Obermann Center logo and mission
Mid-December 2020 

Teresa taking selfie on Zoom
Marking the End of 2020
from Director Teresa Mangum

We've all grown accustomed to that moment on Zoom when you suddenly realize you're speaking, but no one is listening. If you're lucky, welcoming voices draw you back into the conversation with a quick "You're muted!"

Even those few seconds of being routinely silenced have helped me think more carefully about what it means to go unheard, an experience faculty, students, staff, and community members from underrepresented groups have named and resisted for a very long time. That recognition has given me and my Obermann colleagues--Erin Hackathorn, Jenna Hammerich, and Jennifer New--a deepened commitment to seeking out and deeply listening to an ever wider circle of voices. The desire to amplify your voices inspired much of our virtual programming and many new collaborations.

As this difficult year ends, we warmly thank all whose voices have enriched the Obermann Center. Many of you generously joined in discussions of inclusive virtual pedagogy, in the Pandemic Insights series that explored how your work illuminates our current challenges, in Obermann Conversations and the new Obermann Around the Table civic discussions, and more. We invite you to listen to that chorus of voices when you reflect on 2020. Looking ahead, as we turn the corner to 2021, we eagerly anticipate hearing your voices in all their beautiful diversity in the new year.
Instructor speaking in class
New Voices, Refreshing Perspectives
Invite-a-Guest-to-Class Mini Grants

Are you teaching an undergraduate or graduate course that features work by an expert outside the University of Iowa? Do you have a colleague from another institution who could bring a thought-provoking cross-disciplinary perspective to an issue you're addressing in your course? If you would like to invite a practitioner or expert from the public sector to speak in a course you are teaching this spring semester, we are offering a $150 honorarium to support virtual course visits. 

The inaugural round of Invite-a-Guest-to-Class mini grants in Fall 2020 supported visits by seven educators, researchers, and activists. The faculty recipients assigned readings to their students in advance to help them prepare for the guests' visits and reported on the visits afterward. Many of these visitors shared perspectives far afield from the UI campus. As you look for silver linings to teaching during COVID, we invite both faculty and graduate teaching assistants to take advantage of this creative way of highlighting and amplifying new voices in your classroom. 

Statue of woman grieving
Elucidating Current Community Concerns
Spring 2021 Obermann Conversations feature UI scholars and local experts

Continuing to work with the Iowa City Public Library, we will host a series of conversations this spring on topics that feel more pressing than ever. The first conversation in mid-January will feature UI scholars and community partners who will help us understand the current situation of food scarcity and hunger in Johnson County. Zoom registration links will be added to our website in advance of each event. 
  • Food Insecurity in Johnson County - January 14, 7:00 pm
  • COVID's Lessons: End of Life and Grief - February 16, 7:00 pm
  • Native Lands: Reclaiming and Acknowledging - March 10, 7:00 pm
  • NESTS: Partnering to Aid Local K12 Students - April 7, 7:00 pm
Imagining Latinidades
Mellon Sawyer Seminar's Concluding Events  
March 26-27 brings finale to series

When COVID-19 interrupted the late spring events and culmination of the yearlong Mellon Sawyer Seminar "Imagining Latinidades: Articulations of National Belonging," we didn't know that the events would eventually end up online and across institutions. In 2019-20, Darrel Wanzer-Serrano, Ariana Ruiz, and Rene Rocha worked across disciplines to organize six symposia, a film series, and a podcast. With Wanzer-Serrano now in the Communications Department at the University of Texas A&M and Ruiz in the Department of Literature at the University of California-San Diego, the final events are being co-sponsored across institutions. 


On March 26-27, the three scholars will host the following guests, some of whom will also join them on their podcast of the same name:

  • Leticia Alvarado, Ethnic Studies, Brown University
  • Gaye Theresa Johnson, César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o and Central American Studies, UCLA
  • Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, Spanish and Women's and Gender Studies, University of Michigan
  • John Mckiernan-González, History, Texas State University
  • Cathryn Merla Watson, Literatures and Cultural Studies, University of Texas-Río Grande Valley
  • Catherine Ramírez, Latin American and Latino Studies, University of California-Santa Cruz
  • Ramón H. Rivera-Servera, School of Communication, Northwestern University
  • Richard T. Rodríguez, Media and Cultural Studies, University of California-Riverside
We will share more information and a link in our January newsletter.