminary, exploratory research that contributes to a larger ongoing project (e.g., oral histories, translation, transcription or archival discovery).

We encourage proposals that build upon or towards course offerings, Humanities Labs, or Bass Connections teams during the regular school year. As possible points of reference, please see our Story+ website for descriptions and outcomes from previous teams. P.I.s or projects previously supported by Story+ are eligible to apply, but note that priority may be given, in these cases, to projects that demonstrate a significantly new direction or outcome. Individuals are strongly encouraged to consult with Amanda Starling Gould about interest and available opportunities.

Story+ is built upon the foundational values of care, inclusion, and community. Our primary objectives are to enable undergraduate and graduate students to participate in rigorous, hands-on humanities research, to facilitate collaborative and creative research transmission and to promote teamwork and interdisciplinary as humanities modes of work.

Our values also animate how we reach out for partnerships across Duke and beyond Duke, in the projects we solicit and select, in the ways we recruit and support students, and in our common programming throughout the summer. We understand that our work is done with and within a privileged institution of higher education that has a historically complicated relationship with research subjects, objectification and positivism. To generate humanistic research means paying attention to how structures and systems influence the collection of evidence, methods of analysis and communication of results and to our particular identities and contexts as researchers.

This embrace of situated knowledge does not require that Story+ projects adhere to certain topics, modes of work; or presentation practices; it does however, require a self-awareness about the choices any particular project makes from subject matter, to methodology, to communication with the public, to divisions of labor and supervisory authority. As such, we ask all potential and participating partners to consider how, following our Story+ Code of Conduct, they and their projects will contribute to a research community where inclusion, consensus and reciprocity are at the heart of practice and communication.

Project sponsors should plan to be accessible to their teams on at least a weekly basis and are expected to be regularly available to collaborate with their full team. The most successful and highly ranked of our projects are those with dedicated sponsors and clearly articulated goals. All project leaders will be asked to oblige the Story+ Policies and Expectations for Story+ Team Leaders and the Story+ Code of Conduct included therein.

Please submit proposals via Qualtrics by November 1 at 5:00 p.m.

The application form will ask for the following components:

  • Brief description of the overall project. This year, we are inviting proposals for full-time, fully in-person and fully online projects. Please indicate your preferred format in your proposals.
  • Description of the specific project goal(s) and output(s) you hope to accomplish through Story+. Please include here a basic timeline (approximately May 11 to June 24), project milestones, expected outcome(s) and how/why this work is important to your research/your unit/your organization.
  • Description of how your project aligns with the mission and goals of Story+ to offer a rich humanities research and public storytelling experience for graduates and undergraduates
  • Workplan: this is optional but ideal. This might include a sketch of methods, methodologies, weekly schedule, opportunities for students, campus/community partners who might collaborate, post-Story+ afterlives of the research.
  • List of essential skills undergraduates will need to contribute to the project
  • Do you have a graduate student in mind for the role of your graduate mentor? If you would like us to help match you with a mentor, please list essential skills you would like this person to have.
  • Any funding from external sources or other Duke units that can support the work of the team

For queries about the program and/or to discuss specific project ideas, please email Amanda Starling Gould.

Story+ is co-directed by Amanda Starling Gould and Jules Odendahl-James. Story+ is funded by Together Duke and administered by the Franklin Humanities Institute in conjunction with Bass Connections, with additional support from the Duke Libraries.

Download a PDF of this call for proposals.

Learn More