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Early September 2020 

Celebrating the work of current & past Obermann scholars and friends 
  • Leslie Schwalm (Digital Bridges collaborator, 2018) was awarded a 2019-2020 Graduate College Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award: Humanities and Fine Arts. 
  • Homeland Maternity: U.S. Security Culture and the New Reproductive Regime by Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz (IDRG, 2020; Working Group Director, 2019-21) won the James A. Winans-Herbert A. Wichelns Memorial Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address from the National Communication Association for her book Homeland Maternity: U.S. Security Culture and the New Reproductive Regime.
  • Caroline Cheung (HPG Advisory Board) was awarded Publicly Active Graduate Education (PAGE) Fellowship, a yearlong program of Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life.
  • Ana RodriĀ­guez-Rodriguez (HPG Advisory Board) curated an exhibit at Madrid's Instituto Cervantes, "Wise and Valiant: Women and Writing in the Golden Age of Spain," that was recently featured in Smithsonian Magazine.
  • An article in The Chronicle for Higher Education featured the Humanities for the Public Good Summer Internship program. (Login with UI credentials to read full article.)
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Interdisciplinary Voices Reflect on Global Pandemic
Asia is center of two-part webinar series

On September 18 and 25, an impressive group of interdisciplinary scholars, journalists, and other thought leaders will share their personal and research-informed experiences of the pandemic. "Pandemic, State and Society" was initially conceived of last spring by Shuang Chen (History) and Cynthia Chou (Anthropology and the Center for Asian & Pacific Studies) with the intention of highlighting what was occurring on the ground in Asia, as well as the cultural repercussions of what was being referred to by some as the "China Pandemic." The event has morphed from a small, in-person talk to a two-part webinar featuring medical doctors, historians, journalists, ethnographers, and more. 
Emery_s book cover
From Banggolo
to Bungalow
Mary Lou Emery's new book explores the paradoxical cultural history of the bungalow

In her new book, Bungalow Modernity: A Study of Twentieth Century Fictions of Home (McFarland, 2020), Mary Lou Emery (Emerita, English) explores this global house design, which has been adopted by populations on every continent across four centuries, through the lens of literature. Emery, whose research explores intersections between Modernist Studies and Caribbean Literatures, worked on the book as a Fall 2014 Obermann Fellow-in-Residence and as part of the Circulating Cultures Working Group. Via her research on the contributions of Caribbean writers and artists to the transcultural modernism of the early and mid-twentieth century, she began focusing on the bungalow's role in plantations. "I discovered that bungalows were transported to house plantation managers all over the world. They provided material support to British colonialism, plantation slavery in the Americas, and settlement on Native American land." In her research, Emery discovered many surprisingly grim references to bungalows in literature and film. 
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Katina Rogers in Conversation with Teresa Mangum
Wednesday, September 16, 4-5 pm CDT


In her new book, Putting the Humanities PhD to Work (Duke University Press, 2020), Katina Rogers invites readers to build a university that is truly worth fighting for by thinking more expansively about what constitutes scholarly success--not only to support individual career pathways, but also to work toward greater equity and inclusion in the academy.


In this session--opened by Cathy Davidson, founding director of the Futures Initiative (Grad Center, CUNY) and co-founder of HASTAC--Rogers will be in conversation with Teresa Mangum, Obermann Center Director, regarding this work that grounds practical career advice in a nuanced consideration of the academic workforce, diversity and inclusion, new modes of scholarly communication, and humanities education as a public good. Rogers posits that career-related initiatives in graduate programs must engage with the pressing issues of graduate education today, such as admissions practices, scholarly reward structures, equity and inclusion, and academic labor practices--especially the increasing reliance on contingent labor. She also examines ways that current practices perpetuate systems of inequality, resulting in continued underrepresentation of women and minorities in the academy. 

This session is free and open to all. A limited number of free copies of the book are available at Prairie Lights Bookstore.
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UI Graduate Students Share Summer Internship Experiences 

This summer, nine UI graduate students from the Colleges of Liberal Arts & Sciences and Education participated in the Humanities for the Public Good Internship Program. They worked with campus partners and local non-profits, including the Center for Afrofuturist Studies and the National Czech and Slovak Museum, to produce researched guidebooks, virtual programming, curricula, and podcasts.

Kassie Baron (English), one of the interns who worked with the UI Labor Center, wrote of the experience, "I successfully completed my comprehensive exams just before beginning this internship. The area of research that emerged from my preparation focused on literary representations of 19th c. women's labor and what they tell us about visions of the United States. This internship has helped me recognize the ways my research connects to and affects the present, particularly when this information is accessible to the public." 

Read more interns' reflections and the full 2020 program report on the HPG website. The report also surveys the ways we're helping students to transform work experiences into opportunities for deep learning and bridge-building between academic and public career preparation.

photo of Christie Vogler
Humanities 3-Minute Thesis Open for Applications
This is the second year of our humanities-focused competition

The Obermann Humanities 3MT is designed to feature the work of UI humanities graduate students. The event challenges graduate students to articulate their complex research clearly and concisely to non-specialist audiences in three minutes or fewer. The presented research can be a student's thesis or PhD work, research related to an internship or other outside project, or research pertaining to a specific class. Last year's Humanities 3MT winner, Christie Vogler (Anthropology; pictured to the left), went on to win the campus-wide competition--to which the Humanities 3MT winner automatically advances. The winner of the Obermann Humanities 3MT receives $250, and two runners-up receive $50 gift certificates to Prairie Lights Bookstore. Due to COVID, this event will not be live; rather, we will be accepting video submissions until Oct. 1. 
Cover of Fixmer-Oraiz_s book
Fixmer-Oraiz Wins Prestigious Award
Book calls attention to ways that authorities see non-reproductive and "overly" reproductive women's bodies as threats to social norms

Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz (Communication Studies and GWSS) has been awarded the National Communication Association's James A. Winans-Herbert A. Wichelns Memorial Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address for her book Homeland Maternity: U.S. Security Culture and the New Reproductive Regime (University of Illinois Press, 2019). 

In Summer 2021, Fixmer-Oraiz has an Obermann Interdisciplinary Research Grant with Sharon Yam (University of Kentucky) to work on a new book, New Grammars for Reproductive Justice, which will trace the struggle among health care providers and reproductive justice advocates to invent vocabularies that account for the intersecting systems of oppressions and histories faced by poor women, people of color, queer, trans, and non-binary people.

Earlier this summer, we interviewed Fixmer-Oraiz for Obermann's Pandemic Insights video series. She spoke about how states, including Iowa, have tried to limit access to abortion during the COVID-19 outbreak, and she reflected on the use of emergency language to curtail reproductive rights. Watch the video below.
Pandemic Insights: Natalie Fixmer Oraiz on reproductive health + the language of emergency