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7/10 — Ten Years Too Long: Making the Flint Water Crisis Public Archive — A virtual discussion featuring Louise Seamster (hosted by the UI Center for Human Rights)

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Humanities Without Walls Grand Research Challenge Project Spotlight: Louise Seamster Leads Effort to Build Accessible Archive

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Upcoming Events

Ten Years Too Long: Making the Flint Water Crisis Public Archive promotional image

Ten Years Too Long: Making the Flint Water Crisis Public Archive

Wednesday, July 10, 2024 12:00pm to 1:00pm
The Flint Water Crisis Public Archive aims to aid community leaders, researchers, and the general public in better understanding what happened during the Flint Water Crisis. Without our intervention, we risk losing access to documents released regarding the crisis, stripping us of the opportunity to learn about these important events and their ongoing implications for communities in Michigan and beyond. Panelists will include the project's founder, who will discuss the upcoming launch of the...
Book Ends Information Session (virtual) promotional image

Book Ends Information Session (virtual)

Wednesday, August 28, 2024 8:30am to 9:00am
Co-sponsored by the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies and the Office of the Vice President for Research, Book Ends—an Obermann/OVPR Book Completion Workshop—supports University of Iowa faculty from disciplines in which publishing a monograph is required for tenure and promotion. The award is designed to assist faculty members in turning promising manuscripts into important, field-changing, published books. Read more about the program. Interested applicants are invited to learn more about the...
Fall Application Deadline: Book Ends Book Completion Workshop promotional image

Fall Application Deadline: Book Ends Book Completion Workshop

Thursday, September 19, 2024 5:00pm
Co-sponsored by the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies and the Office of the Vice President for Research, Books Ends—Obermann/OVPR Book Completion Workshop supports University of Iowa faculty from disciplines in which publishing a monograph is required for tenure and promotion. The award is designed to assist faculty members in turning promising manuscripts into important, field-changing, published books. Applications for upcoming Book Ends workshops are due Sept. 19, 2024 (5 p.m.).
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Louise Seamster

Data Justice for Flint: Seamster Leads Effort to Build Accessible Archive

Wednesday, June 5, 2024
For seven years, the Obermann Center at the University of Iowa has been a partner in the Mellon-funded Humanities Without Walls consortium led by Professor Antoinette Burton at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Graduate students from Iowa have attended HWW’s Career Diversity Summer Workshops, and several faculty members have worked with cross-institutional Grand Research Challenge teams. This year, we are delighted that Assistant Professor Louise Seamster (Departments of Sociology & Criminology and African American Studies) was selected as the P.I. of a team focused on "The Flint Water Disaster Public Archive." The “Flint Water Disaster Public Archive” will re-home public data that has been largely inaccessible to Flint communities — a form of data justice that is of urgent relevance to the history, present, and future of those communities. The project is a collaboration among the University of Iowa, University of Michigan–Flint and the Flint Democracy Defense League.
Teresa at OCAS sign

Building a World of Possibility

Wednesday, April 17, 2024
In 2010, Professor Teresa Mangum picked up a paintbrush alongside administrator and compatriot Neda Hatami. The two began transforming the Tudor-style house at 111 Church Street into what is now the University of Iowa’s Obermann Center for Advanced Studies. It wasn’t just a fresh coat of paint. From the start of her fourteen-year tenure as director of the Obermann Center—which falls under the auspices of the Office of the Vice President of Research and is located across from the UI President’s residence—Teresa has been building a legacy. “My favorite thing is watching how people enter the space,” she remarks, speaking about the Center with a mixture of Midwestern lucidity and Southern warmth. “People walk in and you can see them thinking, This is what I thought it would be like to be at a university. The image of people’s faces when they walk in is one of my guiding lights. How do we keep the hope for an intellectual life alive?”
Luis Martin-Estudillo

Martín-Estudillo named new director of Obermann Center for Advanced Studies

Monday, April 15, 2024
Luis Martín-Estudillo, professor and collegiate scholar in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will serve as the next director of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies (OCAS). His appointment will begin July 1. “We are very excited that Professor Martín-Estudillo has agreed to lead the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies into its next chapter,” said Kristy Nabhan-Warren, associate vice president for research. “He brings a wealth of international connections, fresh ideas, and a proven track record of collaboration across units and disciplines here at Iowa and beyond. The search committee was deeply impressed with his vision for the center, and the campus feedback we solicited confirmed and amplified our excitement for new possibilities for OCAS.” For more than four decades, the OCAS has served as an interdisciplinary hub for artists, scholars, and researchers who bridge campus with the larger world.
Lightbulb with plant growing in soil inside it

Obermann Center Hosts Spring 2024 Environmental Series

Monday, February 5, 2024
This spring, the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies hosts the Interdisciplinary, Experiential Environmental Education and Research series, which invites campus artists, humanities scholars, and researchers in the sciences and social sciences to imagine the many ways that our campus and connected spaces might serve as a living laboratory for environmental research. The series, co-sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research, includes visits from facilities and research leaders at other campuses who have developed transformative, place-based research collaborations that include students, staff, and faculty. Kathleen Socolofsky, Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, will present "The UCD Arboretum and Public Garden as Interdisciplinary, Learning Laboratory—Connecting the Campus and Community Through Experiential Teaching, Learning, and Research on and in the Environment" on Friday, April 5, alongside Bethany Wiggin, professor and Founding Director of the Program in Environmental Humanities and the My Climate Story and Ecotopian Toolkit projects at the University of Pennsylvania, who will present ""Humanists at Work in the World: Campus-Community Partnerships for Environmental Justice."
Damani Phillips

Read and Blew Notes

Monday, January 29, 2024
In November 2023, Damani Phillips (School of Music and African American Studies, CLAS) and spoken-word artist Brandon Alexander Williams released the world's first "listening book," Read and Blew Notes. A new medium intended to replace physical music products like CDs and download cards, the "L.B." brings back the ritual experience of listening to new music with a physical product in hand. The book includes album liner notes, full musical scores, and interviews with artists on how their music came into being. The Obermann Center was proud to support the project through co-sponsorship funding.
photo of Everard Hall eating lunch in a cemetery (photo credit: Dessert, 2015, Thalassa Raasch)

Witnessing the Gravedigger

Monday, November 13, 2023
Who’s your local gravedigger? Do you know? Do you have one? The residents of Cherryfield, Maine, do—and it’s not the dirty, shadow-clad figure you’re picturing. It’s local resident Everard Hall, smiling and ball-capped in a plaid work shirt. There’s a harmonica in his pocket and dancing boots in his pickup. Everard (pronounced “EVer-ard”) is one of the few remaining gravediggers in the U.S. who dig by hand—and he does it year-round across northeastern Maine. Using picks, shovels, chains, and winches to haul out rocks, ice, hardpan, roots, clay, and sand, he insists on doing the job with care and precision. It’s not surprising that UI photography professor Thalassa Raasch feels the exact same way about documenting Everard’s work. Her in-progress collection of photos and essays, In Over My Head, documents the unexpected beauty of Everard’s work as a gravedigger and explores the profound thresholds between solitude and community, life and death.
Solange Saxby, Pamela Mulder, Christine Gill standing outside of the UI Obermann Center

Promoting Breastfeeding in Women with MS

Thursday, September 28, 2023
It’s tough to be a new mother, whoever you are, whatever your income, wherever you live. But for women with chronic health conditions, it’s exceptionally difficult. Even breastfeeding can feel like an insurmountable task, full of uncertainties about the transmission of medications in breastmilk and the physical demands of holding an infant for long periods of time.   This past summer, an Obermann Interdisciplinary Research Grant team, aided by Spelman Rockefeller funding, began studying breastfeeding in women with multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic disease of the brain and spinal cord. “There’s a huge gap of knowledge in regards to breastfeeding for women with MS,” say the grant project’s co-directors Christine Gill (Clinical Assistant Professor, Neurology), Pamela Mulder (Clinical Assistant Professor, Nursing), and Solange Saxby (Postdoctoral Research Scholar, Internal Medicine)—largely because pregnant and lactating women tend not to volunteer for research trials. It’s a serious oversight, since MS is three times more common in women than in men and is more frequently diagnosed in women of childbearing age (between 20 and 40) than in any other group. Symptoms vary among patients but commonly include fatigue, muscle weakness, tingling, numbness, vertigo, and walking difficulties due to nerve fiber damage.
Sports, Power, & Resistance: Legacies and Futures

Exploring the Intersection of Sports, Media, and Culture

Tuesday, September 12, 2023
In the ever-evolving landscape of sports, media, and culture, two distinguished University of Iowa scholars, Tom Oates (American Studies and Journalism) and Travis Vogan (Journalism and American Studies), have been instrumental in shaping critical discussions and interdisciplinary explorations. As part of their ongoing commitment to advancing the understanding of sports within broader societal contexts, the two are directing the Obermann Center’s 2023 Arts and Humanities Symposium, “Sports, Power, and Resistance: Legacies and Futures.” With a shared vision of bringing together diverse perspectives, their efforts highlight the important role of sports in contemporary culture and politics. Below is a Q&A with co-directors Thomas Oates and Travis Vogan.
Lisa Schlesinger and Layale Chaker

Exploring Trauma and Imagination: "Ruinous Gods: Suites for Sleeping Children" Opera Takes Shape

Thursday, August 17, 2023
Obermann Interdisciplinary Research Grant recipients Layale Chaker and Lisa Schlesinger (Theatre Arts) are deep in the creative process, weaving together the intricate threads of music, storytelling, and stagecraft to bring to life their ambitious opera, Ruinous Gods: Suites for Sleeping Children. The project, commissioned by Spoleto Festival USA, centers on the experiences of displaced children grappling with resignation syndrome—a rare trauma response to displacement—and seeks to carve out a space for imagination and empowerment within the realm of opera.
hands painting a toy car

Scholars Create Demo Derby as Comment on U.S. Political Discourse

Monday, August 7, 2023
A green car with the words “climate change” emblazoned on its doors slams into the back of a red car with the word “healthcare” on it, crumpling the bumper. Other cars with the terms “gun control,” “free speech,” and “abortion” repeatedly crash into each other in the muddy arena at the county fair, until one car emerges victorious. Just Crushing is an artwork taking the form of a demolition derby to embody American political discourse as a spectacle of competitive wreckage. The Interdisciplinary Research Group (IDRG) consists of Allison Rowe (Teaching & Learning), Maia Sheppard (Teaching & Learning), and Nancy Nowacek (Stevens Institute of Technology). Drawing upon the theatrics of Carnivale, the hometown grandiosity of state fairs, and the rich history of destructive art, vehicles representing critical issues in American politics will brutalize one another as the crowd cheers and jeers them on. Through its live, winner-takes-all battle, this project stands in opposition to the polarizing debates of stylized dialogue across partisan media. In this way, Just Crushing literalizes us-versus-them culture and reveals the absurd extremes to which political discourse has arrived: where every issue must fight for a public and a platform. 
Aged hand holding child hand

Exploring Healthy Aging across the Life Course

Wednesday, July 5, 2023
Health happens in families and yet many health promotion interventions are not tailored for the family as a unit. Multigenerational households (i.e., families that consist of three or more generations) have become a more prevalent family structure in the U.S. and provide essential caregiving functions. This summer, as part of their Obermann Interdisciplinary Research Grant, "Healthy Aging across the Life Course: Engaging Multigenerational Families Living with Chronic Conditions," Ebonee Johnson (College of Public Health), Duhita Mahatmya (College of Education), and Kimberly Dukes (Internal Medicine) utilized the principles and practices of community engagement to better understand health and healthy aging in multigenerational families experiencing chronic illness and disability. 
Marissa Good (left) and Selveyah Gamblin (right) at the Student Undergraduate Research Festival, April 2023 (photo by Louise Seamster)

Data Justice for Flint: Seamster Leads Effort to Build Accessible Archive with Humanities Without Walls Grand Research Challenge Project

Thursday, May 4, 2023
For seven years, the Obermann Center has been a partner in the Mellon-funded Humanities Without Walls consortium led by Professor Antoinette Burton at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Our graduate students have attended HWW’s Career Diversity Summer Workshops, and several faculty members have worked with cross-institutional Grand Research Challenge teams. This year, we are delighted that Assistant Professor Louise Seamster (Departments of Sociology & Criminology and African American Studies) was selected as the P.I. of a team focused on "The Flint Water Disaster Public Archive." The ”Flint Water Disaster Public Archive” will re-home public data that has been largely inaccessible to Flint communities—a form of data justice that is of urgent relevance to the history, present, and future of those communities. The project is a collaboration among the University of Iowa, University of Michigan–Flint, and the Flint Democracy Defense League. Below is Obermann Assistant Director Lauren Burrell Cox’s interview with Louise Seamster about the project.
FilmScene exterior

Obermann Center symposium’s ‘Frequências’ film festival explores Afro-Brazilian cinema

Sunday, April 2, 2023
The door of no return; the reinvention of belonging; Blackness in Brazil; these topics and more were the focus of this year’s Obermann Humanities Symposium. Presented in Iowa City by the Obermann Humanities Symposium & International Programs Major Project Award, the “Frequências” festival displayed lectures, cinema screenings, interventions, exhibits, and performances by contemporary Afro-Brazilian artists and scholars discussing Black diaspora.
Ariani Friedl

Building Bridges: The MOSTRA Brazilian Film Festival

Monday, March 20, 2023
Cris Lira: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how the idea for the Mostra: Brazilian Film Series has started.   Ariani Friedl: I am Brazilian, 'gaúcha' (RS), and I have been living in the United States for over 50 years.  I worked at the University of Illinois @ Chicago for over 20 years as Director of the John Nuveen Center for International Affairs.  I was a member of the Board of Directors of the International Latino Cultura Center for over 15 years and also organized the Chicago Latino Film Festival in 2006 when our Director was on a leave of absence.  I have the fortune of meeting many of our Brazilian filmmakers who attended the Latino Festival which always brings 3 - 4 Brazilian films.   The question always posed by our Brazilian filmmakers was:  "How can we better publicize and where else can we show our Brazilian cinema in the United States?" The idea of creating a festival with only Brazilian films in the Chicago area was born from this and it developed with another idea of bringing films with social conscience to be discussed in universities and other cultural and educational centers. C.L.: Could you please tell us how do you select the films to be featured in the series?  A.F.: I bring to our festival every year, different Brazilian film critics and filmmakers.  I also have collaborators in SP who attend many of our film festivals in Brazil and help me collect a list of films with relevant social content, and also films related to our culture (art, music, literature, dance...), history, environment, etc...  We compile these in a document with trailers and synopses and present them to my Curatorial Committee (composed of professors, critics, and experts in cinema) for a decision in which films we will invite to our festival.
Lauren Burrell Cox

Lauren Burrell Cox is Obermann's New Assistant Director!

Wednesday, March 8, 2023
We're happy to announce that Lauren Burrell Cox has become Obermann's new Assistant Director! She'll be working with our director, Teresa Mangum, to design, plan, promote and conduct programs and to oversee communications for the Center.
Frequencias codirectors

Frequências Symposium: A Discussion with Three Co-organizers

Thursday, February 23, 2023
Taking Brazil’s new Black cinema as its point of departure, Frequências: Contemporary Afro-Brazilian Cinema & the Black Diaspora will feature the emerging wave of young Afro-Brazilian filmmakers, curators, programmers, and scholars whose art and scholarship have already had an impact on international cinema. Organized by Christopher Harris, Janaína Oliveira, and Cristiane Lira, this 2022-23 Obermann Humanities Symposium and International Programs Major Projects Award takes place March 30 – April 1, 2023, in Iowa City. Below is a discussion with Harris, Oliveira, and Lira.
Hand holding up mirror, reflecting peninsula near bridge

Frequências symposium a historical gathering of Brazilian filmmakers and scholars on the UI campus

Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Taking Brazil’s new Black cinema as its point of departure, Frequências: Contemporary Afro-Brazilian Cinema & the Black Diaspora brings together filmmakers, artists, scholars, and critics from across the globe to explore new ways of thinking about the Black diaspora. This 2022-23 Obermann Humanities Symposium and International Programs Major Projects Award takes place March 30 – April 1, 2023, in Iowa City. Organized by Christopher Harris, F. Wendell Miller associate professor of cinematic arts at the University of Iowa; Janaína Oliveira, curator and researcher at the Federal Instituto of Rio de Janeiro; and Cristiane Lira, supervisor of Portuguese at the University of Georgia, the symposium will feature the emerging wave of young Afro-Brazilian filmmakers, curators, programmers, and scholars whose art and scholarship have already had an impact on international cinema.
HPG logo

Working to Create Nets: A Humanities for the Public Good Update

Tuesday, October 25, 2022
Back when we all traveled regularly to conferences, we did so to share research, to learn from colleagues, and to form new relationships, even friendships, rooted in shared intellectual interests. Conferences help graduate students build skills—capturing complex arguments in short presentations, public speaking, asking helpful rather than grandstanding questions, connecting with fellow experts, and more. In other words, conferences are for networking.
Willie Zheng

Meet Willie Zheng, our Undergraduate Communications Assistant

Wednesday, October 19, 2022
This year, we're thrilled to be working with undergraduate communications assistant Willie Zheng. A pharmacy major, Willie is a freshman from Marion, Iowa. His work at Obermann ranges from calendaring to social media strategizing. We're so glad to have found him! What inspired you to choose pharmacy as both your major and career path? WZ: I think the foundational inspiration that led me to decide pharmacy as my major was COVID. I was really inspired by the way our medical researchers and our pharmacists became a critical step in getting the pandemic under control, getting our kids, including myself, back in school, and getting people back to work. In addition, throughout my life, I have always wanted to have a career within the healthcare industry, as well as working and serving local communities like my hometown. Pharmacy is a great example of a healthcare career that serves communities across the nation in providing life-saving medications for all.
Scene from City Council Meeting

The City We Make Together — New book explores civic engagement

Wednesday, September 28, 2022
You walk into a space for a performance—not a theater, per se, but a gym or a ballroom—and find two rows of chairs with an aisle down the middle. Up front, a long table is set with name tags, microphones, and a folder in front of each space. Cameras are trained on the table, and large monitors on either side of the room broadcast what they capture along with captions. A microphone is positioned toward the front of what could be called the audience side of the room, while an American flag is posted behind the table. This is the set of City Council Meeting, a performance that occurred in five U.S. cities (Houston, San Francisco, New York City, Keene, and Tempe) in the mid-aughts. It is the focus of a new book, The City We Make Together: City Council Meeting’s Primer for Participation in the Humanities and Public Life series, a collaboration between the Obermann Center and the University of Iowa Press. Written by two of the core theater makers behind the piece, Mallory Catlett and Aaron Landsman, the book also serves as a prelude and additional tool for a curriculum that is being created as an extension of the production.
humanities for the public good logo

Redesigning Introductory Graduate Courses

Monday, September 26, 2022
During the past several years, nearly a hundred faculty, staff, and graduate students have been part of the transformational work of the Mellon Foundation-funded Humanities for the Public Good (HPG). Together, we developed an appreciation for the value of incremental changes. Through a series of HPG course mini-grants, we invited faculty to find discipline-appropriate ways to integrate HPG values and practices, asking each awardee: How can we prepare students to use humanistic methods and mindsets and a commitment to social justice to position themselves for success in diverse careers?” Many faculty members who took advantage of the mini-grants were rethinking introduction to graduate studies courses in their departments.
woman sitting at a classroom table with two children who are approximately 11-years old

New National Translation Center Builds on UI's Strengths and Extends Reach

Thursday, September 8, 2022
Two Obermann Center–affiliated scholars have been awarded one of the largest amounts ever granted to a humanities project at the University of Iowa. Aron Aji, director of the MFA in Literary Translation, and Pam Wesely, an associate dean in the College of Education and professor of multilingual education, are the PIs for a Department of Education grant that totals more than $1 million. Aji co-directs the Obermann Working Group Translation across the Humanities and Wesely was a 2018 Fellow-in-Residence. The four-year grant will allow the UI to launch a new National Resource Center (NRC) to advance translation and global literacy skills for K-16 students and educators, graduate students, and established scholars. It joins an elite group of NRCs at universities across the country and becomes the only one focused on translation. NRCs are language and area or international studies centers that serve as national resources for teaching any modern foreign language.
archival materials arranged on a table

Recent Immigrant and PhD Student Thrives on Stories of UI's Latinx History

Friday, September 2, 2022
For Maria Leonor Márquez Ponce, a Humanities for the Public Good internship at the University of Iowa Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives is more than a summer gig—it’s also a way to connect with her own past and to find inspiration for her future. “Sometimes looking back at history can surprise you. You learn so much and you are inspired by it,” Márquez Ponce shared. Considering that she never believed that a college degree would be attainable for her, much less a PhD, she has found a deep connection to this project and the people whose stories she is sharing.
Woman jumping joyfully through Obermann's back yard

Imagining Latinidades Convenes Writing Retreat

Friday, June 24, 2022
This June, the Imagining Latinidades Mellon Sawyer Seminar gathered 10 faculty and graduate students in Latina/x/o studies at the Obermann Center. Participants from across the UI and local colleges came together to write and work in community and to craft dynamic lesson plans to share on the Imagining Latinidades website. "Summertime often shows up as a moment for getting lots of writing and research done and, at the same time, for rest and replenishment," says co-organizer Naomi Greyser (American Studies, GWSS, English, UI). While those aims can feel contradictory at times, this retreat was filled with reflective immersion, stimulating workshops, time spent outdoors, shared meals, and much laughter.
Promotional image for a play of two hands and a Jewish star

Seeking Memories in Poland: MFA playwright reckons with Holocaust memorialization

Thursday, April 28, 2022
As part of its support for the Anne Frank Tree Planting Ceremony, the Obermann Center provided funding to Emma Silverman, an MFA candidate in the UI Playwrights Workshop, toward completion of Silverman's thesis play. Emma performed an excerpt from Stars and Stones at the Tree Planting Ceremony last Friday. The play will be staged in its entirety this Thursday, May 5, 2022, as part of the UI's New Play Festival. (See ticketing details at the end of this article.) Silverman is the recipient of a Marcus Bach Fellowship, an award given by the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, to support the completion of an MFA project or doctoral dissertation, particularly work that fosters intercultural communication and/or the understanding of diverse philosophies and religious perspectives. Silverman intended to use the award toward direct research of Holocaust tourism. 
woman stands in doorway of old small white house

Scholar, Descendant, Collaborator: Jodi Skipper's new book explores slave dwelling project

Sunday, April 17, 2022
The words "slavery" and "tourism" don’t seem like they belong anywhere near each other. But a growing number of Americans of all races are eager to better understand our country’s complicated history by visiting places where difficult and often darkly violent events occurred. Ensuring that we, the touring populace, receive complete stories when we arrive at these spaces, a network of historians, anthropologists, and community activists are working against time to save the material remnants of the lived experience of enslaved people. Among them is Jodi Skipper, a University of Mississippi professor of anthropology and southern studies. For the past decade, she has used tools as an archaeologist, scholar, teacher, and community member to widen and deepen the shared narratives of historic sites in the U.S. south. She has shared these experiences in a new book, Behind the Big House: Reconciling Slavery, Race, and Heritage in the U.S. South, just published by the University of Iowa Press.
black and white photo of US soldiers swing dancing

Dancing During War: Kowal Explores WWII Photo Archives

Thursday, April 7, 2022
“When we think about performance during World War Two, we think about USO shows and famous American performers like Bob Hope and Bette Davis,” says Rebekah Kowal, Spring 2022 Obermann Fellow-in-Residence. On the face of it, these performers were sent to overseas U.S. military camps to uplift soldiers’ spirits by providing a sense of home and “Americanness.” But there were many other forms of movement and performance that served other (rather overt) purposes, from displaying Western cultural dominance and exerting control over subjected people’s bodies to reintegrating the detained, creating a pathway to U.S. citizenship, and serving as a normalcy touchstone for the dancers. Kowal (Dance, CLAS) is deep in research for a new book tentatively titled War Theatre: Dancing American Citizenship and Empire during World War II. After writing about the contribution of American modern dance to aesthetic and social change in the 1950s (How to Do Things with Dance: Performing Change in Postwar America [Wesleyan UP, 2010]) and about globalism and the performance of international dance in the U.S. after WWII (Dancing the World Smaller: Staging Globalism in Mid-Century America [Oxford, 2019]), she figured her next project would move away from the WWII era. But one sleepless night—“one of those bizarre moments during COVID,” she recalls—she pulled up the National Archives’ online catalog and started typing interesting keywords.
close up of hebrew writing

Working Group Spotlight: Jewish Studies

Monday, April 4, 2022
This is part of a series highlighting recently formed Obermann Center Working Groups. Lisa Heineman (History), co-director of the Jewish Studies Working Group with Ari Ariel (History), shared her responses. Thank you, Lisa! If you are interested in starting an Obermann Working Group for 2022-23, the application deadline is April 12.  Q. This is the first year of your Working Group. What led you to start it?  A: Iowa is the only Big 10 school without a Jewish Studies program. Yet Jewish Studies is an incredibly dynamic field of study, with real contemporary relevance—and we have many terrific teachers and scholars of Jewish Studies on our campus. We were hearing from students, alumni, and parents who made clear there was a demand for the field. We decided it was time to get together and think about how to have a more meaningful presence on campus. Q. What kinds of people and from what disciplines are participating in your Group?   A. We have faculty members from History, International Studies, German, GWSS, Classics, Religious Studies, English, Translation, the Maggid Writing Center…. I hope I’m not forgetting anyone! We have emeriti and graduate students with important areas of expertise, and we have community members who play significant roles in Jewish life beyond our campus.
Men of different races sit around a table studying together. They are wearing matching blue shirts.

Working Group Spotlight: Transform(ED) Justice Collaboratory

Monday, March 21, 2022
In order to understand and amplify our Obermann Working Groups and their diverse activities, this spring we are spotlighting a number of newer groups. For this issue, we talk with Heather Erwin, who co-directs the Transform(ED) Justice Collaboratory group along with Daria Fisher-Page (Law).  Q: This is the first year of your Working Group. What led you to start it?  A: This working group evolved from the Liberal Arts Behind Bars (LABB) working group whose goal was to advance the work of serving incarcerated students. With the reinstatement of Pell grant eligibility for incarcerated students and the reimagining campus safety initiative on campus there are many opportunities to work toward building a campus community that prioritizes inclusivity and support for people impacted by the criminal legal system. The mission of the Transform(ED) Justice Collaboratory is to work toward abolition by building supportive communities, based on evidence created through research, and generating policy that creates necessary change.  
Three advertisements posted in a shop window.

The Language of Social Justice: David Cassels Johnson explores educational language policies

Monday, March 7, 2022
A local restaurant posts a help wanted ad for a dishwasher in Spanish, while server positions are advertised in Hangul (Korean). A teacher encourages students to write in the language of their lived experience, using their multilingual resources. A government nullifies Anglicized words from formal communications. A parent tells her children she won’t tolerate violent language. Each of these is a form of language policy. According to David Cassels Johnson, Associate Professor in the Teaching and Learning Department of the University of Iowa’s College of Education and a Spring 2022 Obermann Fellow-in-Residence, “Language policy is any policy that governs the structure, function, use, or education of language.” Each of us is living under numerous language policies. Some at the macro level are decided by institutions; others are created less officially by circles to which we belong. We even make language policies for ourselves when, for instance, we choose not to use some kinds of language or to amplify others.

Working Group Spotlight: Spanish Heritage Speakers in the Classroom

Saturday, March 5, 2022
This spring, we're featuring a few of our newer Working Groups. As one of the most popular and largest Obermann Center programs, the Working Groups span a wide range of topics and have members who include emeriti faculty, lecturers, community members, and students, in addition to faculty from both the University of Iowa and other institutions. Here, we speak with Christine Shea (Spanish & Portuguese), who co-directs the Spanish and Heritage Speakers in the Classroom Working Group with Becky Gonzalez (Spanish & Portuguese).  
Two murals on the side of a parking garage with bright colors and African American faces.

Weaponizing Humanities Research: Dellyssa Edinboro and the Oracles Murals

Monday, February 21, 2022
Publicly engaged work never occurs in a vacuum. That’s something Dr. Dellyssa Edinboro shares with her students at Bellevue College as she simultaneously encourages them to actively work to change systems of oppression. “When you move into spaces where you want to make change,” she says, “there are a lot of conversations that need to happen, some of which will have tension and conflict.” Edinboro has firsthand experience of the kinds of twists and turns involved in a successful public project. In 2017, she was part of a small team of students that received a grant to work with the Historic Johnson County Poor Farm to produce a series of creative workshops about mental health. The students devised their project as part of the Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy with encouragement from the County staff member who managed the space. The first twist occurred when a key team member, who was an MFA student in the Dance Department, left the project. Without his expertise, it no longer made sense for the group to focus on movement as their primary form of creative expression; instead, they switched to creative writing.
Archival photo of Iowan women

Jeannette Gabriel to Discuss History of Iowa's Jewish Communities

Monday, February 21, 2022
On Tuesday, March 1, Jeannette Gabriel, Director of the Schwalb Center for Israel and Jewish Studies at the University of Nebraska Omaha, will present the annual Women’s History Month Lecture, “Welcoming the Immigrants: Refugee Resettlement in Jewish Iowa.” The lecture, hosted by the Iowa Women’s Archives, will take place at 4:30 p.m. at the Iowa City Public Library, and will also be live-streamed.
Screenshot of a fantastical world produced in the video game Minecraft.

Book Ends with Chris Goetz

Monday, January 31, 2022
The Books Ends—Obermann/OVPR Book Completion Workshop has provided support for more than a dozen University of Iowa scholars to host working conversations about their manuscripts in process. Intended for faculty from disciplines in which publishing a monograph is required for tenure and promotion, the award brings two senior scholars to campus (or to our virtual campus) for a candid, constructive, half-day workshop on the faculty member’s book manuscript. Two senior faculty members from the UI are also invited to participate as an opportunity to learn about and support the work of a colleague. 
Abstract image that looks like handwriting in blue and black.

We want to better understand what you need to re-engage in your work.

Monday, January 31, 2022
In a January 19, 2022 Chronicle of Higher Ed opinion piece, “The Great Faculty Disengagement,” Kevin McClure and Alisa Hicklin Fryar observe that in response to the grief, losses, inequities, and violence caused and exposed by COVID, some people are resigning, but many more are disengaging. In their research, they found that “people need to feel safe, valued, and confident that they have the resources to do their jobs.” These are the essential “conditions for people to flourish.” In the absence of these conditions, we see “less creativity, less risk-taking,” fewer “big and bold projects,” and a diversion of passion, energy, and leadership to spaces where people can find meaning in their work. We have put together the following survey as one method for gathering the ideas and reflections of members of our campus. We hope you’ll find a few moments to share your thoughts with us about the work of the Obermann Center—even as we continue to wrestle with health, environmental, and social justice crises. We promise to pay careful attention to your thoughts about what we as a Center are doing well, and what we can do better to support research on our campus more inclusively and equitably.
A press pass with a man's face, dated 1986.

HPG Intern Brings Brokaw Press Passes to Life

Wednesday, January 19, 2022
In 2016, journalist Tom Brokaw donated his papers to The University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections and Archives. The collection includes notes and drafts for several of Brokaw's books (including from his best-known work, The Greatest Generation), letters from heads of states and other media figures, photographs, awards, and appointment calendars. Librarian Liz Riordan spent hours untangling the press passes that arrived in an old Pan-Am bag. Amongst the many boxes of papers was a worn blue Pan-Am bag that had a handwritten note on its side: “Trove of press passes.”
Daria Fisher Page headshot

Beyond Times New Roman: Daria Fisher Page makes the case for visual advocacy in law school

Tuesday, November 23, 2021
In the U.S., where the terms "lawyer" and "attorney" refer to a legal professional, it can be easy to forget that "advocate" is the term more widely recognized across cultures. The word comes from Roman law and the Latin "advocatus," “one called to aid (another); a pleader (on one’s behalf).” The training of advocates also goes back to the Roman Republic, when it was deemed useful to have people outside the priesthood trained in rhetoric and reasoning. To this day, law students receive extensive training in oral and written advocacy. During three intensive years, they are taught how to make clear and concise arguments in both formats. But what about communication through images? Daria Fisher Page, a professor in the UI College of Law and a Fall 2021 Obermann Fellow-in-Residence, believes that today’s legal professionals also need training in visual advocacy.
Margaret Beck in the field

Searching for Red with Margaret Beck

Tuesday, October 19, 2021
An anthropological archaeologist, Margaret Beck is continually searching—sometimes physically, for artifacts or geological samples, but always intellectually—to understand how people once lived, how they prepared and served food, taught and learned craftwork, used local resources, moved within their landscapes, and spread their traditions. Currently, she’s studying red-painted archeological ceramics and iron-rich geological samples to discover how Native peoples created and applied the color red in the central United States. The answers aren't always easy to find centuries later. "Throughout Native North America," says Beck, Associate Professor of Anthropology and a Fall 2021 Obermann Fellow-in-Residence, "red is a powerful, strong, and often sacred color.” Indigenous people in the Midwest and Great Plains used red paint for daily grooming, to ornament household objects, and to make the mundane sacred in religious ceremonies. When Beck moved to Iowa in 2007 and began looking at archeological ceramics from Iowa and Illinois, she noticed that their red pigments differed from those found in archeological sites elsewhere in North America. The red coatings (paints or slips) were often thinner and more powdery, with lighter or more yellow shades of red. Beck surmised that these differences were due to regionally distinct raw materials and pigment application techniques—but this was something she’d have to find out for herself. "In the Great Plains and the American Bottom, I found that this was an overlooked subject," she says. "Scholars know relatively little about sources of red pigment or ochre there"—in contrast to, say, chippable stone, the location of which has been widely studied in the region.
Hannah Baysinger

Hannah Baysinger Discovers “Next”

Monday, October 18, 2021
Hannah Baysinger had forty-eight hours to leave Paraguay. She had been in the South American country as a Peace Corps volunteer for just six months when the pandemic forced her and other volunteers to leave at the end of March 2020. “I was on the last commercial flight out of Paraguay, and one of the last out of South America,” says Baysinger of the sudden departure she made from a place she intended to call home for two years.  
Three people sitting in a grassy area with trees behind them.

Planting Hope: The Anne Frank Tree Arrives in Iowa

Monday, October 11, 2021
On February 23, 1944, a 15-year-old girl gazed from an attic window at the topmost branches of a tree. The tree had become a sort of friend to her, a reminder of life beyond the small space to which she was confined and one of the few things she could see from the only window that was not blacked out. In her diary that day, she wrote, “I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind. As long as this exists…and I may live to see it, this sunshine, these cloudless skies, while this lasts, I cannot be unhappy.” Those words represent the hope that has made their author, Anne Frank, one of the major figures of World War II and a ubiquitous symbol of optimism in the face of unthinkable darkness. On April 29, 2022, the thirteenth Anne Frank Tree will be planted on the northeast corner of the University of Iowa’s Pentacrest. Its arrival is due to the work of Frank scholar and UI German Department faculty member Dr. Kirsten Kumpf Baele. Her proposal to bring a tree to Iowa City was accepted a year and a half ago by the Anne Frank Center USA; however, the pandemic postponed the original planting ceremony, which is now slated for April 29, 2022.
Headshot of woman in maroon shirt with long hair and arms crossed.

Bethanny Sudibyo Wins 2021 Humanities 3MT

Monday, October 11, 2021
Bethanny Sudibyo (Spanish & Portuguese, CLAS) won the 2021 Obermann Humanities 3MT for her presentation “Imperial Imaginings: Representations of Religion, Race, and Gender in 19th-Century Spanish Philippine Novels.” Sudibyo's win earned her a place in the campus-wide 3MT finals, the winner of which will be announced on November 12.
Ana Merino, Corey Creekmur, and Rachel Williams

University of Iowa Awarded 2022-23 Mellon Sawyer Seminar

Wednesday, October 6, 2021
The University of Iowa Obermann Center for Advanced Studies in the Office of the Vice President for Research is pleased to announce the award of a grant totaling $225,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to host a Mellon Sawyer Seminar on “Racial Reckoning and Social Justice Through Comics” at the University across the academic year 2022-23.
Graduate Engagement Corps logo

Goodbye, Gradate Institute. Hello, Graduate Engagement Corps!

Friday, October 1, 2021
The Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy was started fourteen years ago at a time when public engagement was not a well-known practice on university campuses. More than 200 University of Iowa graduate students have participated in this program, many of them going on to lead or participate in community engaged projects. We count the alumni of this program as friends, many of whom have shared with us the exciting work they are doing in other locales—including in Philadelphia, the Black Hills, and Boulder—and with other organizations, such as NPR, the National Park Service, and our own Center for Teaching. The Institute has also had 11 faculty co-directors who have shared their expertise from fields as disparate as dance and engineering, and with project expertise that ranges from working with incarcerated populations to directing a camp for deaf teens.
John Rapson

John Rapson's Communal Composition: Esteban and the Children of the Sun

Tuesday, September 28, 2021
In mid-June, a dozen musicians gathered in the basement of one of Iowa City’s oldest homes. There was a blues guitarist, a French mandole player, and a Celtic fiddler. The drummer was sequestered in the laundry room, and an electric guitarist’s amp was routed through a shower stall to limit distortion. In the midst of it all was John Rapson.
Asha Bhandary

The Kindness of Strangers: Philosopher seeks to make caregiving disparities and their effects visible

Monday, September 13, 2021
During the pandemic, many of us have relied on the kindness of strangers. The work of people we didn’t know—store clerks, nurses, childcare providers, delivery people, and warehouse workers—allowed many of us to stay home during the past year and a half. As in the case of Blanche DuBois—she of Streetcar Named Desire fame—this reliance may have helped us in the short run, but it’s not necessarily the best societal approach to receiving care. Frontline workers are inordinately female and people of color....
Andrew Boge

Andrew Boge Reflects on the HWW Career Diversity Workshop

Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Imagine yourself on the tree-filled University of Michigan campus listening to people with advanced degrees in the humanities talk about their workplaces and career trajectories. One person gives an overview of jobs in university presses, while the next describes her work as a consultant for non-profits. And your task is to soak up information, meet new people, and turn on your imagination.
Man in mask

Seeing Asian American Life through the Video Essay

Monday, August 23, 2021
As each of us ponders how to live and work in the face of growing challenges—from pandemics to racist violence to climate change—scholars and artists are reconsidering their research questions, expanding methodologies, and devising forms for varied audiences. This year, the Obermann Center is hosting a series of informal conversations on research. Artists, scholars, social scientists, and scientists will explore what, in this moment, research can be and can do. We were therefore delighted when Professor Hyaeweol Choi asked if the Obermann Center would join the Korean Studies Research Network in inviting filmmaker, critic, and video essayist Kevin B. Lee to share recent video essays. In this innovative form, Lee illuminates Asian American experience by juxtaposing personal history, popular culture, and journalistic accounts of violence against Asian Americans.
Old, rural public library with wooden door

Training Librarians to Preserve Community Memory

Thursday, August 19, 2021
Over the past two decades, say Micah Bateman and Lindsay Mattock, recipients of a 2021 Obermann Interdisciplinary Research Grant, library and information science (LIS) graduate programs have privileged information science, data science, and computer science—at several universities even merging with computer science departments—over human- and community-centered practices central to the mission of library and archival sciences. One such practice involves the management of community memory records—everything from genealogical documents to newspaper archives to oral histories. Bateman and Mattock note that at small and rural libraries, these records often go “unmanaged and underused, and reflect only the narratives of majority or dominant populations” because the librarians working with those collections have been largely neglected by LIS training programs that privilege “big data” paradigms.

Apply for the Summer '23 Humanities Without Walls Predoctoral Career Diversity Workshop

Wednesday, August 11, 2021
Launched in 2015 as an initiative of the Humanities Without Walls (HWW) consortium, this annual workshop welcomes 30 participants each summer from higher education institutions across the United States. HWW Summer Workshop Fellows work in a variety of academic disciplines. They are scholars and practitioners who bring experience in community building, museum curation, filmmaking, radio programming, social media, project management, research, writing, and teaching....
Sharon Yam and Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz

A Project Postponed: Scholars Take Interdisciplinary Grant Project on the Road

Friday, July 30, 2021
When the pandemic postponed Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz (Communication Studies and GWSS, University of Iowa) and Shui-yin Sharon Yam's (Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies, University of Kentucky) Obermann residency for their Interdisciplinary Research Grant project last summer, they decided to postpone their work until they could meet in person. Though the Center remained closed to faculty this...
John Rapson sitting at the piano

John Rapson: Looking Back at a Generous Collaborator

Tuesday, July 27, 2021
In the summer of 2014, it wasn't uncommon to find two faculty members padding around the Obermann Center in bare feet as they dashed from their upstairs offices to the downstairs library to watch movies. While it appeared to be a scholarly form of summer camp, John Rapson (School of Music) and Paul Kalina (Theatre) were deep in research as they broke down how music and movement interacted in old...
Virtual Reality Screenshot

Using Virtual Reality to Train Math Teachers

Thursday, July 8, 2021
Most children in the U.S. struggle to learn mathematics, with 50 to 75% of students scoring below proficient on achievement tests in grades 4 through 12. Children with disabilities such as autism tend to fare even worse. Clearly, math teachers must be equipped to educate students who require varying levels of support—but, for the most part, they aren’t. Logistical issues inherent in conventional...
Dominic Dongilli at his internship

Summer Interns at the Halfway Mark: A growing tomato, a gift from Brokaw, and nudity in the archives

Thursday, July 1, 2021
It is around the halfway point of so many projects when the work is most difficult. The newness has worn off; the end is still out of reach, but close enough to give us an uneasy reminder of how much is yet to be completed. This is the experience of the ten UI graduate students who are at the midway point of their Humanities for the Public Good (HPG) internships. For eight weeks, they are working...
Teachers and children in classroom

A Thousand Prospects for Research: A Spelman Rockefeller Community Scholar Reflects

Monday, June 28, 2021
In late summer 2020, a new community initiative was formed in response to the impact of the pandemic on K12 students: Neighborhood NESTS. The Obermann Center responded by creating a new graduate research position, the Obermann Spelman Rockefeller Community Scholar, to work with the initiative, providing program management and deepening the project through disciplinary research. In this article...

Brain Time: Rodica Curtu, Mathematical Biology, and the Perception of Time

Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Math, for Rodica Curtu, is a balm. In high school, when she’d get a headache, she’d sit down and solve math problems—“The opposite of what my friends would do!” she laughs. Now, as a professor in the Department of Mathematics (CLAS) and a member of the Iowa Neuroscience Institute, she uses mathematical analysis to help find treatments for people with debilitating brain disorders—specifically...
Eric Hirsch with two Peruvians, standing outdoors

Rural life, capitalism, and solidarity: Eric Hirsch on the challenges of climate change & entrepreneurship in highland Peru

Thursday, May 27, 2021
Climate change is nothing short of a disaster for farmers in the Peruvian Andes. As one put it in a 2017 interview, “If the glaciers disappear, we’ll have to die.” With droughts becoming more frequent, Andean farmers are struggling to irrigate their crops and water their livestock; unpredictable weather has changed once-reliable patterns of plant growth; and occasionally, a “glacial lake outburst”...
participants in 1950s racial justice institute

Planning the UI College of Education Annual Summer Racial Justice Institute

Tuesday, May 25, 2021
In 1944, sociologist Charles S. Johnson launched the Fisk University Race Relations Institute (RRI), which ran until 1969. His goal was to identify the social, political, and economic policies and practices that limited opportunities for Blacks and other marginalized racial groups and contributed to racial unrest in the U.S. The RRI differed from the other estimated 400 organizations working to...

Heart Attack or Takotsubo Syndrome? An AI project seeks to differentiate

Monday, May 24, 2021
Chest pain, shortness of breath, and an irregular EKG are hallmarks of a heart attack. However, some people exhibiting these symptoms may actually be experiencing takotsubo syndrome (TTS), a weakening of the left ventricle. The majority of cases of TTS, which is more prevalent in women, are caused by acute stress, such as unexpected loss, serious illness, intense fear, or a violent interaction...
The Anne Frank Tree: Taking Root in Iowa, 2021-22

The Anne Frank Tree: Taking Root in Iowa

Friday, April 30, 2021
On April 29, 2022, the University of Iowa will welcome a remarkable new tree to the Pentacrest: a sapling propagated from the old chestnut tree that grew behind the Amsterdam annex where Anne Frank and her family hid during World War II. Although the tree died a number of years ago--at an estimated 170 years old--it lives on through saplings that have been planted in such as places as the Boston...
Tracie Morris

Black Spring: Tracie Morris asks, "How did we get to here and where do we go from here?"

Wednesday, April 28, 2021
As the culminating event in the Black Lives on Screen series that has spanned the spring semester, Tracie Morris (Iowa Writers' Workshop) is presenting a short filmic work with performance voice-over. Black Spring (in 5 parts) is cultural theory, cinema, poetry, protest art, and elegy. Like much of Morris's work, it is a hybrid that is not easily categorized. Resisting categories Morris is a poet...

Thinking in Images: The Evolution of Rachel Williams

Sunday, April 11, 2021
“I had to think in images.” This is how Rachel Williams explains her progression as the artist-author of two graphic histories who moved from illustrating the words of others to bringing a story to life on her own terms. A painter and art educator by training, Williams’s approach has always been multi-disciplinary. For her recently published books, Run Home If You Don’t Want to Be Killed: The...

Cathy Park Hong Gives UI Keynote

Sunday, April 11, 2021
In the first chapter of Cathy Park Hong’s creative nonfiction book Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning (One World, 2020), the reader is transported to Kalamazoo, where Hong gave a reading from an early draft of her book at Western Michigan University. At the end of the event some fans approach her, eager to share gratitude for her work and express how personal it is to them. Two audience...
Imagining Latinidades podcast logo

Sawyer Seminar Culminates with Latina/o/x Futurity

Monday, March 22, 2021
When COVID-19 interrupted the late spring events and culmination of the yearlong Mellon Sawyer Seminar Imagining Latinidades: Articulations of National Belonging, we didn't know that the events would eventually end up online and across institutions. In 2019–20, seminar co-directors Darrel Wanzer-Serrano, Ariana Ruiz, and Rene Rocha worked across disciplines to organize six symposia, a film series...

Signing Music, Gender in The Iliad, and Civil Rights Performance: Three faculty receive book completion awards

Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Three UI faculty have received Book Ends awards to complete manuscripts. A jointly sponsored opportunity of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies and the Office of the Vice President for Research, Book Ends supports faculty from disciplines in which publishing a monograph is required for tenure and promotion. The award, which is now in its third year, is designed to help faculty members...

Pandemic Practices: Lessons Learned (and Worth Keeping)

Monday, March 1, 2021
Even as many of us long for a return to an in-person, on-site work life, we’ve also been learning valuable new practices—for teaching, for meetings, for collaboration, and more. Over the past few months, the Obermann Center has been collecting Pandemic Practices to share, practices we want to remember and refine. The following is a list of practices submitted via our webform and/or discussed at...

Spring 2021 Invite-a-Guest-to-Class Mini-Grant Recipients, Visitors

Wednesday, February 17, 2021
We received such enthusiastic reports from our Fall 2020 Invite-a-Guest-to-Class mini-grant recipients that we reprised the program this spring, extending eligibility to UI teaching assistants as well as faculty. We're delighted to award a new slate of mini-grants to support 38 virtual course visits by a diverse and impressive array of educators, researchers, artists, administrators, and activists...

Wise and Valiant: Ana Rodríguez-Rodríguez celebrates forgotten women authors

Tuesday, February 16, 2021
While completing a PhD in Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Iowa, Martín López-Vega took a course on the Golden age of Spanish theater. When the class read Valor, agravio y mujer by Ana Caro, López-Vega was shocked. Though he was a native of Spain and had studied literature at the University of Spain, he’d never before heard of Caro. The course, which led him to discover the names and...
Jason Rantanen

Patent Warrior: Jason Rantanen's projects seek to help patents serve people

Monday, February 8, 2021
Early last fall, the Federal Circuit rejected a request from Google to move a patent infringement case involving Google’s YouTube service out of East Texas. The request, formally known as a writ of mandamus, is an attempt at judicial remedy by petitioning an appellate court. In this instance, Google was claiming that East Texas wasn’t the proper venue for the lawsuit. There has been an uptick in...

Black Lives on Screen: Cinematic Arts Offers Semester-Long Series

Wednesday, February 3, 2021
This spring semester, the Department of Cinematic Arts is hosting an online screening series, Black Lives on Screen, featuring the work of a diverse range of acclaimed African American and Black filmmakers, artists, and scholars. Intended to promote and celebrate the rich history and future of Black cinematic expression, the events will give UI classes, as well as individual students, staff, and...

Cultural Postmortem 2020

Wednesday, January 13, 2021
How can artists and scholars help the nation contend with the peril in which we find ourselves—starting with our own campuses? The 2020 US presidential race was one of the most politically and ideologically divisive and contentious races that we’ve ever seen. As the events of January 6, 2021 have illustrated, the nation remains divided: political leaders at the highest level are challenging...

New Voices, Refreshing Perspectives: Invite-a-Guest-to-Class Mini Grants

Tuesday, December 8, 2020
Are you teaching an undergraduate or graduate course that features work by an expert outside the University of Iowa? Do you have a colleague from another institution who could bring a thought-provoking cross-disciplinary perspective to an issue you’re addressing in your course? If you would like to invite a practitioner or expert from the public sector to speak in a course you are teaching this...

Meet the Podcasters! Three UI faculty-podcasters pull back the curtain on their process

Monday, November 30, 2020
Imagine a world without recorded sound. From film soundtracks to car alarms, many of us are so steeped in sound at every moment that we would instantly notice its absence. Since the inception of radio in 1895, we have steadily increased the technology and tools for making and sharing sound. Each step has made it easier and less costly for a person with a microphone and some equipment to capture...
Rhondda Robinson Thomas

Book Talk with Rhondda Robinson Thomas, author of Call My Name, Clemson: Documenting the Black Experience in an American University Community , Nov. 30

Wednesday, November 18, 2020
In the summer of 2007, a young scholar named Rhondda Robinson Thomas attended a new faculty orientation at Clemson University. Thomas was unfamiliar with Clemson, which is a public, land-grant research university in South Carolina, and was surprised to learn that the campus was built on the site of American statesman John C. Calhoun and Floride Calhoun’s Fort Hill Plantation. In fact, their home...
Green, Fair, & Prosperous book cover

Planning Scholar Suggests Iowa Is at a Crossroads, and Proposes a Path Forward

Monday, November 9, 2020
In 1900, Iowa was the tenth largest state in the country. A hundred years later, it was the thirtieth largest and had experienced the biggest decline in its population rank of any state. Today, Iowa is at a crossroads. Its population is more urban, less white, and more environmentally challenged than its longtime reputation suggests. In a new book, Green, Fair, and Prosperous: Paths to a...

Exploring the Echo Chamber: Brian Ekdale PI on $1M Grant to Study Social Media Algorithms & Extremism

Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Let's say you want to watch a news clip about Confederate monuments. You search YouTube and choose a video from what appears to be a randomly generated list of results. When the video ends, YouTube autoplays another video and recommends dozens more—and likely they’re the sort of thing you actually might watch, because that list is generated by algorithms that process your YouTube viewing history...
Peggy Schwab

Obermann Spelman Rockefeller Community Scholar Named

Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Peggy Schwab, a second-year master's candidate in the UI College of Education's School Counseling program and Iowa LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Related Disabilities), is the 2020-21 Obermann Spelman Rockefeller Community Scholar. For this academic year, Peggy will work with Neighborhood NESTS, a new community collaborative initiative. Nurturing Every Student...

Graduate Students Build Campus-Community Connections, Explore New Careers in Summer Internships

Friday, September 25, 2020
For nine graduate students at the University of Iowa, this was not the summer internship they had anticipated. Unlike summer 2019, this second summer of the Humanities for the Public Good (HPG) internship program came with many unexpected twists and challenges. As the University of Iowa moved to virtual learning, interns joined partner organizations and took on new responsibilities just as many of...

Graduate Students Build Campus-Community Connections, Explore New Careers in Summer Internships

Friday, September 25, 2020
For nine graduate students at the University of Iowa, this was not the summer internship they had anticipated. Unlike summer 2019, this second summer of the Humanities for the Public Good (HPG) internship program came with many unexpected twists and challenges. As the University of Iowa moved to virtual learning, interns joined partner organizations and took on new responsibilities just as many of...
Pandemic, State, and Society logo

Pandemic, State & Society Highlights Voices from Asia

Wednesday, September 9, 2020
Last winter, as news about a new virus that was first reported in China in December began to dominate headlines, two University of Iowa faculty members began discussing the cultural repercussions and historical echoes of what was happening. Shuang Chen, a professor of history who studies late imperial and modern China, reached out to Cynthia Chou, director of the UI’s Center for Asian and Pacific...

Uneasy Stories: Mary Lou Emery Explores the Paradoxical Cultural History of the Bungalow

Tuesday, September 8, 2020
The bungalow has long seemed an ideal home. It's moderate in scale, built with deep porches or verandas that both invite time outdoors and seem to welcome neighborly visits. Even the word “bungalow” conjures up such coziness that a trendy house-sharing app borrowed it for its name. In 20th-century literature and film, however, the bungalow is frequently the site of scandal and violence, which...

HPG Summer 2020 Internship Program: Final Report

Tuesday, September 1, 2020
In June and July, 2020, nine University of Iowa (UUI) graduate students from the Colleges of Liberal Arts and Education worked with six public-facing organizations as interns. It was the second summer of the Humanities for the Public Good (HPG) internship program, which is one part of an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded grant program administered by the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies.

Supporting Scholars of Color and Perspectives on the Black Experience

Tuesday, August 25, 2020
This summer at the Obermann Center, the other staff members and I have been listening compassionately and carefully to the outpouring of pain, anger, accusation, exhaustion, and hope at the intersection of the Black Lives Matter movement and COVID. We have been learning from artists, scholars, and activists who expose how institutions—including universities, disciplines, and research centers—are...

Mini Grants to Bring Virtual Guest Speakers to Your Class

Saturday, August 22, 2020
APPLICATION Are you teaching an undergraduate or graduate course that features work by a colleague outside the University of Iowa? Do you have a colleague from another discipline who could bring a thought-provoking cross-disciplinary perspective to an issue you’re addressing in your course? Or would you like to invite a practitioner or an expert from the public sector whose perspective would...
Laura Perry with dog

Laura Perry Joins Obermann

Friday, August 21, 2020
Laura Perry is joining the Obermann Center staff for the next two years as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow with the Humanities for the Public Good project. Born in Southern California, Laura recently received her doctoral degree in Literary Studies from the University of Wisconsin­-Madison. In addition to serving as the managing editor of the digital magazine Edge Effects, she was a project assistant...

Humanities Without Walls Consortium Awarded Mellon Grant Renewal

Tuesday, August 18, 2020
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been awarded a $5 million grant renewal from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its Humanities Without Walls (HWW) initiative at the Humanities Research Institute (HRI). Now a 16-member consortium of universities, including the University of Iowa, HWW fosters collaborative research and explores the contributions of humanities in the workplace...

Healing the Academy: HuMetricsHSS trains scholars, administration in values-based metrics

Wednesday, May 27, 2020
“Sacrifice?” “Out!” shouts someone at a table to vehement nods. “Generosity?” “In!” another table cheerfully declares. Humane metrics In ways we couldn’t have anticipated, a workshop collaboratively hosted earlier this year by the Obermann Center, the Vice President for Research, International Programs, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences was valuable preparation for a campus engaging in...
Dominic Dongilli

Meet Dominic Dongilli: HPG's New Graduate Research Assistant

Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Introducing the 2020–21 Humanities for the Public Good Graduate Research Assistant Arriving at the University of Iowa in Fall 2018 to begin his graduate studies, Dominic Dongilli knew that he wanted to participate in his new community in multiple ways. It was not going to be only about the library and classes. With that intention in mind, he applied for the new Humanities for the Public Good...

Jua Kali: Brian Ekdale Mines Lessons from Kenya's Scrappy Gig Economy

Monday, March 30, 2020
Brian Ekdale, a filmmaker and media scholar, is pondering what Kenya’s robust gig economy has to teach us at this moment of global crisis. Jua kali describes the country's scrappy, entrepreneurial network of artisans, manual laborers, and tradespeople who fix things, make small-batch wares, and resell found or wholesale merchandise. The term has evolved to refer to a kind of work culture and ethos...

Working Group Directors Q&A

Monday, March 30, 2020
The Obermann Center's unique Working Groups program provides space, structure, and discretionary funding for participants from across the UI campus and beyond to explore complex issues at a moment when cross-disciplinary collaboration is crucial to address shifting domains of knowledge and a rapidly changing world. We've extended the application deadline for 2020-21 Working Groups to April 28, and...
HPG logo

Summer 2020 Humanities for the Public Good Interns Selected

Monday, March 30, 2020
The Humanities for the Public Good program welcomes its second cohort of summer interns. The interns, who earn $5,000 for their eight weeks in the field, will work with organizations in the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids corridor on specific projects that range from oral history recording and archiving to curriculum development. In addition to their time at the job site, interns will meet regularly as a...
three scholars in Obermann library

Doing History in Public: Alumni share their work beyond academe

Monday, March 2, 2020
On February 24, three University of Iowa History PhD alumni visited campus to share their current work beyond academe. All three are exemplary scholars who have earned national and campus recognition for their work. In addition to the acclaim they’ve received, what makes these alumni stand out is their work in the public sector: Karen Christianson, whose dissertation explored gender relations in a...

Surveying the Effects of Political Corruption

Thursday, February 27, 2020
Americans may feel they are living in an era of unprecedented political corruption. Just weeks ago, President Trump pardoned eleven people, many of whose convictions included bribery, tax fraud, and the sale of a public office. In the whirl of daily headlines, it can be easy to forget that corruption is nearly as old as democracy itself, with the ancient Greeks and Romans providing many examples...

UI grad student takes home first place for humanities-based Three Minute Thesis competition

Wednesday, February 12, 2020
UI graduate student Christie Vogler wins the Obermann Center’s first humanities-based Three-Minute Thesis competition with her research on gender archeology, which uncovers the unknown roles of women in Ancient Rome. Read the full article at The Daily Iowan's website: https://dailyiowan.com/2020/02/10/university-of-iowa-grad-student-takes-home-first-place-for-humanities-based-three-minute-thesis...
What Can Museums Become? logo

Activating the Museum

Friday, January 24, 2020
March Humanities Symposium to Explore Future of Museums When you think about museums, what comes to mind? Many of us picture an imposing building with artworks and artifacts displayed among velvet ropes, marble columns, and guards who shush you. But there are many possibilities for museums, and the two directors of this spring’s Obermann Humanities Symposium, “What Can Museums Become?”, Joyce Tsai...
Imagining Latinidades podcast logo

Imagining Latinidades Offers Full Slate This Spring

Thursday, January 23, 2020
The second half of the year-long Andrew W. Mellon Sawyer Seminar Imagining Latinidades welcomes a full slate of speakers to campus this spring. After hosting an opening conference and two short symposia in the fall, in addition to commencing a podcast, the Seminar’s directors—Darrel Wanzer-Serrano (Latina/o Studies and Communication Studies), Rene Rocha (Political Science and Latina/o Studies)...
Jean Gordon

Lost Language Found: Gordon Develops Tool to Improve Aphasia Diagnosis

Thursday, November 14, 2019
How would you feel if, in the middle of a conversation, you couldn’t come up with the word for water, shirt, or table—or your own name? If suddenly it was a struggle to comment on a movie or tell a simple story? You’d likely feel confused, embarrassed, frustrated, scared. According to the National Aphasia Association, over two million Americans suffer from aphasia—the inability to speak, write...

It All Depends on 31 Syllables: A Study of the Power of Japan's Medieval Waka

Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Imagine if your social stature and your livelihood were dependent on your ability to write poetry and refer to the work of other poets. If there were poetry competitions among the elite that decided one’s worthiness. Or if the entire direction of a nation could be changed via 31 syllables. Japanese waka, a 31-syllable precursor to haiku, held just this kind of sway for several centuries...

Black Curators' Roundtable Examines Changing Practices

Monday, October 21, 2019
This Friday's Black Curators' Roundtable is a first chance to hear some of the issues that will be central to the 2019–20 Obermann Humanities Symposium, What Can Museums Become? Led by trans poet, artist, curator, and UI alumnus Anaïs Duplan (pictured above), the event gathers three others curators to discuss their practices and trends. Facilitated by Duplan, founding curator for the Center...

HPG October 2019 Newsletter

Monday, October 14, 2019
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Christie Vogler

First Humanities 3-Minute Thesis Winner Crowned

Monday, October 7, 2019
Making a case for the presence of a female medical practitioner working out of a villa in Sicily, circa 1-3 A.D., anthropology PhD candidate Christie Vogler wowed the judges and the crowd at the first-ever Humanities 3MT competition on September 27. The Obermann Center hosted the event to celebrate and share the work of the UI's humanities graduate students, and to give them a chance to practice...

A Clown Walks Into the Matrix...

Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Or how one group is searching for the holy grail of live entertainment Paul Kalina is wearing a suit that has three kinds of technology embedded in it. He is a clown who has performed bedside for kids in hospitals and on the barest of stages. But in June 2019 he is in Prague for the world’s largest festival of theater and stage design, the PQ—or Prague Quadrennial. He is going on stage...

Why You – Yes, YOU Who Is Only Partway into a Dissertation and Who Doesn’t Have Time – Need to Do the Humanities 3MT!

Friday, September 6, 2019
There was one humanities finalist in last year’s University of Iowa 3MT competition--Miriam Janechek. She was in the midst of writing her English literature dissertation about 19th-century Victorian children’s literature and religion, while simultaneously caring for a baby and a toddler and living in St. Paul, MN. It would have been easy for her to view the competition, in which participants...

Executive Directors of MLA, AHA to Participate in Humanities Career Diversity Symposium

Wednesday, August 14, 2019
On September 13 and 14, 2019, Paula Krebs and Jim Grossman—executive directors of the Modern Language Association and American Historical Association, respectively—will join other national leaders of engaged graduate education for a UI-led symposium on public scholarship, experiential learning, and humanities graduate education. University of Iowa PhD students who participated in this summer's...

Relying on the Unreliable: Historian Catherine Stewart Examines 1930s Domestic Workers

Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Obermann Fellow-in-Residence Catherine Stewart’s current book project, The New Maid, relies in part on a highly unreliable source—student essays. Specifically, Stewart is interested in what is divulged through a cache of papers written by students at a private women’s college in the South in response to the topic, “Negro servants in my household.” Written between 1928 and 1940, the nearly 100...
Ashley Cheyemi McNeil

Ashley Cheyemi McNeil Appointed 2019-21 HPG Postdoctoral Scholar

Monday, June 24, 2019
Interdisciplinary scholar Dr. Ashley Cheyemi Rae McNeil has been appointed the 2019–2021 Postdoctoral Scholar for the Andrew W. Mellon–Funded Humanities for the Public Good (HPG) initiative. McNeil earned her bi-national PhD in English from Georgia State University and in American Studies from the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany. As...

Misfitting: Symposium Connects Disabilities Studies Scholars, Shines Light on Need for Scholarly Leadership at UI

Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Tricia Zebrowski and Douglas Baynton pulled off a wonderful finale this spring. The two retiring professors—Zebrowski is in her first year as an Emeritus in Communication Sciences & Disorders, while Baynton retired in May 2019 from History—co-directed “Misfitting: Disability Broadly Considered,” the 2019 Obermann Humanities Symposium. During three days in April, the pair helped to host eminent...

Ortiz-Guzmán Appointed 2019-20 Sawyer Seminar Postdoctoral Fellow

Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Directors of the 2019–20 Andrew W. Mellon Sawyer Seminar, “Imagining Latinidades: Articulations of National Belonging,” have selected interdisciplinary scholar Dr. Lisa Ortiz-Guzmán as the Seminar’s Postdoctoral Fellow. Ortiz-Guzmán earned her PhD in Educational Policy Studies with graduate minors in Latina/o Studies and Gender & Women’s Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana...

Not Distracted: Aiden Bettine Balances Traditional Scholarship and Public Engagement Projects

Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Aiden Bettine, the first Humanities for the Public Good (HPG) Graduate Fellow, is already embodying the goals of this grant. A historian with a strong commitment to public scholarship, Aiden is pushing the boundaries of his discipline in experimental and collaborative directions. With funding and support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Office of the Vice President for Research, and the...

Four CLAS Graduate Students Chosen for National Humanities Center Education Program

Tuesday, April 9, 2019
Four University of Iowa PHD candidates have been selected to attend the 2019 Graduate Student Summer Residency Program at the National Humanities Center in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. From July 15 to 26, Aiden M. Bettine (History), Enrico Bruno (English), Hadley Galbraith (French & Italian), and Mary Wise (History) will join approximately 100 fellow humanities graduate students...

Andrew Tubbs: Scholar, musician, disability advocate, comedian

Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Andrew Tubbs would like to see more researchers recognize the influence that disability has on their work—no matter the field of study. “It’s beneficial for researchers to understand that disability inherently intersects with their work,” Tubbs says. “Being able to come at issues, research questions, and problems from a disability perspective helps nuance arguments.” The University of Iowa...

Yellow Fever's History of Humans, Microbes, and Ideas

Monday, March 25, 2019
Yellow fever was once a terrifying killer that violently took the lives of half of the people who contracted it. It killed workers building canals, soldiers engaged in sieges, and investors on fact-finding missions. A viral disease spread between humans and primates, it is caused by a species of mosquito that prefers clean, fresh water. Before this was proven decisively in 1901, yellow fever was a...

NHA Advocacy Day

Monday, March 25, 2019
Obermann Director Teresa Mangum joined hundreds of humanities faculty members, center directors, and leaders of professional organizations like the Modern Language Association and the American Historical Association in Washington, DC. As part of the annual NHA Advocacy Day, they shared the educational, social, and economic benefits of the arts and humanities. The NHA especially encourages...
Esco in his 20s wearing a suit and bowtie

An Aerial View—Remembering Esco Obermann

Friday, March 1, 2019
Esco Obermann embodied interdisciplinarity. That's him in the photo to the right, upside down on his parents' windmill in Yarmouth, Iowa. (Look closely—the soles of his shoes are aligned with the motor.) Esco, one of nine siblings, grew up doing acrobatics on his family's farm in southeastern Iowa—backbends on bulls, rope stunts in haylofts, L-sits on windmills—as if driven to seek new...
Nina G

Nina G: Stuttering comic walks the line between satire and issue advocacy

Thursday, February 14, 2019
Bay Area comedian Nina G works tough territory. She plays gigs at clubs with names like “Nightlife on Mars” and “The Laugh Boat.” She stutters. And she’s really funny about it. While most stand-up comics engage their audiences through relatable stories, Nina G’s work pulls that kind observational humor into the broader intersection of comedy, satire and issue advocacy. That’s tough territory...

Humanities for the Public Good Seeks Post-Doc, Research Assistant

Thursday, February 7, 2019
While we tend to assume one attends graduate school in the humanities to become a professor, deep immersion in anthropology, art, history, literature, philosophy, and other cultural disciplines is excellent preparation for all kinds of workplaces--especially when content is enhanced by competencies sought by a variety of employers. In fall 2018, the University of Iowa received a four-year grant...

Save the date! March 8 Career Diversity in the Humanities Working Symposium

Monday, January 14, 2019
SAVE THE DATE! Career Diversity in the Humanities: An Obermann Humanities for the Public Good Working Symposium March 8 from 9–5 at the Iowa City Public Library Across the country, leaders of PhD programs in the humanities face a conundrum. How can a department honor the subjects, methods, and practices of their disciplines while also preparing graduates for diverse careers? To...
Robert Wise

Nathan Platte's Fascination with the Sounds of an Unassuming Director

Wednesday, January 2, 2019
Robert Wise doesn’t make sense the same way some directors and their work do. He’s not labyrinthine like Hitchcock or surreal like Lynch. In fact, it’s hard to imagine that some of his films were created by the same person. It is this eclecticism that attracted musicologist Nathan Platte, a faculty member in the School of Music and a Fall 2018 Obermann Fellow-in-Residence, to write a book about...

The Power of Programming: Sam Rebelsky

Thursday, December 20, 2018
Sam Rebelsky is a professional problem-solver. That is, he’s a computer scientist. Whether he’s tackling a programming task or confronting the social and ethical problems of his discipline, he relishes breaking down complex problems, coming up with step-by-step solutions, and teaching others to do the same. A professor of computer science at Grinnell College and a Fall 2018 Obermann Fellow-in...
HPG logo

Discovering Ecosystems of Graduate Studies - A slide presentation

Friday, November 16, 2018
In this short slide presentation, Obermann Center Director Teresa Mangum provides background, goals, and opportunities related to the Humanities for the Public Good program, which is funded by a generous 4-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. https://youtu.be/LFdaB0uGLn0

The Accidental Ethnographer

Thursday, November 15, 2018
Tammy Nyden calls herself an accidental ethnographer. She is a scholar and mother of two, but it’s the practice of ethnography, in which one embeds herself within a community in order to study it, that best captures her current intellectual and personal passion. Her now-teenaged son was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder eight years ago, and with autism two...
Iphigenia Point Blank image of a woman's face

Iphigenia Point Blank—On stage and in the community

Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Two summers ago as part of the Obermann Interdisciplinary Grant program, a group of artists commandeered the Obermann attic and covered tables and walls with prints of Greek vases and statues, photos of George W. Bush and fashion models on the catwalk, a golden blanket made of foil, and film stills of abandoned life jackets. The rich array of objects and images proved to be the birthing site for a...

UI Awarded two grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation totaling $1.6 Million

Tuesday, October 2, 2018
One grant will bring exciting speakers to campus for a yearlong seminar on Latina/o/x identities and cultures; the other will create practice-based, cross-disciplinary opportunities for humanities graduate students interested in diverse careers. The University of Iowa (UI) Obermann Center for Advanced Studies in the Office of the Vice President for Research will host two grants totaling...

Capturing the Lived Experiences of Latinx High Schoolers

Tuesday, September 25, 2018
As recipients of a Summer 2018 Interdisciplinary Research Grant, Gerta Bardhoshi (Counselor Education), Leslie Ann Locke (Educational Policy & Leadership), and Jeremy Swanston (Art & Art History) are engaged in a multi-phase project that seeks to give voice to rural Latinx high school students' lived educational experiences, engage in critical dialogue, and promote policy development in the...
Vero Smith

Vero Smith: Making the Museum More Accessible

Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Vero Smith is a curator and scholar of architecture who has a passion for making high-level research accessible to the public. As the Associate Curator of the Legacies for Iowa project at the UI Stanley Museum of Art, Smith brings her training in architectural design gained via an MA at the University of Iowa, an MA of Design Studies from Harvard University, and her experience at the Obermann...
Joy Melody Woods

Making Space: Grad Institute alum blogs, podcasts for Black graduate students with mental health issues

Tuesday, July 31, 2018
Imagine discovering halfway through your master’s degree that you read at a fourth-grade level. That’s exactly what happened to Joy Melody Woods during her first year in the College of Public Health’s MPH Program. After mentioning to her supervisor that she was having difficulties in some of her classes and struggling to focus on the assigned readings, her supervisor suggested that she be...

Book Ends: New program helps faculty finish book projects

Friday, July 13, 2018
Bringing a book to the finish line of publication is one of the most challenging tasks faced by scholars in disciplines where monographs are the main vehicle for sharing discoveries. At the Obermann Center, we hope to smooth the path by helping create an inspiring, supportive audience of experts for authors in they head into the final stretch of completing a book project....
Digital Bridges logo

Digital Bridges Symposium, August 8-10

Tuesday, April 24, 2018
With generous support from Grinnell College, the University of Iowa, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Digital Bridges for Humanistic Inquiry: A Grinnell College/University of Iowa Partnership's co-directors Erik Simpson (Grinnell) and Teresa Mangum (UI) have worked with students, staff, and faculty in a fascinating, rewarding, and instructive multi-year experience in collaboration....
Carolyn Hartley

Beyond Justice: Understanding the Adjudication Process of Sexual Misconduct on College Campuses

Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Sexual misconduct is a serious issue on college campuses across the U.S. In fact, it is a civil rights issue, as it can undermine students’ ability and opportunity to pursue their education. What many people don’t understand is that sexual misconduct denotes a continuum of behavior—from persistent unwelcome sexual comments and advances to stalking, domestic violence, and sexual assault. Since...

Archiving the Archives

Friday, April 20, 2018
The 2018 Obermann Humanities Symposium and Provost's Global Forum, "Against Amnesia: Archives, Evidence, and Social Justice," brought a dozen scholars, artists, and archivists to Iowa City to share their wide-ranging work. While our symposia are usually organized by two or three faculty members who propose topics, this time Obermann Director Teresa Mangum (Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and...

Mangum Elected VP of National Humanities Alliance

Monday, March 26, 2018
The Obermann Center is a member of several organizations that advocate for the value of research, including the National Humanities Alliance. The NHA draws members from universities; professional organizations like the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Historical Association and the Modern Language Association; and cultural institutions. All were critical in securing renewed...

Healing Arts: Scholar Traces Journey of a 15th-Century Medical Book

Monday, March 26, 2018
Twice now, art historian Sarah Kyle has visited the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice to study the Roccabonella Herbal, a fifteenth-century illustrated book of plant medicines. Neither the text of the 900-page volume nor its more than 450 images are available digitally, and Kyle is interested in the interplay of the two. “Although the book is extremely fragile,” says the associate professor...

Full audio of Trudy Peterson's keynote lecture on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Thursday, March 8, 2018
On March 1, 2018, Trudy H. Peterson delivered the Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professorship Keynote Lecture, “Best When Used By: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights” as part of the 2018 Provost's Global Forum/Obermann Humanities Symposium, "Against Amnesia: Archives, Evidence, and Social Justice." Listen to the full audio below:

Archives as a Space for Social Justice Is Focus of Provost's Global Forum/Obermann Humanities Symposium

Friday, February 9, 2018
“It is essential to seize the power of archives and use it to hold institutional and government leaders accountable. All aspects of society should be documented, not simply those where power has traditionally resided.” —Randall Jimerson, “Archives for All: Professional Responsibility and Social Justice” Animating the Archives Archives conjure up visions of crumbling files tied with...

Two UI Students Selected as HWW Fellows

Friday, February 2, 2018
Two University of Iowa graduate students have been named as Humanities Without Walls consortium 2018 pre-doctoral workshop fellows. Lydia Maunz-Breese (English, CLAS) and Makayla Steiner (English, CLAS) will be among 30 students from the consortium who will participate in a three-week career diversity workshop in Chicago. Under the leadership of the Chicago Humanities Festival...

First Iowa City Archive Crawl Celebrates Treasures in Local Collections

Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Hold History in Your Hands at the First-Ever Iowa City Archives Crawl What gems hide in plain sight in Iowa City’s libraries, museums, and archives? At the area’s first-ever archives crawl, visitors can snoop in between the pages of historic diaries, read other people's mail, hold feathers and fossils, and peer into mysteries revealed by historic artifacts like swords and locks of...
Graduate Institute participants doing a movement exercise

UI students learn the true meaning of public engagement

Friday, January 19, 2018
Thank you to Emily Nelson and Iowa Now for this article about the 2018 Obermann Graduate Institute Some scholars may consider giving a presentation, curating an exhibit, or hosting a medical screening for community groups to be a form of public engagement. Although each of these is an important contribution, the annual Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy encourages...

The Archeology of Ten Minutes Ago: Preserving the Artifacts of Border Crossing

Thursday, January 18, 2018
Across campus and community, you’ll be seeing the poster for our upcoming symposium, Against Amnesia: Archives, Evidence, and Social Justice. We wanted a powerful image to anchor our communications for this event—one that captures the urgency and importance of archiving in today’s political climate, especially in the name of human rights. Living, breathing archives, uncomfortable, incriminating...

UI’s Iowa Native Spaces project works with Meskwaki, Ioway to bring historical perspectives to more Iowans

Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Reprinted from Iowa Now, this article features a project that was incubated via the Obermann Working Group program and has been directed by Jacki Rand (History, CLAS) who has been an Obermann Fellow-in-Residence and Co-Director of the Obermann Graduate Institute, as well as former Graduate Institute Fellows Eric Zimmer and Dave De La Tore and Obermann HASTAC Scholar Mary Wise. Article by Chris...
Iowa City Archives Crawl logo

Iowa City Archives Crawl - Hold History in Your Hands!

Thursday, December 28, 2017
On Saturday, February 24, Iowa City hosts its first archives crawl. You'll hold history in your hands. Get behind-the-scenes tours of local museums and libraries. Talk to experts who can help you with your own home-archiving projects. And learn about projects that scholars and artists are currently creating from the impressive archival holdings of local institutions. Between 11:00 am and 3:00...

February Digital Bridges Events

Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Two spring events hosted by our Digital Bridges for Humanistic Inquiry: A Grinnell College/University of Iowa Partnership funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Save the dates for next spring! February 2 and 3: How to Harvest History, A talk and workshop with Rebecca Wingo, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Liberal Arts at Macalester College (PhD, History, University of Nebraska...

Typewriters for Eskimos: Imperialist Rhetoric & Puerto Rico

Monday, October 23, 2017
In 1898, soon-to-be U.S. Senator Albert Beveridge (R-Indiana) urged his fellow Congressmen to “administer government” to the “savages and senile peoples” of Puerto Rico, newly acquired by the U.S. “Shall we save them from [possession by other nations],” he cried, “to give them a self-rule of tragedy? It would be like giving a razor to a babe and telling it to shave itself. It would be like giving...
Christopher Newfield

Colliding Art Forms and Documenting Refugees: The Iphigenia Project

Monday, September 25, 2017
“We don’t collaborate, we collide!” declares Irina Patkanian as she sits down for a conversation with fellow artists Lisa Schlesinger and Marion Schoevaert to discuss their Iphigenia Project and its culminating piece, Iphigenia at Lesvos: Story of a Refugee. The project has been unfolding for several years and reflects not only current world events, but the three women’s process-oriented working...

Colored Conventions Project - Lecture & Workshop with Gabrielle Foreman

Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Gabrielle Foreman Visit, November 5-7, 2017 — As part of Digital Bridges for Humanistic Inquiry: A Grinnell College/University of Iowa Partnership, a multi-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support collaborative practices in the humanities, digital humanist Gabrielle Foreman will visit the University of Iowa and give a public lecture and a digital humanities workshop....

Introducing Our Fall 2017 Fellows

Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Blaine Greteman, English, CLAS Greteman is at work on a book, Networking English Print, which draws from his digital humanities project, Shakeosphere: Mapping Early Modern Social Networks. After mining the publication history of nearly every book printed in English before 1800, Greteman and his collaborators mapped the connections between printers, authors, publishers, and booksellers. By...

Incarcerate. Educate. Integrate. Prisoner access to education focus of September conference and new speaker series

Monday, August 21, 2017
In a recent meeting between prospective students and University of Iowa faculty, questions came up that sounded pretty routine: “Am I going to get credit for this?” “Will there be homework?” “What’s the time commitment?” These weren’t incoming freshman, however, but a group of men currently incarcerated at the Iowa Medical & Classification Center (“Oakdale”) in Coralville, IA. They were...

2018-19 Program Dates and Application Deadlines

Monday, July 31, 2017
FALL APPLICATION DEADLINES Obermann Center Fellows-in-Residence, Spring 2018 Application deadline: Sept. 12, 2017 The Obermann Fellows-in-Residence program is rooted in our mission: to support the work of individual scholars, while also providing Fellows with the opportunity to enrich an individual, discipline-specific project through interdisciplinary exchanges with a lively intellectual...
Jessica Pleyel ironing

Jessica Pleyel: Mending through Art

Monday, July 17, 2017
Wax guns, duck decoys, and nail polish. These are some of the items in artist Jessica Pleyel’s community engagement toolkit. The Obermann Graduate Institute alumna is currently bringing audiences together to consider gun violence against women, especially by domestic partners. Her exhibition, To(get)her: Meeting/Melting/Mending, had a month-long run at the Des Moines Social Club this spring, and...

All in the Mix: Erica Damman's Environmental Games

Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Remove the letter A from Scrabble and things get tricky pretty quickly. Likewise, remove apis melliferia, or the honeybee, from the world’s ecosystems and things start to fall apart. Almonds and apples, coffee and avocados—all become, if not extinct, then exceptionally rarer without bees to pollinate them. Industries that employ thousands of people are compromised. The food that sustains certain...

Summer Brings Russell Scholars, a pair of education projects, two arts projects, and digital collaborations to the Obermann Center

Tuesday, April 25, 2017
The Obermann Center will host multiple groups this summer, working on projects ranging from an edited anthology to a "film opera." The Philosophy of Physical Atomism is the focus of this year's Obermann Summer Seminar. These lectures, given by Bertrand Russell in the early months of 1918, were published in pairs in four issues...

Talking “Prophylactic Chats” with Fellow-in-Residence Edward Cohn

Tuesday, April 25, 2017
It's 1975, Lithuania. You receive a letter in the mail—brief, and on KGB letterhead. "You are invited to a friendly chat at our headquarters," it says. "Next Monday, 10 a.m." Gulp. These "chats"—frequent occurrences in Khrushchev-era Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia—are the current fascination of Obermann Fellow-in-Residence Edward Cohn. A professor of history at Grinnell College, Dr. Cohn...

Humanities on the Hill 2017—with the National Humanities Alliance

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Just as news was breaking that the proposed federal budget could zero out the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, I joined representatives from nearly 200 colleges and universities in Washington, D.C. for the 2017 National Humanities Alliance Advocacy Day. As the current secretary of the NHA Board of Directors, I know firsthand what...

The Making of "Hot Tamale Louie": Fantastical immigrant’s tale inspires multi-genre production

Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Sometime between chemo and radiation, John Rapson was struck by inspiration. It came in the form of a New Yorker article. The long piece, “Citizen Khan” by Kathryn Schulz, is as meandering and rich as its subject: Zarif Khan. After reading the article last June, Rapson, a jazz professor in the School of Music, immediately knew that he’d found the subject for a new piece. Not only would it include...

Sara Goldrick-Rab's Feb. 13 college affordability talks available online

Monday, March 27, 2017
On February 13, 2017, Sara Goldrick-Rab, Professor of Higher Education Policy & Sociology at Temple University, visited the UI campus to discuss the crisis of college affordability and student loan debt. Both of her public lectures are now available online. Listen to Sara Goldrick-Rab's Inequality Seminar talk, “Making College Affordable: Adventures in Scholar-Activism.” Watch her lecture,...

Artistic director Michael Rohd to discuss cultivating community-centered arts April 5

Friday, March 17, 2017
Effective collaboration starts with something very simple: listening. Michael Rohd, Artistic Director of the Center for Performance and Civic Practice and the Sojourn Theatre, will speak about his experiences collaborating with arts councils, service organizations, artists, community agencies, and local governments around the country to make space and context for meaningful, arts-based partnership...

A Symposium Bears Fruit: New book and an inter-institutional grant the latest results of The Latino Midwest

Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Convening the right group of people at the right time can create not just a ripple effect but a tidal wave of creative, collaborative products. Claire Fox (English and Spanish & Portuguese, CLAS) has seen this firsthand. Since she co-directed The Latino Midwest, the 2012–13 Obermann Humanities Symposium, a new University of Iowa program has come into being, a related textbook is soon to be...

The Phenomena of Attention: Shaun Vecera's Current Study of Distracted Driving

Monday, February 27, 2017
The stoplight has just turned red. Your cell phone is sitting on the seat next to you, and it vibrated a few blocks back. Should you pick it up and check it? Could this be considered distracted driving, even though the car isn’t moving? Without a doubt, says Shaun Vecera (Psychological & Brain Sciences, CLAS), a current Obermann Fellow-in-Residence who is studying individuals prone to risky...

Anne Fausto-Sterling to Present at Darwin Days

Monday, February 27, 2017
This Friday and Saturday (March 3 and 4), feminist biologist Professor Anne Fausto-Sterling will visit the University of Iowa to participate in Iowa City's celebration of Darwin Day. Fausto-Sterling will give two talks, a professional talk about her current research on gender and development on Friday at 3 pm in the Kollros Auditorium (Biology Building East) and a public lecture on gender, science...

Announcing "1984 in 2017: A Symposium"

Monday, February 20, 2017
This April, Loren Glass (English, CLAS; Center for the Book) and the UI Center for Human Rights will present an interdisciplinary public symposium, 1984 in 2017. The all-day event will explore correlations between George Orwell's dystopian—and newly bestselling—novel 1984 and current events, addressing such questions as, What does it mean to live in a world where dystopian fiction resembles...

Civic Media: When Coding, Social Justice, and Creativity Meet

Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Lecture and workshop from Catherine D’Ignazio What happens when coding, creativity, and commitment to social justice come together? One answer is Catherine D’Ignazio. A researcher, designer, and software developer, D’Ignazio is Assistant Professor of Civic Media and Data Visualization in the Journalism Department at Emerson College. She is also a Principal Investigator at the Emerson Engagement...

Digital Storytelling at Heart of Spring Digital Bridges Lineup

Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Digital Bridges for Humanistic Inquiry: A Grinnell College/University of Iowa Partnership is at a midway point. Generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the grant offers faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students at Grinnell College and The University of Iowa opportunities to experiment with collaborative practices in the humanities from 2015 through 2018. Virtual...

Successfully Aging in Place: Obermann Conversation focuses on keeping older residents in neighborhoods

Monday, January 23, 2017
Many of us hope to age in our own homes, but looking ahead, we wonder about everyday practicalities. What happens when we can no longer rake our leaves or change a light bulb in a hard-to-reach spot? The next Obermann Conversation features UI Aging Studies program director Mercedes Bern-Klug, communications consultant Susan Shullaw, and Tippie College of Business emeritus faculty member Nancy...

Student Loan Debt Topic of February Visit

Friday, December 9, 2016
On Monday, February 13, at 7:00 p.m. at the Iowa City Public Library, Sara Goldrick-Rab, Professor of Higher Education Policy & Sociology at Temple University, will give a public lecture on the crisis of college affordability and student loan debt. She will offer solutions for fixing the U.S. financial aid system to make higher education accessible to all, drawing on research published in her...

Snapshot of German Iowa in the Global Midwest Symposium

Thursday, November 17, 2016
German Iowa and the Global Midwest was a three-day symposium (Oct. 6-8, 2016) that explored Iowa's multicultural heritage. Part of a larger series of linked events, the 2016 Obermann Humanities Symposium was a tremendous success, gaining considerable local, statewide, and even national attention. Highlights Frank Trommler, an Ida Beam speaker, gave two public talks. The first, in the public...

2017 Obermann Graduate Institute Fellows Announced

Tuesday, November 15, 2016
The 2017 Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy will meet from January 9-13, 2017. The group of 16 students were selected from a competitive pool representing five colleges and in disciplines ranging from Library and Information Science to Community and Behavioral Health. Now in its eleventh year, the Graduate Institute offers a competitively selected group of UI graduate...

Engaged Filmmaking - Documentary Course Reflects Graduate Institute's Teachings

Thursday, November 10, 2016
Nonfiction filmmaking is inherently collaborative. Anna Swanson [pictured in black shirt working with a student] asked the students in her "Publicly Engaged Documentary" course both to question and commit to the partnerships that such filmmaking necessitates. Go beyond getting a project done or thinking toward job skills, she recommended; instead, consider being an artist-advocate or a scholar...

A Letter to the Obermann Community

Thursday, November 10, 2016
A Letter to Our Colleagues, Collaborators, and Friends The Obermann Center for Advanced Studies was founded on the belief that what makes colleges and universities invaluable and irreplaceable is that they bring people together for the express purpose of expanding horizons, using research and debate to test assumptions and claims, solving problems, and forming the habit of lifelong learning. At...
Man stretching animal hide for book

Sawyer Mellon Seminar Maps Cultural Exchanges Across Eurasia

Wednesday, October 26, 2016
International Scholars and Book Conservators Explore Premodern Texts Thousands of years before the advent of print, texts were recorded in manuscript form--written out by hand on papyrus, parchment, paper, silk, bamboo, or other materials. Scholars involved in the 2016-17 Mellon Sawyer Seminar at the University of Iowa are renewing their examination of these early texts, asking such questions...
The Taming poster

Riverside Theatre Talkbacks - A new Obermann collaboration

Thursday, October 20, 2016
How can we work more closely with the University of Iowa? How can we bring voices beyond those of the actors and directors into the conversation? These were some of the questions that Sean Lewis, the new artistic director of Riverside Theatre, and Jennifer Holan, Riverside's Executive Director, asked the Obermann Center earlier this fall. Opening Up the Talkback Model Often, a talkback...

Free screening of STARVING THE BEAST, a new documentary exploring current issues in public higher education, Oct. 17

Thursday, September 29, 2016
A new documentary that examines ongoing efforts to “disrupt and reform” America’s historic public universities will be shown at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 17, at at The Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington Street, Iowa City. The film screening is free and open to the public. Starving the Beast tells the story of how public higher education has been defunded over the last three decades and makes a...

Have No Fear exhibit explores the role of Middle Eastern artists post 9/11

Tuesday, September 27, 2016
9/11 Unleashed Ethical Questions Like many current students, Rachel Winter (MA candidate, Religious Studies, CLAS) vividly remembers 9/11 as a pivotal moment of her early childhood. The day was already set to be a serious one, as her mother was scheduled to undergo a critical surgery at a hospital near downtown Chicago. As events unfolded on the east coast, it was unclear if other cities might...

Have No Fear - Exhibit explores the role of Middle Eastern artists post 9/11

Tuesday, September 27, 2016
9/11 Unleashed Ethical Questions Like many current students, Rachel Winter (MA candidate, Religious Studies) vividly remembers 9/11 as a pivotal moment of her early childhood. The day was already set to be a serious one as her mother was scheduled to undergo a critical surgery at a hospital near downtown Chicago. As events unfolded on the east coast, it was unclear if other cities might be...

Apply for Summer '17 Alternative Careers for Humanities PhD Candidates Workshop in Chicago

Monday, September 19, 2016
Angela Toscano (English) and Anu Thapa (Cinematic Arts) were selected as Humanities Without Walls Fellows for last summer's workshop. The program is part of an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation award to the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH) at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign to fund an extensive consortium of fifteen humanities institutes in the Midwest and beyond...
IDRG group stands outside of Obermann Center

The Meek and the Mighty: Interdisciplinary Research Grant Explores Diversity Programs

Wednesday, September 14, 2016
The “Big Ten Conference” is often used as shorthand for football. But faced with demands for a more just society, this group of Midwestern research universities has also taken the lead in making higher education accessible. In 1968, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Indiana University led the Big Ten in establishing a program for first-generation college students. A decade later, in 1979, during the Women’s Movement, Ohio State University was the first in the Big Ten to create a living-learning community to support and recruit women in STEM fields. Since then, Big Ten schools, like most universities in the United States, have implemented programs that provide community, mentorship, and other forms of support to minority and culturally diverse students. What factors influence the time to adoption of these programs? What impact do the programs have shortly after they’re adopted? Does, for instance, the percentage of women majoring in STEM fields increase on campuses that implement those support programs? Do students who participate in such programs tend to stay enrolled at the school and finish their degrees, compared to students who don’t? These are the questions Aislinn Conrad-Hiebner (School of Social Work, CLAS),  Martin Kivlighan (College of Education), and Elizabeth Menninga (Political Science, CLAS) are exploring as part of their fledgling project “The Meek and the Mighty: Exploring Diversity Programs among Big Ten Universities,” which they initiated last summer as part of an Obermann Interdisciplinary Research Grant.

Meet the Manuscript with Obermann Graduate Fellow Heather Wacha

Monday, August 29, 2016
28 beaver fur hats. 6 panels of tapestries. Wool from Flanders. Silks, cloths, and linens. Furniture, paintings, and sculptures. Gold and Silver. All manner of carriages. If you had been an heir of the estate of Don Francisco Muñoz Carillo, a nobleman from Cuenca, Spain, who died in 1687, you may have received some part of these items. However, before you get too excited, you would have also...

2015-16 Obermann Annual Report

Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Welcome to the 2015-16 Obermann Center Annual Report! View the report in its entirety. I often find the best inspiration for the year ahead is a quick look in the rearview mirror. That’s certainly true for the Obermann Center, where that mirror frames a panorama of fellow travelers—faculty, staff, students, and partners—in 2015–16. In Summer 2015, faculty with Obermann Interdisciplinary...

Humanities research and the human condition

Thursday, July 14, 2016
This article by Obermann Center Director Teresa Mangum appeared in the July 14, 2016, edition of Iowa Now: If you follow news about higher education, you know that the value of humanities scholarship—the study of the arts, cultures, history, languages, literature, philosophy, and religion—is often called into question. Pummeled by busyness, technical challenges, health care costs...

Open-Access Tools Make Research Available to All

Monday, June 27, 2016
Not so long ago, if you wanted to read The Odyssey, you needed several massive—and expensive—tomes: the original text, appendices of endnotes, maps, and family trees, maybe even a Greek dictionary. Today, thanks to digital humanists like Sarah Bond (Classics, CLAS) and Paul Dilley (Classics and Religious Studies, CLAS), you can access many classical texts online, for free, with notes...
human immunodeficiency virus

Reviving Biophilia—Mary Trachsel Considers Our Disconnect from the Natural World

Monday, May 23, 2016
Animals on Campus Humans share the state of Iowa with as many as 20 million hogs, in addition to millions of chickens and cows. In a state so densely populated with non-human animals, why are they so invisible to us on the University of Iowa campus? This wasn’t always the case. In the 1800s, a fence was erected around the Pentacrest to keep pigs off the grounds. An early professor of writing...
Noaquia Callahan portrait, German Fulbright award winner

A Q&A with 2016-17 Fulbright winner Noaquia Callahan

Wednesday, May 4, 2016
A Q&A with 2016-17 Fulbright winner Noaquia Callahan Authored by Benjamin Partridge About Noaquia: Noaquia Callahan, P.h.D. candidate in history at the University of Iowa and 2016-17 Fulbright grant winner. Noaquia Callahan, a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Iowa, is one of 13 Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant winners from the UI for 2016-17. Callahan was chosen as...
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Andrew W. Mellon Sawyer Seminar to Focus on Eurasian Manuscripts in 2016-17

Monday, May 2, 2016
Cultural and Textual Exchanges: The Manuscript Across Pre-Modern Eurasia Exploring manuscript diversity before the printed book During the 2016-17 academic year, a core group of University of Iowa faculty and graduate students will work to map cultural exchanges across Eurasia from roughly 400 CE ­ ca. 1450 CE, by focusing on the development, distribution and sharing of manuscript...

Digital Bridges to Obermann - Summer 2016 Institute and Collaborations

Monday, May 2, 2016
This summer the Obermann Center will host a number of faculty projects thanks to the generous support of our Andrew W. Mellon Digital Bridges for Humanistic Inquiry partnership with Grinnell College. The goal of the grant is to experiment with ways that faculty and students from a liberal arts college and a research university can mutually enrich their scholarship and teaching through creative...

Why I Give to the Obermann Center - Ken Brown

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
The Obermann Center holds a special place in my heart. This is so not because of Director Teresa Mangum’s southern charm or the cookies in the kitchen, although both are gifts to all who visit. Instead, I love Obermann for what it offers to scholars on this campus, and for the opportunities it has given me to be in community with these very scholars. "Obermann offers the impetus and the...

HASTAC Scholars Reflect on Graduate Institute Symposium

Wednesday, March 30, 2016
On March 3-4, 2016, the Obermann Graduate Institute celebrated its tenth anniversary. In addition to welcoming back alumni of the program, including Tala Al-Rousan (Harvard), Ted Gutsche (Florida International University), Bridget Draxler (Monmouth College), and Craig Eley (ACLS Scholar, Wisconsin Public Radio), we were also joined by founding co-director David Redlawsk, currently at Rutgers and...

Cultivating Our Resilient Humanities Community - NHA visit establishes pilot program

Tuesday, March 29, 2016
On March 3, a group of thirty scholars, librarians, business owners, and arts administrators sat down to talk about their current and future work in supporting the humanities in Eastern Iowa. Convened by leaders from the National Humanities Alliance, including Stephen Kidd, Executive Director, and Matthew Van Hoose, Project Director (pictured) with assistance from the Obermann Center, the meeting...

Raising the Flag for the Humanities on Capitol Hill

Monday, March 28, 2016
Did you know that more people go to museums each year (850 million) than to all major league sports events and theme parks combined? Or that people with double majors up earnings by 2.3% while a double major that combines the arts, humanities, or social sciences with business or STEM can increase lifetime earnings up to 50%? Well, neither do most people, including elected officials Iowans send...

Teresa Mangum Named Secretary of National Humanities Alliance

Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Teresa Mangum, director of the Obermann Center, has been elected Secretary of the National Humanities Alliance Board of Directors, the largest humanities advocacy group in the country, located in Washington, D.C. The president of the board is David Marshall, Executive Vice Chancellor of the University of California-Santa Barbara. Mangum will be replacing Pauline Yu, the President of the...

We Did So Much Beyond the Home - Jeannette Gabriel talks about the Jewish Women in Iowa Project

Thursday, March 10, 2016
Jeannette Gabriel, a 2013 Graduate Institute Fellow and a PhD candidate in Teaching and Learning, has been crisscrossing the state in an attempt to document a disappearing community. As a graduate research assistant in the Iowa Women's Archives, Gabriel is currently the backbone of the Jewish Women in Iowa Project. This special project was initiated by Joan Lipsky, a former Iowa state...

Kate Kedley - Building Solidarity Between Honduras and Iowa

Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Artists Take Back Public Space in Honduras As Obermann Graduate Fellow in 2013, Kate Kedley learned to frame research as publicly engaged scholarship, and since then has continued to look for ways to remain in solidarity with the communities and people where she researches. Specifically, her dissertation is an ethnographic study about education and teaching in the Central American country of...

Beyond the Shiny New Toy—Next Frontier for Digital Humanities

Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Last summer, a group of three scholars commandeered the Obermann Center attic for a month with the goal of pushing their digital humanities (DH) project into a new phase. The team of Blaine Greteman (English, University of Iowa), James Lee (English, Grinnell College), and David Eichmann (School of Library and Information Science...

Teaching Sustainability—Across the Disciplines

Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Teach-in Focuses on Sustainability Curricula Across Campus Across the globe, people strive for sustainable development, which the 1987 World Commission on Environment and Development famously defined as a way of living that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” How can the University of Iowa campus address the great...

Marilynne Robinson to Deliver Lecture, "The American Scholar Now"

Saturday, November 28, 2015
As part of the Creative Matters series, Marilynne Robinson will give a lecture titled "The American Scholar Now," on December 9 from 5:30-6:30 pm at The Englert Theatre. This event is free and open to the public. Marilynne Robinson is the recipient of a National Humanities Medal, awarded by President Barack Obama, for “her grace and intelligence in writing.” She is the author of Lila, winner of...

2016 Graduate Institute Fellows Announced

Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Seventeen UI graduate students from across campus, representing four different colleges, have been selected for the seventh annual Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy. This year's co-directors, Craig Just (Civil & Environmental Engineering) and Jennifer Kayle (Dance), and Senior Graduate Fellows Anna Swanson (Cinematic Arts and Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies) and Jessica...

Diverse Voices "Write to Change the World" - The OpEd Project at the UI

Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Taking the Plunge in Public Writing — Women represent almost 50 percent of the world’s population. Why is it, then, that the range of voices heard in the world is incredibly narrow and comes from a tiny sliver of the population: mostly western, older, privileged, and overwhelmingly—85 percent!—male? University of Iowa Obermann Center for Advanced Studies Director Teresa Mangum wants to get...

Jessica Anthony: Graduate Institute Alumna Dances with and for the Underserved

Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Jessica Anthony is committed to using dance to tell previously silenced stories. A Visiting Professor in Dance, Anthony is currently co-directing Dancers in Company with fellow faculty member Michael Sakamoto, and the two are breathing new life into the 32-year old touring company. Dancers in Company has long held the mission of preparing University of Iowa dance students for the experience...
Don Quixote in Chinese

Don Quixote in 140 Characters

Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Can one of the world's most iconic books be boiled down to a Tweetable 140 characters? Don Quixote was parodied or plagiarized, depending on how you look at it, before Cervantes could even write the second volume chronicling the misadventures of an errant knight and his loyal sidekick. The 400-year old tome has inspired a plethora of adaptations, including ballets, symphonies, cartoons, films...

Summer Workshop Helps Humanities PhD Candidates Expand Options

Friday, October 2, 2015
Last July, two University of Iowa graduate students expanded their sense of how they might use their training as humanities scholars. Erica Damman (Environmental Humanities, CLAS) and Noaquia Callahan (History, CLAS) were part of the first cohort of graduate student Fellows to participate in the Alternative Academic Career Workshop for Pre-Doctoral Students in the Humanities. The Workshop is...
Ana Rodriguez and Denise Filios

Connecting 400-Year-Old Knight Errant to UI Students and Community

Monday, September 28, 2015
This fall, University of Iowa students are discovering the charms of an aged knight-errant, his earthy sidekick, and a cast of colorful characters. In celebration of the 400th anniversary of the publication of Don Quixote, Ana Rodríguez-Rodríguez and Denise Filios, professors in Spanish and Portuguese, are co-directing the Obermann–International Programs Humanities Symposium, “Parody, Plagiarism...
I am, I Will, I am Afraid

Traci Molloy and UAY Students Unveil Piece

Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Traci Molloy, a Brooklyn-based artist and a participant in the 2014 Obermann Summer Seminar, returns to Iowa City in early October to give a lecture and unveil a new artwork that she created with local teenagers. Titled “I Am, I Will, I’m Afraid,” the work combines photography and text composed by twelve self-described youth “outliers” attending United Action for Youth’s Summer Art Workshops. It...
Jack and Trudi Rosazza

Supporting the Obermann Center — Jack and Trudi Rosazza

Tuesday, September 15, 2015
The support that the Obermann Center receives from friends such as Jack and Trudi Rosazza helps us to deepen and extend our work. This year, for example, we were able to send our director, Teresa Mangum, to a workshop with the OpEd Project. This visionary organization helps underrepresented voices land on the opinion pages of our nation’s newspapers, thereby changing discourses. In November, the...

THE YES MEN leads workshop on UI campus

Monday, August 31, 2015
POROI co-sponsored the YES MEN this August in their visit with the UI Lecture Committee. During that visit, the YES MEN lead a workshop in which they broke down their signature, satirical style of creative, performance-based activism, advising participants on their own change-making initiatives. Participants included student government representatives working to eliminate plastic waste from the...
Dave Gould

To the Class of 2019 - Inspiration from Obermann Public Scholar Dave Gould

Thursday, August 20, 2015
David Gould, Obermann Public Scholar, is spending this fall semester introducing University of Iowa undergraduates to a cast of amazing, inspiring visitors. From a master storyteller from The Moth and musicians from the Cirque du Soleil , to the co-founder of Girls on the Run and the creator of an online funding company, this eclectic group of guests will help students consider what makes for a...
Dickens Universe

Opportunities for Grad Students at Obermann

Wednesday, August 19, 2015
The Obermann Center offers a growing number of opportunities for UI graduate students—from courses to a research assistantship. As we begin the 2015-16 academic year, we wanted to provide an overview for students, as well as for faculty advisors and graduate directors. Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy This year, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of our signature program, the...
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Philosopher Promotes Everyday Practice of His Field—And Lands Dream Job

Friday, May 1, 2015
“The Institute [on Engagement and the Academy] really pushed me to figure out what civically engaged scholarship looked like,” says Brian Collins. “It was—and sometimes still is—difficult for me to wrap my head around how my scholarship as a philosopher could directly apply to and benefit from this kind of work.” That has not stopped Collins from imagining ways to share philosophy and its...

Medieval Scholars Get Messy with NEH Manuscript Production Seminar

Monday, April 13, 2015
Most of what we know about the literature, art, and science of the Middle Ages has been interpreted by scholars from texts hand-scribed on parchment. And though they return to these illuminating manuscripts for more clues, few scholars deeply understand the process of their production. Providing scholars with hands-on experience is the central...

Scenes from Anthropocene Symposium

Thursday, April 9, 2015
Several keynote lectures from the 2014-15 Obermann Humanities Symposium, Energy Cultures in the Age of the Anthropocene were filmed and are now available on the Obermann's YouTube channel. Lonnie Thompson: "Climate Change: The Evidence and Our Options"; Jennifer Kayle and UI dancers: "Smoke-Screen: This and Other Warnings"; Charles Mann: "Energy and Climate: A Problem from Hell"...
Schoenberg Self Portrait

The Allure of Concision — Matthew Arndt’s Fascination with Schoenberg’s Shortest Works

Tuesday, April 7, 2015
“Concise!” In 1909, the composer Arnold Schoenberg wrote to a friend, “My music must be short. Concise! In two notes, not built, but ‘expressed.’ And the result is, I hope, without stylized and sterilized drawn-out sentiment.” This call to simplification marked the beginning of a two-year period of radically unconventional music, even compared with his earlier nontonal music. This period...
Shannon Jackson

Shannon Jackson challenges higher education to consider--The Way We Perform Now

Thursday, March 19, 2015
At the 2014 Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes, Shannon Jackson, Goldman Chair in the Arts and Humanities at the University of California-Berkeley, stole a very impressive show as she previewed the book she is writing with a Guggenheim fellowship: The Way We Perform Now. We are delighted that Jackson is coming to the UI for a public talk on Wednesday, March 24 from 3:30-5:00 at the...

Smoke-Screen: Dance Performance Explore Themes of the Anthropocene

Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Smoke-Screen Debuts as Finale of Anthropocene Symposium Jennifer Kayle (Dance, CLAS; pictured left) has spent the past few months immersed in books like Diane Ackerman’s The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us and Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, as well as works about how complex science can be effectively communicated to a broader public. This research has been...
A chemical synapse releasing neurotransmitters.

On the Trail of Parkinson’s — Jon Doorn Seeks Clues to Stop Neurodegenerative Disease

Tuesday, February 17, 2015
The second most common neurodegenerative disease is Parkinson’s Disease (PD). It affects more than 1 million Americans and 10 million people worldwide. The cause of this prevalent disease remains largely unknown. Genetics play a role but cannot account for all cases. While age is one contributor, it isn’t clear whether Parkinson’s comes with age or...

UI Faculty and Grad Students Selected for Humanities Without Walls Opportunities

Tuesday, January 27, 2015
The Obermann Center is delighted to be a member of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded Humanities Without Walls consortium, led by the University of Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities. Already, our graduate students and faculty are benefiting from this innovative partnership. Note: A second round of applications will be invited soon for summer 2015 seed grants. In fall 2015, we...
Michael Hill, photo by The HawkEye

Follow the children: Michael Hill views the adolescent character as a weathervane

Friday, December 12, 2014
In a 1949 poem, Gwendolyn Brooks asked, “What shall I give my children? . . . / Who are adjudged the leastwise of the land . . . ” The question is central to Michael Hill’s new book, A Little Child Shall Lead Them: Adolescence in African American Novels, 1941-2008.Hill, a University of Iowa professor of English and African American Studies and Fall 2014 Obermann Fellow in Residence, is curious...

Designing the Digital Future - A Symposium Summary

Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Designing the Digital Future – A Symposium Summary To many, informatics means big data. But as the 2014 Obermann Working Symposium, “Designing the Digital Future: A Human-Centered Approach to Informatics,” November 7-8, 2014, demonstrated, informatics technology intersects with narrative, the arts, collaborative learning, dance, diversity, narrative, social justice movements, values sensitive...

2015 Obermann Graduate Institute Fellows Selected

Tuesday, November 11, 2014
The following students have been selected for the 2015 Obermann Graduate Institute. As Obermann Graduate Fellows, they will participate in a one-week intensive institute exploring how to combine public engagement with their research and teaching. The Institute, now in its ninth year, is co-directed by Barbara Eckstein (English, CLAS) and Craig Just (Civil and Environmental Engineering), with...

Arts, Education, and Social Justice: Meet Informatics

Wednesday, November 5, 2014
The word “informatics” summons the 1999 film “The Matrix” — a terrifying world of streaming numbers (and Keanu Reeves). In the real world, patterns in a sea of data can become life rafts, for example, to individuals suffering from disease or activists tracking pollution. Designing ways for humans to interact effectively with computers and information is the goal of researchers in the growing area of computer science sometimes called human-computer interaction or HCI.
Performance from the Dance.Draw series at UNC-Charlotte, by Rob Singh-Latulipe.

Designing the Digital Future: Highlighting Informatics Work in the Arts and Humanities

Friday, October 31, 2014
Search “informatics” on Wikipedia and you’ll get a hint of the very wide swath that this relatively new field has already cut: bioinformatics, irrigation informatics, legal informatics, music informatics, cheminformatics, and disease informatics are just a few of its subfields. An idea that has been around for barely a half century...
2014 Imagining America PAGE Fellows

Reflections on Imagining America from UI’s PAGE Fellows

Friday, October 31, 2014
Moving the Middle — Reflections on Imagining America’s national conference by Heather Draxl: The theme of this year’s Imagining America conference, held in Atlanta, Georgia, was “Organizing. Culture. Change.” Those three words were intended to “represent concentrations of energy and activity across higher education and within the IA consortium” and played a role in one of the conference’s primary...
Crescendo poster

Obermann-Incubated Project Comes to a Crescendo

Monday, October 6, 2014
Masks give us permission to explore new ideas or to more bravely enact ways of being that we don’t usually give ourselves permission to pursue. They invite playfulness, humor, parody, and even a bit of mischief. Think Halloween costumes and masquerade balls. All of the qualities that masks allow and invite also make them a clever tool for exploring social issues, which is the aim of a new UI...
Bruce Gronbeck

Remembering Longtime Obermann Scholar Bruce Gronbeck

Tuesday, September 30, 2014
In January 1986, just days before the nation and the University of Iowa were scheduled to celebrate Martin Luther King Day as a national holiday for the first time, the Obermann Center was asked if we could “put together something” as part of the University’s observance. I was panicked, but then remembered that Bruce Gronbeck, a new guy at the Obermann Center, had been talking at...
One of thousands of photos that have been digitized as part of the Ft. Madison Prison Memory Project.

Incarcerated in Iowa - Relationship Forged at the Obermann Graduate Institute Results in Prisons Project and Symposium

Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Conversation Begins at Obermann Graduate Institute: Kathrina Litchfield, recent SLIS grad and a current PhD candidate in Language, Literacy, and Culture (College of Education) and Gemma Goodale-Sussen (English, CLAS) met for the first time last January as Fellows of the Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy. As they shared their respective public engagement projects, each woman...

Social Practice Art: Engaging Multiple Perspectives

Tuesday, September 2, 2014
The role of art in society has long been debated. If an artist works in a university and in combination with community partners, that definition becomes murkier yet.As part of the Obermann Center’s Summer Seminar, “Problem Solving Social Practice in Art,” a group of scholars, community organizers, and artists cast a wide net on the idea of “social practice in art,” examining and exposing gaps in...

Humanities Without Walls — Opportunities for Humanities Faculty and Graduate Students

Thursday, August 28, 2014
Andrew W. Mellon–funded Grand Challenge — The Global Midwest As we announced last year, the Obermann Center is one of 15 centers in the $3,000,000 Mellon-funded Humanities Without Walls Consortium headed by Professor Dianne Harris of the University of Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities. Applications are welcome from faculty at two or more consortial universities whose scholarship...

"Obermann Afternoons" Line Up Announced

Friday, August 22, 2014
Obermann Afternoons, the Obermann Center's informal speakers series, launches again this fall. “Anthropocene 101" leads the way on September 17 from 4:00 to 5:30 pm, as Barbara Eckstein (English, CLAS), Bradley Cramer (Earth & Environmental Sciences, CLAS), and Tyler Priest (History, CLAS) give a preview of their spring Humanities Symposium, Energy Cultures in the Age of the Anthropocene. They will...
Food for thought poster

Food for Thought, First Theme Semester

Thursday, May 8, 2014
Obermann Co-sponsors Next Year's "Food for Thought"—First University of Iowa Theme Semester. It began with a small group of people and a big idea: rallying academic, arts, and community events around a common theme, connecting people and programs in original ways. Over the last few months, that idea has taken root. Next spring, it’ll bear fruit with a collection of initiatives under the banner...

Designing Technologies for Children

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Seven years ago when Juan Pablo Hourcade (Computer Science, CLAS) published a review article about designing technologies for children, smartphones were not widespread, the iPad hadn’t been introduced, nor had motion-sensing gaming devices like Kinect. A lot has changed in terms of how children can access technology and what they can do it with. And yet there still is not a succinct overview of...

Christopher Newfield penetrates "humanities crisis"

Thursday, April 17, 2014
On April 28, we invite you to join Christopher Newfield (University of California, Santa Barbara) as he asks, “What Are the Humanities For—in the 21st Century?” One of the country’s most energetic analysts of higher education funding, Newfield has such diverse interests and expertise that his talk may range from literature to economics and corporate culture to the roots of American education and...

Health Humanities: Building the Future of Research and Teaching

Thursday, March 20, 2014
Health Humanities: Building the Future of Research and Teaching, a two-day Obermann Working Symposium, promises to be a paradigm-shifting moment for the University of Iowa and a leap forward in the larger field of the health humanities. The six keynote speakers include the editors of the two forthcoming health humanities anthologies, Paul Crawford and Tess Jones, as well as the editor of a graphic...
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Inquiring About Affect - A Conversation with Naomi Greyser

Thursday, March 20, 2014
How might the work of artists, scholars, and activists be more pleasurable and easeful? How might our working environments and labor conditions be more healthy? These are some of the questions this year’s Obermann Humanities Symposium, Affect & Inquiry, will address. Co-directed by Naomi Greyser (Rhetoric, CLAS), Deborah Whaley (American Studies, CLAS), and Jeffrey Bennett (Communication Studies...

2nd Iowa Humanities Festival: From Jamaica to Rome in a Day

Thursday, March 13, 2014
Alta Vista, Bettendorf, Camanche, Elkader, Humboldt, Jamaica, McGregor, Persia, Rome, Zwingle—far-flung corners of the world have found their way into the very names of Iowa cities and towns. The 2014 Iowa Humanities Festival, “A World at Home | A Home in the World,” invites you to travel the world while staying right at home in the “French” city of Des Moines...
Sarah Guyer

Designing the Future for Publicly Engaged Research and Teaching in the Humanities

Friday, February 21, 2014
A recent New York Times Opinion piece by Nicholas Kristof—“Professors, We Need You!”—inspired national debate about the status of “public intellectuals.” The Obermann Center continues the conversation on March 10, 2014, with the next two speakers in our yearlong...

Andrea Charise On the Health Humanities Frontier

Friday, February 21, 2014
Using music to manage chronic pain. Training the eye to see emotional as well as physical symptoms of suffering in a gallery of portraits. Absorbing a sense of well-being through encounters with the written word. Bringing together the arts, humanities, and health sciences offers incalculable benefits. This April, the Obermann Center will offer a...

Comics in the Library, Museum and Classroom - Rachel Williams and Corey Creekmur Make a Case for Comics in Academia

Friday, February 21, 2014
Comics: Their Time Has Come — Three years ago, Corey Creekmur (Cinema & Comparative Literature and English, CLAS) and Rachel Williams (Art & Art History and GWSS, CLAS) and their colleague Ana Merino (Spanish & Portuguese, CLAS) co-directed a highly successful Obermann Humanities Symposium, "Comics, Creativity, and Culture." The three-day event fostered dynamic exchanges between notable creators and...
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Wall to Wall

Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Standing on the Great Wall of China in 1991, Mohammad Chaichian wondered at the feat of architecture and engineering that extended in front of him as far as he could see. Although the wall was ostensibly built to keep out nomadic “barbarians,” Chaichian, a sociology professor with training in architecture and urban planning, wondered how those on the other side, the so-called barbarians, viewed it...

Obermann Part of Major Collaborative Mellon Award

Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Obermann Center Member of Major Collaborative Mellon Grant The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded $3,000,000 for an innovative two-year project, “Humanities Without Walls,” that will include faculty and graduate students at the University of Iowa. In addition to the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, the collaboration includes fourteen humanities institutes in the Midwest and beyond. By...

The Heart of the Chicago Humanities Summit

Friday, January 17, 2014
The following reflections on the recent Chicago Humanities Summit were written by H. Glenn Penny (History, CLAS), who was one of several University of Iowa faculty members in attendance. On January 9, 2014 the Chicago Humanities Festival (CHF) joined forces with the Modern Language Association (MLA), the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (AAAS), and local humanities centers along with the...

Micromagnets: On the Path To Greater Energy Efficiency

Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Johna Leddy (Chemistry, CLAS) is very enthusiastic about the possibility of improving electrochemical systems such as batteries and fuel cells to provide energy and fuels with greater efficiency. “We might be able to build a low temperature fuel cell that runs on alcohol,” says Leddy, who was a Fall 2013 Obermann Fellow-in-Residence. “It could make us less dependent on foreign oil and processes...

Obermann Fellows in Conversation—Race Relations in the U.S. South

Monday, December 9, 2013
A wonderful aspect of the Obermann Center is the way in which people from across the University meet and have unexpected conversations. While many of our programs invite people to form unique collaborations to achieve a specific outcome, such as publishing an article or developing a grant application, our longest running program, the Fellows-in-Residence, is intended to support individual projects...

2014 Graduate Institute Fellows

Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Seventeen UI graduate students have been selected as Obermann Graduate Fellows and will participate in the 2014 Obermann Graduate Institute. The Institute is a highly competitive program for graduate students across the University who are interested in developing publicly engaged dimensions for research, arts, and teaching. The weeklong Institute (January 13-January 17, 2014) includes...

Obermann Grad Fellow Combines Biking Advocacy and Research

Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Mark Pooley jokes that many people think that winter bike riding is only for the “strong and the fearless.” As someone who rides his bike most days, he acknowledges that even the strong and fearless sometimes look outside on a zero-degree wind chill morning and have second thoughts about riding to work. But what the former Obermann Graduate...

A Year in the Life of the Obermann Center

Friday, November 22, 2013
In the last academic year, the Obermann Center directly served 139 faculty, staff, and graduate students as Fellows-in-Residence and Affiliated Scholars. These participants represent 46 different University of Iowa departments and units and 10 colleges. In addition, hundreds of people from across campus, the greater Iowa City area, and throughout the state attended our programs. Here is just a...

New Film Celebrates the Humanities

Thursday, November 21, 2013
"The more technologically sophisticated we are, the more deeply we need to understand one another. [We need] to teach people empathy, because empathy does not come naturally; to encourage curiosity in broad and diverse ways. And the humanities does those things," says Obermann Director Teresa Mangum in a new film, The Centrality of the Humanities, produced by the Robert Penn Warren Center for the...
Charles Darwin

Internationally Renowned Darwin Biographer to Speak

Monday, November 11, 2013
Exploring Darwin's Motives: Why did Charles Darwin, a rich and impeccably upright gentleman, go out of his way to privately develop a subversive image of human evolution in 1837-39? Why did he pursue the subject with tenacity for three decades before publishing The Descent of Man in 1871? Internationally renowned Darwin biographer James Moore will address these questions and others in his lecture,...

The Unintended Consequences of Rankings

Wednesday, October 30, 2013
We are a society obsessed with quantifying and ranking things. Neurosurgeons, small towns, and nasal sprays all have their own ranking lists. Someone is a winner and someone is a loser. While many of us are aware of this increased quantification and vaguely understand its potential dangers, Michael Sauder (Sociology, CLAS) is working to make the unintended consequences of this trend and fascination...

Memorializing the Cold War, One Ambiguous Site at a Time

Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Memorializing the Cold War One Ambiguous Site at a Time: How should the Cold War be memorialized? This question forms the backbone of the Obermann Interdisciplinary Research Grant project of Sarah Kanouse (Art & Art History, CLAS) and Shiloh Krupar (Geography, Georgetown University).Through their “wishful federal agency,” The National Toxic Land/Labor Conservation Service,” also known as the National...

Imagining America: A Call to Action

Wednesday, October 23, 2013
A group of nine University of Iowa faculty members, graduate students, and staff attended the Imagining America conference in Syracuse, New York from October 4-6, 2013, "A Call to Action."Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life is a consortium of universities and organizations dedicated...
David L. Gould (Headshot)_1.jpg

Dave Gould Is First Obermann Public Scholar

Monday, October 7, 2013
Though we tend to associate scholarship with the work of campus faculty members, knowledge creation also has strong roots in our communities. The Obermann Center is piloting a Public Scholar program designed to enhance research on campus through partnerships that engage University of Iowa researchers with innovators outside the University. As Obermann...
Herman Gray

Herman Gray Visit Stems from Obermann Cmiel Semester

Thursday, October 3, 2013
Herman S. Gray, Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, will give a public lecture on October 18, 2013, “On Race, Representation, and Resonance,” in Becker Auditorium, Room 101, at 4:00 pm. His lecture engages with the way scholars of television and race often take representation as the site of subject/ion and visibility as the object of cultural politics. Gray asks if...
Nouveau recueil d’ostéologie et de myologie : dessiné d’après nature / par Jacques Gamelin

Health Humanities Planning Sessions

Wednesday, October 2, 2013
We will host two informal planning sessions for University of Iowa faculty and staff who are interested in next April's Health Humanities Working Symposium. (We are having two meetings in order to accommodate schedules.) If you would like to learn more, to participate in the event, or to meet colleagues working across these domains—from medical anthropologists and historians to poets writing about...

Translating Ixtlilxochitl’s Thirteenth Relation

Monday, September 30, 2013
At the death of an Aztec king, two brothers contest their father’s throne. A civil war ensues and ends with the kingdom divided in two. A number of years later, a Spanish conquistador named Cortés arrives in the area and one brother sends him an offer: I’ll help you if you help me. With the Spaniard’s assistance, the one brother is deposed, while the other not only takes the throne but fights...

Designing the Future

Sunday, September 8, 2013
As changes in technology, population, climate, the economy, the organization of knowledge, and other systems gather speed, the need to predict and even to design the future accelerates as does the need to re-envision STEM as STEAM (sciences, technology, engineering, arts-humanities, and medicine). Through 2013-2014, a series of "futurists"—from the arts...
Just Strike by Josh MacPhee

Exuberant Politics: Fall 2013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Exuberant Politics is a yearlong programming initiative examining recent intersections of art and activism around the world. Organized by Exubernaut Collective, a group of faculty, graduate students, and community members, the series enjoys sponsorship from across community and campus, including the Obermann Center.Where have we experienced exuberance in protest and affinity? Grassroots political...

Obermann Afternoons Kicks Off with Talk on Intergenre Crossing

Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Building on the Obermann Center’s tradition of nurturing interdisciplinary scholarship, the Intergenre Explorations Working Group has brought together faculty engaged in intergenre work. Rather than (or in addition to) crossing disciplines, intergenre work crosses from one mode of research or presentation to another. Synthesizing scholarly and creative modalities, these crossings entail palpable...

Obermann Director Named to National Humanities Alliance Board of Directors

Tuesday, July 30, 2013
The Obermann Center is pleased to announce that Director Teresa Mangum has been invited to serve on the Board of Directors of the National Humanities Alliance. For over 30 years, the NHA has been the nation’s leading public policy and advocacy organization for the academic and public humanities. This non-partisan advocacy coalition works to advance humanities education and research, preserve...

Teaching the Latino Midwest

Wednesday, July 17, 2013
The culture and history of Latinos in the Midwest is an increasingly significant topic for college courses in Latino/a Studies. Numbers alone indicate that this regional emphasis is critical. Between 2000 and 2010, the Latino population increased by 44% across the country and by more than 73% in many Midwestern states. Yet, there is no teachable anthology for undergraduate classes.Claire Fox...

Interdisciplinary Research Grant Groups in Residence for July

Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Three groups of scholars are currently in residence at the Obermann Center throughout July as part of the Obermann Interdisciplinary Research Grants (IDRG). These grants foster collaborative scholarship by offering recipients with intensive time, as well as space, in which to exchange new ideas leading to invention, creation, and publication. Past IDRG recipients have created a music therapy app...

Rising Waters, Rapid Changes

Friday, May 3, 2013
The first-ever University of Iowa graduate seminar in public history was offered this spring semester. The class’ end result, an exhibition and oral history about the flood of 2008, “Rising Waters, Rapid Changes," will be on display starting May 4 in the window of Hands Jewelers. The project is co-sponsored by the Obermann Center. Last year, graduate students in history petitioned the department for more offerings in the growing field of public history. Professor Jackie Rand (History, CLAS), who has worked at the Smithsonian Institution and served as a consultant to the Newberry Library in conjunction with her scholarship on the history of Native North America, state Indian policy, and law, decided to teach the class not only because of the students’ interests but her own growing commitment to public history.

Loyce Arthur Brings Carnaval to Iowa City

Thursday, April 25, 2013
On June 9, Loyce Arthur (Theatre Arts, CLAS) will realize her dream of bringing Carnaval to Iowa City. The Iowa City Carnaval Parade will occur Sunday, June 9, in conjunction with the annual Iowa City Arts Festival. Carnaval is a strong, vibrant tradition in several island nations and Latin American countries as well as urban centers around the world, with community members working for a year in...

Redefining a Period

Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Cinema & Comparative Literature Professor Steve Ungar has spent the past year immersed in the history of documentary films in France between 1928-1962. What has especially captured his attention is how setting a specific film in various time frames affects our understanding of it. “What is a period? What is duration?” he asks with deceptive simplicity. As the recipient of the prestigious...

Obermann Afternoons Features Interdisciplinary Research on Aging

Friday, April 19, 2013
From Cells to Sensors: Interdisciplinary Research in Aging“I was so much older then / I'm younger than that now.” (Bob Dylan, 1964)People have long sought a Fountain of Youth. The Aging Mind and Brain Initiative (AMBI) uses science to uncover mechanisms of aging and develop ways to promote healthy brain aging across the lifespan. On April 30 from 4:00 to 5:30 pm at the Obermann Center, Dr. Matt...

Reflections on the First Iowa Humanities Festival

Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Reflections on the First Iowa Humanities Festival by Jennifer Shook: On Saturday, March 9, 2013, the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies co-hosted the inaugural Iowa Humanities Festival (IHF) with Salisbury House and Gardens in Des Moines. I was one of more than 150 Iowans in attendance. Participants included National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman Jim Leach, Iowa Representative Helen Miller...

Translating Whitman

Tuesday, March 19, 2013
“Poets to Come” in Five Languages: Ed Folsom has spent his career deciphering the works of Walt Whitman. After decades of reading and re-reading the quintessential American author, Folsom has had some unexpected new insights into his work by reading translations from German, Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, and Polish. In June 2011, Folsom, who is the Carver Professor in the Department of...

MOOCs: History, Hype, and Reality slideshow

Monday, March 11, 2013
MOOCS—History, Hype, and Reality: In February, UI Vice President for Research Dan Reed kicked off the Obermann Afternoons series with a talk detailing the history of so-called massive open online courses and their futures. Here are the slides from his talk.

Obermann Afternoons Explores Intersection Between Solar Cooker, Deforestation, and Women's Lives

Thursday, March 7, 2013
Missing the Woods for the Trees: Mechanical Engineer and Feminist Anthropologist Connect the Local and Global — Women and children from northwest India spend more than 20 hours a week walking to existing stands of trees, cutting down wood, and carrying as much as 70 pounds home to use as cooking fuel. As part of an Obermann Working Group, H.S. Udaykumar (Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering...

Obermann Working Groups Taking Applications for 2013-2014

Thursday, March 7, 2013
Explore New Work, Share Research, Organize a Symposium or Grant Proposal! The Obermann Working Groups provide space, structure, and discretionary funding for groups of faculty and advanced graduate students with a shared intellectual interest. Groups have used this opportunity to explore new work and to share their own research, to organize a symposium, and to develop grant proposals. This program...

2014 Obermann Summer Seminar Directorship Now Open for Applications

Thursday, March 7, 2013
Lead a Major Collaborative Project! The Summer Seminar Directorship is an opportunity to lead a major collaborative project that will result in some form of publication or public work. The director(s) of the seminar must be a University of Iowa faculty or full-time research staff. The seminar can include approximately a dozen participants. While most will be visiting scholars and researchers...

Lake Effect

Friday, February 15, 2013
In January 2012, Lisa Johnson participated in the Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy. Her final project was a collaborative arts ensemble between women at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women and community partners. During the intense week-long Institute working with the public was front and center in Johnson’s mind, but having coffee with farmers near Estherville or...

Iowa Humanities Festival Features UI Faculty, NEH Chair Leach

Thursday, February 14, 2013
Jim Leach, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, will speak at the first ever Iowa Humanities Festival in Des Moines on March 9. Collectors and collecting is the theme of this inaugural event, which brings together scholars, museum directors, librarians, and personal collectors from across the state...

Rewiring the Classroom

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Teaching Teachers About Technology: This month, college educators are uniting at the University of Iowa to discuss the digital classroom, as well as teaching others how to use the powerful tools of the 21st century. On February 23, 2013, “Rewiring the Classroom,”a forum on digital practices and philosophies for the college classroom, will take place at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and will...

Chicago Humanities Festival / ACLS Fellowship

Monday, January 28, 2013
Public Engagement Opportunity: The Chicago Humanities Festival has been selected as a host institution for the 2013 Public Fellows Program of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). The Mellon-funded initiative will bring two recent humanities PhD into the Chicago Humanities Festival organization, each serving as Program Manager for a period of two years (July 2013 through July 2015). This...

MOOCs: History, Hype, and Reality, a talk by VPR Dan Reed

Thursday, January 24, 2013
Vice President for Research Dan Reed Launches Obermann Afternoons—occasional informal presentations on recent discoveries, compelling research questions, and current events. The New York Times declared 2012 "The Year of the MOOC" citing recent multi-million dollar ventures that make college and university courses available to large audiences via...

Judith Pascoe

Thursday, January 24, 2013
In 2003 when Judith Pascoe (English, CLAS) joined an Obermann Cmiel Research Semester, “Sounding the Voice,” she had a topic in mind but did not anticipate that it would become the center of her work for the next few years. Several years later, The Sarah Siddons Audio Files won the prestigious Barnard Hewitt Book Award from the American Society for Theatre Research. The award was a major stamp of...

Author Luis Alberto Urrea Reads from New Novel

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Author Luis Alberto Urrea will read from his new novel, Queen of America, during a reading on December 11 at 7 pm at The Englert Theatre. Urrea will be joined by Santiago Vaquera-Vásquez, fellow writer and co-director of The Latino Midwest, the 2012-13 Obermann Humanities Symposium. Urrea was born in Tijuana, Mexico to a Mexican father and an American mother....

2013 Obermann Graduate Institute Fellows

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Eighteen UI graduate students from across campus, representing four different colleges, have been selected for the seventh annual Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy. This year's co-directors, Carolyn Colvin (Teaching & Learning) and Charles Connerly (Urban & Regional Planning), and Senior Graduate Fellow Eric Zimmer (History) will lead the weeklong program from January 14-18...

Lunchtime Lecture Series Focuses on Public Humanities in Contemporary Culture

Tuesday, November 13, 2012
PDH4L, or Public Digital Humanities for Lunch, is a new series sponsored by the Digital Studio for the Public Humanities to explore how digital technology is changing humanities, and explores some of the promises, challenges and surprises of digital learning. The talks are all in Room 3052 of the Main Library.Two talks are forthcoming in November. On November 15, UI HASTAC Scholar Audrey Altman...

Barbara Eckstein

Monday, November 5, 2012
Barbara Eckstein is a Fall 2012 Obermann Fellow-in-Residence and a University of Iowa professor of English. She is also on the faculty of the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research (CGRER) 
and is affiliated with International Programs. She’s previously served as Associate Provost for Academic Administration. Currently, she is in the early phases of an extensive study of the...

"Circulating Culture" Working Group Hosts UMass-Amherst Scholar Laura Doyle

Tuesday, October 16, 2012
The Obermann Center “Circulating Cultures” Working Group will host the upcoming visit by Laura Doyle, Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Doyle, who specializes in questions of transnationalism, modernity, and empire in literary studies, will give a public lecture, “Reading Otherwise: Interdisciplinarity, History, and the Dialectics of Culture,” on Thursday, October...

Genetics - From Frankenstein to the Future

Tuesday, October 2, 2012
"The era of personalized genomic medicine is fast approaching,” says Richard Smith, Professor of Otolaryngology, Pediatrics, Molecular Physiology, and Biophysics. “Clinicians will provide health care tailored to each person’s genome to inform choices about medications, disease and disease prevention, and surgical risks.” Smith, who is the Co-Director of the University of Iowa Institute of Human...

The Latino Midwest

Thursday, September 13, 2012
Latino culture has been helping shape the United States for hundreds of years, even before the U.S. was a country. Though the Latino population in the Midwest is small compared to other areas of the country, it continues to grow, infusing Latino art, literature, and music into the culture of the heartland.The Latino Midwest, the 2012-13 University of Iowa Obermann-International Programs Humanities...

Migration Letters

Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Alejandro García-Lemos first came to the U.S. from his home in Colombia in order to attend graduate school in 1997. The painter, who now works as an interpreter for immigrants in hospitals and at the courthouse in Columbia, South Carolina, had visited the U.S. many times before finally decided to stay. "You meet someone, life changes," he says with a small laugh. The process of staying has hardly...

Overlap of Gesture and Memory

Wednesday, August 22, 2012
When Susan Wagner Cook, an assistant professor in Psychology (CLAS) submitted a paper on hand gestures a few years ago, she received feedback from reviewers that her understanding of memory was about twenty years behind. Disappointed, but also knowing that she was unlikely to assimilate two decades of research into her thinking without serious commitment, she tabled the paper. She gave it second...

Fall 2012 Fellows-in-Residence

Tuesday, August 14, 2012
The Obermann Center welcomes its Fall 2012 Fellows-in-Residence next week. Six UI faculty members and one UI graduate student will work on projects ranging from the historical relationship between humans and mosquitoes in the Upper Mississippi River Basin to mathematical problems in X-ray dark-field tomography. The Fellows include the recipient of a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship...

Taking a Page from Industry to Clean Up Drinking Water

Wednesday, August 8, 2012
There is more in that glass of water you just drank than meets the eye. Caffeine, perfumes, ibuprofen, and hormones are just a few of the pollutants that are not regulated and for which wastewater plants do not commonly treat. Known as “emerging contaminates,” these pollutants are accepted largely because there is no clear way to remove them. And so we all drink them regularly. What if we could...
Lisa Heineman

Working Group Members Perform and Gain an Award

Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Lisa Heineman (History and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies) and Kim Marra (Theatre Arts and American Studies) formed one of the inaugural 2011 Obermann Working Groups in order to explore how scholars might communicate their academic interests through performance and artists might use researchers’ methods to explore issues they usually address before live audiences. As scholars, Marra and...

Illustrating Plutarch

Monday, July 30, 2012
Artist Katie Merz and author John D'Agata first met nearly ten years ago when they were at the MacDowell Colony, the famed artists' colony in New Hampshire. More recently, they reconnected when both had residencies in Marfa, Texas. "I was making acetate pieces in which I took text from things I was reading and threw it into old cartoons," says the Brooklyn-based Merz whose style comes in part from...

Burial Mounds Focus of Weeklong NEH Grant Preparation

Monday, June 25, 2012
John Doershuk, Iowa's State Archaeologist, will lead a group this week (June 25-29) at the Obermann Center to prepare for an NEH Collaborative Research Grant. The group, which includes participants from the State Archaeologist's Office, UI faculty, and representatives from American Indian tribes, is seeking to advance investigation of prehistoric mound building. Ancient burial mounds appear to be...

Two Obermann Scholars Awarded Public Engagement Grants

Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Chuck Connerly, Urban & Regional Planning, Graduate College and co-director of the Obermann Graduate Institute, and Karla McGregor, Communications Sciences & Disorders, CLAS, and a Spring 2011 Obermann Fellow-in-Residence, have received Public Engagement Grants (PEG) via the Office for the Vice President for Research. These competitive awards, which are in their inaugural year, are...

Civic Science - Beyond the Knowledge Wars

Tuesday, June 12, 2012
John Spencer, director of "Get Ready Iowa," the 2012 Obermann Summer Seminar, and Harry Boyte, director of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship, published this article in the Huffington Post on May 31. An abbreviated version appeared in the Iowa City Press Citizen on June 12. Today, we face multiplying global crises—from economic collapse to global warming to crises in education and...

Civic Science at Center of Summer Seminar

Monday, May 14, 2012
A new kind of research is at the heart of this June’s Obermann Summer Seminar. Based on a model of civic science, the seminar will bring together educators, developmental scientists, policy makers, and parents to consider how to improve school readiness for Iowa’s three- to five-year olds.“We are trying to stay very open to possible outcomes,” says John Spencer, Director of the DeLTA Center and...

Kevin Chamberlain's "Insect" Exhibit Opens

Wednesday, April 25, 2012
“Insects: A Collection in Multiple Dimensions”—featuring artwork by University of Iowa graduate student Kevin Chamberlain—opens May 3 at 5 p.m. in the UI Pentacrest Museums Gallery for the Arts, Humanities, and Sciences at the Old Capitol Museum.The exhibit includes digital photographs and three-dimensional artistic renderings of specimens from the UI Museum of Natural History’s 100-year-old...

Raquel Baker and Ted Gutsche

Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Raquel Baker (English, CLAS) and Ted Gutsche (Journalism and Mass Communication, CLAS) met via the Obermann Graduate Institute. Today, the two PhD candidates are using their mutual interests in civic engagement and social justice to create a General Education Literature course that takes students into the local community to find "concealed stories" and share them with a broader audience. One of the...

HASTAC Scholars Organize THATCamp Iowa City

Friday, April 13, 2012
From Friday, March 31 to Sunday, April 1, THATCamp Iowa City took place in The University of Iowa Main Library. THATCamp (The Humanities And Technology Camp) was organized by UI HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory) scholars Melody Dworak (MLIS candidate, Graduate College) and Katherine F. Montgomery (English PhD candidate, CLAS). Following an “unconference”...

stef shuster: Transgender Activist, Academic Pioneer

Thursday, April 12, 2012
stef shuster recalls the frustration experienced when filling out the Institutional Review Board (IRB) application to conduct graduate research.“It was very formulaic, and so many of the questions were constructed in a binary way,” says the 29-year-old University of Iowa doctoral student in sociology who is conducting research on transgender communities and identities—and whose name is...

Lobbying for the Humanities

Thursday, April 5, 2012
As director of the Obermann Center, I often represent the University of Iowa at national meetings. In March, I headed to Washington, D.C. to the annual meeting National Humanities Alliance (NHA) and its Annual Advocacy Day along with Colin Gordon, UI professor of history, and Derek Willard, Special Assistant to the President and Associate VP for Research in the UI Office of Governmental Relations...

Kathleen Diffley

Wednesday, April 4, 2012
What would you learn about the current war in Afghanistan if you were to take as your sources several current magazines, say People, The New Yorker, and Newsweek? The story that would come into focus from such disparate sources may not offer a complete timeline of events, but it would provide a sense of what the people reading those publications cared about: a soldier’s homecoming, an intimate...

Graduate Institute Fellows Present at Jakobsen Conference

Monday, March 19, 2012
The culmination of each year's Graduate Institute is for participants to create a project that combines some aspect of their research and/or teaching with a community-based issue or organization. This year's Obermann Graduate Institute Fellows will present their projects at this year's Jakobsen Graduate Conference on March 24 from noon to 5:00 at the IMU. The Graduate Fellows' projects include a...

Was the Word: Crossing the Line

Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Crossing Borders, a community storytelling project, crossingborders.us, started by Obermann Graduate Institute Fellows Raquel Baker (English, CLAS), Ted Gutsche (Journalism, CLAS), and Daniel Kinney (Art Education, College of Education), will host this month's Was The Word. This is Working Group Theatre's monthly storytelling, poetry, and music show at the Englert Theatre, with benefits going to...

Udaykumar and the Solar Cooker Project

Monday, March 5, 2012
H.S. Udaykumar (Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering) had a chance coffee shop encounter with his friend and colleague, R. Rajagopal (Geography, CLAS), which became the first in a series of events that would dramatically change his life—down to what he eats and reads.“ I was at T-spoons, totally oblivious,” recalls Uday, “and Raj accosts me and announces, ‘You are going to India! There is...

Working Groups Look Ahead to Second Year

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
2011-2012 has been the inaugural year for the Obermann Working Groups. This program, modeled on successful programs at several centers around the country, is intended to provide space, structure, and discretionary funding for groups of faculty and advanced graduate students with a shared intellectual interest. We have had four Working Groups this year: Intergenre Explorations, Women's Health and...

Katie Porter's New Book Examines Effects of Consumer Debt

Wednesday, February 15, 2012
In 2008, Katie Porter (pictured below), then a UI College of Law professor, proposed a topic for the Obermann Summer Seminar on consumer debt in America. For two weeks the following summer, she and a group of eleven participant—including professors in law, psychology, urban and regional planning and medicine—met at Obermann to discuss different perspectives on this topic. Each participant came...

Interdisciplinarity is Focus of Obermann Workshop

Friday, February 10, 2012
Richard Handler, Director of the Program in Global Development Studies and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Virginia will lead a discussion on March 5 at 3:00 pm based on his career as a scholar, teacher and administrator whose work cuts across the geographical and disciplinary boundaries. This informal conversation -- "The Art of Interdisciplinarity" -- will take place in the...

Humanities and Public Life Series Announced

Friday, February 10, 2012
Teresa Mangum, Director of the Obermann Center, is co-editing a new book series for The University of Iowa Press with Anne Valk, Associate Director of the John Nicholas Brown Center for the Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage at Brown University. Humanities and Public Life will feature books examining projects using the arts and humanities to promote community building and civic change. These...

18 Graduate Fellows Engage in Graduate Institute

Wednesday, December 21, 2011
The 6th annual Obermann Graduate Institute on Public Engagement and the Academy will have three more Graduate Fellows than in past years, thanks to additional funding from the UI Graduate College. This year's co-directors (shown at right), Rachel Williams (GWSS and Art & Art History) and Chuck Connerly (Urban & Regional Planning) will lead a group of students who hail from degree programs as...

Teresa Mangum Joins Imagining America Board

Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Obermann Director Teresa Mangum has been named to the National Advisory Board of Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life (IA). Imagining America is a consortium of universities and organizations dedicated to advancing the public and civic purposes of humanities, arts, and design. The UI has been a member for nine years. This year, the UI sent nearly 20 people, including...

Lena Hill Organizes Ellison Events

Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Incoming Cmiel Semester (Spring, 2012) participant Lena Hill (English) recently organized a weeklong series of panels and readings in association with a visiting producer/director who is adapting Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man for the stage. After participating in a workshop with Hancher Auditorium and the Center for Teaching about how to incorporate Hancher events into UI classrooms, Hill...

Chris Brochu

Friday, December 9, 2011
Chris Brochu (Fellow-in-Residence, Spring 2011) has looked at crocodile fossils in Namibia, Italy, and China. Once in Nairobi, the lights went out and he worked by flashlight. During a visit to a collection of crocodile collectors in France, the associate professor in Geoscience photographed fossils in one member’s backyard while enjoying a bottle of local wine. Brochu didn’t begin graduate school...

Mary Campbell

Friday, December 9, 2011
Mary Campbell notices the hues of people’s skin and sees possibilities. There are possibilities for how medical workers will treat us based on the color of our skin, how much money we’ll make, where we’ll go to school, and even who will be our romantic partner. Skin tone, says, Campbell, an Associate Professor in Sociology and an Obermann Fellow-in-Resident (Fall, 2011), shapes our experiences...

Music Therapy

Thursday, December 8, 2011
The nurses at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital were bothered by the high pain ratings from kids who had gone through spinal fusion for scoliosis. But one of the therapies that received high ratings for helping with pain was music therapy.This is how Mary Adamek, clinical professor of Music Therapy, and Kirsten Nelson, UI Children’s Hospital music therapist, got the idea to develop a...

Featured Programs

Butterflies coming out of a book

Book Ends: Obermann/OVPR Book Completion Workshop

This program supports University of Iowa faculty from disciplines in which publishing a monograph is required for tenure and promotion. The award is designed to assist faculty members turn promising manuscripts into important, field-changing, published books. Book Ends brings together four senior scholars for a candid, constructive three-hour workshop on a faculty member’s book manuscript. The award provides a $500 honorarium for two external senior scholars ($500 for each). We also ask two University of Iowa senior faculty members to participate, as an opportunity to learn about and support the work of a colleague.

Chair with pillow and blanket

Obermann Writing Collective

This program offers companionship and accountability to University of Iowa artists, scholars, and researchers working on any kind of academic writing project (ex. academic articles/essays, fellowship or grant applications, book projects, edited volumes, or nonfiction) who want dedicated time, a cozy space, and a community for the practice of writing.

In Summer 2024, these small, write-on-site groups will continue to meet in at the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies at 111 Church St. Groups will meet once a week for one and a half hours, beginning the week of June 3, 2024. Weekly writing sessions will include brief check-ins, goal setting, and sustained writing time—along with warm appreciation and support for the demanding work of scholarly writing. All groups during the summer are open to anyone in the University of Iowa academic community. The writing space is deliberately small and cozy, so we have spaces for only 10 writers per group.

Interdisciplinary Research Grants

Obermann Interdisciplinary Research Grants (IDRG) foster collaborative scholarship and creative work by offering recipients time and space to exchange new ideas leading to invention, creation, and publication. IDRG groups work at the Obermann Center for two weeks, usually in July and/or August. Applicants propose work on a project with colleagues from across the University, across disciplines within their own department, or with colleagues from other parts of the country or the world. Projects are intended to result in an important scholarly or creative work.

Each collaborator is awarded $3,000 in research funding for a 2-week residency.

We welcome IDRG applications from artists, researchers, and scholars in any discipline and on any topic

Recent videos


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