Roger Ray Institute for the Humanities

Humanities Graphic
The Roger Ray Institute for the Humanities (in the College of Arts and Letters at The University of Toledo) advocates for and supports the study of human culture — from a great variety of fields — at all levels of learning and scholarship, through both disciplinary and interdisciplinary means. It seeks both to sustain the work of humanities-related inquiries at The University of Toledo and also to foster the dissemination of that knowledge and expertise to a larger community of learners, both inside and outside higher education.

 The aim for the 2019-2020 Roger Ray Institute is to use Public Humanities to advance Social Justice


1619 Short Story Writing contest

The RRIH is sponsoring a writing contest on The 1619 Project for middle and high school students in the Toledo area.  Students are asked to write a creative and historically accurate fictional story about a real person.  The Deadline is Friday, Dec. 20, 2019.  The winner in each category will receive $600, the runner-up will receive $400, and the honorable mention will receive $200!  Information, details, and resources are included in the link above.  


The RRIH is working with the Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women at the University of Toledo to host a Public Symposium on the struggle for suffrage and passage of the 19th amendment.  The Symposium will he be held in the Spring of 2020, and seeks in particular to engage the Toledo community in learning, discussion, and active engagement with this important topic.  Further details are coming soon.    

Humanities cafe series 


Christopher Martin


THURSDAY, DEC. 12, 5:30-7:00




One of the central assumptions behind our Moral and Social Attitudes of Responsibility is that our actions are in some important respect up to us; that though we chose to do X we could alternatively have chosen to do Y. What if we are mistaken about this? How should we think about moral and social responsibility if our actions are the product of forces outside our control?  We will begin by reviewing one or two (surprisingly compelling!) arguments supporting the claim that we do not have free will. With these in mind we will then explore different rationales for why we might imprison someone who could not but have robbed a bank, and whether the altruist deserves praise for an action even if we accept that s/he could not have done otherwise. Can our commitment to moral and social responsibility survive without the freedom to choose our actions? 



Michael Stauch              










WEDNESDAY, NOV. 13, 5:30-7:00




What do we talk about when we talk about policing?  Are the police meant to prevent crime, keep order, or do they serve some other purpose?  Not for the first time, our society has come to question how it is policed, and why.  Various reforms have been introduced in response, including body cameras and, more recently, facial recognition technology.  How do body cameras and facial recognition technology work, how are they reforms in policing, and do they work?  We will explore and discuss these ideas together at this year's first Humanities Cafe.  

PAST Events

The Roger Ray Institute for the Humanities is pleased to announce a series of free and public events for the 2019 - 20 academic year.


Join us on Thursday, November 15, 2018, at 4 p.m. (Carlson Library, Room 1005), for a reading by Ben Stroud and Jim Ferris, recipients of Ohio Arts Council 2018 Individual Excellence Awards. Fiction writer Ben Stroud, Associate Professor of English, is author of Byzantium, the winner of Bakeless Fiction Prize and selected as Best Book of the Summer in 2013 by Publisher’s Weekly and the Chicago Tribune. Poet Jim Ferris, Ability Center Endowed Chair in Disability Studies, is poet laureate of Lucas County, winner of awards in mathematics and creative nonfiction as well as poetry and performance, and author of The Hospital Poems, Facts of Life, and Slouching towards Guantanamo


As part of a series of programs from the UT College of Arts and Letters commemorating 100 years since the end of WWI (and co-sponsored by the College of Arts and Letters; the Department of World Languages and Cultures; the Roger Ray Institute for the Humanities; and University Libraries), please join us Friday, November 9, 2018, from 8 a.m until 5 p.m. at Carlson Library:

Learn more

Art illustration of soldiers standing








The Roger Ray Institute for the Humanities Symposium: Memories of World War I

Nov. 9, 2018

Nov. 11, 2018 commemorates 100 years since the end of World War I. Generally referred to as the first “total war,” WWI blurred the boundaries between front and home front, forever changing the face of modern warfare. By its end, the “Great War” was one of the deadliest armed conflicts in history, with the toll of civilian and military casualties reaching 40 million. In its aftermath, the rise of social and political movements in many countries supported suffrage and political activism by minority groups, but also caused a radicalization of nationalist movements. This led to totalitarian regimes in several countries, as well as changes in political configurations on the world stage. Today, representations, reactions and responses to WWI are found in art, film, literature and theatre throughout the 20th century and all over the world.

This free and public UT symposium brings scholars from various disciplines and institutions to discuss and critically examine, histories, cultural representations, and memories of WWI grouped around the themes of “Impact,” “Identities,” and “Innovations.”  

AgendaRegister now


Mel ChinMel Chin

Sculpture X: Igniting Change

Sept. 28, 2018

Mel Chin’s keynote was part of the symposium Sculpture X: Igniting Change, organized by Contemporary Art Toledo, The University of Toledo’s Department of Art, and Bowling Green State University’s School of Art. The symposium and a series of associated exhibitions explored “Social Practice,” a powerful means of challenging existing norms and conditions. Mel Chin’s talk coincided with the debut of his outdoor installation TWO ME (2018) at the Toledo Museum of Art.

Amanullah MojadidiAman Mojadidi

Borderless: Art and Migration in Troubled Times

Sept. 17, 2017

Aman Mojadidi is an Afghan-American visual artist who uses personal experience and cultural studies to address conflict, identity and globalization in his work.

Currently working largely through site-specific projects, Mojadidi's work utilizes an experimental ethnographic approach, combining qualitative research, traditional storytelling, postmodern narrative strategies and mixed-media installations to approach themes such as belonging, identity politics, conflict, artifactual history and migration; intentionally blurring and merging the lines between fact and fiction, documentation and imagination.

 S. Amjad HussainS. Amjad Hussain, MD

Story of a Tree, a River, and the Sacred Relics: Peshawar circa 1st Century CE

Sept. 18, 2017

Dr. Hussain raised awareness about the magnificent Buddhist Stupa – a building once located in his native city of Peshawar, Pakistan, and considered “the 8th wonder of the ancient world.”

Dr. Hussain is a US-based Pakistani cardiothoracic surgeon, inventor, writer, photographer, explorer, columnist and community leader. The inventor of two surgical devices – the pleuroperitoneal shunt and a special endotracheal tube, Dr. Hussain has to his credit 50 research papers on medical literature, 20 scholarly presentations to academic institutions, over 60 lectures and presentations to civic, service and other subjects and over four hundred articles on a variety of subjects published in various newspapers and magazines.

Michael BerubeMichael Bérubé, PhD

The Humanities and the Advancement of Knowledge

Oct. 19, 2018

Dr. Bérubé argued that there is no widely accepted public rationale for new research in the humanities. This talk addressed the role of humanities centers and institutes in fostering interdisciplinary humanities research, while questioning whether such research is find a secure, institutional home in North American academe.

Michael Bérubé is the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Literature at Pennsylvania State University, and was director of Penn State’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities from 2010 to 2017.

Tyehimba Jess

Tyehimba Jess

I Got a Lust for Life: The Unique Words and Sounds of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan

Jan. 20, 2018

This series of panel discussions, poetry readings and musical performances explored the impact of the African-American Great Migration on literary and musical expression in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. The events started in Detroit and moved to Toledo, with buses shuttling between the two cities.

Featured speakers and performers included:

  • Tyehimba Jess, 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning poet
  • Ben Blackwell, co-founder of Third Man Records and official White Stripes archivist
  • Ramona Collins, jazz singer
  • Lee Ellen Martin, a Jon Hendricks scholar

Read more 

Andrew MattisonFaculty Research Showcase: On Elegy

March 22, 2018

Andrew Mattison, PhD
Professor of English
Writing and Reading in Ben Johnson’s Laments

Andrew Mattison teaches Shakespeare, Milton and other Renaissance writers (and occasionally Modern European Literature). He is the author of “The Unimagined in the English Renaissance” (Fairleigh Dickinson, 2013), “Milton’s Uncertain Eden” (Routledge, 2007) and journal articles on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature. A pianist, he has published several articles about the relationship between poetry and music, and has given lecture-performances on that subject.

Melissa GregoryMelissa Gregory, PhD
Associate Professor of English
Mourning Children in the 19th Century

In addition to being an associate professor Melissa Gregory is also the Honors advisor for the English department. She specializes in nineteenth-century British literature and has published articles on both Victorian poetry and the novel. She is a founding member of the North American Victorian Studies Association (NAVSA) and currently serves on the executive board. With Dr. Melisa Klimaszewski of Drake University, she has edited and introduced three of Charles Dickens’s collaboratively written Christmas stories for Hesperus Press—“The Wreck of the Golden Mary” (2006), “Somebody’s Luggage” (2006), and “Dr. Marigold’s Prescriptions” (2007)—and has also coauthored an original brief biography of Dickens (2008). In addition to her primary specialty, she teaches a special section of English 2730 titled “Poetry of the Body.”

Kasumi YamazakiFaculty Research Showcase: Technology Meets Humanities

April 12, 2018

Kasumi Yamazaki, PhD
Assistant Professor of Japanese
3D Virtual World and a Collaborative Superpower: The Case of JFL Classrooms

Kasumi Yamazaki teaches advanced level courses of Japanese as a Foreign Language (JFL) and culture. Dr. Yamazaki’s research focuses on a wide range of contemporary Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) pedagogy and integration, namely, the use of 3D simulation games and virtual realities (VRs), interactive novels, and the effectiveness of hybrid teaching curricula. Dr. Yamazaki is currently working on an interdisciplinary project in the area of ICALL, designing an intelligent smartphone application to support language learners' experiential and communicative learning. Dr. Yamazaki’s research garnered attention through her series of publications and presentations at refereed international conferences such as AATJ, ACTFL, CALICO, JALT-CALL, CSCTFL.

Gaby SemaanGaby Semaan, PhD
Associate Professor of Arabic
Digital Storytelling: Humanities Vehicle in the 21st Century

Dr. Gaby Semaan is the director of Middle East Studies and the Arabic program coordinator at The University of Toledo. He is also the co-director of the Arabic Summer Intensive Program at California State University San Bernardino. Dr. Semaan is a media and intercultural communication specialist whose research areas include cultural identities of minority groups. Parts of this article were used in the author’s dissertation.

Last Updated: 11/26/19