The Mellon Foundation’s Sawyer Seminars program provides support for comparative research on the historical and cultural sources of contemporary developments. The seminars bring together faculty, foreign visitors, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students from a variety of fields mainly, but not exclusively, in the humanities and social sciences, for intensive study of subjects chosen by the participants. This program aims to engage productive scholars in comparative inquiry that would (in ordinary university circumstances) be difficult to pursue, while at the same time avoiding the institutionalization of such work in new centers, departments, or programs.

The “Phenomenology, Minds and Media” Sawyer Seminar, convened by Mark Hansen (Literature, VSI, Duke University) and Robert Mitchell (English, Duke University), seeks to consolidate existing interest in the philosophical method of “phenomenology” and to correlate this interest with cognate research being carried out by media scholars, media artists, neuroscientists, philosophers, psychologists, economists, computer scientists, engineers and others in the Duke community and at neighboring institutions. A method that originated in the humanities, and which continues to be developed primarily by scholars of the humanities, phenomenology nevertheless also speaks to recent developments in both the sciences—especially neuroscience—and helps us to understand the ever-increasing importance of media technologies to everyday life-practices. By positioning phenomenology as a mediating link between the humanities, the sciences, and contemporary life-practices, Phenomenology, Minds and Media emphasizes the importance of the humanities for any understanding of the experience of our era of intense technological and scientific mediation.

If you have any questions, please email Leonore Fleming.

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