Giselle Anatol named director of KU’s Hall Center for the Humanities

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Giselle Anatol, professor of English at the University of Kansas, has been named the permanent director of the Hall Center for the Humanities, effective next week.

Anatol has led the center in an interim capacity since fall 2022 when the former director, Richard Godbeer, retired, according to a Thursday news release from KU.

The Hall Center is “a focus of intellectual life for scholars in the humanities, arts and humanistic social sciences at KU and for members of the surrounding community,” according to the release.

One event the center hosts is the Haunting Humanities festival, a science fair-like festival around Halloween that provides ways for humanities researchers to engage with the public through performances, games, storytelling, and even an escape room. The event was revived under Anatol’s leadership in 2023.

Anatol, who joined KU in 1998, said in the release that she is thrilled to have been selected for the leadership role.

“During my time as interim director, I sought to promote the Hall Center as a flourishing, welcoming and inclusive space for the celebration and advancement of humanistic research and productivity,” Anatol said in the release. “I very much look forward to continuing this work in collaboration with the many students, faculty, staff and community members who are invested in all that the humanities have to offer.” 

Anatol also resumed the Undergraduate Fellows Program, “fostering greater undergraduate participation in the Hall Center’s scholarly activities and extending the reach of the thought-provoking conversations that occur during the center’s various programs,” according to the release.

Anatol’s research interests include Caribbean literature and folklore, U.S. African American literature, speculative fiction by authors of the African diaspora and representations of race, ethnicity and gender in writing for youth, according to the release. Her most recent book, “Small-Girl Toni and the Quest for Gold,” is a children’s book inspired by author Toni Morrison. It has made multiple top-3 appearances on the Raven Book Store’s bestseller list. She has also earned numerous recognitions for her teaching and research excellence at KU, according to the release.

The Hall Center is one of 11 research centers under the KU Office of Research. Belinda Sturm, interim vice chancellor for research, said in the release that she’s grateful for Anatol’s leadership and vision for the center, “which provides a unique and interdisciplinary home for scholars and students to engage in creative endeavors and public discourse.”

“KU has long-standing strength in humanities research, and Dr. Anatol is committed to expanding the impact of this research center,” Sturm said in the release.

Anatol’s new position is effective Sunday, March 3.

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