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Inside the Newhouse Center

About the Newhouse Center for the Humanities at Wellesley College

The Newhouse Center for the Humanities at Wellesley College is a dynamic and cosmopolitan intellectual community that extends from Wellesley College to the wider Boston area and beyond.

The Newhouse was established by a generous gift from Susan and Donald Newhouse in 2004 to promote innovative, imaginative and influential research in the humanities. Its mission is to promote and enhance creative, critical thinking in the humanities and the wider arts.

The Newhouse fosters interconnection among different parts of the liberal arts institution and seeks out new ways to enable collaboration within and beyond the College. It promotes unexpected and innovative partnerships, both intellectual and practical, and generates an exciting and diverse array of programming and performances for the benefit of the community at large.

Upcoming Events

A Reading and Conversation with Min Jin Lee

Pachinko, Min Jin Lee’s second novel, traces the arc of one family of resident Koreans of Japan, long the targets of discrimination. With an ear to the nuances of difference, Lee opens a window on a little-known minority group struggling to succeed on the far side of the Japanese economic miracle. Lee is a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. Her 2017 novel, Pachinko, was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction, and selected as one of The New York Times 10 Best Books of 2017. In collaboration with the English Department, the Korean Students Association, and the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, The Newhouse Center for the Humanities welcomes Min Jin Lee for a reading and conversation led by Professor Yu Jin Ko on September 27th at 5:00 pm in Jewett Auditorium.

Wang Bing Film Series

Wang Bing, one of China’s foremost contemporary filmmakers, crafts his documentaries around the small stories of individuals who suffer the tragic consequences of wide-sweeping historical events. The Newhouse Center for the Humanities—in collaboration with Cinema and Media Studies, the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, and the East Asian Studies program—is proud to host Wang Bing on his first ever visit to the United States. Wellesley will screen a range of Wang Bing’s films, each treating a different social topic:

Visit Wellesley Events for more details about these and other Newhouse events as they become available.

Newhouse Fellows

Applications are now open. Apply to be an external Newhouse Fellow by Monday, January 15, 2019. 




Eve Zimmerman

As director of the Newhouse Center, I look forward to forging a collaborative and inclusive community of humanists around the Newhouse Center, building on the work of former directors. Interested Wellesley faculty can spend an afternoon, a semester, or a year in residence and are encouraged to contact me directly about projects large or small. External fellows reside for a few weeks, a semester, or a year. (Applications and guidelines will be posted soon.) We are setting aside funding for Newhouse courses that incorporate experiential learning and test new interdisciplinary modes of learning.  

Recently, Wellesley joined the New England Humanities Consortium and this year we will share speakers with two other institutions in the region. Additionally, we plan to strengthen connections among scholars at our home institutions and provide opportunities for discussion and collaboration. Most importantly, the Newhouse Center will advocate strongly for all humanities faculty and students at Wellesley and engage in discussion with other disciplines across the college.

In my academic life, I teach and write about East Asia, particularly the fiction of postwar Japan. My first book is a literary “ethnography” of Kenji Nakagami, a key Japanese writer from the burakumin (outcaste) class. It gave rise to a second project on representations of Japanese folk architecture in photography. I have also been working on a second book on how the fluid category of “girlhood” is used by female writers and manga artists in postwar Japan to express views on gender, sexuality, and history.

Program Coordinator

Lauren Cote

Lauren Cote received her Master of Arts in English in 2015. Although she was always interested in writing, she chose to study English literature after reading Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories as an undergraduate. This book is still one of her favorites, and is at the core of her outlook on the humanities as vast, interconnected fields in which human stories, ideas, and theories intertwine and build upon one another.

As program coordinator for the Newhouse Center, Lauren is responsible for overseeing event logistics and providing administrative support to the director and visiting fellows. When she is not working, you can find her cultivating succulents, playing tabletop games with friends, or reading while her cat snoozes nearby.

Faculty Fellows


Elizabeth Graver

Elizabeth Graver will be working on her fifth novel, tentatively titled Scatter & Seed. Inspired by her own maternal line family history, this project plays with the boundary between fiction and nonfiction, using photographs and real names while also imagining inner lives and inventing scenes. The central character, based on Graver's grandmother, Rebecca Levy, is a Sephardic Jewish woman born in Turkey who migrates first to Spain in 1924 and then to the United States by way of Cuba a decade later. The book explores crossings of many different sorts—linguistic, cultural, religious, familial, economic—and examines how 20th-century history intersects with private lives.

For more information please visit Elizabeth's faculty profile at Boston College or her website.  

John Plotz

John Plotz is Professor of Victorian Literature at Brandeis University. His 2018-19 Newhouse project, “Nonhuman Being: Post-Darwinian Naturalism, Fantasy, and Science Fiction,” attempts to trace the legacy of Darwinian natural materialism in the near-simultaneous emergence of prose fantasy, science fiction and Naturalist literature. All three genres explore the nonhuman within human existence, making them bellwethers of changing human relations to the object as well as the animal world. Studying them together sheds light on the vernacular “thing theory” that in many ways persists into the present, subtly shaping various forms of “posthumanism” and “object-oriented ontology.” Studying the rise of fantasy, science fiction and naturalism together—a novel approach, building on excellent recent scholarship about each separate genre—clarifies not only that thing theory’s origins but also its contemporary afterlife.

Plotz’s books include The Crowd: British Literature and Public Politics (2000), Portable Property: Victorian Culture on the Move (2008), and Semi-Detached: The Aesthetics of Virtual Experience since Dickens (2018). He and his partner Lisa live in Brookline with two children and three chickens.

Kelly Rich

Kelly Rich is Assistant Professor of English at Harvard University. Her research and teaching interests include the twentieth- and twenty-first century novel, law and the humanities, wars and their afterlives, and transnational kinship. She is currently finishing her book manuscript, States of Repair: Imagining Welfare in the Postwar British Novel, which studies Britain’s transition from warfare to welfare and its influence on the literary imagination. Her work has appeared in journals including ELHModern Fiction Studies, and Law, Culture, and the Humanities.

Keith Vincent

J. Keith Vincent is Associate Professor of Japanese and Comparative Literature, and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Boston University. His research focuses on modern Japanese literature, queer theory, translation, and the novel. He is the author of Two-Timing Modernity: Homosocial Narrative in Modern Japanese Fiction (Harvard Asia Center, 2012). Recent articles include “Queer Reading and Japanese Literature,” in the Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese Literature (2016) and “Sex on the Mind: Queer Theory Meets Cognitive Theory,” in the Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Literary Studies (2015). His translation of Okamoto Kanoko’s A Riot of Goldfish (Hesperus Press,  2010) won the 2011 U.S. Japan Friendship Commission Prize for the  Translation of Japanese Literature, and his 2017 translation of Tanizaki Jun’ichirō’s novella Devils in Daylight has been shortlisted for the Lucien Stryk Prize Asian Translation Prize by the American Literary Translators Association.

I will be working on two book projects this spring as a Newhouse fellow. Masaoka Shiki: A Life in Haiku, is a collection of translations with commentary of more than 300 haiku by Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902), the poet who coined the word “haiku,” and laid the foundations for that genre’s global reach in the twentieth century.  The second book, Shiki and Sōseki: from Haiku to Novel is an account of the friendship between Shiki and his close friend and fellow haiku poet Natsume Sōseki (1867-1916), who went on after Shiki’s early death from tuberculosis in 1902 to become modern Japan’s most influential modern novelist. Through readings of private exchanges of letters, haiku, and Chinese poetry between the two men while Shiki was alive, and of moments where allusions to Shiki and his work show up in Sōseki’s novels written years after Shiki’s death, the book shows how Sōseki's response to this loss on both an emotional and a literary level forms part of a larger story about how the genres of haiku and the novel were shaped by gender and about the changing conditions of possibility for intimacy between men in a rapidly modernizing Japan.