Public Humanities Fellows -- 2018

You might think that this is a picture of a cool indie rock band playing your town sometime soon. But it's not. (At least not yet.) It's the second cohort of the Humanities Center's Public Humanities Fellows! (From left to right: Ryan McMasters, Ambrose Curtis, and Tim Barr.) The fellowships placed humanities doctoral students in the dissertation-writing stage in dynamic positions at local cultural institutions that drew on their skills and knowledge, enhanced their research portfolios, and made significant contributions to our partners. The program's second year was as successful as the first, once again demonstrating how valuable the skills and knowledge associated with the humanities can be outside a university setting. Read below for a description of this year's projects, or click here for more information on the program.


Tim Barr

  • Department: Communications
  • Partner: City of Asylum
  • Dissertation Title: "Without Apparent Occasion": Early Modern Melancholy as a Problem of Motives
  • Project Title: Current Event Series at Alphabet City
  • Project Description: Tim's project involved helping City of Asylum plan a series of panel discussions on current political events, including gerrymandering, DACA, the prison system in America, and colorism. Tim's experience organizing debates, as well as working with advocacy and activist groups in Pittsburgh, made him a natural fit for the position. City of Asylum will host the panels in fall and winter, 2018/19.

Ambrose Curtis

  • Department: Communications
  • Partner: Kelly Strayhorn Theater
  • Dissertation Title: Are these HITs Worth Turking For?: The Paradoxical Reality of Amazon's Mechanical Turk and Precarious Labor in the Sharing Economy
  • Project Title: Commemorating 10 Years of KST Presents
  • Project Description: Ambrose's project sought to highlight the theater's "KST Presents..." series, which features new and emerging artists. The work involved digging into KST's archives and working with photos, videos, and interviews of artists featured in the series. Ambrose used his experience as a filmmaker, as well as his knowledge of media history to produce a series of dynamic videos for KST. 

Ryan McMasters

  • ​​Department: Music
  • Partner: Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
  • Dissertation Title: Distance and Convergence in Glenn Branca's Symphony No. 6 (Devil Choirs at the Gates of Heaven)
  • Project Title: Activating the Frick Environmental Center's Arts Program
  • Project Description: Ryan served as the Parks' artist in residence, working with children at the Parks' camps and performing a series of concerts during the summer. Ryan's doctoral research on Glenn Branca and Hilda Doolittle focuses on the relationship between nature and sound, so the residency was a perfect opportunity to extend his work into the community.