Members of English Department Attend 2020 National Humanities Alliance Meeting

Leigh Sparks and Lissette Lopez Szwydky-Davis, top, Jim Grossman, middle, and Carla Hayden and Michael Witmore, bottom.
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Leigh Sparks and Lissette Lopez Szwydky-Davis, top, Jim Grossman, middle, and Carla Hayden and Michael Witmore, bottom.

In early March, members of the Department of English, in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, through the support of the Arkansas Humanities Center, attended the 2020 Annual Meeting of the National Humanities Alliance in Washington, D.C.

Lissette Lopez Szwydky-Davis, assistant professor of English and associate director of the Arkansas Humanities Center, and Leigh Sparks, assistant director of the graduate program in English, attended meetings and events March 8-10 that focused on advocacy, networking and sharing information among humanities administrators from institutions of higher education across the country.

Several prominent advocates for the humanities spoke at the NHA meetings March 8 and 9, including Jim Grossman, NHA president and executive director of the American Historical Association; Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress; and Michael Witmore, director of the Folger Shakespeare Library. 

Events also provided information on recent national humanities survey findings, undergraduate recruitment to the humanities, and strategies for documenting the impact of the humanities on campuses and within communities.

The afternoon of March 9 was then dedicated to preparing participants to advocate for the humanities on Capitol Hill, before the March 10 Humanities Advocacy Day.

On March 10, Szwydky-Davis advocated for the humanities by visiting the offices of Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton and Representative French Hill.

After Szwydky-Davis and Sparks returned to campus, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed and signed into law on March 27.

It includes $75 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as $75 million for the National Endowment for the Arts and $50 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services.


Leigh Sparks, assistant director
Graduate Program in English


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