International Network for the Comparative Humanities (INCH)

Co-directed by English and Comparative Literature Professors Maria DiBattista (Princeton) and Barry McCrea (Notre Dame), the International Network for the Comparative Humanities (INCH) is an international consortium that promotes interdisciplinary exchange between Princeton and Notre Dame faculty and graduate students with their counterparts overseas. INCH is aimed at developing a new model for “networking” in the humanities, one that stresses the importance of collaboration across generational as well as national and institutional boundaries. Its meetings are organized around variations on a major theme explored over a period of 18 to 24 months, with the chosen texts mainly reflecting the literature and traditions of the host country. INCH’s first cycle focused on the Emotions, with workshops on Political Passions and Social Emotions. The theme of its second cycle, Transformation, takes up the personal, political, cultural, and ecological value and direction of change. In a workshop on Supernatural Transformation, hosted by the Notre Dame Global Center at Kylemore Abbey in Ireland, participants discussed Ovid’s Metamorphosis, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Heaney’s translation of the Irish medieval poem “Buile Suibhne” (“Sweeney Astray”), and Rilke’s Duino Elegies—texts that showcase how change might be experienced as originating in supernatural agents (gods, nature divinities, witches, sorcerers, magicians). Recently INCH convened at the Stanley Seeger Center in Athens to consider the question of Social Transformation. Organized around Aeschylus’s Oresteia, poems by Cafavy, Lampedusa’s Il Gattopardo (The Leopard), and Renoir’s The Rules of the Game, the group debated works that dramatize change, including descents into barbarism as well as restorations of order. Attending this year’s INCH were additional core faculty from the University of Lisbon (Helena Buescu) and University of Sienna (Simona Micale), and graduate students from Princeton, Notre Dame, University of Arezzo, University of Geneva, University of Utrecht, Scuola Normale Pisa, University of Lisbon, Oxford University, and University of Bologna.

The initiative is substantially funded by the Collaborative Humanities grant as part of the Humanities Council Global Initiative.