A Message from ACLS President Joy Connolly
Dear ACLS Community,
Spring has always been a time of renewal, symbolic and real, with colorful flowers in bloom and birdsong swelling from every branch, even in Manhattan. While the COVID-19 pandemic has limited our ability to spend time outside and with friends, the changes it has mandated have meant opportunities to explore new ideas and directions for the future.
On Friday, May 1, ACLS held its first-ever all virtual Annual Meeting, during which I introduced our new Strategic Priorities. I spoke about the new directions it represents in my Report to the Council. Our plan is ambitious; it contains new initiatives that represent renewed energy and growth involving work that ACLS has already begun and foundational values that have informed our work for decades.
ACLS is ideally placed to support the future of humanistic scholarship through humanistic action that SUPPORTS, CONNECTS, AMPLIFIES, and RENEWS our scholarly work and constituent communities. Our plan commits us to expand our mission to support scholars and societies from under-represented groups and fields of study. I am excited to share this plan with you and encourage you to share your thoughts on it with us.
As we embark upon this work and the world enters the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, my weekly messages to you will convert to monthly ones. I appreciate the positive feedback shared by so many of you. Starting in June, our monthly e-newsletter will feature updates from across the organization, news about past and present fellows, and more.
In the meantime, I hope you will join me in celebrating our fellows’ continued efforts in bringing important humanistic perspectives to discussions and debates currently dominating the news:
- Kate Brown F’15, who wrote on the ecological impact of the pandemic in a recent edition of The New Yorker
- Noble David Cook, F’98, quoted in “History’s deadliest pandemics, from ancient Rome to modern America,” a recent Washington Post special feature
- Melanie Kiechle F’11, quoted in “In 19th-Century America, Fighting Disease Meant Battling Bad Smells,” a recent Atlas Obscura story
- Nancy Tomes F’87, 79, quoted in “Keep it Clean: The Surprising 130-Year History of Handwashing,” a recent story in The Guardian
In addition, I shared my thoughts on the importance and urgency of humanistic scholarship in this essay, currently featured in the Spring 2020 edition of Academe.
Thank you for your continued support!
I share one of my favorite poems, which I read at our Annual Meeting last week: “A Mark of Resistance,” by Adrienne Rich:
A Mark of Resistance
Stone by stone I pile
this cairn of my intention
with the noon’s weight on my back,
exposed and vulnerable
across the slanting fields
which I love but cannot save
from floods that are to come;
can only fasten down
with this work of my hands,
these painfully assembled
stones, in the shape of nothing
that has ever existed before.
A pile of stones: an assertion
that this piece of country matters
for large and simple reasons.
A mark of resistance, a sign.
Wishing you a safe and promising spring,