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Release: Dec. 14, 2001

UI art education professor receives $10,000 Humanities Iowa grant

Rachel Williams, a University of Iowa assistant professor of art education, has received a $10,000 grant from Humanities Iowa to coordinate a project at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville that explores the structure of women's autobiographical writing through a series of writers' workshops.

"Women on the Inside," a project that will involve both women inmates and staff in the prison, will present an opportunity for the humanities to play a vital role in the lives of a community of women involved in violence, poverty, substance abuse and mental illness. Participants will have an opportunity to work with scholars and staff to write, read and learn about literature, women's issues, culture and history.

Their final written product will be compiled as an audio and visual narrative in the form of a DVD and a book. These materials will be distributed to more than 1,000 public libraries, cultural centers, colleges and universities throughout Iowa.

Williams, who has engaged in extensive scholarly research with incarcerated women, will work with Jane Parsons, a former staff counselor at Mitchellville who now works for Simpson College but continues to volunteer at the correctional center.

Humanities Iowa is a private, non-profit state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities whose mission is to enhance the civic life, culture, and identity of Iowans. Drawing on history, literature, philosophy, law, and other humanities fields, it fosters lifelong learning, critical thinking and community connections.