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.
book cover of dark western landscape

E Cram Launches Book in May 31 Event

Thursday, April 28, 2022
NOTICE: The May 31 event has been postponed. New date TBD.

On May 31, 2022, E Cram (Communication Studies and GWSS) will launch their new book, Violent Inheritance: Sexuality, Land, and Energy in Making the North American West. Cram, who was the recipient of a Books Ends—Obermann/OVPR Book Completion Workshop award, recently published the book with the University of California Press. 

The book deepens the analysis of settler colonialism's endurance in the North American West and how infrastructures that ground sexual modernity are both reproduced and challenged by publics who have inherited them. Cram redefines sexual modernity through extractivism, wherein sexuality functions to extract value from life, including land, air, minerals, and bodies. Analyzing struggles over memory cultures through the region's land use controversies at the turn of and well into the twentieth century, Cram unpacks the consequences of western settlement and the energy regimes that fueled it. Transfusing queer eco-criticism with archival and ethnographic research, they reconstruct the linkages—"land lines"—between infrastructure, violence, sexuality, and energy, showing how racialized sexual knowledges cultivated settler colonial cultures of both innervation and enervation.
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. 
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.
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.
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.
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...

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...

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...
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...

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...

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...

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...

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...
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...

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...

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...
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...

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.