UI uses $1.6 million in grants to focus on humanities research

The UI Obermann Center received two grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for academic research in the humanities.


Katie Goodale

Schaeffer Hall as seen on Oct. 9, 2018.

Kelsey Harrell, News Reporter

The UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies has received two grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation totaling $1.6 million for graduate work in the humanities.

One of the grants will fund the Mellon Sawyer Seminar “Imagining Latinidades: Articulations of National Belonging,” which will be held in various locations at the UI during the 2019-20 academic year. The seminar will be hosted by the Obermann Center and will focus on Latinx identity and culture.

UI Associate Professor Darrel Wanzer-Serrano, a co-director of the Sawyer Seminar, said the grant allows the Obermann Center to hire a postdoctoral scholar to come to campus and speak about her or his experience. The grant also allows the center to fund dissertation research for two UI graduate students.

Most of the grant will be used next academic year to host two multi-day conferences and four one-day seminars, Wanzer-Serrano said. The Obermann Center plans to bring two dozen speakers during the year. It also plans on partnering with other areas of campus to highlight the work of Latinx artists through featuring their work.

RELATED: Banerjee: Why I’m happy with my useless majors 

“In addition to the lectures, we’re partnering with FilmScene to show movies and then hold a discussion after the film is screened,” Wanzer-Serrano said. “The cultural programing will create opportunity for students to be engaged outside of a lecture environment.”

UI student Isabela Flores said the Latinx population has been growing in the Midwest, and recognizing their presence is important because Latinx culture extends beyond the coastal regions.

“I feel interested in knowing how it’ll play out,” Flores said. “I’m interested in knowing what they will be doing with [the grant] in general and interested in knowing who will be coming.”

She said she hopes there will be speakers who discuss Chicana feminism, Latinx feminism, and Afro-Latino identity. It could be interesting to see how the mindset in the Chicana movement has shifted and to hear someone speak about the Afro-Latino identity because they are sometimes overlooked, she said.

The other grant will create a graduate degree that will encompass all of the humanities departments.

The grant will allow the humanities departments to focus on helping graduate students have more of an understanding for what they are doing by giving them applied experiences for their studies, said Teresa Mangum, the director of the Obermann Center.

The UI wants to see more graduate and undergraduate students go into the humanities, Mangum said, because it is becoming less popular nationally. Most of the direct opportunities through the grants will be for graduate students at the UI. The grant will fund research and assistantships and internships for graduate students.

They hope graduate students will be better prepared for their careers because of the opportunities the grant presents, she said.

On Nov. 13, Mangum will be at an event at the Iowa City Public Library in which she will explain what the grant is and listen to what people think is needed in humanities research on campus, she said.

“I hope there will be a glorious trickle-down effect that includes everyone interested in history and culture,” Mangum said.

Facebook Comments