The Obermann Center welcomes the opportunity to support events that further our mission—promoting research and creative work, facilitating publicly engaged art and scholarship, and building intellectual community. University of Iowa faculty members may request small, discretionary grants to fund opportunities such as visiting speakers and conferences.

The Obermann Center supported 26 events this year, including visiting scholars’ talks, student-led conferences, and performances by faculty. The following are highlights of events and guests that we helped to support in 2018–2019:

  • Disorganized/De-organized/Reorganized: Midwest Labor and Working Class History Colloquium 2018  — This annual event that was started more than two decades ago by students of longtime Obermann scholar Shelton Stromquist featured a keynote address by Rosemary Feurer (Northern Illinois University), panels of graduate students and independent scholars, and a roundtable of community activists and local labor organizers. (May 26, 2018) 

  • An Elegy for Mary Turner — Performed at the Englert Theatre, this collaboration between Christopher-Rasheem McMillan, Rachel Marie-Crane Williams, and Dawn Harbor explored the horrible story of the unpunished murder of Mary Turner, who was pregnant, and several other African American citizens in South Georgia in 1918.

  • A Conversation with South African Performance Artist Tony Miyambo — The South African performer best known for his solo performance Kafka’s Ape, an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s “A Report to an Academy” about a primate’s struggle to overcome the confines of captivity, spoke with students and faculty. (February 2019)
  • Public-Facing Scholarship: A Symposium on Provocative Research, Pedagogy, and Academic Freedom — This symposium gathered administrators, faculty, and graduate students from across the UI to discuss the climate currently informing academic life, and to share skills and resources for scholars engaged in public-facing research and pedagogy. (March 2019)

  • The Future of Politics in the U.S. — A thoughtful discussion of politics in the United States and the future of the Democratic and Republican parties from left, right, and analytical perspectives, hosted by the UI Public Policy Center and featuring Melissa Ryan of Ctrl Alt-Right Delete, Chris Buskirk of American Greatness, and Tamara Keith of NPR. (March 2019)

  • Crash Dance: There Are No AccidentsA collaboration between Daniel McGehee, National Advanced Driving Simulator, and Christopher-Rasheem McMillan, Dance, the performance investigated the “parameters and rules” that engineers use for designing automated cars and applied those concepts to dance-making through the use of “choreographic thinking.” The dance involved engineering students in every aspect of the performance, including set construction, lighting, music, and research visits. (April 2019) 

  • Travel Is Home: Travel and Landscape in Japanese Literature, Art, and Culture — During this two-day conference hosted by the UI Japanese Program, international scholars examined instances of travel in Japanese literature, art, and culture in all of its forms, from pilgrimage, official duties, and tourism, to military strategy, emigration, evacuation, exile, and refuge. (April 2019)

  • Going Home — This three-part conversation hosted by the Stanley Museum of Art examined the past, the present, and the future of dwelling in Iowa City. (Spring 2019)

  • Women’s March, Vanguard Voices Series — This four-film series by women filmmakers told the stories of female experiences from South Dakota to South Africa, featuring Obermann-sponsored scholars in talkbacks. (March 2019)