Indiana Humanities is embarking on a new thematic initiative, launching late first quarter 2019, looking at how we relate to each other across rural, urban and suburban lines. We wish to uncover the current state of relations and the longer history of how Americans have thought about urban, suburban and rural differences. We also hope to spark conversations about how the futures of urban, rural and suburban Hoosiers are linked, and what might be preventing us from working together.

We believe the humanities can help individuals and communities make sense of the real and perceived differences between urban, suburban and rural Hoosiers. They can provide context and lenses for analysis, as well as create space for critical inquiry, open-ended consideration and reflection. We welcome proposals for talks by scholars working across the humanities and humanistic social sciences. We’re also open to proposals that take the standard scholar talk and flip it on its head, i.e., creative writing or performance workshops, text-centered conversations, or whatever else you can imagine.


Speakers receive a standard honorarium of $400 per talk, plus mileage and travel reimbursement. Talks will be listed on the Indiana Humanities webpage and in a speakers bureau catalog used by Indiana Humanities grantees to plan programs related to this theme. While anyone can contact a speaker to plan a program, most organizations will contact a speaker to find a mutually agreeable day and time, then apply to Indiana Humanities for funding to cover the speaker’s honorarium.


Speakers bureau members will be invited to communities across the state—by libraries, schools, museums, civic organizations and others—to deliver engaging talks on themes related to one or more of the following questions:

  • What do the terms urban, rural and suburban even mean? Are they useful? Limited? Self-fulfilling?
  • How has the urban/suburban/rural divide been expressed in art, literature, film and culture over time, and how do these representations shape how we understand this divide in the present?
  • To what extent is there a divide and to what extent is the divide a matter of perception? What are the historical roots of a real divide…or, conversely, the perception of one?
  • To what extent is the 1920 Census, which was the first to show that a majority of Americans lived in cities and towns, an inflection point for the perception of an urban/rural divide?
  • Who are the key individuals and/or what are the historic moments that have had a significant bearing on the development of Indiana’s rural, urban or suburban communities?
  • What are the factors that lead some communities to embrace change and others to resist it? What lessons can we draw from the past or from across Indiana and the U.S. today?

Great talks convey a compelling idea, feature a speaker with deep expertise and a dynamic, easy speaking style, and help Hoosiers make unexpected connections and find relevance to their own lives. If that sounds like something you can offer, apply by Jan. 25, 2019!


Contact Megan Telligman at mtelligman@indianahumanities.org or at 317.616.9409