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Humanities Research Intensive

This course, taught over spring break, introduces freshmen and sophomores to the excitement of humanities research. It will prepare you to develop an independent summer research project, to work as a research assistant for a Stanford professor, or to apply for undergraduate research grants.

Over seven days, you and your thirty classmates will take a deep dive into some of the most important methods and questions driving scholarly research in the humanities today. Your laboratory will be the archives and museum collections at Stanford, where you’ll work closely with Professors Giovanna Ceserani (Classics), John Kieschnick (Religious Studies), Grant Parker (Classics), and Rose Salseda (Art and Art History), doing hands-on research on ancient and modern books, manuscripts, artifacts, and monuments.

You will learn the following about humanities research:

  • How to formulate a solid research question
  • How to gather the evidence that will help you to answer that question
  • How to utilize Stanford archives, museums, and collections
  • How to write up research results
  • How to evaluate the research of your fellow students and offer useful feedback
  • How to deliver your results in a public setting
  • How to write an effective grant proposal

Why Participate in HRI?

Students who complete this course become Humanities Research Intensive Fellows and are eligible to apply for special HRI grants to support follow-up research during the summer or following academic year. In addition, they receive post-program mentorship during spring quarter and ongoing opportunities to engage with humanities faculty and advanced undergraduates. They become part of the broader intellectual community of humanities researchers at Stanford.

Fellowship Details

  • Two-unit course. Pass / No Credit. Units count toward spring quarter. (Note: you must be enrolled during spring quarter to participate in HRI).
  • Frosh and sophomores only. Transfer students are also eligible if they have completed 1 full-time quarter at Stanford and no more than 1 full year at their previous institution (or transferred in no more than 60 units, not including AP credit) by the time of application.
  • Open to all majors, as well as undeclared students.
  • Program dates: Spring Break 2023: Sunday, March 26 through Saturday, April 1.
  • Contact email: jschweg [at] ()
  • See our FAQ for more details.
  • Application deadline: Monday, November 7, 2022, 11:59 pm. 

    Click Here to Apply

2023 HRI Faculty

A head shot of Giovanna Ceserani

Giovanna Ceserani is an Associate Professor of Classics, as well as Director of the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA), Stanford’s digital humanities lab. Ceserani grew up in Italy, a country full of classical antiquities, and is interested in how Italy’s classical past has been perceived across time—by Italians and foreigners, as well as tourists and scholars. Her research explores how ancient objects and texts generate passionate ideas and have impacted the course of history. These questions inform her book, Italy’s Lost Greece: Magna Graecia and the Making of Modern Archaeology (2012), as well as her current work on The Grand Tour Project, a digital humanities project that enriches our understanding of eighteenth-century travel in Italy. Professor Ceserani is especially interested in what the digital humanities and data science allow us to uncover about early modern travel, tourism, and society, and in how to enhance access to untold histories by way of digital tools. 


Headshot of John Kieschnick

John Kieschnick is The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Professor of Buddhist Studies. He specializes in Chinese Buddhism, with particular emphasis on its cultural history. For this class, his most relevant work is a book called The Impact of Buddhism on Chinese Material Culture, in which he examines the wide-ranging and sometimes surprising ways that Buddhism shaped the material culture of China, including its role in the history of icons, relics, prayer beads, books, bridges and chairs. His course The Religious Life of Things attempts to introduce the study of comparative religion through objects.



Grant Parker

Grant Parker is an Associate Professor of Classics and a faculty affiliate in the Center for African Studies. Much of his research explores the literatures and material culture of ancient Rome, especially long-term histories of texts, places, and monuments. Having grown up in South Africa in a mixed-race environment of the apartheid era, he is also interested in cross-cultural encounters and their artistic productions. His books include The Agony of Asar: a thesis on slavery by the former slave, Jacobus Elisa Johannes Capitein, 1717-1747 (2001); The Making of Roman India (2008); and, as editor, South Africa, Greece, Rome: classical confrontations (2017). He is currently working on a digital humanities project to map the eighteenth-century slave trade in the Indian Ocean, which has been much less studied than the Atlantic world. A Resident Fellow in Toyon Hall, Professor Parker enjoys sharing his musical interests with students.


portrait of professor Rose Salseda

Rose Salseda is an Assistant Professor of Art and Art History, with affiliations in African and African American Studies and Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. She specializes in the fields of African American, African Diaspora, and U.S. Latinx art, with a focus on the politics of race, identity, and representation. Her first book, Unrest: An Art History of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, explores how artists have challenged racially polarizing media portrayals and accounts of the 1992 uprising. She is also interested in intersections of visual and performance art with popular music, especially strategies of appropriation used by Black and Brown artists to critique discrimination and inequities in society. Professor Salseda is a first-generation college student, as well as the fourth generation of her family to have been raised in South Central Los Angeles and its surrounding neighborhoods. Her family, art, and community ties in Southern California continue to inspire and motivate her work.

Questions? Email the HRI Fellowship Advisor, Jeff Schwegman: jschweg [at]

Student in library

Learn more

Read and watch the video about the inaugural Humanities Research Intensive in the Stanford Report.