Karenne Wood, Ph.D.
A new Native writer/artist residency program at VCU will honor the late Karenne Wood.

Humanities Research Center launches Native writer/artist residency program

The program honors the legacy of Karenne Wood, a member of the Monacan Indian tribe and a poet, activist, tribal historian and educator who lectured at VCU on many occasions.

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The Humanities Research Center at Virginia Commonwealth University is launching the Karenne Wood Native Writer/Artist Residency program. It will allow an Indigenous writer or artist to spend time at VCU, connect with local tribes, give public talks and readings, and enrich VCU students’ learning experience.

The program honors the legacy of Karenne Wood, Ph.D., who was a member of the Monacan Indian tribe and a poet, activist, tribal historian and educator who lectured at VCU on many occasions. Wood, who died in 2019, was director of the Virginia Indian Heritage Program at Virginia Humanities, led a tribal history project for the Monacan Nation, conducted research at the National Museum of the American Indian, and served on the National Congress of American Indians’ Repatriation Commission. Her two books of poetry, “Markings on Earth” (2001) and “Weaving the Boundary” (2016) are taught widely throughout North America. In 2015, she was named one of the Library of Virginia’s Virginia Women in History.

The residency program’s launch was announced Nov. 20 at the Pocahontas Reframed Film Festival at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The Humanities Research Center, part of the College of Humanities and Sciences at VCU, was a sponsor of the film festival.

“The Karenne Wood residency is part of a broader effort to bring institutional awareness and acknowledgment of the past, present and future of Indigenous peoples in Virginia,” said Cristina Stanciu, Ph.D., the director of the Humanities Research Center and an associate professor in the Department of English. “It aims to enhance the visibility of Virginia Indigenous cultures and communities and to be more intentional and reciprocal in promoting cultural exchanges between the university and the local Native communities.”

The program is supported by the VCU Foundation and the VCU Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation, and is seeking support for an endowment. P. Srirama Rao, Ph.D., vice president for research and innovation at VCU, also spoke at the Pocahontas Reframed Film Festival.

“We applaud the center for beginning a new initiative this year, through its new Native artist/writer residency program in honor of the late Monacan nation citizen and scholar, Dr. Karenne Wood,” he said. “Making knowledge visible to communities is at the heart of a research university such as VCU.”

Rao said VCU’s new research strategic plan serves as a framework to streamline the university’s investments, will lead to increased funding and growth, and ultimately advance excellence in research at VCU. “This includes the scholarly and creative research such as that conducted by Dr. Wood and our current Humanities Research Center faculty as well as scholars and creators across our campuses,” he said.