The Mechanisms of Collaboration:

Research Clusters and Faculty 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.


This cluster aims to supplement archival research in any of the other cluster areas (e.g., Visual Arts and Culture, Musicology/Performance Studies), and to support research in new media as well as issues of preservation and exchange of historical media archives.

Shared Strengths:

  • In the past few years, importantly scholarly works on the history of recorded sound have appeared and there is much interest inside and outside of academia in this area of research
  • Cornell University and Eastman School of Music are positioned to become a leader in this emerging field of study. University of Rochester's Sibley Library, Belfer Audio Laborartory and Archive, Cornell University Ornithology Lab, Cornell Kroch Library (Hip Hop and Goldsen Archive) are together among the largest collections of recorded sound material in North America. In addition, the Sibley contains many special collections related to early periods of sound recording
  • The Cornell University Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art is the country's largest archive of new media and sound art. It is engaged in collaborations with regional not-for-profit- institutions, such as the Experimental Television Center (Oswego, New York) and Visual Studies Workshop (Rochester, New York), and has engaged in collaborations with faculty in regional liberal arts colleges (Colgate University, Hobart & William Smith College, Ithaca College)
  • University of Rochester has recently concluded a memorandum of understanding to engage in teaching, research, and public outreach with the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film
  • In the research of issues pertaining to practices of exchange and the changing issues around the archive, a potential area of collaboration between the schools of architecture at Syracuse and Cornell, as well as related projects in history, comparative literature, visual studies, anthropology, and art

PIs Gregg Lambert, Joan Rubin, and Paul Fleming have sponsored successful events in the digital humanities within their respective humanities programs and they are nurturing working groups of local faculty with planning grants.

Shared Strengths:

  • This cluster has identified common interests on all campuses in digital theory and culture; computing for literary and historical research; as well as artistic explorations in music, architecture, and art.
  • The cluster benefits from the Digital Humanities Initiative at Cornell’s Society for the Humanities and its collaboration in this area with the University of Toronto.
  • Events have included participants from all campuses and have shared visitors (Laura Mandel’s successful visit to Cornell University resulted in her return to University of Rochester a year later). Participation has ranged across disciplines from Information Science to Africana Studies.

This new cluster supports historical inquiry across the humanities, fostering research within history as a discipline and across disciplinary contexts. To cultivate mutual exchange and scholarly collaboration, the cluster welcomes scholars working within and across regional, cultural, and national boundaries, drawing on comparative, transnational, or global perspectives, and those working in historical studies using interdisciplinary and/or thematic approaches.

Working groups might focus on particular periods and/or geographic regions of the world—or might use varied lenses to address a particular line of inquiry across temporal and geographic bounds (e.g., the Atlantic world). Working groups might concentrate on comparative or transnational approaches to multiple regions, address diverse historical methods and heterogeneous interpretive practices, or take up particular theoretical/ethical/political debates in historical inquiry, broadly conceived (e.g., theories of the archive).

Potential for collaboration exists within various strengths in historical studies across the Corridor including, but not limited to: social history; labor studies and economic history; early modern studies; race, gender, sexuality, and disability studies; histories of social movements; political history/political thought; history of science and medicine; intellectual history; and histories of empire, colonialism, and settler colonialism.

This new for 2020 cluster is aimed at field-building in the humanities, diversity, pipelines, pedagogies and methods, futures, interdisciplinary fields, and also topical/timely themes in the humanities (health, rural, environmental). Those scholars interested in rethinking doctoral education and graduate programs, graduate studies, public humanities, and/or pedagogies and methods may find a fit within this cluster.

This is a new cluster for 2020, and the description is pending.

Well-established before the CNY Humanities Corridor began, collaboration among Linguistics faculty has increased, strengthening their ties across campuses and developing new working groups. They have gathered semi-annually in workshops and were the first cluster to establish programming around a distinguished research collaborator.

Shared Strengths:

  • Special foci in Computational Linguistics; Syracuse University and Cornell University especially strong in Syntax

Historic and Existing Bridges include:

  • Mutual interchange and cooperation
  • Graduate students take courses at each campus via exchange program
  • Faculty exchange to teach in each program or sit in on seminars on other campuses
  • Visiting lecturers, conferences, shared among programs on websites
  • Faculty and graduate students travel to attend events on each campus

This cluster was proposed on the basis of shared strengths and faculty resources in languages and literatures across the Corridor, including faculty from regional liberal arts colleges and universities. Existing working groups in this cluster include those collaborating on Victorian, 18th Century, and Early Modern periods. Other working groups include those working within ethnic studies and international literature.

In an area full of very active performers, musicologists, and ethnomusicologists this cluster of Corridor funding has encouraged collaborative research and performance. The faculty members of the Musicology/Performance Studies cluster have exchanged teaching and conducting podia; brought world-class musicians to play side by side with their graduate students, who composed the works being played; have invited pre-eminent performance studies scholars to conduct mini-seminars; and have collaboratively staged works from the distant past, engaging in vibrant practice-based research. Film music scholars have held symposia and Syracuse University’s Bird Library archivist brought together artists, lawyers and producers to discuss copyright law and musicians.

Shared Strengths:

  • CNY has rich, ethnically diverse musical tradition, and the three research institutions have outstanding faculty in music, musicology, film and media studies, performance studies, and drama.
  • University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music stands among the very top-ranked programs in musicology in the country and Cornell University has a rich history of linking musicology with historical performance practices. At Syracuse University, the Department of Arts and Music Histories in the College of Arts and Sciences is one of the highest-ranked research departments at the institution; the Setnor School of Music is a comprehensive conservatory with a wide-range of performance and academic opportunities; and SU has one of the top Drama programs in the nation.
  • Musicology/Performance Studies is a focal area in which our regional university library archives present a strong catalyst for the faculty initiative.
  • University of Rochester’s Sibley music library at Eastman is the largest academic music library in North America with strengths in individual composers; Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive at Syracuse University is one of the four largest archives of recorded sound in the country with rich holdings from early period of sound recording; Cornell University Music Library also has rich holdings. These audio, manuscript, and print archives form an exceptional scholarly resource in support of this cluster.


This cluster is well-established across the Corridor, with regard to Philosophy as a discipline, and open to cross-disciplinary work in philosophical studies and critical theory more broadly. To foster mutual interchange, communication, and scholarly collaboration, its working groups hold workshops and small symposia to host visiting speakers, present works in progress, support reading groups, and hold joint seminars. For instance, one group sponsors a summer conference around a theme. Another group used funds to design a website so members could keep in touch. A third group conducted a graduate class, engaging graduate students and faculty from all three Corridor universities. These are but a few examples of the possible activities that can be supported.

Shared Strengths:

  • In addition to philosophy faculties and doctoral programs in the Anglo-American tradition, with strengths in Metaphysics and Epistemology, Corridor strengths in the field of Philosophy can also be found in the History of Philosophy, Ancient Philosophy and Classics; German Philosophy, including Kant and post-Kantian studies, Ethics & Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Education, and Philosophy of Language.

  • Substantial expertise in critical theory and Continental Philosophy lies across the Corridor in literary studies, visual and cultural studies, architecture, arts faculties, interdisciplinary fields (e.g. Africana/Black studies, Women’s/Gender/Sexuality Studies, Latinx/Latin-American Studies, Native American/Indigenous Studies, Disability Studies, and Asian/Asian American Studies), and in the interpretive social sciences. These varied theoretical-philosophical approaches examine culture, texts, representation, and social structures to unpack social, historical, and ideological forces.

Existing and Potential Linkages Include:

  • Graduate students taking courses at different campuses via exchange program

  • Pedagogical and curricular innovation, via faculty teaching in each program or sitting in on seminars on other campuses

  • Visiting lecturers, conferences, symposia shared among programs, physically and on websites

  • Faculty and graduate student travel to attend events on each campus

  • Active support of an established regional philosophy organization, the Creighton Club

The Visual Arts and Culture working groups have attracted faculty from various departments and disciplines in the Corridor across the fields of Visual Studies and Art History. They have sponsored workshops, conferences, film and speaker tours, joint graduate seminars, art exhibitions, and visiting collaborations. The cluster also includes the public humanities and architecture working groups; another area of future expansion and new working groups are planned for faculty in Arts and Music Histories, and significant amount of reserve has been set aside for this purpose in the budget allocation for this cluster.

Shared Strengths:

  • University of Rochester has international prominence for faculty in the Visual and Cultural Studies (VCS) program: combines faculty from Modern Languages, Film Studies, English, Art, Art History, and Anthropology: socio-historical perspective brings coherence, and electronic journal
  • Invisible Culture brings attention for their imaginative interdisciplinary approach to visual rhetoric; cognate programs at Cornell University (visual arts and culture) and (art, architecture, and art history, as well as languages, anthropology, and other departments)
  • Overlapping interests span several humanistic areas and constitute a regional opportunity to combine strengths at faculty and doctoral level
  • Cornell University has recently established a Visual Studies Concentration which links faculty in Faculty of Arts and Sciences with School of Art, Architecture, and Planning, along with the Institute for Comparative Modernities, across theory and practice. Cornell University also maintains the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, and the Wen Pu Archive of Chinese Avant-garde Art, a major resource for the study of global digital arts
  • All three research institutions have strong national programs and scholarship in Arts and Music Histories and historical areas of research that will become the emphasis of new working groups and research collaboration