Carroll University Center for the Humanities

Looking for an opportunity to reflect on new topics, break out of your comfort zone and find common ground with people who have differing viewpoints than your own? The humanities ask us to think deeply about what it means to be human and help us build connections to one another in a world that can often be confusing. They provide a pathway for exploration across moments of beauty, ugliness, hope, despair, joy and sorrow, and help us analyze and respond to those moments. The Carroll University Center for the Humanities enriches the university experience through programming that requires an open mind and a desire to engage in thought-provoking conversations. Our events are open to all students, regardless of major.

Comprehension. Compassion. Action.

The humanities are fields of study that focus on human society and culture. They demand us to ask questions, they compel us to think creatively, and they challenge us to consider new ideas and outside perspectives. They require that we look at the past to prepare for the future. The humanities add value to a Carroll education by providing students with a rich foundation to more broadly understand the human narrative.

Through special events, programming and scholarship that leads to meaningful conversation and reflection, the Carroll University Center for the Humanities enhances and expands upon the academic experience. We help students gain insights and context that equip them to interact with comprehension, compassion and action — in the classroom, in their profession, and in the complexity of today’s global society.

The Center encourages students to contribute to the broader field of knowledge by sharing the research and insights they gain through participation in our activities.

Programs and Events

The Center for the Humanities sponsors a variety of programming that enriches the student experience at Carroll and highlights our liberal arts heritage.

college students working on a collaborative project

Scholar to Student Lecture Series

Our annual Scholar to Student Lecture Series invites established scholars to campus to present on their areas of expertise. Three student participants, selected by a faculty panel, are given an opportunity to engage in response.

Past Speakers / Programs



Dr. Brendan Riley
Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing, Columbia College, Chicago
“Do Androids Dream of Dice and Cards? Detective Fiction, The Digital Age, Tabletop Games, and the Future of Civilization”

Student Respondents

  • Isaiah Silva, “The Zodiac Cold Case: 50 years of American Obsession and Technological Innovation”
  • Madeline Spindler, “Self -Withdrawal: Detective Fiction and Early Twentieth Century Art”
  • Anthony Tirrell, “Music In Video Games: The Power of Productive Isolation”


Dr. Gillian Rodger
Professor of Musicology, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
“Just One of the Boys: Female-to-male cross-dressing, gender and class in the nineteenth-century popular theater”

Student Respondents

  • Emma Thrope, “Genderless Kei: How a New Generation of Japanese Men and Redefining Masculinity through Androgynous Clothing”
  • Lauren Brandmeier, “Reimagining Music and Performance in the 21st Century”
  • Antonio Webster, “The Vulnerable Tough Guy: The Harmful Effects of Social Constructs of Gender is America’s Military”


Marjorie Jolles
Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, Roosevelt University
“From Feminism to Post-Feminism: Confrontations with Normalcy in Fashion Rhetoric”

Student Respondents

  • Davis Endries, “Dressed to Kill: Cultural Agency and the Army Uniform”
  • Alexis Kaenel, “Putting Away the Cape: Disempowering Women in the Early 1950s”
  • Sofie Kautzman, “’Natural’ Beauty: Imagining Female Beauty Norms in the Work of Corinne Day”


Dr. Gwynne Kennedy
Associate Professor of English and Gender Studies, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
“The Case for Women’s Anger in Early Modern England”

Student Respondents

  • Colleen Buetow, Breaking Gender Norms: Lesbianism in Early Modern England
  • Tikantame Amaleboba, Colonial Effects on South African Women
  • Annie Zinnen, Heavenly Looks with Hellish Thoughts: The Anger of the Millennial Woman


Dr. Shalyn Claggett, Mississippi State University
“An Animal is Being Beaten: Punishment and Pleasure in Victorian Magic Lantern Shows”

Student Respondents

  • Taylor Hamann, “Unstable Boundaries: An Ojibwe Perspective”
  • Jonathan Bieschke, “Curiosity Killed the Cat?: Magic Lanterns and Female Subjugation”
  • Jaclyn Wilcox, “Behind Closed Doors: An Analysis of the Use of Magic Lanterns for Pleasure”
college student writing

The Deirdre M. Keenan Humanities Award for Writing Excellence

The Deirdre M. Keenan Humanities Award for Writing Excellence is an annual essay contest recognizing excellence in writing in a humanities-based field. Three winners are selected and granted the following awards:

First place: $200
Second place: $100
Third place: $50

Students present their essays on a special panel at Celebrate Carroll every spring. Celebrate Carroll is Carroll University's signature academic showcase event. Since 2005, the university community has set aside a day every spring to celebrate the academic and scholarly achievements of Carroll students and faculty through oral, poster and visual arts presentations.

2020 Winners

1st Place

Emma Thorpe
“The Wandering Sleuth: The Development of the Detective from the Flâneur in Edgar Allan Poe's The Man of the Crowd"
Faculty mentor: Dr. Tim Galow

2nd Place

Kally A. Day
"The Effects of the Salvadorian Civil War on Health"
Faculty mentor: Dr. Elena De Costa

3rd Place

Ashley Labodda
“Proximity, Relationships and Moral Obligations"
Faculty mentor: Dr. Kevin Guilfoy

2019 Winners

1st Place

Joseph Messink
“'You are such a queer fellow': Masculinity and the Imperial Endeavor in Victoria Cross’ Anna Lombard
Faculty mentor: Lara Karpenko

2nd Place

Elaina Barbieri
"Get Your Penis Out of my Apocalypse"
Faculty mentor: Lilly Goren

3rd Place

Brenna Krawczyk
“Commonplace Noises as Music: An Appeal to Emotion"
Faculty mentor: Ryan Kangas

2018 Winners

1st Place

Rachael Meyer
“Constructing an American Indian Racial Identity through the Press: The Quarterly Journal of the Society of American Indians
Faculty mentor: Abigail Markwyn

2nd Place

Dena Abu-Saif
"The Radiating Effects of Rape in Louise Erdrich’s The Round House"
Faculty mentor: Deirdre Keenan

3rd Place

Kelsey Cybell
“Relating To An Antihero: What 'UnReal’s' Main Characters Represent To Women"
Faculty mentor: Lilly Goren

Humanities Center Fellows program

The Humanities Center Fellow program is a unique peer educational experience. Fellows work closely with an instructor and are embedded in a humanities-based course where they lead class sessions, serve as class mentors and offer office hours. If you’re interested in serving as an HCF, please email

Affiliated Departments

All students are welcome to participate in Center events and programming, regardless of major. The humanities at Carroll encompass the following subjects: English, history, modern languages (Spanish, French), philosophy, politics, religious studies, sociology, and the visual and performing arts (theatre, music, art).

Support the humanities at Carroll

Humanities-based programming is central to the Carroll University experience. Our goal is to build an endowed fund that will provide long-term support for the Carroll University Center for the Humanities and its activities. Please consider a gift that will help establish a permanent resource for the humanities at Carroll.

If you would like to make a donation to support the Carroll University Center for the Humanities, select “other” as your gift designation and type in “Humanities”.

Make A Gift

Mission Statement for the Carroll University Center for the Humanities

The Carroll University Center for the Humanities stimulates engagement in Humanities-based content and methodologies across our undergraduate population. The Center supports Humanities-based inquiry by promoting a model we call “Lean In/Push Out”: a two-fold process that encourages scholars and students to “lean in” to contemplative practices and then to “push out” their research and insights to the public. By sponsoring annual events, such as our Student to Scholar Lecture series, as well as through providing fellowship opportunities and supporting relevant campus initiatives, the Center for the Humanities strives to augment the undergraduate experience and to highlight Carroll University’s liberal arts heritage. Ultimately the Center seeks to motivate all undergraduates, regardless of major, to engage in Humanities-based inquiry in order to understand the human experience more deeply and in order to forge empathetic connections throughout the university, the community, and our ever-changing world.

Contact Us

Interested in learning more about the Carroll University Center for the Humanities, or new developments in the humanities at Carroll?

Dr. Lara Karpenko, Associate Professor of English

Panoramic View of campus