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University of Iowa News Release


March 24, 2009

Obermann Center kicks off 'Dinner Conversations' with UI faculty April 16

The University of Iowa Obermann Center for Advanced Studies is launching a "Dinner Conversations" series to promote thought-provoking exchange among scholars and the public.

The inaugural Dinner Conversation begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 16, at the University Athletic Club, 1360 Melrose Ave., in Iowa City. Scholars from a variety of disciplines whose research focuses on animals will serve as table hosts, exploring the intriguing question, "Are animals sentient beings?"

Teresa Mangum, associate professor of English, will set the conversations in motion by posing a list of questions. Mangum co-directed a 2006 Obermann research seminar that asked, "What is an Animal?"

Other UI faculty members serving as table hosts include Mark Blumberg, professor of psychology; Matt Hill, assistant professor of anthropology; Kim Marra, professor of theatre history; Mary Trachsel, associate professor of rhetoric; and Ed Wasserman, professor of psychology.

"In today's busy world, the art of conversation can get lost," said M. Gigi Durham, faculty associate director of the Obermann Center. "We hope our dinner conversations spark the lively exchange of ideas among scholars and the community. The Obermann Center is all about collaboration and innovation, and we're excited about this opportunity for learning, sharing and fun."

The cost is $25 per person and includes a buffet dinner. Vegan and vegetarian options are available. Reservations must be made with a check by Thursday, April 9. For more information call 319-335-4034 or e-mail

The Obermann Center provides an environment and resources for reflection, writing and the exchange of ideas. Scholars from a broad range of disciplines and institutions interact with one another and with the public to create and communicate new knowledge and to establish a vibrant intellectual community.

More information on the Obermann Center is available at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Diana Baculis, Obermann Center, 319-335-4360,; Nicole Riehl, University News Services, 319-384-0070,