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Late September 2020 

Events hosted by our friends at the Center for Teaching (register at https://teach.its.uiowa.edu/events/upcoming):
  • Sept. 29 - Managing Synchronous Online Classes in Zoom: Interactive Practice Sessions
  • Oct. 6 - Framing and Facilitating Discussion of Tough Topics in the Classroom
  • Oct. 15 - Small Inclusive Teaching Strategies

News & Achievements 
Celebrating the work of current & past Obermann scholars and friends 
  • Alex Lang (Graduate Institute Fellow, 2019) published an essay, "Advocating for Ourselves as Students, with Ourselves," in Medium.
  • Jen Teitle (HPG Advisory Board) received the Iowa Regents Staff Excellence Award. 
  • Carolyn Cheung (HPG Advisory Board) was selected as an Imagining America PAGE Fellow.
Graduate Students Build Campus-Community Connections, Explore New Careers in HPG Summer Internships

For nine graduate students at the University of Iowa, this was not the summer internship they had anticipated. The second summer of the Humanities for the Public Good (HPG) internship program, one part of an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded program hosted by the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, came with many unexpected twists and challenges. As the University of Iowa moved to virtual learning this summer, interns joined new organizations and took on new responsibilities just as many of those organizations-and the students' own daily lives-changed dramatically.

The interns worked with six area organizations: Hancher Auditorium, the University of Iowa Labor Center, the Center for Afrofuturist Studies in Iowa City, the African American Museum of Iowa, the National Czech and Slovak Museum in Cedar Rapids, and Iowa Valley Resource Conservation and Development (IVRCD) in Amana. In many cases, the students' work necessarily morphed to reflect the virtual nature of the summer. Matthew Helm, who created a culinary guide to the Iowa Scenic Byway for IVRCD, for example, wasn't able to travel to the town he was writing about and interview people in person. And Laura Hayes found herself creating workshops for Zoom instead of the hands-on activities that she and her mentor at the National Czech and Slovak Museum had imagined.
Interdisciplinary Research Grants for Summer 2021
including special additional funds for research on the well-being of children and mothers

Applications for the Obermann Interdisciplinary Research Grant program (IDRG) are due on Oct. 28. One of our longest running programs, IDRG supports the work of pairs or trios of scholars and artists at any stage of a project, from initial research and data collection to writing grants and articles. Participants work together for either two or four weeks during the summer. (Note that we currently expect this summer's program to be virtual, though IDRG teams usually work at the Obermann Center.) In addition to the main funds for this program, there is also funding specially earmarked for projects focused on the well-being of children and mothers.

Previous awardees have translated books that went on to publication, created a film opera about the refugee crisis in Europe that was staged at Hancher, and completed articles related to a multi-disciplinary project intended to capture the voices of Latinx high schoolers

Play & Talk Focus on the Resilience of African American Communities
New series launches opportunities for civic conversations

Inspired by several organizations around the country that pair arts events with community dialogue, including Atlanta's Civic Dinners, Obermann director Teresa Mangum has cooked up a new series--a tantalizing combination of art, scholarly research, and community conversation. Think of it as an appetizer, main course, and dessert! The series kicks off on Sunday, Oct. 11 at 4 pm with the reading of A Refugee in Detroit--part of the UI Theatre's 6 by 6: Collected Perspectives on Social Justice series--and a talk by Jessica Welburn Paige (Sociology and African American Studies). Both the play and Welburn Paige's work reflect on Black challenges and resilience in Detroit. Participants will then move into small groups, sharing their own experiences and insights, in conversations facilitated by graduate students. "Many of us are struggling to process national and local events," notes Mangum. "I hope the Obermann virtual table can provide a welcoming, non-judgmental space where people of good will--however different their opinions--can reflect on present challenges and future hopes for our communities. All are welcome at this Obermann 'table'."
Book Event Celebrates Creative Approaches to the Humanities PhD 
Katina Rogers's conversation with Teresa Mangum on the value of the humanities in a moment of great unrest

We were delighted to host the launch of Katina Rogers's new book, Putting the Humanities PhD to Work: Thriving in and beyond the Classroom (2020), in collaboration with the Futures Initiative of the CUNY Graduate School, Prairie Lights Bookstore, and Duke University Press. With more than 200 guests from across the country in attendance, Rogers--an administrator, researcher, and faculty member at the Graduate Center, City University of New York--and Obermann Center director Teresa Mangum held a wide-ranging conversation that included questions about whether there is an imaginary prestige bar that we're afraid to alter, and how diversity and equity affect who wants to be part of the academy. To the latter question, Rogers spoke about the kind of "tacit knowledge" that is often invisible to graduate students, such as how funding and personnel decisions are made: "There's such an imbalance in how one might navigate a university space if one has access to that knowledge or not. ...How might we pull back the curtain to expose some of those inner workings?"

The robust hour-long conversation did not allow Rogers to respond to the many questions collected from listeners in chat, so she graciously wrote a blog post in which she takes up topics such as the conflation of love and work, reward structures, and "rigor." Thank you so much to Katina Rogers, and to the many people who joined us!

Note to Iowa City friends: there are still a few free copies of the book at Prairie Lights. Drop by Prairie Lights and request a copy. First come, first served.