Release Date: July 15, 2011
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Erik R. Seeman, PhD, professor of history at the University at Buffalo and a noted historian of the Americas, has been named director of the UB College of Arts and Sciences' Humanities Institute, an association that has developed an international reputation for innovative cross-disciplinary research, teaching and community programs in the humanities.
Seeman was appointed by E. Bruce Pitman, PhD, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences to a three-year term that began July 1.. He will succeed Tim Dean, PhD, professor of English, who has held the position since 2008. Carrie Tirado Bramen, PhD, professor of English, will continue as executive director of the Humanities Institute, a position to which she was re-appointed in 2010.
In making the appointment, Pitman said, "Since its founding in 2005, the Humanities Institute has served as a bridge across disciplines within the university and as a bridge from UB to the larger community.
"It has achieved recognition on campus for fostering and facilitating interdisciplinary scholarship," he said, "and through the conferences it sponsors and the publications it has helped create, has established a national presence for itself and the faculty members affiliated with it."
Pitman added, "Previous directors, Professors Ewa Ziarek, Martha Malamud and Tim Dean, developed very successful programs of teaching and outreach and I have every confidence that Drs. Seeman and Bramen will continue this excellent work of enhancing the cultural life of the university and Western New York."
The institute focuses on interdisciplinary research and education in the fields of history, literature, languages and cultural studies, philosophy and, more broadly, the fine arts, media studies, architecture and other disciplines.
In his new position Seeman will direct a broad range of programs that include research fellowships and awards, lecture series, a seminar series featuring new faculty members, interdisciplinary research workshops, support for publications, a distinguished scholars-in-residence program, the Scholars in the Schools program, the Scholars at Hallwalls program and an annual conference for international scholars that in the past has covered such topics as the meaning of madness and human trafficking.
Seeman said he looks forward to building on the success of the previous directors, but also wants to take the institute in new directions.
"In particular," he said, "I am eager to begin supporting the research of PhD students who represent the future of the humanities."
Seeman is a historian of colonial North America who joined the UB faculty in 1996 after receiving his doctorate from the University of Michigan. His research focuses on the rituals and beliefs surrounding death from a cross-cultural and historical perspective and has been featured in The New York Times and other publications.
His 2010 book, "Death in the New World Cross-Cultural Encounters, 1492- 1800" (University of Pennsylvania Press), has been praised as "the most complete and comprehensive treatment of early American deathways."
His 2011 book, "The Huron-Wendat Feast of the Dead: Indian-European Encounters in Early North America" (Johns Hopkins University Press) also has been widely applauded by critics. His transatlantic approach to history will continue with his current book project, a prehistory of Spiritualism in the early modern Anglo-Atlantic world.
In addition to fellowships from the UB Humanities Institute and the National Endowment for the Humanities, Seeman was a 2005 Fulbright Research and Teaching Fellow at the University of the West Indies, Barbados.
Patricia Donovan has retired from University Communications. To contact UB's media relations staff, call 716-645-6969 or visit our list of current university media contacts. Sorry for the inconvenience.