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In Review

Rubin Leads Humanities Center
rubinHUMANITIES DIRECTOR: Historian Rubin will head center. (Photo: Adam Fenster)

A noted scholar of American history, Joan Shelley Rubin, has been appointed director of the Humanities Center. Rubin is the Dexter Perkins Professor in History and served as interim director from the center’s creation in spring 2015. She’ll hold the title of Ani and Mark Gabrellian Director of the Humanities Center.

Rubin says that her work with the center flows naturally out of research to which she has long been devoted. “I’m a historian of the dissemination of the humanities, fundamentally,” she says. An American cultural and intellectual historian, Rubin is the author of The Making of Middlebrow Culture (University of North Carolina Press, 1992) and Songs of Ourselves: The History of Poetry in America (Harvard University Press, 2007), among other projects.

The Gabrellian Directorship is named in recognition of the support of University Trustee Ani Gabrellian ’84 and her husband, Mark Gabrellian ’79. In addition to the directorship, the couple established the annual Hagop and Artemis Nazerian Lectures, named for Ani Gabrellian’s parents and held by the center.

The center, which has a new home in Rush Rhees Library, supports multidisciplinary engagement with literature, history, the arts, and philosophies of cultures past and present in order to foster educated, contributing global citizens. Rubin joined the University in 1995 and specializes in 19th- and 20th-century American history and the history of the book. She serves as the history department’s director of graduate studies and also directs the American Studies Program, an initiative she helped found in 2011. Collaboration and exchange are at the heart of the center’s efforts to enhance the study of the humanities at Rochester and strengthen ties to related disciplines. But Rubin said that she will also make sure that “the lone scholar, the isolating work of reading a text closely yourself,” is also supported.

And she aspires to a wide reach.

“I want our center to touch the life of every University of Rochester undergraduate,” she said. “It’s a lofty goal but an important one because I firmly believe that an appreciation for the humanities and an understanding of human culture are central to what it means to be an educated citizen.” —Kathleen McGarvey

For more information on the Humanities Center, visit