Current Reading Groups

The following faculty and graduate student reading groups meet regularly throughout the year and may organize public events on topics of interest to a broad range of disciplines.

Please contact the reading group organizers (listed below) directly for more information about the groups and their activities.

Black Feminisms and Digital Transformations

Ruth Nicole Brown Gender & Women’s Studies and Education Policy Studies, Organization and Leadership,
Blair Ebony Smith Art & Design
Jessica L. Robinson Media and Cinema Studies (Institute for Communications Research),

Following our work, “Doing Digital Wrongly” (2018), we will facilitate a reading group to further explore the nuances of Black Feminisms connections to ideas and manifestations of the “digital”. This group will explore foundations in Black feminisms that signal toward the “digital” to inform ongoing projects such as exhibits, music productions, and public campaigns. Ultimately, this group aims to create and extend dialogue on the digital and its connections to Black Feminisms.

Decolonizing Science: Rethinking and Resituating Questions and Methods

Sana Saboowala Integrative Biology,
Ashley Oyirifi Human Nutrition,

This group intends to meet bimonthly to discuss readings, share research, and host workshops to work on decolonizing science and interpret what that means at this institution and beyond. This interdisciplinary pursuit aims to understand and problematize how established power hierarchies shape “modern” Western science and how that in turn influences other facets of society ranging from policyto journalism. Furthermore, this group would provide a space to think about alternatives to the status quo.

The Futurity of Pessimism, the Pessimism of Futurity

J. David Cisneros Communication,
Candice M. Jenkins English,

Moments of optimism—few and far between—increasingly seem premised on the sham of conceptions of the future in the popular imaginary. Thus it seems a fruitful moment to talk about the past, the future, and the (im)possibilities for change. This Reading Group will seek to connect and discuss conversations around futurity, optimism, and pessimism across a number of contexts (race, affect, queer studies) and in a number of forms (from scholarship to popular media).

The Future of Trauma and Memory Studies

Claire Baytas Comparative Literature,
Dilara Caliskan Anthropology,

This multidisciplinary group will meet regularly to discuss readings in the fields of trauma and memory studies as well as our own works-in-progress. Readings will explore several relevant areas including affect theory, neuroscience, media and visual culture, disability studies, transnational and postcolonial populations, as well as the politics of memorialization and cultures of law. We will also organize public oncampus events related to our key themes including film screenings, professional panels, and interactive readings.

The Future of Trauma and Memory Studies Website

Imagining and Reimagining the University

Derek Attig Graduate College,

What could a university be? What could it care about? How could it be structured? Who could it be for? Participants in this reading group will come together regularly to creatively explore those questions and more. With a focus on institutional structure and on issues of equity and justice, we will work together to imagine (in ways both fantastical and practical) new possibilities for higher education.

Sign up for information about the Imagining and Reimagining the University reading group.

The Language and Society Discussion Group

Rakesh Bhatt Linguistics, Krystal Smalls, Anthropology and Linguistics,
Sarah Clark Linguistics,

The Language and Society Discussion Group (LSD) is a weekly, dynamic discussion forum focused on current topics in Sociolinguistics. Each semester, the group selects and discusses scholarly works concentrated on a specific theme, such as the discursive performance of identity. LSD meetings also offer an opportunity for students to present current individual projects and receive vital feedback. Additionally, LSD organizes the annual Sociolinguistics Symposium (SOSY) at UIUC to showcase exciting and original research in Sociolinguistics.

The Language and Society Discussion Group Website

Pedagogies of Alternative Print

Kathryn La Barre School of Information Sciences,
Carol Tilley School of Information Sciences,

To build a community of scholars committed to exploring teaching and learning practices focused on zines, comics, and related alternative print formats. Activities will include collection tours, reading and critique of exemplar materials, and discussions of both published and personal pedagogical approaches.

Premodern Reading Group

Suzanne Valentine English-Medieval,
Hilary Gross English-Early Modern,
Meg Cole English–18th Century,

This reading group, spanning “beginnings” to 1800 under the premodern umbrella, will meet regularly to discuss interdisciplinary provocations regarding concepts of transformation in premodern contexts. Our work together will be structured to build towards a possible conference in the Spring semester, organized through the Premodern Globe Consortium and the Pre-Modern Workshop.

Reza Negarestani’s Intelligence and Spirit

Michael Uhall Political Science,

We are a geographically disparate and multidisciplinary group, and we will be closely reading Iranian philosopher Reza Negarestani’s monograph Intelligence and Spirit (Falmouth: Urbanomic Press, 2018) over the course of 2019–2020. Read more about Intelligence and Spirit on the Urbanomic Press website and Reza Negarestani’s blog Toy Philosophy.

The Role of Study Abroad in Higher Education

Charles Webster Germanic Languages and Literatures,

This reading group brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines to examine the changing role of study abroad within a liberal arts education. Our primary focus is on the extent to which study abroad contributes to the acquisition of cultural competence and language skills. We also explore students’ intellectual, personal, and instrumental motivations. In addition, we discuss demographic trends and how inequities in access to study abroad are being addressed.

Social Dynamics of Language Variation and Change

Anna Maria Escobar Spanish and Portuguese,
Zsuzsanna Fagyal French and Italian,
Gyula Zsombok French and Italian,

Globalization and migration around the world have brought into contact speakers of different linguistic varieties, impacting their written and spoken use of languages in the process. We draw from linguistics and the social and behavioral sciences to examine the social and political contexts of language contact and outcomes of language variation and change in multilingual settings. In addition to newly published readings, this year’s focus will be hypothesis formation and hands-on methods of data analysis.

Sound Studies

Gabriel Solis Music, African American Studies, and Anthropology,
Ian Nutting Music,

Interdisciplinary work on sound–including, but not limited to music–as a politically, culturally, socially, and environmentally salient feature of both human and non-human life has coalesced in recent years as sound studies. We plan to address the central question of this literature in a bi- monthly seminar: “how does a shift from an epistemology rooted in the visual to one centered on the sonic change the ways we answer basic questions in the humanities?”

Transgender Studies Reading Group

Kadin Henningsen English,
Dilara Caliskan Anthropology,
Email Kadin to be added to the list-serv.

The Transgender Studies Reading Group is a transdisciplinary group of faculty and graduate students working in the emerging field of Transgender Studies. The group meets regulalry to engage with current scholarship related to transgender experiences, history, literature, and methodologies, and consider how these conversations might inform our own research projects. Readings and themes will be selected by the group based on group interests, and may include circulating/workshopping original scholarship by group participants.

Transmission, Translation, and Directionality in Cultural Exchange (TTDCE)

JiHyea Hwang Comparative and World Literature,
Eva Kuras Comparative and World Literature,

“Transmission, Translation, and Directionality in Cultural Exchange (TTDCE)” is an interdisciplinary reading group. The goal of the project is to bring together a broad array of UIUC faculty and graduate students around the central topic of cross-cultural exchange. We aim to problematize the historical and contemporary complexities of the movement of textual, oral/musical, artifact, and other cultural traditions across often vast geographical distances. The collaboration will take place through a hybrid reading group/workshop format.

Transmission, Translation, and Directionality in Cultural Exchange Website