2014-15 Theme: "A Century of War: 1914 and Beyond"

These events will explore the social, political, and cultural transformations brought about by the First World War and the ways in which these have been debated, represented, and recorded in different humanist disciplines and fields of study. Our goal is to mark the centenary of the Great War, but also to discuss how the phenomenon of war continues to shape a culture of violence. We also wish to examine its consequences for global relations and the military-capitalist nexus that undergirds states and nations and for those domestic policies and attitudes towards weapons, which affect our understanding of the concept of 'freedom.'

August 28 – December 7

War and Peace Project

Artists: Lucy Arrington, Laura “Lola” Baltzell ’83, Christiane Carney Johnson ’83, Otto Mayr ’82, Lucy Zahner Montgomery ’83, Emma Rhodes, Elizabeth Jorganson Sherman ’83, Lynn Waskelis ’83, And Adrienne Wetmore

The War and Peace Project is a collaborative fusion of art and literature, created on all 747 pages of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Laura “Lola” Baltzell ’83 began the project in 2008 by making a collage from each page of a 1970s Soviet edition of the novel she’d picked up when she was a Russian studies student in Leningrad. She gradually expanded the project to include a small group of friends, dubbed “Team Tolstoy” (at least six Grinnell alumni are part of Team Tolstoy). The presentation of the War and Peace Project at Grinnell is a homecoming for many of the alumni artists, and the exhibition is a part of “A Century of War,” the topic of focus this year for the Humanities Center.

September 16

Chris Hedges: “War is the Force that Gives us Meaning”

Chris Hedges, American Journalist specializing in American politics and society
Tuesday, September 16, 7:30 pm, JRC 101
“War is the Force that Gives us Meaning”

Pulitizer-prize winning journalist and author Chris Hedges, who spent two decades as a war correspondent, most of them with The New York Times, will address the pathology of modern warfare.  He will examine the rise of industrial and total war in World War I and how it has shaped the modern battlefield, distorting civil society, turning civilians into the primary victims and transforming nations into perpetual war machines.  Industrial warfare has also brought with it the psychosis of permanent war, used to shut down all radical and popular dissent, silence anti-war movements and disempower a citizenry in the name of national security.  Hedges will draw on historical examples of modern warfare, as well as his experience covering conflicts in Central America, Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Humanities and the Rosenfield Program.

September 21–23

A Muslim Saint in Iowa: Interreligious Dialogue and the Legacy of the Emir Abd el-Kader

Contact: Jan Gross

A Muslim Saint in Iowa: Interreligious Dialogue and the Legacy of the Emir Abd el-Kader commemorates the United Nations International Day of Peace on September 21, 2014 as reflected in the life of the Emir Abd el-Kader (1808-1883).  An exemplary Muslim, a celebrated military hero of Algeria in opposing French colonization, and an international peacemaker (savior of 12,000 Christians in Damascus), the Emir Abd el-Kader was hailed as "one of the few great men of the century" (NY Times). 

Three events will highlight the influential role of religion and Islam as a font of humanist thought, dialogue, and humanitarian action, as well as the Emir's ongoing legacy in the Iowa town of Elkader.

  • Sunday, September 21 at 2:00 p.m., Strand theatre
    The feature film Of Gods and Men (2010 Grand Prize at Cannes, French/Arabic, English subtitles) will be shown at the Strand theatre, with an introduction by John Kiser, author of The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love, and Terror in Algeria (book used as source for the film), followed by a Q&A. 

  • Monday, September 22 at 7:30 p.m., JRC 101
    John Kiser, author of the definitive biography Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abd el-Kader, and Jan Gross (French/Arabic) will discuss the past and present significance of the Emir Abdelkader in "From Abdelkader to Elkader: Stories of Connection to Iowa, Islam, and Algeria." 

  • Tuesday, September 23 at 10:00 a.m., Drake Library
    Designed to involve town and campus participation, "Creating Educational Outreach: the Abdelkader Education Project, Elkader, Iowa" will offer an off-campus presentation by John Kiser and Kathy Garms (Executive Director of the Abdelkader Education Project - AEP) 

  • Tuesday, September 23 at 4:15 p.m., JRC 101
    A panel featuring Harold Kasimow, Gisela Webb, Rashed Chowdhury '03, Katie Chowdhury '05, and John Kiser will discuss examples of enduring voices of "Interreligious Dialogue in Action: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives.

  • (TBA) Alumni Scholars Rashed Chowdhury ('03) and Katie Chowdhury ('05) will share their work on campus. 


  • John Kiser, author of Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abd el-Kader and The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love, and Terror in Algeria, International Center for Religion and Diplomacy, Center for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia (adjunct fellow), and the Abdelkader Education Project

  • Harold Kasimow, George A. Drake Professor emeritus of religious studies, Grinnell College;

  • Gisela Webb,  Professor of religious studies, Seton Hall University, Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations (faculty fellow)

  • Jan Gross, Seth Richards Professor in Modern Languages, department of French and Arabic, Grinnell College;

  • Rashed Chowdhury '03,  Sessional instructor, department of history, University of Manitoba;

  • Katie Kiskaddon Chowdhury '05, writer, interfaith ministry.

  • Kathy Garms (Executive Director, Abdelkader Education Project - AEP), Elkader, Iowa  

Program begins with a showing of the film Of Gods and Men in the presence of John Kiser, author of The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love, and Terror in Algeria, primary source of the film.

Outreach events scheduled in town include exchanges with Kathy Garms (Executive Director of the Abdelkader Education Project - AEP) and AEP co-founder John Kiser.

Co-sponsored by the French & Arabic Department, Center for the Humanities, Center for International Studies, Rosenfield Program, Center for Prairie Studies, Center for Religion, Spirituality, and Social Justice, Alumni Scholar, Religious Studies Department, Peace Studies Program, and the Office of Community Enhancement and Engagement.

October 6

Richard Fogarty: “Visions of Race and Empire in France during the Great War”

Richard Fogarty, Associate Professor of History, University at Albany, SUNY
Monday, October 6, 7:30 pm, JRC 101
“Visions of Race and Empire in France during the Great War”

Professor Fogarty will speak about visual culture and French history related to the First World War. Please refer to his personal website for further information.

November 20

Conversation in the Humanities

11:30 A.M. – 1:30 P.M.
Thursday, November 20, Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101
Translation as Liberal Arts Pedagogy

Presentations by:
Aron Aji, Director of MFA in Literary Translation at University of Iowa - “Translation for Global Literacy: Integrating Translation Across the Curriculum”
Tim Arner, Associate Professor of English - “Translating Backwards”
Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies - “Translation as Inevitable Failure: Encounter, Adventure and Inadequacy in Moving Between Voices, Words and Worlds”
Hai-Dang Phan, Assistant Professor of English - “The Difference Translation Makes”

December 2

Priya Satia

Priya Satia, Associate Professor of Modern British History, Stanford University
7:30 PM
Tuesday, December 2, ARH 302

“The Great War in the Middle East”

The Middle East was a critical arena in the global conflict known as World War One. British tactics on that front were also uniquely innovative. In this talk, Prof. Satia will examine the origins of those creative tactics and their enormous cultural and political impact in Europe, South Asia, and the Middle East itself.

Priya Satia is Associate Professor of modern British history at Stanford University. Her first book Spies in Arabia: The Great War and the Cultural Foundations of Britain's Covert Empire in the Middle East (OUP, 2008) won the 2009 AHA-Herbert Baxter Adams Book Prize, the 2009 AHA-Pacific Coast Branch Book Award, and the 2010 Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies Book Prize. Her work has also appeared in the American Historical Review, Past and Present, Technology and Culture, Humanity, as well as several edited volumes and popular media such as the Financial Times, Nation, and the TLS. With support from the NEH and the ACLS, she is currently finishing her second book, Empire of Guns: The British State, the Industrial Revolution, and the Conscience of a Quaker Gun-Manufacturer.

December 12

Grinnell Lecture: A Celebration Of Faculty Scholarship

(By invitation only)

The Dean’s Office and the Center for the Humanities are delighted to announce the first annual Grinnell Lecture, which recognizes outstanding scholarship by a faculty member. This year’s recipient, Tyler Roberts will present “Critical Thinking After Critique in Religious Studies and the Humanities.

January 28

Concert: Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin: A Memorial to Friends Killed in the Great War

Eugene Gaub, Associate Professor of Music
Wednesday, January 28, 4:15 p.m.
Faulconer Gallery

20th-century composer Maurice Ravel drove an ambulance for France during the Great War and saw action at Verdun. Inevitably, the horrors and carnage he witnessed found expression in his music, notably in the suite of six pieces for piano called Le Tombeau de Couperin (composed between 1914 and 1917). This work began in homage to French music of the past (composer François Couperin, 1668-1733), but became a dual tribute as Ravel dedicated each movement to friends killed in action. Eugene Gaub, associate professor of music, will perform the suite, introduce the men whose memory it honors, and say a few words about the contexts—musical and political—from which it emerged. Co-sponsored by the Center for the Humanities, Faulconer Gallery, and the Music Department.


February 9-12

Public Film Screenings

All films will be shown at the Strand Theatre, 921 Main Street at 4:30 p.m. These showings are free and open to the public.

Monday, February 9 – Afghanistan: The Surge

Q & A following the film with Robert Hodierne ’68, Director/Producer

Robert Hodierne began his 40-year journalism career as a freelance photographer covering the Vietnam War. Since then Mr. Hodierne has worked as a reporter and editor for newspapers, wire services, magazines, television, radio and the Internet. In 1981 he was part of a team that won most American journalism awards including the Pulitzer Prize. While working at KRON-TV in San Francisco, he taught at the University of California, Berkeley. Most recently he was senior managing editor of Army Times Publishing Co., the world's largest private publisher of defense- and military-related periodicals. Mr. Hodierne ran the publications' coverage of the first stage of the war with Iraq from Doha, Qatar, where he supervised 13 journalists embedded with the American forces. In early 2004 he spent six weeks embedded with American forces in Iraq and the following year he spent another month there. Mr. Hodierne appeared regularly on television as an expert on military issues. He has done a series of essays on American life for BBC radio as well as presenting three documentaries for the BBC. For nearly three years, Mr. Hodierne left journalism and sailed a 32-foot boat through the South Pacific.


Tuesday, February 10 – The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Wednesday, February 11 – Nosferatu

Thursday, February 12 – All Quiet on the Western Front


February 18

Anton Kaes, Professor of German and Film & Media, Univ. of California, Berkeley
Wednesday, February 18, JRC 101, 7:30 p.m.