Center for Humanistic Inquiry

Located at the heart of campus in Frost Library, the Center for Humanistic Inquiry (CHI) provides space and resources for Amherst faculty and departments to engage a broad vision of the role humanistic thinking can play in scholarly and public life. Each year we invite several fellows into residency at the Center to conduct research and collaborate with each other under the rubric of a resonant theme. The Center also hosts performances, forums, exhibitions, digital interventions, conferences, and workshops designed to foster humanities inquiry.


Message from the Director - COVID-19

Darryl Harper portrait
Darryl Harper, Director, Center for Humanistic Inquiry

"Our expertise as humanists is fundamental to our buoyancy, resilience, and comprehension of how our world is changing." (from a letter from a colleague)

During the COVID-19 crisis, those of us working at the CHI remain committed to being a source of information and support for all of you, faculty, staff, and visitors alike, as you work to see our students through to the end of the semester in their coursework, to support critical functions at the college, and to grapple with the events unfolding rapidly around us. If there is anything we can do to be helpful to you, please be in touch.

Read the director's letter

Speaking With Martha Umphrey, Inaugural Director of the CHI

Martha Umphrey at Dickinson Birthday Party

The founding director of the CHI recalls its early days

As founding director of the Center for Humanistic Inquiry, Martha Umphrey focused on the big question of how to bring an intellectual community together when so much is going on already. She needed to convince people who didn't feel a humanities center was necessary that this was a valuable operation. Umphrey says, "In order to make meaningful progress, we need to inject the humanities into what the sciences think they are. Uncovering what it means to be human is going to demand literacy between the divisions."

Read more about Martha Umphrey and the CHI

New Book by Monique Roelofs - Arts of Address

Monique Roelofs headshot

Monique Roelofs offers a pathbreaking systematic model of the field of address and puts it to work in the arts, critical theory, and social life.

Modes of address are forms of signification that we direct at living beings, things, and places, and they at us and at each other. Seeing is a form of address. So are speaking, singing, and painting. Initiating or responding to such calls, we participate in encounters with the world. Widely used yet less often examined in its own right, the notion of address cries out for analysis. Drawing on a wide array of artistic and theoretical sources and challenging disciplinary boundaries, Monique Roelofs illuminates address’s significance to cultural existence and to our reflexive aesthetic engagement in it. Roelofs is professor of philosophy at Hampshire College and Karl Loewenstein Fellow and visiting professor of political science at Amherst College.

See more about Arts of Address

New England Humanities Consortium RFP - Deadline extended to May 15, 2020

NEHC logo

The New England Humanities Consortium (NEHC) is offering competitive seed grants for research initiatives in the humanities that seek to capitalize on the collaborative network of the consortium. Awards of up to $5,000 will be made. Priority will be given to applications demonstrating concrete plans for consortium membership involvement. Such involvement can take different forms, but will typically constitute direct collaboration between two or more member institutions and/or active and solicitation of faculty, staff, or students from member institutions. Applications are welcome from individuals or teams, but the PI must be on the faculty of a NEHC member institution. Potential areas of funding interest include the following:

  • Collaborative research projects
  • Summer Seminars
  • Study or working groups
  • Shared speakers across institutions
  • Collaborative course design
  • Exhibitions

Application deadline: Extended to May 15, 2020