Photo of Langston Hughes in black and white

Back to the Text

I love poetry. I love the way it looks on the page, I love the way it feels to read out loud. I love its rhythm, its images, and its power. And I love the moments when I read it with my students and it makes sense to them.

Stories of Work and Working Lives

The history of labor organizing is a history of turmoil, battles, loss of life and livelihood. It’s also a history of individual and collective perseverance. Solidarity and Survival by Shelton Stromquist tells an oral history of labor organizing starting in the early 20th century.

Community Partner Spotlight: Hancher Auditorium

In Summer 2019, two graduate students (Mark Rheaume and Michael Davis) completed eight-week internships at Hancher Auditorium, as part of an opportunity to explore how their academic training might translate into a variety of professions and workplaces. Hancher Auditorium's Education Manager, Micah Ariel James, shares a few details about the organization and its efforts to support the local community.

Community Partner Spotlight: Iowa Valley Resource Conservation & Development

In Summer 2019, three graduate students (Paul Schmitt, Marie Culpepper, and Kathleen Shaughnessy) completed eight-week internships at Iowa Valley Resource Conservation & Development (IVRC&D), as part of an opportunity to explore how their academic training might translate into a variety of professions and workplaces. IVRC&D Executive Director Jessica Rilling shares a few details about the organization and its efforts to support and lift up the local community.

Listening and the Limits of Expertise

For as much as I have sought out stories of individuals’ flood experiences over the past two months, those stories more often than not turn into stories of community and collaborative response. During my time as an Obermann Public Scholar this summer, I have had the opportunity to engage with Vinton, Iowa and its people in a wide array of contexts: door-to-door canvassing in flood-affected neighborhoods, arranged interviews, telephone chats, facilitated group conversations, and flood resilience games. Through it all I’ve realized I have learned but a sliver of the town’s history and workings. I will never be an expert on Vinton and its flooding—not in the ways its residents are through their lived experiences.

Towards New Museum Futures

Throughout the summer, I have had the fantastic opportunity to serve as an Obermann Public Scholar at the African American Museum of Iowa. Through the generous funding of the Andrew Mellon Foundation, and the help of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, I was given the space to research the ethics of slavery education and create designs for an underground railroad education program. Through this process, I gained a critical awareness about the fraught dimensions and history of teaching slavery in the United States, alongside having the room to learn how to create ethically sourced curriculum.

The Arts Scene in Iowa City (Part II)

As I mentioned in my previous post, a great deal of my job as community participation researcher for The Englert is to attend arts events around Iowa City. It almost feels like I’m cheating because I go to programming that I would already be interested in attending anyway. But I promise that it's truly invaluable to the research that Hannah and I have been doing. 

Liberatory Education: The Importance of African American Museums

African American museums are often born out of lack. Lacking presence in a community. Lacking public awareness of African American impact. Lacking knowledge of the fraught and powerful history of African American influence. However, from the lack, comes activism, profound stories, and testaments to the continual assertion of humanity on behalf of African Americans. This theme of capitalizing on lack and finding community, as a result, unites the African American Museum of Iowa and the DuSable Museum of African American History.

There and Back Again: Rural Historic Sites Project

I am writing my post on a very bittersweet day--late this afternoon, I will be driving out to Clutier for my fortieth site visit, the last out of the forty historic sites I am writing on. In addition to working on the write-up stage for the other thirty-nine sites, I conducted my third and final informational interview today, something that I've really enjoyed doing--getting to hear the passion from my interviewees when they talk about why they do what they do, as well as learning about how each person came from their background (of which there has been quite a variety!) to where they are now.