Arts & Humanities Campus News

Contest shines a spotlight on student research in the arts and humanities

Students present their research at annual 4 Minutes, 33 Seconds competition

For four minutes and 33 seconds each, 10 students will present their research at the annual 4 Minutes, 33 Seconds Contest, a live competitive demonstration of diverse research on the humanities and the visual, literary and performing arts.

The event, held from 4-6 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Athenaeum on Broad Street, is part of the University of Georgia’s month-long Spotlight on the Arts festival.

Since 2014, the 4 Minutes, 33 Seconds Contest has given graduate and undergraduate UGA students a chance to share their creative research projects with the university community. This year, 26 students sent in applications, and 10 were selected to present live at the Nov. 16 competition.

“This competition highlights the work of UGA students who are crossing disciplinary boundaries, engaging in arts-based research and research-based art,” said Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor, competition co-coordinator and professor of language and literacy education. “These students are leading the way to new, expansive ways of problem solving where the answers can be found on a spectrum between the arts and sciences.”

The competition’s name is a reference to the well-known 4’33” composition by John Cage. Performed as four minutes and 33 seconds of silence, this 1952 composition is a three-movement piece that immerses the audience in the passage of time while taking in the sounds around them that are audible in the absence of the music.

Each year, the research topics presented at the 4 Minutes, 33 Seconds Contest center on the visual, literary and performing arts and artists. Student presenters will be judged on several factors including how their project demonstrates research expertise and discipline, creativity in their field of inquiry and engagement with the arts. The challenge comes in presenting their research within the time limit.

“It’s really about practice,” said Katie Geha, competition co-coordinator and director of the Dodd Galleries at the Lamar Dodd School of Art. “How do you convey what you’re working on and be able to do it in a concise way? In the thick of research, it’s not always that easy.”

The 10 students selected for the competition represent a far reaching and diverse set of research topics and degree areas including theatre and film studies, art, performance, art history, language and literacy education, music composition, textile science and art education. Both undergraduate and graduate students are represented.

Their research projects encompass topics such as augmented reality as an aid for collaborative learning, the history of female warriors, technology as a tool for creating smart fabrics, poetic approaches to how people experience precarity, and how classroom sewing as an engineering activity can provide insight into bilingualism.

The 4 Minutes, 33 Seconds Contest is just one of more than 60 events held as part of UGA’s Spotlight on the Arts festival in November 2022. Other highlights of the festival include Grammy-winning acts at the Performing Arts Center, a University Theatre production of Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors,” a Georgia Writers Hall of Fame event, and a screening and discussion of the documentary film “Athens, GA: Inside/Out” with Director Bill Cody.

More information on the 2022 Spotlight on the Arts festival, including a schedule of events, can be found at, as well as on the Arts Council Facebook page (, Twitter feed (@UGA_arts) or Instagram (