The Mechanisms of Collaboration:

Research Clusters and Working Groups

Since interdisciplinarity, connectivity, and collaboration are the original aims of the Corridor initiative, designated areas of shared scholarly strength were defined as “Clusters” that comprised “Working Groups” of faculty.

  • Clusters are defined as broad thematic rubrics; they are both broadly conceived and intentionally interdisciplinary.
  • Working groups are groups of scholars working on an issue/project under a cluster or thematic rubric. 
  • There can be several working groups in any given cluster.

Clusters have been redefined over time, and new clusters have been added.


Activities in this cluster include, but are not limited to: exploring a range of formats/genres in contemporary and historical media; addressing questions of preservation and access; examining the politics of the archive’s content/formation (as well as its silences/gaps); participating in reparative archival efforts, and more. Many working groups draw from rich resources and archives housed across Corridor institutions—of film, recorded sound, material objects, photography, television, new media art, and diverse text/manuscript collections—as well as alternative sites, forms, and repositories of knowledge in broader communities.

Activities in this cluster take up various topics that include, but are not limited to: digital theory, culture, and communication; the politics of digital access; digital knowledge architectures; public engagement and digital literacies; and cross-cultural and global digital collaborations. Working groups are engaged with: computational methods in literary and historical studies; digital performance and play; digital publishing and open access; media archaeology; creating, preserving and sustaining digital culture; AI’s socio-cultural contexts and implications; and an array of digital innovations in art, photography, music, architecture, writing/rhetoric, and performance.

Activities in this cluster explore historical questions across interdisciplinary contexts and also engage with history as a discipline. Working groups cross temporal, regional, cultural, and national boundaries, draw on comparative, transnational, and global perspectives and use thematic approaches to historical questions, and address various theoretical, methodological, and political debates in historical inquiry. Activities include, but are not limited to, collaborations in (and across): social history; labor studies and economic history; early modern studies; race, gender, sexuality, and disability studies; social movement history; political history/political thought; history of science and medicine; intellectual history; and histories of empire, colonialism, and settler colonialism.

New in 2020, this cluster brings together scholars taking up a variety of questions that include, but are not limited to: field-building in the humanities; graduate and undergraduate curricular innovation; humanities pedagogies and methods; public engagement/public humanities; diversifying the humanities; pipelines and pathways to leadership (in the humanities and more broadly in higher education); issues of precarity and institutional labor; and humanities advocacy. This cluster also includes activities focused on various timely/topical humanities themes that have regional, national, and/or transnational relevance (e.g., health/medical humanities, rural humanities, environmental humanities, and more).

New in 2020, this cluster brings together scholars working across fields (in the humanities and social sciences as well as in law and education, for example) to: examine multiple forms of inequality; take up questions of social difference, embodiment, and identity in ways that attend to structures and flows of power; and to explore (and contest) oppression’s logics, norms, institutions, and practices across time, place, culture, and circumstance. This cluster also includes activities that explore oppositional logics, diverse theories and practices of resistance (cultural, political, creative, pedagogical, collective, embodied, performative), and strategies for contesting inequality and injustice, currently and historically.

Collaborations in this cluster touch on various dimensions of language’s structures, meanings, sounds, visuals, and gestures; on theorizing and interpreting semiotic signs and symbols; and on the interdisciplinary study of language, language acquisition and pedagogy. Bridging the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, activities include projects and workshops as well as larger symposia. Groups work within and across linguistics (including computational linguistics, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, semantics, historical-comparative linguistics, morphology, visual-spatial linguistics, syntax, phonetics), as well as in discourse studies, language acquisition and preservation, bilingualism and multilingualism, representation and symbolic communication, semiotics in mass media/mass communication, language(s) across the curriculum, and more.

Activities in this cluster examine diverse literatures, languages, genres, time periods, geographies, and cultures. Working groups take up various topics, from examining the politics of writing, poetics, and translation, to examining a particular form/genre, to unpacking Eurocentric frameworks and contesting settler-colonial mindsets. This cluster, originally formed around collaborations in early modern studies, 18th-Century studies, Victorian studies, and the study of contemporary literatures, languages, and cultures, now includes many additional fields, including Ethnic studies, Latinx/Latin-American studies, Afro-Caribbean studies, Jewish studies, South Asian studies, Asian and Asian American studies, Native American and Indigenous studies, African American studies, Middle Eastern studies, (de)carceral studies, women’s/gender studies, disability studies, queer studies, labor studies, restorative justice studies, and more.

Activities in this cluster engage with numerous performance genres, histories, and practices (including theatre, musical performance, dance, writing/rhetorics) and take up diverse questions across the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Working groups focus on various topics, including: collaborative performance; cultural enactment and its broader meaning across temporal, geographical, and cultural contexts; performance/musicology pedagogies and methods; improvisation; questions of world-making, play, embodiment, and ritual; and performance as a political project/possibility. Often drawing from the region’s resources (conservatories, theatre and dance groups, recording and sound holdings, and historical instruments), working groups organize activities such as teaching exchanges, collaboratively staged works, master classes, conducting podia, collaborative compositions, and symposia (e.g., on  practice-based research, questions of staging, copyright law, and more).

Activities in this cluster engage in collaborative critical theory scholarship across the disciplines (e.g., in law, history, literature, sociology, philosophy), and across interdisciplinary areas (including critical race theory, queer theory, feminist theory, crip/disability theory), while also taking up diverse specializations in the field of philosophy. For example, working groups explore an array of critical theory issues, such as the interplay between knowledge norms and structural inequality, or the politics, histories, sociologies, and embodiments of knowledge, while other groups focus more on specializations in philosophy as a field (e.g., ethics, social and political philosophy, Anglo-American philosophy, metaphysics, continental philosophy, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, existentialism, epistemology, logic, and more).

Activities in this cluster explore the material and social aspects of visual and cultural practices, examine the craft and interpretation of visual cultures, forms, and experiences across mediums, time periods, and contexts, and engage with diverse theories and practices tied to visual/cultural studies. Working group activities bridge diverse fields that include, but are not limited to: art history, visual rhetorics, museum studies, geography, film/cinema studies, art and design, media and popular culture, architecture, cultural anthropology, and bridge perceptual studies work in the humanities with fields such as neurobiology and psychology, for example.