Siobhan Senier Begins Full Term Hayes Chair

Siobhan Senier Begins Full Term Hayes Chair

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

This story first appeared in the fall 2012 Center for Humanities newsletter.

Siobhan SenierIn September, Siobhan Senier, associate professor of English, began a full-term appointment as the James H. Hayes and Claire Short Hayes Professor of the Humanities, commonly known as the Hayes Chair. Through the end of academic year 2016, Senier will continue her work on the literature and culture of Native people in New Hampshire and throughout New England.

“In 2011, New Hampshire convened the first Commission on Native American Affairs to recognize and promote the historic and cultural contributions of Native Americans to the state and to further the needs of New Hampshire’s Native American community through state policy and programs. So this is an auspicious moment for UNH, as the state’s flagship university,” says Senier, “and for me, as a scholar of Native American literature, to shore up our commitments to teaching and scholarship about the indigenous Granite State.”  

In an effort to promote the visibility of the Hayes Chair, two one-year appointments were awarded to Senier and to Associate Professor of History Cynthia Van Zandt for 2010 and 2011 respectively. During 2010, the Hayes appointment allowed Senier to complete her book “Dawnland Voices: Writings from Indigenous New England” (forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press) and to inaugurate the Indigenous New England Conference.

“The Chair also allowed me to pursue complementary interests in digital archives and digital humanities,” Senier says. “I found that of the six New England states, New Hampshire is perhaps the least cognizant of its Native people, both historically and presently. I also discovered that online literature and culture are proving especially powerful in making indigenous people everywhere more visible and audible.”

Senier’s goals over her tenure as Hayes Chair include building an interactive digital archive of NH indigenous writing, producing podcast interviews of Native people about their relationship to places and events around the state, and linking the archive and podcast to an online New Hampshire Native History Trail. She also intends to sustain the Indigenous New England Conference with a special focus on New Hampshire scholarship and teaching and to work toward her next book.  

“New Hampshire presents unique challenges for Native American Studies scholars,” Senier says, “and I am grateful that the Hayes Chair provides an equally unique opportunity to meet these challenges.”  

The late James H. Hayes, a generous UNH alumnus and a successful New Hampshire businessman and civic leader, was fiercely devoted to New Hampshire politics and traditions. He established the James H. Hayes and Claire Short Hayes Professor of the Humanities to be a focal point at UNH for New Hampshire’s history, culture and government. Professor Emeritus Charles Clark (History) was the first Hayes Chairs. Previous recipients include: David Watters, professor of English; Jeff Bolster, associate professor of history; and Nina Glick Schiller, professor of anthropology.