Current Awards



Jeff Bremer (History) A New History of Iowa, 1673-2020 Dr. Jeff Bremer will receive funding to spend several weeks in the University of Iowa Special Collections and Women’s Archives, the Iowa Labor Collection, and general archival collections at the State Historical Society to finish the manuscript for his book, A New History of Iowa, 1673-2020. It will be a comprehensive, one-volume history of the state, based on extensive research in primary and secondary sources which will provide a narrative of the state’s history over the past 350 years. It is an inclusive history, broadening Iowa’s story to include those who have been neglected in previous histories. A New History of Iowa seeks to broaden the state’s story, including the stories of previously unknown farm women, laborers, immigrants, and refugees. This narrative adds new voices, such as runaway slaves who joined Iowa’s 60th Colored Regiment in the Civil War, young female pearl button factory workers in the late nineteenth century, and Latino railroad workers who migrated to the state in the early twentieth century. Bremer’s book will be published by the University of Kansas Press in 2022.

K.L. Cook (English) The Cyclical Imagination: Short Story Cycles, Linked Stories, and Novels-in-Stories In this project, K.L. Cook will survey the primary and secondary literature; analyze significant classic and contemporary examples of the form; reflect on the fiction writer’s process of designing, writing, and revising short story cycles; and interview contemporary masters of the short story cycle, who illuminate what he refers to as the cyclical imagination. In The Cyclical Imagination: Short Story Cycles, Linked Stories, and Novels-in-Stories, Cook examines book-length works of fiction that exist in liminal spaces between the traditional collection of short stories and the novel—books that defy easy literary categorization and resist linear methods of narrative construction. In a short story cycle, each story is self-contained and yet, working together, the stories create an effect greater than the sum of those parts. These books of fiction do not just build toward conventional climaxes and resolutions but rather function more like an ecosystem of stories, characters, and images with cyclical patterns that open up and enrich the reader’s aesthetic experience. CEAH will fund a course release for Cook to continue his research and pursue further publications.

Mônica A. Haddad (Community and Regional Planning) Green jobs and climate justice in American cities Dr. Mônica A. Haddad will investigate how programs adopted by cities, or programs partnered with cities, can improve the livelihood of low-skilled workers by including them in the green workforce through training for local “green” jobs. As the number of cities adopting plans for climate mitigation increases, Dr. Haddad anticipates that a growing number of urban planners and public officials will show interest in local-based programs as a way of addressing fairness among low-skilled workers who have not been included in previous market-driven strategies. By completing and disseminating this study, other cities will be able to scale-up the new knowledge about local programs, always keeping in mind the importance of adapting and adjusting to the specificities of each urban context. This study connects to broader issues in the humanities as it focuses on themes such as urban politics, fairness, local leadership, decision-making, and technological change.

Julie E. N. Irish (Interior Design) 10 Years on: A Longitudinal Post-Occupancy Evaluation of a School for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Profound Disabilities Dr. Julie E. N. Irish will conduct a Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE) on a school for students aged 3-19 with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and profound disabilities 10 years after its completion. POEs measure the success and user satisfaction of a building after a period of use. Data will be collected comparing the current situation with original building design information. This research is significant because there have been few longitudinal POEs conducted in a school for students with disabilities. Of particular interest will be the findings related to accommodation for students with ASD since there is scant existing research to help designers meet the unique needs of this population. The results will provide evidence-based data for professionals involved in creating schools and classrooms for students with disabilities.

Jae-Hwa Lee (Interior Design) Articulating the essence of creative female designers Dr. Jae-Hwa Lee will explore eminent interior designers’ creativity through diverse resources, especially women interior designers who mostly worked in the mid 20th century. To further characterize the overall creativity of notable interior designers, this study will investigate and document (1) the designers’ creative personality traits, (2) the creative process, (3) the creative press, with (4) their iconic designs. It will explain why there were relatively few eminent women designers in the mainstream history of design, through articulating the essence of what made their work and life creative as well as what it meant to think creatively for them. This research project will seek to figure out the strengths and opportunities of those female designers in the 20th century.

Charissa Menefee (English) Measure the Aquifer Dr. Charissa Menefee will research and write Measure the Aquifer, which is the second part of Under Water, her six-part eco-drama cycle that examines water crises and the effects of climate change on different regions of the United States. Measure the Aquifer explores the consequences when community leaders, perhaps concerned about emphasizing disaster scenarios or jumping to hasty conclusions, hesitate to communicate critical environmental information at the local level. Will communities come together to face environmental challenges or will they fracture and implode? Will drought and dwindling aquifers lead to modern ghost towns in the Southwest and West? The goal of Under Water is to create conversations about the roles of governmental entities, as well as citizens, in protecting and sharing water resources, mitigating—or accepting—dangerous levels of sea rise, and supporting those who have been displaced or harmed by natural disasters, climate change, and mismanagement of resources.

Cason Murphy (Music & Theatre), Digital Residency Cason Murphy will participate in a virtual theatre performance of a unique, multi-site #RemoteTheatre production of the Tony-Award winning play, Frost/Nixon. Since March 2020, Scenic City Shakespeare—located in Chattanooga, Tennessee—has become a pioneer in the emergent form of #RemoteTheatre. #RemoteTheatre is an innovative, pandemic-friendly way of casting, rehearsing, and presenting theatre that blends new and traditional techniques to put actors from across the country together on a virtual stage. This “digital residency” will allow for safe and innovative solutions to the problems of creating effective, powerful theatre in the era of the coronavirus.

Michèle A. Schaal (World Languages and Cultures; Women’s and Gender Studies) The Art of Genre- and Genderbending: Virginie Despentes’s Authorial Politics The CEAH Research Grant will provide Dr. Michele A. Schaal with funding for a course release to enable the completion of two chapters for a monograph on Virginie Despentes, a contemporary French author and feminist. Her book, The Art of Genre- and Genderbending: Virginie Despentes’s Authorial Politics, addresses a critical need as Despentes became a major literary and feminist figure in the French-speaking world and globally in the 2010s. Dr. Schaal’s monograph is contracted with the prestigious collection “Studies in Contemporary Women’s Writing” (Peter Lang) and will become a landmark contribution to the fields of French and global feminist studies. It will be the first ever holistic approach to Despentes’s seven novels to date, and the first academic study to show that her fictions rely on the inseparability of an explicit feminist, social critique, and an examination of literary conventions. Despentes’s novels reveal how an overall brutal, heteropatriarchal, and neoliberal system triggers and perpetuates many contemporary injustices and social inequalities. Despentes’s self-reflexive narratives also stress how literature may perpetuate oppressive systems if it blindly reproduces literary conventions, instead of overtly questioning them.


Jeffrey Wheatley (PI), Sarah Dees (Philosophy and Religious Studies) Religion in Public How has religion shaped Iowa’s history? How does it impact the daily lives of Iowans? What role does it play in politics and society? Jeffrey Wheatly and Dr. Sarah Dees will organize the symposium Religion in Public which seeks to answer these questions by featuring the expertise of scholars of religion in a series of public conversations. This symposium is part of an ongoing effort to connect scholars of religion throughout Iowa to professionals in educational, journalistic, and humanities-focused institutions with the ultimate goal of cultivating religious literacy. A keynote address and three topical roundtables will cover a number of topics, including Iowa’s religious diversity and the intersections of religion and immigration, history, politics, and education. Scholars will present their research and engage in conversations with ISU faculty, students, journalists, K-12 teachers, and other members of the community who cover, teach, and work with religion on a day-to-day basis.