CEAH Announces Spring 2021 Research and Symposium Grant Awards


The Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities is pleased to announce the following awards for Spring Research and Symposium Grants. Thank you for the many applications we received this semester. Special thanks to the CEAH Advisory Board for their thoughtful input and reviews.


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.

March 31st, 2021|Announcements, News|

CEAH Announces Fall 2020 Research Grant Awards


The Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities is pleased to announce the following awards for Fall 2020 Research Grants. Thank you for the many applications we received this semester. Special thanks to the CEAH Advisory Board for their thoughtful input and reviews.

Grant Arndt (World Languages and Cultures), Against Termination: Cosmopolitan Indians, Action Anthropologists, and the Emergence of Indigeneity With a CEAH-supported course release in Spring 2021, Dr. Arndt will complete the first full draft of his next book manuscript, “Against Termination: Cosmopolitan Indians, Action Anthropologists, and the Emergence of Indigeneity.” This book focuses on the pioneering work of two anthropologists, Sol Tax and Nancy Lurie, who worked closely with indigenous peoples in the 1950s and 1960s in the latter’s fight against the Federal policy of Termination that sought to break up Indian communities. This close collaboration, however, was rare among anthropologists at the time and largely forgotten since. The story told in this book thus recovers an important chapter in the history of anthropology, one that challenges current historical understandings of the discipline, which tends to assume a dark past of colonial complicity that has been largely overcome today. This presentist assumption ignores the important work of anthropologists like Tax and Lurie and the insights they developed together with Indian activists. Moreover, it ignores the impact and importance of indigenous activists on anthropologists and their theories. Having completed drafts of three of the book’s four substantive chapters, Dr. Arndt will spend the CEAH award period finishing the fourth (and final) chapter of the book.

 William Carter (World Languages and Cultures), Devilish Details: Goethe and the Art of Administration William Carter will receive a course release from CEAH to work on his book manuscript, “Devilish Details: Goethe and the Art of Administration.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) is Germany’s most famous author. His dramas, essays, novels, poetry, and prose count among the greatest examples of world literature. He also composed works of criticism, scientific treatises, and countless official documents in his capacity as a senior government administrator. While Goethe’s literary masterpieces continue to enjoy much scholarly attention, researchers have not adequately addressed how Goethe’s administrative experience and keen understanding of economic theories contributed to his literary corpus. His book manuscript seeks to remedy that shortcoming by breaking new ground regarding key figures and concepts in Goethe’s Faust and his other major works, which he examines in light of Goethe’s administrative writings and contemporaneous political economic discourse. With a CEAH Research Grant he will complete the final chapter of his book manuscript and prepare a book proposal.

Kate Padgett Walsh (Philosophy and Religious Studies), Kate Padgett Walsh will receive a course release from CEAH to help facilitate her work on organizing a conference and co-editing a volume of new papers by scholars of G.W.F. Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, which was his last systematic work and the most complete statement of his mature views on ethical and political philosophy. Following a conference organized at Johns Hopkins University, the published volume will feature contributions from prominent philosophers and take stock of the ongoing relevance of Hegel’s work for contemporary debates about the future of the modern political project. This project will also support original research for a new paper to be included in the volume, entitled “Debt and Power: Undermining Reciprocity Within Ethical Life” which will explore the limits of Hegel’s strongly positive account of modern ethical life, one that was famously critiqued by Nietzsche in his work on the ethics of debt.

Jonathan Sharp (Music), Percussion Forward “Percussion Forward” is solo electroacoustic percussion recital and lecture presented by Jonathan Sharp and features a hybrid acoustic-electronic synthesizer marimba. The CEAH grant funds will assist in the purchase of a professional rosewood marimba modified with a custom piezo pickup amplification, creating a hybrid instrument that blends acoustic marimba sounds with electronic midi synthesizer sounds during live performance. This hybrid mallet synthesizer instrument is the highlight of the project. The “Percussion Forward” recital repertoire will be presented to public schools and universities throughout the United States, and at the National Conference on Percussion Pedagogy in Lubbock, TX, and the West Kentucky Percussion Festival in Greensville, KY. Dr. Sharp will also compose a contemporary work for solo snare drum that will be premiered and performed throughout all of the project’s performances. Dr. Sharp’s performance of the recital repertoire music will be recorded at professional audio/video quality and made available to musicians and scholars around the world via digital platforms.

Lucía M. Suárez (World Languages and Cultures), Belonging: Latina Memoirs in Times of Displacement Lucía M. Suárez will receive a course release from CEAH to enable her to work on a book project in the field of the Humanities that centers on ideas of democracy in the United States and the role of Latina life writings to shape human rights activism and critical spaces of civic solidarity. In it, she examines how the genre of the American memoir, furnishes Latina women (writers, academics, and witnesses) a prime legitimating place from which to belong. Through close socio-cultural/textual readings, this book exposes how Latina authors situate their private lives (rooted in Latin American and Caribbean traditions) and their public works (grounded in the US) into a uniquely foundational American literary canon of personal writings that highlight women’s contributions to gain rights and visibility through education, care work, and writing. This is the first book on the market to engage such a sustained, historically anchored literary study of Latina Memoirs, thus providing a significant intellectual contribution to Latinx and Memoir Studies.

December 11th, 2020|Announcements, News|

CEAH Celebrates the Arts and Humanities

CEAH video link

CEAH Celebrates the Arts and Humanities

Thank you, 2020. With gratitude and relief, all of us at The Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities would like to commemorate the end of a particularly challenging fall semester with this video appreciation for the arts and humanities.

Please join us as we celebrate the finer facets of our culture, the humanistic elements that sustain us through difficult times and offer us hope for better days to come!

November 24th, 2020|Announcements, News|

New Faculty Learning Communities for 2020-2021

Faculty Learning Community: Developing New Approaches to Feet and Leg Challenges in Food-Producing Animals.

The long-term goal of this program is to bring together research teams – representing a variety of animal species and disciplines – to explore approaches to address feet and leg abnormalities and lameness challenges in food-producing animals. Expected results include discoveries that can generate producer and system-wide cost savings and improved animal health, resulting in new business development opportunities. If interested in joining this community, please contact Kenneth Stalder at 515-294-4683 or at

Faculty Learning Community: Mathematics and Deep Learning Collective.

The deep learning (DL) revolution is changing computational science and engineering in fundamental ways. This learning community aims to lead a timely effort in promoting deep learning research on the Iowa State campus, with the goal of advancing the field by developing mathematical foundations of deep learning through integrated research focused on core algorithmic and mathematical principles. If interested in joining this community, please contact Hailiang Liu at 515-294-0392 or at

Faculty Learning Community: Autism Links.

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), announced that 1 out of every 54 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), an increase from previous data. There are six main areas of research into ASD, but work and synergy has remained largely siloed. The goal of this learning community is to enhance awareness and understanding of what each discipline brings to the table to ultimately deliver better outcomes for people with autism. If interested in joining this community, please contact Julie Irish at 515-294-8978 or at

Faculty Learning Community: Computational-Generative Modeling in the Creative Arts.

The goals of this learning community are to: 1) Advance novel methods of computationally generative ideation, modeling and composition; 2) Highlight the value of human judgement in such approaches; and 3) Discover significant extensions of these methods to research in the natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities. Ideally, the community will introduce and advance new practices in participants’ home disciplines while also encouraging the application of these practices to other fields. If interested in joining this community, please contact Christopher Hopkins at 515-294-0396 or at, or Maurice Meilleur at

Faculty Learning Community: Harnessing the Data Revolution for Sustainable Agriculture and the Food Systems: Community Scholars Collaborative on Innovation in Data-drivEn Agricultural Systems (IDEAS) Research.

The goals of this IDEAS learning community are to increase coordination and collaboration among Iowa State faculty and researchers who are interested in data science and data analytics and food and agricultural research. Among other things, this project will provide the basis for developing collaborative intellectual activities that lead to new research synergies among participants. If interested in joining this community, please contact U. Sunday Tim at 515-294-4246 or at

August 28th, 2020|Announcements, News|