2015 Interdisciplinary Research Grants

Detroit Dreams: Economic Decline, Corrosive Community, and the Future of African Americans in the Post-Industrial City


This documentary project explores the experiences of working class and middle class African Americans who are long-term residents of Detroit, MI. We will use documentary film to provide insight into how residents are navigating the city’s decline, particularly since it became the largest city to file for municipal bankruptcy in American history. We will also explore how African Americans’ experiences in Detroit shape their broader ideas about social mobility in the U.S. 

Developing the Terra Biblica and BAM ("Big Ancient Mediterranean") Online Resources


This group is working to develop the technical framework and project workflow for two major interrelated online resources, Terra Biblica and “BAM” (the “Big Ancient Mediterranean”): the first, a tool for the geospatial analysis/plot mapping of biblical and related literature; the second, an information portal for exploring the development of various ancient social groups over multiple centuries (thus “big history”). This resource includes all extant sources for pre-Constantinian Christianity constituting the first dataset. These two projects will be of great public interest, as they will make possible the easy visualization and exploration of biblical and early Christian history, literally providing a new perspective on the bible. Terra Biblica and BAM will also be important, path-breaking tools for researchers, offering innovative querying and browsing capabilities not found in other existing Digital Humanities projects. 

Many of the Obermann Summer Seminar BAM events are open to the public and of special interest to scholars working in the digital humanities. See the schedule at https://www.lib.uiowa.edu/bam/.

Linked Reading: A New Scalable Model for the Digital Humanities


We will merge two distinct digital humanities projects and write an article describing the way such collaborations demonstrate a new model of linked or “scalable” reading. This is important because it allows us to move beyond reductive debates over “close” and “distant” approaches to reading and the humanities. 

Media Literacy Education and the Challenge of Promoting Critical Consumption of News


In a diverse and saturated media environment, the need for audiences to be media literate has become ever more important. News media literacy encourages citizens to understand the role of the press in a democratic society and their own responsibilities to be critical consumers of news content. However, too often news media literacy education is limited to classroom settings, which excludes wide portions of the public from its value and divorces abstract discussion of media literacy from the actual experience of media consumption. As part of our research agenda, we will test the effectiveness of news media literacy messages embedded in media contexts.