About the Internal Funding Initiatives grant program
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Current IFI Awardees
December 2016 IFI Awardees
March 2016 IFI Awardees
Arts & Humanities Initiative (AHI) Awardees
IFI Archives

 

The Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development is proud to present the March 2017 IFI Awardees:

 

Charlotte Adams, Associate Professor, Dance
Arts & Humanities Initiative Standard Grant
The Cougar Project

The Cougar Project brings together seven seasoned dance artists from six cities and universities in the U.S. to teach, perform, and share their expertise with students, faculty, and communities at each of their respective institutions. These highly accomplished women buck the conventional wisdom that dancers of a certain age leave the performing stage. Their project together poses questions about the aging female dancer and longevity in a field that traditionally values youthful exuberance. As a group of soloists performing together, they offer a look at the fabric of women’s lives shared through their deep knowledge of the body and the medium of dance. The unique value of The Cougar Project offers a concert to audiences, in six different geographical locations in the United States, the unusual opportunity to experience the gutsy, mature voices of exemplary, female dance artists. At each institution, the artists will offer master classes, career panel discussions, workshops for faculty, open rehearsals, community performances, and post concert discussions that share their individual and group expertise. The project launch is Fall 2017 at The University of Iowa followed by The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. Spring 2018 dates are being lined up at The University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and Danspace Project in New York, NY. Dates for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Corning Works in Pittsburg are still being considered. This proposal is primarily focused on the residency at Iowa with PI, Professor Charlotte Adams, directing the first residency and performances. The dance artists are scheduled to arrive Iowa City September 26, 2017 with teaching activities from September 27-29. Informal performances are September 29 and 30 at Space Place and are FREE and open to all audiences. The project objectives are: to share creative research and teaching methods with the artists, students, and faculty; to expose students to new ideas of the beauty and power of mature bodies and longevity in dance; to gather as a community of solo artists to combine our wealth of knowledge in an intense five day period of collaboration; to offer performing excellence for audiences.

Florence Boos, Professor, English
Arts & Humanities Initiative Standard Grant
Pilot Project to Upgrade the William Morris Archive for Database Searching and Mobile Device Display

The William Morris Archive (http://morrisediton.lib.uiowa.edu), housed on the University of Iowa Library’s servers since 2005, is now the undisputed source for the edited literary works of this major Victorian poet, decorative artist, translator, utopian romance writer, book designer, and socialist theorist (1834-96). A major feature of the Archive is its vast quantity of photographs, which now require insertion in a program which supports mobile and other devices and will provide better metadata for library searches, sustainability, and further coding. We have identified a free, open source web-publishing scholarly collections platform, Omeka, capable of resolving these problems. With the support of an Arts and Humanities Initiative Grant, two assistants (a graduate student and a recent Ph. D.) will be hired to work closely with me and with the Project Manager at the task of inserting the relevant data for the transfer of the Archive files into Omeka, thus ensuring their relevance to another generation.

Glenn Ehrstine, Associate Professor, German
Arts & Humanities Initiative Standard Grant
Devotional Spectatorship in the Alsfeld Passion Play (1501)

With the aid of an AHI award, I will travel to Alsfeld, Germany near Frankfurt to complete archival research on the devotional context of the Alsfeld Passion Play. The public weeping of audience members as revealed by the Alsfeld play is an important component of my book Devotional Spectatorship in Late Medieval Germany, which examines the interrelationship between habits of lay piety and the belief that attendance at performances of Christ’s passion qualified spectators for an indulgence, i.e., the remission of temporal punishment in purgatory for sins committed on earth. By documenting the incorporation of relics and other sacred objects in vernacular plays as well as their impact on audience behavior, Devotional Spectatorship refutes long-standing assumptions regarding the “sensationalism, voyeurism,[and] sadism” customarily attributed to late medieval playgoers.

Devotional Spectatorship in Late Medieval Germany, which examines the interrelationship between habits of lay piety and the belief that attendance at performances of Christ’s passion qualified spectators for an indulgence, i.e., the remission of temporal punishment in purgatory for sins committed on earth. By documenting the incorporation of relics and other sacred objects in vernacular plays as well as their impact on audience behavior, Devotional Spectatorship refutes long-standing assumptions regarding the “sensationalism, voyeurism,[and] sadism” customarily attributed to late medieval playgoers.

The examination of weeping as audience behavior in Alsfeld complements my examination of the workings of medieval emotions in the indulgence economy in the late Middle Ages for two other play traditions around 1500, the Corpus Christi plays of Künzelsau and Zerbst. Although theater historians have known for some time that indulgences were granted for attendance at play performances, my study is unique in asking what the audience did to attain the contrition required to qualify one for the remission of purgatorial punishment. The examination of the Corpus Christi plays of Künzelsau and Zerbst reveals that relics were also part of medieval plays’ indulgence context. In particular, the Zerbst play’s appropriation of the so-called Ablasskreuz (indulgence cross), which formed the ritual centerpiece of papal indulgence campaigns in Northern Europe from 1489 through the infamous St. Peter’s Indulgence of 1517, allows us to link the habits of devotional spectatorship common to Alsfeld, Künzelsau, and Zerbst directly to the papal indulgence practices attacked by Martin Luther at the outset of the Protestant Reformation.

Michael Gibisser, Assistant Professor, Cinematic Arts
Arts & Humanities Initiative Standard Grant
Headroom Screening Series

The Headroom Screening Series is an ongoing, curated program of film events that seeks to expand Iowa City’s involvement with experimental forms of cinema and new media while also redefining contemporary cinematic and media-related experiences. We collaborate with local venues to present 6-8 programs per year, with an artist or guest curator present for each screening to engage the attending audience in discussion following the event.

The 2017-18 season will also introduce two additional components to Headroom’s enterprise: on-camera interviews with each of the visiting filmmakers that will be edited and archived on an updated website. The digital archive will complement the theater events, providing additional context to the artists’ work and creating a site to draw extra attention to the Iowa City film community through an online platform.

Stephen Lensink, Associate Director, Office of the State Archeologist
Arts & Humanities Initiative Major Project Grant
Expanding Iowa’s Historic Indian Location Database

This project will improve and expand Iowa’s Historic Indian Location Database (HILD), making it a model to be used for a NEH or other federal grant to create a national database detailing the locations of post-1492 Native American occupations and activities. Iowa’s HILD began as an effort to catalog locations of all post-contact Native American sites in and near Iowa. To date, more than 900 locations have been documented, greatly filling in the empty spaces seen in historical maps. This mapping project began in 2011 as a voluntary ad-hoc endeavor by the University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA), and has since grown to be a valuable research tool used by Indian tribal members, historians, planners, and archaeologists. The HILD has demonstrated that it can help reveal cultural affiliation of important locations, reveal broader trends in Native American history, and help infrastructure planning identify, preserve, and interpret significant Native locations. This database has the potential to be a national model for an interactive GIS database that can help rewrite history, and if successfully improved, will be an attractive candidate for NEH Collaborative Research Grant funding or other federal grants. This project improves the database references and bibliography, expands it to find new locations in Iowa, and create an on-line mapping showcase that has two components, a public one that outlines the location and movement of Indians in Iowa on a general level, and a detailed map for professionals that has specific locations, to be used for planning and research. This improved database will be presented in grant proposals as a model of how a national database could work.

Glenn Penny, Professor, History
Arts & Humanities Initiative Standard Grant
Beyond Colonial Questions: Being German in Guatemala from the 1880s through the 1980s

By the end of the 19th century, Guatemala had the largest concentration of Germans in Central America. This was less a community of agricultural settlers than a diverse group of entrepreneurs, who were intimately linked to global trade networks centered largely in Bremen and Hamburg. Yet here, as in many Latin American locations, those Germans also 'settled in', produced children with dual citizenship, founded the leading school in Central America, took up Guatemalan citizenship themselves and, much like their counterparts in other Latin American states, argued that their 'Germanness' made them particularly good citizens of their new homes. Guatemalan elites made that point as well. They recognized that these migrants afforded Guatemala direct connections to German finance, markets, shipping lines, trading houses, and much more. Many also sent their children to the German school. Thus Germany quickly became Guatemala's most important trade partner after the United States.

Yet these German-Guatemalans' hybrid status and their links to global German networks also made them incredibly vulnerable to the economic ruptures and geopolitical shifts of the 20th century. During World War II, Guatemalan elites worked with the U. S. to confiscate German properties in Guatemala, arrest many of their German citizens, and deliver them to internment camps in Texas. The U. S. benefited as a result, securing economic and political hegemony over the region. Guatemala, however, suffered. The U. S. prevented many of the Germans who had been shipped off to North America from returning for years after the war. Battles over their properties went on for decades, and those later merged with political debates about the violent fate of Guatemala during the postwar period.

Jonathan Wilcox, Professor, English
Arts & Humanities Initiative Major Conference Grant
Performance, Culture, and the Book: A Conference Honoring the Work of Claire Sponsler

“Performance, Culture, and the Book: A Conference Honoring the Work of Claire Sponsler” will be a major conference, taking place at the University of Iowa on August 25-26, 2017, presenting exciting new work at the intersection of medieval studies and performance studies, book studies and cultural studies. The event will have added poignancy in that the contributors will be friends, colleagues, and past students of Professor Sponsler, who died in July 2016, keen to celebrate her life and contributions. The conference will feature two keynote talks by major scholars who collaborated with Claire: Jody Enders, Distinguished Professor of French at the University of California—Santa Barbara, and Kathleen Ashley, Distinguished Professor of English (emerita) at the University of Southern Maine. There will be a special address by Jeff Porter (Professor of English and husband of Claire) a specialist in nonfiction, who will give a talk based on the book he is writing about Claire, memory, loss, and death. Colleagues who were close to Claire have already committed to present papers demonstrating her influence, while a group of Claire’s students will present papers intended to form a Festschrift in Claire’s honor. In addition to these scholarly proceedings, we are envisaging a large reception on the Friday evening, providing all the conference participants and audience a chance to interact in an informal setting, both advancing connections in medieval studies and sharing a fitting tribute to a major UI scholar.