Accepting nominations...

for The Grinnell Lecture: A Celebration of Faculty Scholarship, now through Oct. 17, 2014. See Announcement and Call for Nominations.

Theme 2014-15: "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.'

Fall 2014 - Public Talks

War and Peace Project: August 28 – December 7

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.

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

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.


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

September 21 – 23
Contact: Jan Gross (grossj[at]grinnell[dot]edu)

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.

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

Richard Fogarty, Associate Professor of History, Associate Dean for General Education,
University of Albany, State University of New York
Monday, October 6, 7:30 PM, JRC 101

“Visions of Race and Empire in France during the Great War” will explore how contemporary images demonstrate the key role of France’s worldwide colonial empire in making the First World War a truly global event.  French propaganda posters both reflected commonly-held ideas about race, colonial subjects, and the colonies themselves, and sought to shape how the public thought about the role of empire in France’s war effort and in French national life.  Depictions of Africa and Asia and of their peoples offer vivid evidence, then, of contemporary visions of France’s place in the world, and of the place of the world in France.  In the end, what these images show most clearly are the ways that colonial subjects and their lands were integrated into conceptions of French national identity, yet were also held apart as exotic, if useful, elements outside the nation.

Richard S. Fogarty is Associate Professor of History and Associate Dean for General Education at the University at Albany, State University of New York.  He earned his PhD in History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and is the author of Race and War in France: Colonial Subjects in the French Army, 1914-1918 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008) and co-editor of Empires in World War I: Shifting Frontiers and Imperial Dynamics in a Global Conflict (I.B. Tauris, 2014).  He is now working on a general history of France and its empire during the First World War, as well as a study of North African prisoners of war in Germany and the Ottoman Empire, with special attention to the place of Islam and Muslims in the wider military and ideological struggle in Europe and the Middle East.

Priya Satia

Priya Satia, Associate Professor of Modern British History
Stanford University
Tuesday, November 4, 7:30 PM, JRC 101

“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.


Roundtable: Images of War: Russia in World War I 

Wednesday, November 5, 7:00 PM
Burling Lounge, Burling Library

Associate Professor of Russian Kelly Herold, Assistant Professor of History Ed Cohn, and a visiting scholar of Russian art history Kristin Romberg will lead a roundtable discussion on images of war in Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, Russia's role in World War I in an age of Revolution, and representations of war in Russian art of the early 20th century respectively. The War and Peace Project, an exhibition of collages created on and of the pages of Tolstoy’s novel, will provide a backdrop and starting point for the discussion.

Co-sponsored by the Russian Department, Center for the Humanities, and the Faulconer Gallery.