a nonprofit devoted to interdisciplinary arts and humanities public education

What We Do

Educational Initiatives


Established in 2014, each Shelley seminar series includes an exciting and diverse lineup of scholars of Romanticism, some of whom are also poets, from institutions near and far. Weekly seminar meetings are structured in three parts: first, our visiting speaker delivers a talk of approximately 30-60 minutes in length; next, we have a question and answer session lasting 15-30 minutes; and finally, after a short break, the group uses whatever time remains to engage in a collaborative close reading of a text selected either by that day’s speaker or the series organizers.

A unique aspect of the seminar series is the opportunity it affords for graduate students from different institutions to come together to study Romantic literature in a collaborative setting. Such opportunities are few and far between, and are generally confined to professional conferences. The Shelley Seminar Series, by contrast, offers a chance for graduate students to engage in an ongoing conversation with their colleagues.

For our upcoming series, when we plan to add a weekly proseminar for our graduate student cohort. This proseminar will provide support in every aspect of the students’ professional development, from research and writing to pedagogy and the challenges of navigating the academic job market. We will help students to develop and reflect upon their research methods, and to build their knowledge of Romanticism-specific research holdings around the country and the world. We will also offer intensive training in philosophies of pedagogy and their specific application in the classroom, with the aim of helping students become more fluent and capable teachers.

The beats and black arts movement seminars

Through its focus on mid-20th-century poetry, The Beats and Black Arts Movement seminar series explores the complex social, aesthetic, and political relationships between two radical, socially engaged, and audacious artistic movements in mid-century America, and examines their legacies in shaping cultural production in our own moment in history.

In addition to poetry, the Beats and Black Arts Movement affected everything from fine arts to music, dance, and drama. We will examine its close correlation to politics, exploring its alignment with the Civil Rights Movement, anti-McCarthyism, gay liberation, Jewish equality, and the movement for young people to have autonomy and freedom, and to express their sense of freedom culturally and politically.

The Black Arts Movement moves from the point of the civil rights struggle to its becoming part of the Black Power Movement, with important relationships to the Nation of Islam and the Black Panthers. Many senior Black Panthers were involved in the Black Arts Movement, and the Black Panthers saw it as an extension of their cultural revolution. This seminar also offers an opportunity to study the Black/White dialogue and Black/Jewish dialogue that existed within the two movements, and it traces a breakdown in dialogue arising from the rift that many Jewish-American artists felt from the Black Arts Movement.

The Center for Shelley Studies

As part of ongoing efforts to sustain a thriving scholarly community focused on the study of Percy Shelley and late Romantic literature, and to specifically support the work of young scholars of Romanticism, TUPP has begun laying the groundwork to create a Center for Shelley Studies. The Center will build on the foundation of TUPP, taking advantage of geographical proximity to an array of important Shelley resources to give graduate students access to essential research materials. The Center would also bring these scholars into conversation with one another and foster a sense of shared purpose and endeavor. The Center could thus play a crucial role in supporting the next generation of scholars and ensuring the ongoing vitality of late Romantic studies.

Graduate students in Romanticism (in North America, particularly) often find themselves geographically isolated from one other, as well as from the major research materials essential to their progress. While high-quality digital materials are increasingly available online, digitization and creation of access is a gradual process still in its early stages. For the next few years, many materials will still only be accessible through in-person visits to the major collections in the UK and on the east coast of the US. If for some portion of their study, graduate students could be physically located together in a cohort near the research collections they need to use, their scholarship and the entirety of the field of Romantic studies would benefit greatly.

Unbinding Prometheus MOOCs

The Shelley MOOC creates a dynamic community of learners, all engaged in thinking collaboratively about the life and work of Percy Bysshe Shelley. As a global classroom without walls, the MOOC provides a unique opportunity for people from all walks of life, from different cultures, and of all levels of expertise, from amateurs to students to professional scholars, to read and learn together. In creating such a community, we are not only exploring Shelley’s work in ways that would otherwise be impossible; we are also honoring the spirit of that work, which is devoted to imagining and broadening the possibilities of human freedom, collectivity, and democracy.

The Prometheus Collaborative Digital Initiative (PCDI)

TUPP is currently building an open-access digital humanities platform to effectively organize, store, and promote its burgeoning and evolving content. The Prometheus Collaborative Digital Initiative (PCDI) is a web platform that will serve both as a nexus linking external resources and a repository of TUPP’s own materials, including the hundreds of hours of video from the Shelley seminar series. The interface will permit users to annotate text and video documents, essentially creating a moderated, crowd-sourced, evolving repository of Shelley scholarship and research, and a model for other kinds of content area research as we become ready to integrate it. The PCDI will also include a forum in which educators and students can pose questions, make comments, and engage in debate. The PCDI will enable scholars to use new media to investigate our cultural heritage in new and powerful ways that facilitate innovative, interdisciplinary teaching and learning for the academic community, and for the global community it serves.

1968 Now seminars

The year 1968 was revolutionary, turbulent, and tragic in almost every field. The Vietnam War raged; the Cold War continued. In France, protests and strikes against traditional institutions, values, and order brought the national economy to a halt for two weeks. In the US, the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy within just two months shook the nation to its core as racial tensions throughout the country flared. As the year drew to a close, the first manned spacecraft orbited the moon.

This seminar series will take a broad look at the cultural, social, political, and artistic forces at work in 1968. We seek to balance the political expressions that grew out of this time with the realities of the time—what did it mean to be a woman, or to be black? What was the role of political assassination, especially in the US? (Indeed, the world might be unrecognizable today, had the Kennedy and King assassinations never occurred.) The seminars will also include a special emphasis on the music of the time, which commanded attention on its own. Whereas today it is a commercial commodity, music felt dangerous and revolutionary in 1968. It was possibly the most potent force in the world at that time to bring together crowds united against all kinds of oppression.

Jewish-American Poetry Seminars

The quality and quantity of Jewish-American poetry over the past century stands as one of the premier cultural achievements in the English language. Yet enormous questions about this work remains to be asked. What makes a poem Jewish? What makes it American? What did these poets have in common with each other, and with the Jewish past? What is the relationship of this recent body of work in English to the Hebrew poetry of millennia ago? What relationship does it have to contemporary Israeli poetry in Hebrew? What relationship does it have to the long tradition of Yiddish across the diaspora? 

Each week, this seminar series will bring together a contemporary poet, a literary scholar, and a rabbi or theologian to discuss one or two major poems by a 20th- or 21st-century Jewish-American poet, and consider it in the context of one or two major texts from the Jewish past. We'll discover how "secular" texts can have religious interpretations and resonances, and how "religious" texts can have secular and very worldly and political interpretations. The seminar series will seek to reach out across many branches and stands of contemporary Jewish life and thought, to bring together in dialogue worlds that often feel far apart, even as they share so much in common. You don't have to be Jewish to enjoy this, but expect bagels and cream cheese to be served alongside the poetry, nevertheless.


Walt Whitman: Singing ‘Myself’ Together

This Whitman bicentennial project is designed to celebrate and explore Whitman’s epic poem Song of Myself. It is planned around 52 discussions and collaborative close readings, each corresponding to a section of Whitman’s poem. As his epic seeks to represent the vast range of possibilities and peoples in a burgeoning democratic space, everyone is invited to take part in the planned discussions and close readings.

As with TUPP’s other seminar series, the Singing ‘Myself’ Together discussions are recorded on audio, video, and in photographs. The recordings feature poets, scholars and other guests, generally in groups of two or three, reading from and discussing Whitman’s poem with Eric Alan Weinstein. 

Once each discussion has been recorded, TUPP will send it to one of 52 reading groups located both within the US and throughout the world. These groups will then use digital audio to photograph themselves and record a discussion both about the section of the poem they are studying and about our collaborative close reading and discussion of that section. In this way, each of the 52 readings is in fact part of a pair, participating in a call and response that propels our engagement with Whitman outward to all interested individuals.

The pop factory

The Pop Factory will be a panoramic investigation of how the work of artists associated with British and American Pop Art have been imagined, produced, marketed, exhibited, seen (and not seen), written about (and sometimes ignored), argued over, sold, and collected throughout the world. The seminar series will focus much of its attention on the time between 1959-60 when Claes Oldenburg, Jim Dine, and Tom Wesselmann had their first shows in the Judson Gallery, and the end of the Nixon administration in late 1974. However, The Pop Factory will attempt to provide context for this historical moment through a substantial investigation of the socio-historical, intellectual, and artistic period that proceeded it, in an attempt to make legible the dialogue between factions and generations of American artists, particularly those of the New York School. Meanwhile, our seminar series 1968 Now, which will run in parallel with The Pop Factory, will provide a rich investigation of the historical background of the immediate period during which the influence of pop art reached its zenith. 

While many histories of pop art imagine it as a "boys' club," we will dedicate considerable attention to the work of a number of important women who both contributed to expanding and challenging what pop art could mean. We will examine the work of artists such as Rosalyn Drexler, Sturtevant, Marisol, Sister Mary Corita Kent, Evelyne Axell, Marjorie Strider, Dorothy Grebenak, Idelle Weber, Pauline Boty, and Kiki Kogelnick, taking the opportunity to spend at least a third of our seminars reevaluating pop art from diverse female and feminist perspectives.  Another third of our seminars will be dedicated to examining Andy Warhol, and the rich world of cultural production which revolved around him and The Factory. We'll look at his work in all of its diverse manifestations—from art to film, books, music, social "happenings," and ephemera. In order to do justice to such a rich array of work, we plan to draw on the expertise of an unusual array of scholarly expertise from across disciplines as diverse as film studies, economics, law, history, philosophy, gender studies, printing and design, fashion, music, marketing, literature, and art history. 

Seminars will generally be split into three sections. During the first part of each seminar, guest speakers will offer a broad array of talks on major issues in pop art.  Following this, our guests will answer questions and enter into dialogue with our seminar participants. The final part of each seminar will be dedicated to close (sometimes granular)  readings of specific, seminal works of pop art. Seminars generally last for 2.5 hours, with a ten minute break between sections two and three.

The Modernist Social Network Seminars

More than a century ago, the poets Ezra Pound, Hilda Doolittle (H. D.), Marianne Moore, and William Carlos Williams developed important friendships with each other in Philadelphia. The Modernist seminar series is particularly—but not exclusively—interested in cross-pollination and idea formation among these four poets. Every week, faculty from a variety of academic institutions come to talk about the four Modernists who made Philadelphia their home in the early part of the 20th century.