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CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY KENYON
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Release: Feb. 22, 2001

Martha Stewart revealed: UI lecturer to decode the domestic goddess March 2

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Recent years have seen Americans spending more time at work and struggling to make time for family and homelife. At the same time, super-homemaker Martha Stewart has built an empire of "how to" books, magazines, and television shows that purport to show busy people how to immerse themselves in domestic bliss.

Shirley Wajda, a visiting assistant professor of American studies at the University of Iowa, has studied the Martha Stewart mystique and will speak on "Decoding Domesticity: The Martha Stewart Phenomenon," on Friday, March 2 at 4 p.m. in Room 204 Jefferson Building.

Wajda said Stewart "succeeds by selling a nostalgic sense of comfort and family. In the here and now when we are going crazy, Martha allows us to think about a time when the pressures of life were not so demanding, to think that we can create a domestic utopia."

Wajda is a scholar of material culture -- the history of everyday life -- who is visiting the
UI this semester from Kent State University, where she is an assistant professor of history.

Following the lecture, Wajda and some of the department’s graduate students will display and serve their own attempts at creating some Martha magic -- selected food items from "Martha Stewart’s Hors D’oeuvres Handbook."