Wayne State University announces Research Enhancement Program in the Arts and Humanities awards totaling over $208,000

DETROIT - Wayne State University Vice President for Research Stephen M. Lanier announced eight awardees of the university's Research Enhancement Program in the Arts and Humanities, totaling over $208,000. For 12 years, the university has administered this program, which supports research, creative and scholarly projects that engage the arts, design and/or humanities in carrying out the university's research mission. Selected studies typically have cultural, social or economic impacts; build knowledge and appreciation of the arts and humanities; document or preserve important works of art; advance the use of technology in arts, design or the humanities; and more.

This year's awarded projects include:

Fredy Perlman and the Detroit Printing Co-op - $24,469
Danielle Aubert, associate professor of art and art history; College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts

This project will research, author, design and produce a book on the work of the Detroit Printing Co-op, which existed from 1969-80, and founding co-op member Fredy Perlman, an author and editor best known for publishing radical books and pamphlets. Over the course of the 1970s, Perlman and his wife, Lorraine Perlman, printed and designed all of the books published by their press, Black & Red, at the Co-op. Tens of thousands of copies of books and pamphlets came out of the co-op during this period, ranging in scale from a high school newspaper to an 800-page epistolary novel. Perlman is known for his writing, but his work has not been examined through the lens of book design. This project aims to bring Perlman's work into consideration as a part of Detroit's graphic design history.

Questioning Abandonment: An ethnoarchaeological study of landscape dispersal, agro-pastoral change, and community narratives in the Mediterranean highlands of Valencia, Spain - $35,223
Thomas Killion, associate professor of anthropology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

The abandonment of settlements is often assumed to be the result of a disaster, collapse or failure of a cultural system. This project re-frames "abandonment" from collapse of culture to part of a larger cultural process.  Killion's research team will employ historical ethnoarchaeology to study 20th century "abandonment" in two communities of highland Valencia, Spain.  Crisp evidence of rapid but non-violent migration in the 20th century is abundant and accessible to archaeological research.  Missing from the archaeological setting are perspectives of inhabitants of the cultural landscape. This research will assess the question of how Spanish villagers construct heritage, through traditional narratives as opposed to state sanctioned "official" national histories.

Climate Change and Evangelical Christians: Public Engagement through Film - $50,000
Barry Lyons, associate professor of anthropology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Juanita Anderson, lecturer of communication; College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts
Kelly Donnellan, associate professor of communication; College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts

In the United States, public opinion about climate change is sharply polarized along partisan and culture war lines. This innovative film and community engagement project will help overcome this polarization by addressing a crucial segment of the Republican base — evangelical Christians. White evangelicals, specifically, are the racial-religious demographic group least likely to believe that climate change is a serious issue. This project will use video and online media to help U.S. evangelicals see that "good Christians" can believe in human-caused global warming and respond to it constructively. Engaging U.S. evangelicals is the project's primary objective. The project will also advance scholarly knowledge of how religion and culture shape people's responses to ecological challenges.

Public Sense-making of Sustainable Water Access in Urban Communities - $33,445
Rahul Mitra, assistant professor of communication; College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts
Kelly Donnellan, associate professor of communication; College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts

Lack of adequate access to clean water can lead to grave environmental injustice and exacerbate underlying social tensions, especially in urban areas with persistent socioeconomic inequality. This project will examine how urban communities make sense of water access in their everyday lives, using collaborative and transmedia ethnography by blending creative art and humanistic research to build theory and generate community knowledge.

Empire's Garden: Race, Colonial Anthropology, and Visual Experience in fin-de-siècle Paris - $10,670
Andrew Newman, associate professor of anthropology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

The project will address the importance of anthropology and racial worldviews in late 19th and early 20th century Paris. A large body of scholarship focuses on fin-desiècle Paris as a formative context for modern ways of perceiving and representing visual and sensorial experience. Drawing upon this body of work, this project focuses on an under-researched site called the Jardin de l'Acclimatation Anthropologique. It was a "human zoo" where indigenous men, women and children from throughout France's colonial empire were displayed — with the heavy involvement of anthropologists — from 1877 to 1912.

Electronic Music: Ensemble of Wayne State: A Large Ensemble Project - $5,500
Joo Won Park, assistant professor of music; College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts

This project will create three original compositions for a large electronic ensemble at an undergraduate level. The works will showcase new and/or overlooked performance technologies suitable for a group of 12 to 16 electronic musicians. Each composition will research and develop original software instruments and performance systems that can be obtained and performed by electronic ensembles nationwide. The three pieces will be rehearsed, premiered and recorded by the Electronic Music Ensemble of Wayne State, an undergraduate ensemble under Park's direction.

Detroit Remains: Archaeologies of Community History in the Post-Industrial City - $15,000
Krysta Ryzewski, associate professor, anthropology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

This project will help complete the monograph that will describe and evaluate the processes, results and afterlives of collaborative and community-based archaeological research projects at five 20th-century historic sites in the city. The case studies in Detroit Remains use a combination of historical archaeological sources to tell community- and place-based stories about creative entrepreneurship, ingenuity, talent and responses to difficult social conditions in the city by groups of people who are underrepresented in narrative histories.

Digital framework for disseminating linguistic and cultural data - $34,201
Petr Staroverov, assistant professor, English, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

This project will establish and test a digital online resource suitable for publication of linguistic and cultural heritage. The annotated audio recordings collected by Staroverov will include translations and word-by-word linguistic analysis. In addition, the project will contribute to developing and popularizing the Wayne State Phonetics and Fieldwork Laboratory.


Wayne State University is one of the nation's pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit http://www.research.wayne.edu.



Contact info

Julie O'Connor

Director, Research Communications
Phone: 313-577-8845
Email: julie.oconnor@wayne.edu