The purpose of the Franke Institute is to encourage, stimulate, and make happen a variety of intellectual activities and engagements that help to focus and further the work of humanists from the University and disseminate it both to members of the academy globally and to the general public. We aim both to foster new scholarly directions and to single out the best that is discovered, thought, and said at Chicago. Our policy is to nurture new initiatives, help them grow, and then encourage them to find their own independent locations and sources of income.
The Franke Institute defines humanities inclusively, desiring to minister to the interests and needs of all scholars, thinkers, and artists whose work is central to — or even impinges on — the traditional methodologies and subject matters in humanistic disciplines. The Institute is a potential host for the varied kinds of intellectual investigations originating in any of the Humanities departments and committees, and it also makes a conscious effort to involve faculty and students in other parts of the University who have humanities interests and concerns - in such social science disciplines as history, anthropology, political science, and sociology, for example (though by no means confined to those disciplines) because the lines between humanistic inquiry and the work of scholars in other fields are often not clear — and certainly not represented by the often artificial definitions of academic departments and programs.
The basic work of the humanities - reading, thinking, writing, testing, arguing, seeing, teaching, listening — goes on every day in every office, library carrel, and hallway of the University. The Institute collaborates on initiatives with departments, committees, schools, divisions, workshops, and student groups from throughout the University and most often of course, with these fifteen departments:
Cinema and Media Studies
East Asian Languages and Civilizations
English Language and Literature
Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations
Romance Languages & Literatures
Slavic Languages & Literatures
South Asian Languages & Civilizations
"Unlike research in the sciences or many of the social sciences, scholarly or critical pursuits in the humanities often require scholars to work alone. Without denying that feature of our intellectual lives, [the Franke Institute] is also dedicated to fostering a community. That community cuts across disciplines, across chronological periods, across professional boundaries."
Philip Gossett, former Dean
Division of the Humanities
Photo Credit: Mai Vukcevich