CONTACT: CATHY CLEMONS
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0008; fax (319) 384-0024
Foreign scholars arrive at UI to study U.S. culture
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Five foreign scholars are arriving at the University
of Iowa this weekend to begin a unique, three-month residency program designed
to promote scholarship about the United States in other countries.
Made possible by a $250,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, the
"International Forum for U.S. Studies" is a three-year program
being administered by the UI Center for International and Comparative Studies.
The UI was one of only six universities nationwide to receive this type
of humanities grant from the Foundation.
Each spring from now until the spring of 1999, the Forum is hosting
five distinguished foreign scholars to participate as Forum fellows, so
that they may pursue research at the UI on American issues and culture.
The first round of fellows are Karuna Dharmadasa of Sri Lanka, Sylvia Hilton
of Spain, Yu Jianhua of China, Hazel Rowley of Australia and Moshe Shokeid
"Up until now, scholarship about the U.S. has primarily been a
U.S. export," said Virginia Dominguez, CICS director and co-director
of the Forum. "We want to reverse the flow of knowledge. We have much
to gain from outside perspectives. This project takes talk of cultural
diversity, a new world order and multiculturalism one step further. We're
promoting culturally and nationally diverse research and writing on the
The fellows will have access to the UI Libraries, the Center for Advanced
Studies and other campus resources, and will meet twice a month with UI
faculty to discuss mutual research interests. In addition, they will participate
in a series of public forums on selected topics, and each will give a public
lecture. Four of the five scholars will stay on to teach at the UI this
In 1999, all 15 participants will return to campus for a wrap-up conference
with the Forum's International Advisory Board. The Board members, who also
participate in selecting the fellows, represent eight universities, four
nations and a cross-section of disciplines, including American studies,
history, English literature, anthropology and cultural studies.
Forum fellow Dharmadasa is Cadre Chair Professor of Sinhalese at the
University of Peradeniya and editor-in-chief of the Sinhala Encyclopedia.
Long involved with debates concerning the establishment of a national language
in his country, he will study the current U.S. controversy over making
English the national language while at the UI.
Hilton is professor of history at Complutense University in Madrid and
has published extensively on Spanish-American history. She also has been
heavily involved in promoting American studies in Spain and Europe. During
the Forum, she will continue her work on a book, "American Perceptions
of the Hispanic World, 1895 - 1902."
Yu is professor of English at Shanghai International Studies University
and dean of the School of International Commercial Law. He has published
many books and articles on American, New Zealand and Chinese literature.
As a Forum participant at the UI, he will continue work on a chapter for
an upcoming book on American literature in the 1920s and '30s.
Rowley is a senior lecturer in literary studies at Deakin University
in Melbourne, Australia. Her research interests focus on biography and
autobiography studies, women's writings and literary theory. While at the
UI, she will continue work on a biography of Richard Wright, an African-American
novelist and essayist who moved to France, where he wrote and lived during
the mid-20th century.
Skokeid is professor of sociology and anthropology at Tel Aviv University.
He has studied immigration and ethnicity, particularly within Israel. As
a Forum fellow, he will continue research on the development and evolution
of the Lesbian and Gay Community Service Center in Greenwich Village.
For further information on the International Forum for U.S. Studies,
contact CICS at (319)335-0368.
(EDITORS NOTE: Announcements regarding public lectures by the Forum fellows
are forthcoming. If you would like to do an in-depth interview with one or
more of the fellows, call CICS at (319)335-0368.)