Center for Humanities, Arts, and TechnoSciences (CHATS) Receives Major Grant from the New York Council for the Humanities

Thanks to an effort led by Mary Valentis, Associate Professor of English, the New York Council for the Humanities has awarded a grant in the amount of $20,000 to the University at Albany Foundation and the Center for Humanities, Arts and TechnoSciences (CHATS), an interdisciplinary initiative within the College of Arts and Sciences dedicated to promoting the humanities.  The grant titled “At the Gateway to Modernism:  A Celebration of William and Henry James” will provide special opportunities for community outreach and enhanced visibility for the University, College, and Center through a series of public events to be scheduled in 2010-11.

The James family celebration will focus on the significant works and pivotal thought of these two brothers whose contributions helped shape the 20th Century and more particularly the intellectual, artistic, and philosophical moment we now call modernism. The grant will enable CHATS and its partners to engage regional audiences in this rich literary, family, and cultural legacy and to animate the imaginative worlds of the novelist, Henry, and the philosopher, William, the father of modern American psychology.  Humanities scholars from a variety of disciplines as well as social scientists, historians, and archivists will lead and participate in discussions, panels, a film festival, workshops, walking tours, exhibits, and marathon readings.  These interactive events will explore and investigate the brothers’ impact on society and the humanities in general and examine their roles in the history of ideas and aesthetics.

Mary Valentis, project director, explains that “The James family is rooted in Albany history.”  Henry and William James’ Irish immigrant grandfather made his fortune in Albany in the early nineteenth century. Their father, whose keen interest in literature and philosophy fueled his sons’ curiosity and education, graduated from the Albany Academy. Many James family members are buried in an extensive family plot at the Albany Rural Cemetery. And early in Portrait of a Lady, perhaps Henry James’ most famous novel, the reader encounters the young Isabel Archer in her grandmother’s brownstone on State Street in downtown Albany.

Grant partners include: University Libraries, William K. Sanford Library (Colonie), University Art Museum, University Auxiliary Services, Department of English, Performing Arts Center, Albany Academies, Albany Institute of History and Art, Capital Repertory Theatre.

For more information contact Mary Valentis, CHATS Director, at:

humanites logo