This chapter offers a history of how Humanities Without Walls (HWW), a consortium project funded by the Mellon Foundation, has taken up the promises and challenges of the public humanities. HWW is a seedbed for modeling ethical practices of genuinely reciprocal and redistributive relationships as the foundation of a world of inquiry “without walls.” Here the development of reciprocal and redistributive (R&R) methodologies in one aspect of the HWW grant work: the Grand Research Challenge awards, is charted. The story is told of what interdisciplinary collaborative grantmaking has become over the life of the grant since 2015, as a result of both recent convulsive social and political changes and of the long-standing underlying conditions of economic inequality and racial injustice that are an ongoing feature of contemporary life. The process has shifted to centering colleagues in and outside the research/R1 university who already do this work, making their methods available to prospective grantees as part of how the R&R concept is socialized. The chapter details the ways HWW has encouraged collaborators to make co-designing a priority from the start of their work. In the process, the stakes of the “publics” in the public humanities at this historical juncture are discussed.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Public Humanities Scholarship
EditorsDaniel Fisher-Livne, Michelle May-Curry
ISBN (Print)9781032163390
StateAccepted/In press - May 10 2024

Publication series

NameRoutledge Literature Companions


  • Humanities Without Walls
  • Humanities research
  • Public humanities
  • Reciprocity
  • redistribution


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