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 was serendipitously contacted by producer/director Christopher McElroen regarding her work on the visual elements of Ellison’s classic.
In addition to working hands-on with McElroen as he prepares for a January 12 debut of the play at the Court Theatre in Chicago, Hill helped to organize a series of panels in late November and early December that focused on both Ellison and the African American experience at the UI during the mid-20th century. Of special interest was the fact that Ellison's wife Fanny graduated from the UI in 1936.
During Spring 2012, Hill will join a different kind of partnership as she participates in the Obermann Center's Cmiel Semester, "The Dis-Integration of Black America? Post-Civil Rights African American Culture." Convened by Tim Havens (Communication Studies and African American Studies) the semester brings together six UI scholars to consider whether conversation about race is relevant in the post-civil rights movement. Hill will turn her attention to African American authors who, like Ellison, were articulating political views that tended toward the conservative end of the spectrum. The Cmiel Semester, which provides UI scholars the opportunity to focus on a related research topic while working on independent scholarship or creative projects, will allow Hill the time to begin a project with the input and support of other scholars.