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Release: March 7, 2001

UI Obermann Center awards $48,000 in research grants

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Obermann Center for Advanced Studies has awarded a total of $48,000 in Interdisciplinary Research Grants to eight researchers who will collaborate on four projects this summer.

The program provides summer stipends for interdisciplinary scholarship undertaken at the Obermann Center by UI faculty and staff members working in collaboration with one another or with researchers from other institutions. Each collaborator must make a distinctive contribution to the project. The program is supported by the Office of the Vice President for Research and by the Graduate College.

"Interdisciplinary scholarship is an area of strategic importance at the UI and the Obermann Center is a critical focus and facilitator of such scholarship," said David Skorton, UI Vice-president for Research.

This year's projects and researchers include:

"Unmapped Territories: 'The Patient Wife' between East and West," by Denise K. Filios, a UI assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese, and Monia Hajaiej, an associate professor of English at the University of Tunis. The two researchers will study the international folk tale "The Patient Wife," focusing on how different story-tellers narrate the tale in different social, cultural, and historical contexts. Their work will result in a book that includes several variants of the tale in English translation.

"Rediscovering Claude Vignon," by Wendelin Guentner, a UI professor of French and Italian, and Dorothy Johnson, a UI professor of art and art history. This project will focus on the art criticism written by the prolific and yet forgotten French female sculptor, art critic, journalist, and novelist, Claude Vignon, the pen name of Noeme Constant. The result will be a scholarly article that contributes to the significant revision of the history of artistic and critical expression in France.

"Toward a New Theology of Culture," by David Klemm, professor and director of the UI School of Religion, and William Schweiker, a professor in the University of Chicago Divinity School. The collaborators plan to write a book outlining a new agenda for the field of study known as theology of culture. Theology of culture is a humanistic discipline aimed at identifying, analyzing, and interpreting religious meaning in such areas as science, art, literature, politics, economics, education, and law, among others.

"Baroque Visual Culture: A Social History," by John Beldon Scott, a UI professor of art and art history, and Frima Fox Hofrichter, an associate professor of art history at the Pratt Institute in New York. The two researchers are developing a co-authored book on the social history of Baroque visual culture. The book will illuminate how so many phenomena we think of as modern problems -- such as sexual identity, social mobility, social welfare, entrepreneurship, and colonialism -- arose first in the culture of the Baroque.

Jay Semel, director of the Obermann Center, said that earlier projects funded by the center have resulted in numerous jointly-written articles and books, as well as grants totaling more than $2-million from federal and foundation sources including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Education. Recent publications have focused on mathematical problems, learning foreign languages, and political scandals.