Council on Advanced Studies (CAS) Workshops in the Humanities and Social Sciences

The aim of the Council on Advanced Studies (CAS) workshops is to bring together faculty and graduate students from the University of Chicago and the wider Chicago area to create scholarly dialogue, encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration, and foster the exchange of ideas. The emphasis of these workshops is the presentation of graduate student works-in-progress. Each workshop reflects the research interests of a particular group of faculty members and graduate students.

For a complete list and descriptions of all the graduate workshops, please visit the Council for Advanced Studies website.


African Studies

The African Studies Workshop (ASW) is an interdisciplinary group made up of students and faculty researching the peoples of Africa and its diasporas, past and present. One of the workshop’s primary goals is to elucidate Africa’s dynamic relationship to a wider world and to chart the effects of these processes in various spheres of African life.

Graduate students and faculty from the Department of Anthropology have long held a central place in the workshop, but active participants in the workshop also come from Art History, English, Film Studies, History, Human Development, and Political Science. In addition to regular presentations by students, faculty, and invited guests, the workshop hosts biannual Red Lion Seminars jointly with Northwestern University’s Program of African Studies.


Interdisciplinary Archaeology Workshop

The Interdisciplinary Archaeology Workshop (IAW) was founded as the primary point of substantive intellectual connection between archaeologists in the divisions of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. The workshop allows graduate students, faculty members, and invited guests to present their work as well as research plans to a community that can provide a deeply grounded and theoretically informed response.

Historically, archaeological research has itself been divided among different academic disciplines, with corresponding variations in intellectual traditions and approaches. It has always been the aim of the IAW to bridge these divisions and to foster a healthy, informed dialogue on the aspects of method and theory that cut across the field’s diverse disciplinary locations. The workshop brings together faculty and students from Anthropology and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, forging an archaeological community that is more than the sum of its parts. In addition, the workshop has succeeded in its ambition to draw on members of other interested departments and committees such as Classics, African Studies, History, East Asian and South Asian Studies, as well as Geographical Studies. All interested participants are encouraged to attend.


Ethnographic Methods and Innovations

Sponsored by the Department of Anthropology, Ethnographic Methods and Innovations is an intellectual forum whose goal is to explore all forms of ethnography by bringing together ethnographers from a broad array of disciplines and approaches who are experimenting with the method as a tool for understanding social phenomena.

Given the complexity of said social phenomena and the issue that such complexity presents to researchers, this study group provides a space for the exploration of the limits and usefulness of ethnography as a method for making sense of the world. Drawing on both conventional and innovative conceptualizations of ethnography, the vision of the study group is to provide an interdisciplinary space for the workshopping of various stages of ethnographic research, including the refining of pre-field strategies, multi-modal data collection and analysis, field notes, and diverse methods of representation that extend beyond the textual ethnography.

As a result, with ethnography as a thread, this study group sutures together the creative potential of various academic disciplines including, but not limited to, anthropology, sociology, cinema and media studies, literature, visual arts, performance arts, history, languages, psychology, political science, and history. Participants of the study group can work through their project ideas and research design in a space that is sustained through intercollegiate and interdisciplinary collaborative support.


Workshop on Latin America and the Caribbean

The Workshop on Latin America and the Caribbean is an interdisciplinary forum and intellectual community for graduate students and faculty who are interested in the academic problems and literature pertaining to the region. The workshop hosts regular presentations of works in progress by students, faculty, and invited guests, as well as special events and gatherings. Participants come from a wide range of disciplines from across the social sciences and humanities, enabling an interdisciplinary conversation and exchange around questions of common interest to those whose work focuses on the region. We welcome any and all who share an interest in the history, literature, politics, culture, and social life of Latin America and the Caribbean.


Medicine and Its Objects

The Medicine and Its Objects Workshop (MaIOW) examines medicine in relation to the material and social worlds in which it is enacted. We focus on the multiple objects that constitute medical domains: the objects of inquiry that guide knowledge production, the objects of intervention that direct therapeutic processes, and the material objects that mediate the intersections between theory and practice. MaIOW is a broadly interdisciplinary workshop, bringing together perspectives from Anthropology, Comparative Human Development, History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine, Public Health, Social Work, Sociology, and numerous area studies.


Money, Markets and Governance Workshop

The Money, Markets, and Governance (MMG) workshop provides an interdisciplinary forum for scholars whose work engages social issues involving money and similar methods of exchange, markets, law, policy, regulation and governance, and their functioning within the global economy. Formerly active under the name Money, Markets, and Consumption, in its renewed form, the workshop aims for involvement of students from various disciplines, mainly from the social sciences, including sociology and political science, as well as history and anthropology. In addition, we are open to contributions from and welcome the participation of scholars from other areas, such as the humanities, marketing and business management, public policy, and law.


Semiotics: Culture in Context

The Semiotics: Culture in Context workshop seeks to advance research grounded in a semiotic framework. Presentations will come from a variety of fields including but not limited to linguistics, psychology, sociology, political science, literary theory, and anthropology. By not limiting the topic of research by area, period or discipline, the workshop encourages discussion to center on how to study social and cultural phenomena as embedded in a meaningful context. By building on many seminal studies that have used semiotic approaches, the goal of the workshop is to continue to develop the rigorous analytic framework that provides the method for clearly defining linkages between the object of analysis and its context.


Theory and Practice in South Asia (TAPSA)

The workshop is designed to keep faculty and graduate students of social science and humanistic disciplines concerned with South Asia in touch with new directions in the field by providing interdisciplinary models of methodological and substantive approaches. The Workshop makes a special point of crossing the boundary between the humanities and social sciences. It collaborates with the South Asia Seminar, one dedicated to graduate student presentations, the other to presentations by in-resident or visiting scholars and faculty. The South Asia Seminar series and the TAPSA Workshop bring together not only scholars from various disciplines, but also make a special point of attracting scholars from South Asia. Their visits are designed to promote continuing exchanges with recent work on the sub-continent and to introduce graduate students to future colleagues in South Asia.


United States Locations

U.S. Locations explores ethnographic research in Canada and the United States within social scientific fields engaging core cross-disciplinary anthropological problems. In a world of global interconnections, we provide a forum for anthropologists and other social scientist’s crafting rigorous approaches to locating America as a cultural and sociological entity within, across, and outside the geographic boundaries of North America. Critically analyzing the burgeoning literature on ethnographic practice and theory, and focusing on carefully formulated empirical studies in particular locations, this workshop aims to locate the theoretical position of North America within the field of anthropology and related disciplines.


Other Workshops of Topical Interest

Ancient Societies

The theme for the Ancient Societies Workshop in 2010-11 will be “Representations: Myth, Religion, Image.” Last year’s workshop explored ancient religion from the perspective of ancient law, mostly by drawing on literary and epigraphic evidence. This year, we wish to branch out into visual culture. Over the last twenty years, representations of myth and cult in ancient art have come to be understood as an expression of shifting social and religious attitudes. We will explore how ancient art and texts complemented each other to create a multitude of religious and metaphorical meanings.


Ethnoise! Ethnomusicology

EthNoise! is an interdisciplinary forum for graduate students, faculty, and guests to share and discuss ongoing research projects. Our mission is to foster dialogue about recent research at the intersection of music, language, and culture. While music is the thread uniting all of our speakers’ work, their research methods vary, including ethnography, archival analysis, and methods from disciplines including music, history, anthropology, sociology, and more.


Gender and Sexuality Studies

The Gender and Sexuality Studies Workshop (GSSW) is an interdisciplinary workshop committed to the development of critical perspectives on gender and sexuality. The workshop serves as a forum for discussing both graduate student papers as well as unpublished work from faculty and outside guests. Annual themes are chosen by a rotating lineup of faculty curators. Graduate students are encouraged to present working chapters of dissertations, master’s theses, and papers that are being prepared for publication.


History, Philosophy, & Sociology of Science

This workshop is a forum devoted to interdisciplinary approaches to the sciences. Its meetings provide a chance to encounter the latest work in science studies, presented by outside speakers, faculty, and graduate students. Topics range widely: in recent years the workshop has hosted discussions of subjects as diverse as Aristotelian logic, Renaissance astronomy, William James’s philosophy, modern bioethics, and the sociology of industrial-academic collaboration.


Mass Culture

This workshop is a forum for recent and ongoing academic research on the historical, theoretical, and practical dimensions of modern mass (commercial, consumer, or popular) media, including cinema, television, journalism, popular music, photography, advertising, fashion, public amusements, and computer technology. While we do consider interpretive problems presented by individual works and different types of mass media, our focus rests on broader questions regarding the key role mass culture plays in the formation of contemporary public spheres. Because the scope of many forms of mass culture extends beyond the boundaries of any one discipline, the workshop is committed to interdisciplinary work.


Reproduction of Race and Racial Ideologies

This workshop address the different processes of racialization experience within groups as well as across groups in sites as diverse as North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Asian Pacific, and Europe. This workshop will examine theoretical and practical considerations of scholarship that highlights the intersection of race and ethnicity with other identities such as gender, class, sexuality, and nationality and interrogates social and identity cleavages within racialized communities. Fundamentally the workshop is committed to engaged scholarship that rejects the false dichotomy between rigorous intellectual work and community activism.


Other Workshops of Interest

Art and Politics of East Asia

Disability Studies

East Asia: Politics, Economy, and Society

East Asia: Trans-regional Histories

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Modern France

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia

Islamic Studies

Latin American History

Middle East History and Theory (MEHAT)

Visual and Material Perspectives on East Asia