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 Empowerment
  • Arts, Humanities, and Technology Interdisciplinary Collaborative
  • Circulating Culture

Expected to meet once a month during the semester, groups should have a minimum of six members. These inaugural groups have used their time to prepare for grants or develop proposals for university-wide programs, or as an opportunity to share ideas and work with colleagues from across campus. The program is especially valuable for developing new areas of research across or between disciplines.

The Intergenre group, which explores ways of crossing the divide between scholarship and creative work, includes members from History, Theatre Arts, American Studies, English, Sociology, Rhetoric, Cinema & Comparative Literature, Communication Studies, and Art & Art History. Members have had the opportunity to share their work and receive feedback. They have used some of their funds to collaborate with two scholars, including the playwright, Jen Silverman, who will come to campus for a staged reading of her original play inspired by the memoir of one of the group members who usually does more traditional historical research.

The Circulating Culture group is also hosting a visitor, former UI Cinema professor Dudley Andrew, who will present his recent work on the international circulation of film. Laurie Graham (Anthropology, CLAS) the director of this working group, calls it a "scholarly/professional oasis," adding, "In the midst of our hectic schedules, we look forward to meeting each month at the Obermann Center to focus on our intellectual growth and the community-building that has evolved alongside of it."

Applications for next year's Working Groups are being accepted now through the first Tuesday in April. A checklist for applicants can be found here.