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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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...
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Discovering Ecosystems of Graduate Studies - A slide presentation

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

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...