The 21st century is proving to be an exciting era of imaginative, interdisciplinary collaborations among academic, local, and global partners. Inspired by such projects, the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies and the University of Iowa Press are partners in a book series, Humanities & Public Life. Obermann director Teresa Mangum and oral historian Anne Valk (Williams College) are co-editors of the series; they work closely with press editor Ranjit Arab.
The series spotlights the work of artists, scholars, and activists immersed in publicly engaged projects in which the humanities, arts, and culture inspire community-building and civic change. Part exhibition, part documentary, part advice, and part reflection on failures, successes, and possible futures, the series honors innovative forms of humanities scholarship in all their many-layered, capacious complexity. The series is also uniquely committed to capturing collaborations from the perspectives of faculty, students, community members, and organizational partners.
So far, two books in the series have been published: See You in the Streets: Art, Action, and Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire by multimedia artist Ruth Sergel and The Penelope Project: An Arts-Based Odyssey to Change Elder Care, collaboratively authored by Anne Basting, Ellie Rose, and Maureen Towey.
Sergel Wins Major Book Award
We’re delighted that Sergel’s book was chosen for a 2017 American Book Award by the Before Colombus Foundation!
Public Historian Review
In May 2017, the Public Historian—the lead journal in the field of public history—reviewed See You in the Streets. Historian Jennifer Koslow notes,
“Sergel’s work demonstrates the power of temporal strategies for commemorative action to make the past visible and relevant to the present.”
She recommends the book for classroom use, noting that it “would work well as a text for teaching about the advantages and snares of participatory history projects.”
Basting Wins MacArthur
Anne Davis Basting, educator, scholar, and artist at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and co-author of The Penelope Project, was named a MacArthur Fellow in fall 2016.
The MacArthur Foundation writes,
“Her breakthrough project, TimeSlips, is an improvisational storytelling method in which older adults with cognitive impairment imagine stories and poems in response to inspiring cues. Basting used a collection of poems by the residents of Luther Manor Home in Wisconsin to create and stage a theater piece with the residents in 2000. She then refined and transformed TimeSlips into a formal therapy protocol guided by her fundamental insight that the creation of new stories can be an enriching substitute for lost memories. Basting has since created several theater pieces with elder collaborators around specific themes or community issues. The most ambitious of these, The Penelope Project (2010), grew out of a series of writing, visual arts, and music and movement exercises that imagines the life of Penelope as she awaits the return of Odysseus in Homer’s tale.”