Alt-Ac Support

Humanities graduate students seeking non-faculty careers after receipt of their PhD are offered support through the following three components: a) mentored training for entering the job market; b) remunerated positions in the Civic Humanists Program, which brings high school students to campus, sends faculty to inner city schools, and involves undergraduate and graduate students at many levels; and c) full-year stipends for 6th-year students interested in pursuing non-faculty careers.

To apply for our civic humanist or 6th-year alt-ac programs, see our Calls & Deadlines page. To learn more about our alt-ac programming and to explore relevant resources, visit the HRC's alt-ac site.


Civic Humanist Program Fellows: 

Fall 2017-Spring 2018

Hannah Biggs, a PhD candidate in the Department of English with research interests in the practices and methodologies of cultural heritage, (modernist) farming literature, and urban/sustainable farming practices. Hannah has developed Civic Humanist programming in cultural heritage.

Erin Prophet, a PhD candidate in the Department of Religion, with medical humanities research interests in whole person health approaches, the interaction between contemporary and traditional medicine, and medical ethics. Erin has developed Civic Humanist programming in medical humanities.

Fall 2016-Spring 2017

Rachel Conrad Bracken, a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of English with research interests in the histories and cultures of medicine and public health. Rachel has developed Civic Humanist programming in medical humanities.

Mark deYoung, a graduate student in the Department of Religion with research interests in the intersections between religion, race, politics and popular culture in North America and the Caribbean. Mark has developed Civic Humanist programming in cultural heritage.

Fall 2015-Spring 2016

Jessica Davenport, a graduate student in the Department of Religion with research interests in the areas of African American religion, literary studies and aesthetic theory. Jessica has developed Civic Humanist programming in cultural heritage.

Abby Goode, a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of English and the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, with research interests in nineteenth-century American literature, sustainability, and transnational American studies. Abby has developed Civic Humanist programming in medical humanities.


6th-Year Alt-Ac Fellows:

Fall 2017-Spring 2018

Brandon Williams (Philosophy)
Brandon Williams’s work challenges the foundations of morality and normativity in general by arguing that the function of normative reasons for action are to cause the phenomenal experience that ‘something ought to be done’. In uncovering the nature of normative reasons by discovering what could be the source of the experience, Williams will collaborate with hospitals in the TMC.

Peter Zuk (Philosophy)
“Painting the World Good"
Peter Zuk’s work examines the concept of ‘well-being’, and makes the case that in asking what makes an individual’s life go well or poorly, we need to take both attitude and experience into account, rather than focusing on one and disregarding the other. He will apply his renewed focus on the experiential character of attitudes in his work with hospitals in the TMC.

Fall 2016-Spring 2017

Kyle G. Sweeney (Art History)
"Global Heritage: Islamic Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH)"
Kyle Sweeney's work makes the case that the art of Europe was never the product of a single culture working in isolation. Cross- and intercultural interactions between Christians and Muslims throughout the Mediterranean world and beyond produced incredibly rich and dynamic visual cultures that transcended modern national boundaries, racial identities, and religions. He will work at the MFAH to help curate a major exhibition of Islamic art under the direction of Dr. Aimée Froom.

Sophia Hsu (English)
"Genres of Population: Biopolitics and the Victorian Novel"
Sophia Hsu's work analyzes how nineteenth-century British literature conceptualized the population and ideas of demographic health, security, and reproduction. Hsu will apply her research, which attends to the intersection between the emergence of the population as a concept and the rise of public health techniques and policies, to contemporary issues of public health in Houston, in collaboration with local public health institutions. Her collaborations will bring healthcare providers, educators, and students; medical historians, archivists, and researchers; and local governments and public servants into conversation together about what it means to promote and maintain a healthy and safe community.

Fall 2015-Spring 2016

Carolyn Van Wingerden (Art History)
Picturing and Prejudice: Early Modern European Images of Muslims at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Carolyn Van Wingerden’s project explores the early modern images of Muslims and turbaned figures dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) and the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation. Inspired by her dissertation research which covers the longer time period of 1400 to 1700, this study primarily focuses on material by early modern Dutch and Flemish artists from the prints and drawings collections at the MFAH and the Blaffer. Some of the most evocative early modern images we have of the European perception of Muslims were created by Netherlandish printmakers and draughtsman, yet their work is often overlooked due in part to preferences for elaborate high art paintings by the general public and initially by the discipline of art history. These works have further been understudied because the ties between Venice and Istanbul had historically been so strong. Wingerden argues that, although Venice was closer to Istanbul geographically, Antwerp, one of the most important artistic and commercial centers in sixteenth-century Europe, and Amsterdam, which takes over this role in the seventeenth century, possessed connections with the Ottoman Empire that deserve further exploration.

Melissa Venator  (Art History)
“Lost Worlds: Machine Art and the Museum”
Houston is home to the largest collection of mechanical sculptures by Jean Tinguely outside of his native Switzerland. Melissa Venator's project examines the conservation and display of these fragile artworks. Tinguely authorized conservators to perform a wide range of repairs; however, museums often lack the resources to keep their mechanical art running. Consistent with precedent set by Basel’s Museum Tinguely, Melissa concludes that museums should film their objects in operation and use the documentation to enhance gallery and online displays and to record the object for future generations.