An Interview with Laure Essig

Laurie Essig is Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at Middlebury College. On February 14, she will be giving an NEHC-sponsored talk at Northeastern University. In anticipation of this event, Matt Guariglia asked Professor Essig a few questions.

First, I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about your current project and what it is you’ll be lecturing about. 

My latest book — out this week — is Love, Inc. Dating Apps, the Big White Wedding, and Chasing the Happily Neverafter (UC Press). Love, Inc. argues that in the US we have turned to romance with a vengeance in the past several decades. In part that is because romance gives us hope for a better future. All we have to do is meet “the one” (and have the most spectacular engagement, the perfect wedding, and the most romantic honeymoon) and then we too can live happily ever after. Even as most Americans became poorer and the world begins to come to terms with the effects of global climate change, romance promises that tomorrow can be safe and secure. I’ll be talking about why romance is so central to capitalism, particularly the sort of neoliberal capitalism that took hold in the 1980s and why we believe in the promise of romance even though we know deep down love is not all we need.

The name of the lecture series is “Times Up: What now?” do you have any thoughts about what direction you would like to see the current movement headed in?

I think Time’s Up for fantasizing about a privatized future, one where we are safe and secure in a castle on a hill with our Prince/ss Charming. The truth is we can no longer imagine our futures as individual projects as the polar vortex and monster storms bear down on us. We can no longer imagine ourselves finding financial well-being by getting saved by Prince Charming (or a Vampire named Edward Cullen or whatever the current fantasies are). Instead, we need to pay attention to structure, to history and to economy before it’s too late. Or maybe it already is and it’s just the romantic in me that imagines there might somehow be more time to get things right.

The talk you are giving focuses on the love industry and digital dating, in an era where we are all having this heightened conversation about gender and power, do you see these technologies and industries unbalancing some of the dynamics or reinforcing them? 

I don’t think technologies per se are more or less misogynist or racist, but rather because racism and misogyny are so prevalent on social media platforms, it seems more “normalized” like it really is “#yesallmen” and “#yesallwhitepeople.” This certainly can start to see normal on dating platforms. Just look at Tinder and Grindr and being racist and sexist (and fat phobic and ageist and ablest, etc.) starts to seem depressingly widespread. And the platforms themselves have done little to regulate this kind of profile. But I am heartened by the fact that users (often women and/or people of color) are getting together to fight back with their own forms of public shaming like “Douchebags of Grindr” and “Bye Felipe” where the kind of men who create toxic cultures on dating apps are called out for it.

You’re giving this talk across a number of NEHC campuses, do you find particular value in getting this message to college students? Do you think the NEHC model of giving talks at multiple regional institutions allows you to think and address these issues in a new or intriguing way? 

What’s been fun is talking to students about all this. For two decades I have been teaching a course on the Sociology of Heterosexuality and my students always complain that I have destroyed their childhoods and their fantasies for the future. But I always point out that all of them will go off and have a big white wedding and a diamond ring anyway because that’s the power of hegemonic ideology. But I like to think that they at least learn to resist and subvert some of the conventions of romance and maybe, just maybe, they are paying a lot more attention to how to healthcare for all or forgive student loan debt than what kind of flowers they’ll have on their big day. The other interesting thing is that I have been talking to students at Tufts and Dartmouth about my other work on queerness in Russia (something that I have been doing for nearly three decades now). It’s kind of the polar opposite of a wedding: widespread homophobia and violence. And yet, I think it’s really important to point out how in both the US and Russia, sexuality is central to our notions of citizenship and being a patriot and so in some ways the pressure to engage in the rituals and costs of romance is intertwined with violence and hatred of those who refuse to participate.



Laurie Essig at Northeastern University

Celebrate V-Day the feminist way! Laurie Essig, author of Love, Inc., will give a talk at Northeastern University on February 14 on her new book, which encourages readers to think about romance as ideology.

Essig is Professor and Director of Women’s, Gender, and Feminist Studies at Middlebury College. The NEHC is providing support for this event!

56th Wallace Stevens Poetry Program with Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine, a MacArthur “Genius” and National Book Critics Circle Award winner, will read from her work at UConn’s main campus in Storrs and at the Greater Hartford Classical Magnet School on March 13, 2019.

She will appear at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday March 13 at the at the Greater Hartford Classical Magnet School, 85 Woodland St, Hartford. She will offer a second reading at 7 p.m. that night at the Konover Auditorium of the Dodd Center,405 Babbidge Road on the UConn Storrs campus. Both readings are free and open to the public.

Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry including Don’t Let Me Be Lonely (Graywolf 2008) and the bestsellingCitizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf 2014), which uses poetry, essay, cultural criticism, and visual images to explore what it means to be an American citizen in a “post-racial” society. As the Judges Citation for the Jackson Prize notes, “The moral vision of Claudia Rankine’s poetry is astounding. In a body of work that pushes the boundaries of the contemporary lyric, Rankine has managed to make space for meditation and vigorous debate upon some of the most relevant and troubling social themes of the 20th and 21st centuries.” Among her numerous awards and honors, Rankine is the recipient of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the NAACP Image Award, the PEN Open Book Award, and the LA Times Book Award for poetry as well as fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts.

The Wallace Stevens Poetry Program began in 1964 with funding from The Hartford to honor modernist master poet Wallace Stevens, a former vice president of The Hartford. In the last half century, the program has brought a roster of the most important national and international poets to Connecticut. This year’s program is sponsored by The Hartford, with additional support from UConn’s African American Cultural Center and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ English Department, Humanities Institute, and Creative Writing Program. For more information, please visit our website at

Living Objects: African-American Puppetry

The University of Connecticut is hosting Living Objects, an exhibition, festival, and symposium on African-American puppetry.

Activities for the Living Objects: African American Puppetry Festival and Symposium will take place in various venues on UConn’s Storrs campus Feb. 8 to 10, with related festival events with UConn Hartford at the Hartford Public Library on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, and at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019.

Attendees have two options to participate in Living Objects Festival and Symposium events:

  1. Living Objects performances in Storrs and Hartford are open to the public. Individual tickets can be purchased at
  2. To attend all Living Objects Festival and Symposium events, including performances, panel discussions, film screenings, and more, registration is required. Registration can be completed at

These events are part of the current Ballard Institute exhibition Living Objects: African American Puppetry, on display through April 7, 2019, which for the first time brings together historical and contemporary puppets, masks, and performing objects by African American artists and puppeteers. Many of the exhibition’s contributors, as well as scholars from around the United States, will come together at the festival and symposium to celebrate the past, present, and future of African American puppetry.

Exhibition co-curator Paulette Richards, a teaching artist and Fulbright Scholar, writes that “since their arrival in the Americas, African people have animated objects in a rich variety of forms and contexts, animating objects to represent their experiences and identity.” The Living Objects: African American Puppetry Festival and Symposium will highlight such work by contemporary African American artists, while also contextualizing the evolution of African American object performance.

Artists and puppeteers performing in the festival and symposium include Tarish “Jeghetto” Pipkins, Megan Piphus, Nehprii Amenii, Schroeder Cherry, David Liebe Hart, Dirk Joseph, Pandora Gastelum, Brad Brewer, Gabrielle Civil, Bruce Cannon, Nate Puppets, Yolanda Sampson, Edna Bland, and Paulette Richards.

NEH Re-Opens on Monday

Both the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) will re-open on Monday. While FY 2019 funding has yet to be resolved for the agencies and the partial government shutdown continues both agencies haveidentified administrative funds remaining for FY 2018 that will allow them to operate, and pay employees, for approximately four weeks. In a brief statement, the NEH announced that the agency “will prioritize the grant review process in order to minimize any interruption in the awarding of federal funding. Reopening now coincides with the critical workload in mid-January through February that is necessary to award the spring grants.”

Posted in NEH

In the Crosshairs: Dispatches from Central America 1983-1990

University of Connecticut, Storrs is hosting In the Crosshairs: Dispatches from Central American 1983-1990, featuring the photographs and field reports of Scott Wallace, February 15-March15 at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.

A panel discussion featuring Wallace, Jon Lee Anderson of The New Yorker, photojournalist Robert Nickelsberg will be held on February 20, 4PM, at the Konover Auditorium.

Announcing the 2019 Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows Competition

The American Council of Learned Societies invites applications for the ninth competition of the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program. In 2019, the program will place up to 21 recent PhDs from the humanities and humanistic social sciences in two-year positions at participating nonprofits and government agencies. This career-launching initiative aims to demonstrate that the capacities developed in the advanced study of the humanities have wide application beyond the academy. The fellowship carries a stipend of $68,000 per year, as well as individual health insurance, a relocation allowance, and up to $3,000 in professional development funds.


This year, Public Fellows have the opportunity to join one of the following organizations:


  1. Alliance Theatre (Atlanta, GA) – Community Engagement & Audience Development Manager
  2. American Public Media (St. Paul, MN) – Senior Research Analyst
  3. Center for Court Innovation (New York, NY) – Communications Project Manager
  4. Chicago Humanities Festival (Chicago, IL) – Program Manager
  5. Citizens Committee for the Children of New York (New York, NY) – Policy & Budget Analyst
  6. Committee to Protect Journalists (New York, NY) – Research Manager
  7. Community Change (Washington, DC) – Policy Advisor
  8. Data & Society Research Institute (New York, NY) – Editor
  9. The German Marshall Fund of the United States (Washington, DC) – Program Officer
  10. Harriet Beecher Stowe Center (Hartford, CT) – Grants Manager
  11. Library of America (New York, NY) – Outreach Programs Manager
  12. National Conference of State Legislatures (Denver, CO) – Legislative Policy Specialist
  13. National Low Income Housing Coalition (Washington, DC) – Research Analyst
  14. Natural Resources Defense Council (Washington, DC) – Campaign Advocate, Latin America Project
  15. PEN America (New York, NY) – Festival Programs Manager
  16. Public Books (New York, NY) – Associate Editor
  17. Rare (Arlington, VA) – Community Engagement Manager
  18. Reinvestment Fund (Philadelphia, PA) – Policy Analyst
  19. Seattle Office for Civil Rights (Seattle, WA) – Senior Researcher
  20. San Francisco Arts Commission (San Francisco, CA) – Community Impact Analyst
  21. World Justice Project (Washington, DC) – Program Manager


Applicants to the Public Fellows program must have a PhD in the humanities or humanistic social sciences conferred between September 1, 2015 and June 21, 2019 and possess US citizenship or permanent resident status. Applicants must have defended and deposited their dissertations no later than April 5, 2019.


Further information about the application process and this year’s positions is available Please do not contact any of the host organizations directly. All applications must be submitted through ACLS’s online application system ( by 9 pm EDT on March 13, 2019.

NEHC announces seed grant opportunity for humanities research


New England Humanities Consortium

Requests for Proposals

Guidelines and Application

NEHC Mission and Overview


The New England Humanities Consortium (NEHC) promotes and strengthens intellectual collaboration, interdisciplinary exchange, and innovative educational, intercultural, and curricular programming among New England Humanities centers and institutes, and the faculty, students, and regional, national, and global communities they serve. NEHC includes: Amherst College, Colby College, Dartmouth College, Northeastern University, Tufts University, the University of Connecticut, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Rhode Island, the University of Vermont, Wellesley College, and Wheaton College. The Humanities Institute of the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut is the executive and administrative hub of the NEHC through 2020.

Award Description

The New England Humanities Consortium (NEHC) is offering competitive seed grants for research initiatives in the humanities that seek to capitalize on the collaborative network of the consortium. Awards of up to $9,500 will be made. (For projects whose budgets exceed $9500 applicants must list additional committed funding sources and amounts.)  Priority will be given to applications demonstrating concrete plans for consortium membership involvement. Such involvement can take different forms, but will typically involve, e.g. direct collaboration between two or more member institutions and/or active and solicitation of faculty, staff, or students exclusively from member institutions. Applications are welcome from individuals or teams, but the PI must be on the faculty of a NEHC member institution. Potential areas of funding interest include the following (this list is by no means exhaustive):

  • Collaborative research projects
  • Summer Seminars
  • Study or Working groups
  • Shared Speakers
  • Collaborative course design
  • Exhibitions

Please submit materials electronically in pdf or Word docx to YOUR HUMANITIES CENTER or INSTITUTE DIRECTOR BY MARCH 25, 2019. (They will then pass along the proposal to the NEHC board.)

Application Procedure and Timeline

Awards are made in April and October of each year.

Applying for the NEHC RFP requires the following:

  1. Cover page (1 page) stating
  • Title of the project
  • Name, department/program/school location, and NEHC school representation of PI(s)
  • Requested NEHC funding amount (Awards of up to $9500)
  1. Project narrative (2 pages, single spaced, 1” margins, 12 pt font) detailing the
  • Goals of the project
  • How those goals address those of NEHC.
  • Plans for involving NEHC member institutions and which institutions in particular will be involved
  • How those goals will be pursued
  • Names and roles of participants
  • Expected outcomes and/or deliverables
  • Plans for seeking external funding if any
  • Project timeline describing completion of project goals and outcomes
  1. CV (2 page) of Principal Investigator(s)
  2. Budget and Award Period:
  • Total budget.  (For projects whose budgets exceed $9500, please list additional committed funding sources and amounts, as indicated by an attached letter of support.)
  • The award period will typically not exceed one (1) AY and should be stated in the application timeline.

The awardees will be required to submit a detailed summary of the project at the end of their funding term.

Reporting Requirements


All PIs will be required to submit a two-page report no more than (1) month after the end of the award period as specified in the award letter. The report should detail and substantiate progress on the following elements of the project:

  • The extent to which project goals have been met
  • Specific indicators or signs of success
  • Outcomes and/or deliverables achieved
  • Number of NEHC member institutions (and faculty/students) involved

Questions and requests for more information are encouraged and should be directed to







Revised: 1/11/2019

Dartmouth College to host grant-writing workshop

Dartmouth College is pleased to host a Regional Grant-Writing Workshop with Stefanie Walker, Senior Program Officer at the NEH. Ms. Walker will be offering an extensive overview of NEH programs as well as a mock review panel on Feb. 12, 2019 between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.  

Between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. of the 12th, Ms. Walker will be available for one-on-one, 20-minute consultations with those who would like to share a one-page application abstract for any of the NEH’s programs. She will also offer consultations between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Feb. 13, 2019.

 Please note that the event is free, and we will have refreshments as well as free parking. Both the overview of the NEH and the consultations can also be accessed remotely. 

 Early in January,  a registration form, directions, an exact location for the workshop and consultations, as well as information about parking and remote access will be made available.