Research Clusters

The Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute sponsors research clusters convened by various faculty across campus. These clusters are open to participants (faculty and students) from any and all disciplines and departments. Those interested in participating should contact a convener of the cluster. Clusters will meet a few times each semester to discuss common interests and collaborate in shared activities.


Institutional Graffiti: Subversion and Complicity in Public Writing 
Conveners: Lauren Richman ( and Seth McKelvey (

This research cluster will examine what it means for subversive art practices to become incorporated into the very institutions they critique. We invite participants with diverse academic perspectives—English, Art History, Law, Studio Art, Sociology, etc.—to study the cultural significance and scope of these practices through the contexts of aesthetics, poetics, the urban environment, commercialism, and the institutional politics subversive art both opposes and seeks to restructure.

Jewish Studies

Conveners: Shira Lander ( and Elena Gittleman ( 

This cluster will explore how Jews used a range of media, namely visual culture and written publications, to represent themselves and their socio-political objectives to a non-Jewish public in order to garner sympathy from and create alliances with members of the dominant society in which they were situated.

Readings for the December 12th meeting can be found below: 
Working Women, Literary Ladies - Sylvia Jenkins Cook

Labor's Text - Laura Hapke

The Diary of a Striking Waist Maker - Theresa Serber Malkiel

Digital Humanities

Conveners: Dennis Foster ( and Kate Engel ( 

Over the past two decades, innovative researchers in a wide range of humanities disciplines have begun to develop research projects that take advantage of digital tools. As a consequence, the humanities as a whole have seen a shift in what counts as a knowable object of study, expanding the humanities into new and often multi-disciplinary fields.  The goal of this cluster is to read and discuss some of the recent theoretical and practical work being done in the Digital Humanities with the goal of creating a network of SMU scholars who can create and sustain digital projects.

The following 2013-2014 Research Clusters have been continued through 2014-2015.

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Inebriation, Addiction and Recovery Literature
Conveners: Bruce Levy ( and Ed Countryman (

This research cluster brings together scholars and professionals working both directly and indirectly within the areas of inebriation, addiction, and recovery. In spite of the strong contemporary interest in these issues, approaches have generally failed to foster conversations across the disciplines and the professions, with the major focus isolated within the realm of clinical psychology. This research cluster will address this limitation by examining inebriation, addiction, and recovery issues from historical, literary, anthropological, legal, and medical perspectives, with participants from a cross-section of disciplines, professions, and practices.

Thinking with Affect: New Approaches to the Body, Emotions, and Politics
Conveners: Beatriz Balanta ( and Shilyh Warren (

This cluster aims to bring together a group of interdisciplinary scholars to tackle questions such as: How does the "affective turn" influence our contemporary thinking about the social, the political, the cultural, and the scientific? More specifically, can such an analytical framework account for war? For revolution? For identity categories such as race, gender, and sexuality? For feelings that have consequences in the material world, such as hate, depression, optimism, or joy?

Global Health Services 
Convener: Eric Bing ( 

The major challenges in global health today are no longer medical challenges, but rather challenges in distribution, delivery and demand--getting quality care to people in ways that they will use it and at a price that they can afford. These challenges require innovative solutions from students and scholars skilled and motivated to work across areas including technology and informatics, human behavior and motivation, social and cultural networks, entrepreneurship, economics and policy, media and the arts. The Global Health Services Research Cluster will facilitate cross-campus, cross-disciplinary discussion and engagement that may lead to global health services research and training proposals, funding, and opportunities.

Linking Mathematical and Life Sciences
Conveners: Andrea Barreiro ( and Brandy Stigler (

In this cluster, we will explore interdisciplinary connections between the mathematical, physical, and life sciences by conducting informal seminars and discussions led by cluster participants.

Biopsychosocial Research
Conveners: Thomas Ritz ( and Pia Vogel (

Efforts to understand health and disease processes increasingly use a biopsychosocial model, incorporating biochemical and cellular processes, physiological function, psychological behavior, and individual experiences, all in relation to society and the physical environment. Our research cluster will discuss the opportunities and limits of this interdisciplinary approach by exploring research collaborations between relevant disciplines in Dedman College and SMU, including but not limited to the biological sciences, psychology, chemistry, and anthropology.