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Writers@Grinnell: Daphne Kalotay

Daphne KalotayNovelist and short story writer Daphne Kalotay visits campus for Writers@Grinnell. She’ll present two free public events on Thursday, April 16, 2015, in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center.

  • Roundtable: 4:15 p.m., Rosenfield Center Room 209
  • Reading: 8 p.m., Rosenfield Center Room 101

Kalotay is known for her novels, Russian Winter (Harper, 2010) and Sight Reading (Harper, 2013), and her collection of short stories, Calamity and Other Stories (Doubleday, 2005), which was short listed for the 2005 Story Prize.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Rooms 101 and 209 are equipped with induction hearing loop systems. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations.

Earth Month Events

Grinnell College will host a series of events throughout April and early May in celebration of Earth Month. The free, public events will be focused on local food, volunteering and exploration.

The events will take place throughout the city, with a focus toward "getting rooted in the community." Featured events include storm drain labeling on Saturday, April 19, monarch butterfly waystation planting on Tuesday, April 21, and a workshop on permaculture on Saturday, April 25.

Some events will take place at the Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA), including a woodland wildflower hikes, bird banding and prescribed prairie burns. Free transportation is provided from Grinnell's campus to these events.

For details, including a complete schedule of events and information about free transportation, please visit the CERA Facebook page.

Trustee’s Pledge will Advance Study of the Classics

M. Anne Spence, a 1966 graduate and a member of its Board of Trustees, has pledged a gift to the College of $300,000, one-half of which will establish a fund in honor of two of her high school teachers.

The Elson-McGinty Fund will be used to subsidize interdisciplinary team-teaching by faculty in Classics with their colleagues in other departments. It will also provide summer fellowships for students who wish to take accelerated summer courses in Latin or Greek so that they can take advanced courses in Classics at Grinnell.

The remaining balance of Spence’s commitment directs equal amounts toward the campaign to renovate Alumni Recitation Hall/Carnegie Hall, the Pioneer Fund, and the 1966 Reunion Fund.

“Anne Spence’s generous gift exemplifies reflective, outcome-based philanthropy,” said Grinnell President Raynard S. Kington. “In honoring those who inspired her intellectual growth, Anne is ensuring that deserving students have access to interdisciplinary experiences that will greatly appreciate in value over their entire lifetimes.”

Spence created the Elson-McGinty Fund in honor of Nathan Hale High School (Tulsa, Okla.) teachers Janet Elson and Martin McGinty. According to Spence, teachers Elson (English) and McGinty (history) fired her curiosity and instilled in her a motivation for lifelong learning.

“Through their enthusiasm for literature and for history, these two outstanding high school teachers brought their subjects to life for me in very special ways,” Spence says. “Although I was exposed to the Classics at Grinnell 50 years ago, I didn’t truly appreciate the relevance for today. Selected readings in the last couple of years brought me to an "ah-ha" moment, revealing the myriad of connections between that ancient period of our history and issues we face today. At a time when other institutions are dropping the Classics, I am thrilled to invest in students’ understanding of them now, not later in their lives.” 

Anne SpenceSpence, a Nathan Hale High School alumna, graduated from Grinnell College in 1966 with a degree in biology. After earning a Ph.D. in human genetics from the University of Hawaii in 1969, she received the National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina. She is professor emerita in the Department of Pediatrics, University of California, Irvine.

The Elson-McGinty Fund will have an immediate impact on three Grinnell students who exemplify the ways in which Classics coursework enhance scholastic and career goals: Ella Nicolson ‘18 is a first-year student who has already taken 300-level Latin. She will add the study of Greek this summer in order to accelerate her work on a Classics major as she also pursues a major in economics. 

“The support that the Classics Department has given me to follow my dreams and goals simply reaffirms to me that Grinnell is the right place for me,” Nicolson says. “It's something I would not have imagined myself doing before coming here, but now, with so much support behind me, it's an opportunity I can't wait to explore.”

Sarah Hubbard ‘17, a second-year studio art major with coursework in Latin, also has decided in favor of a major in Classics. Summer coursework in Greek will aid in that pursuit and allow her to engage in an off-campus study program in Rome during her senior year.

Second-year student and philosophy major Elijah Giuliano ‘17 does not expect to major in Classics. The study of Latin will accommodate his move into 300-level literature courses, assist in the study of medieval and early modern philosophers, and will provide intellectual preparation for law school.

“Anne Spence’s gift to the Department of Classics — the Elson-McGinty Fund — presents a tremendous opportunity for enhancing the role of Classics on Grinnell’s campus,” said Monessa Cummins, chair of the Classics Department,.“With our colleagues in other disciplines we will be developing new contexts for teaching Classics.  This initiative reflects Anne’s ambition to extend the reach of Classics from its traditional place at the heart of the liberal arts curriculum into direct encounters with modern disciplines and issues.”

The Classics program at Grinnell encompasses study of the Greek and Latin languages as well as the history, literature, art, archaeology, mythology, and philosophy of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds. Students can study in Athens and Rome. Majors in classics go on to careers in many fields, including education, law, medicine, scientific research, business, and librarianship.

“Our memories can easily be filled with the impact teachers have on our lives, and Anne Spence has taken the impressive step to honor those who changed her life,” said Shane Jacobson, vice president for Development and Alumni Relations. “This pledge not only honors the past, the investment will  also help ensure that the excellence of a Grinnell education remains strong because of the role of our facilities and programs.”

Spence’s pledge includes direct support for the ARH/Carnegie facility campaign. This facility houses the Classics Department. The ARH/Carnegie campaign will support an upgrade to buildings dedicated in 1916 and 1905, respectively, and that have not been thoroughly renovated in decades.

Anne Spence was elected to the Grinnell College Board of Trustees in 2001. She has served as associate dean in the graduate division at University of California, Los Angeles and vice chancellor of academic programs at the University of California, Irvine. An active teacher, she led research in human genetics that focused on neurological and physical birth defects. She has been a member of the American Society of Human Genetics, the Genetics Society of America, and the Behavioral Genetics Association. In 1979, Spence received the Woman of Science Award at UCLA, and Grinnell awarded her an honorary degree in 1999. In 2001, she received the annual leadership award from the International Genetic Epidemiology Society.

All Recipes Are Home

Working Group Theatre, based in Iowa City, will present All Recipes Are Home, an original play with music and dance. Tickets are required for this free public event, which will start at 6 p.m. Monday, April 13, on the outdoor stage on Grinnell College’s central campus.

Incorporating dance and live folk music by the Awful Purdies quintet, this play tells the story of Josef, a young man who sets off across Iowa after receiving a postcard recruiting workers for a booming farm. Josef arrives after an arduous journey and finds that the farm has been foreclosed. He then takes a job at a local meatpacking plant. Meanwhile, his sister, Marie, and his fiancée, Erin, trek across the state to bring Josef a beloved family recipe that they believe will make him long for home. Through food, this  play aims to remind all of us of the comfort of home and the life we seek together.

The play encompasses interviews with Iowa farmers conducted by Sean Christopher Lewis, writer and director of "All Recipes Are Home." He spent seven days in northeast Iowa talking and working with farmers, food workers and those connected to the land, the history and the recipes of the state. The result is a play that is representative of the collective food story of Iowa.

Lewis and two other Master of Fine Arts graduates of the University of Iowa — Martin Andrews and Jennifer Fawcett — founded Working Group Theatre in 2009. Since then, the group has created more than 30 new plays and events, fostering community dialogue around important issues and gaining a national reputation for challenging and insightful work.

All Recipes Are Home is an original full-length play commissioned from Working Group Theatre by Hancher Auditorium/The University of Iowa, Grinnell College, and the Center Stage Series at Luther College.

Tickets and Attendance

Although the outdoor performance at Grinnell College is free, tickets are required. Ticket distribution will begin at noon Wednesday, April 8, in the box office of the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

Attendees are invited to bring nonperishable food items and donations to the show, where they will be collected by Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA), which is working with United Way to support the local food pantry.

In case of inclement weather, the play will be performed in Sebring-Lewis Hall in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

For questions concerning access or to request accommodation for a disability, please contact conference operations.


Public/Personal Scholarship

Socio‑cultural anthropologist Erica Lehrer ’92 will present a free public Scholars’ Convocation, “Public Scholarship, Personal Scholarship: the Work of Memory in Poland Today,” at noon, Wednesday, April 22, 2015, in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101. Lunch will be provided.

Much of Lehrer's research focuses on cultural practices that attempt to come to terms with mass violence and its aftermath. She has extensively studied Polish-Jewish relations in the years following the Holocaust, and her most recent book, Jewish Poland Revisited: Heritage Tourism in Unquiet Places, further explores those themes.

Originally from Lexington, Mass., Lehrer graduated from Grinnell with a bachelor’s in anthropology. She earned degrees from the University of Michigan and is now associate professor and Canada Research Chair in Post-Conflict Memory at Concordia University in Montreal. In 2013 she curated the exhibit Souvenir, Talisman, Toy at the Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum in Krakow, and in 2014 published the accompanying book Lucky Jews and the Lucky Jews online exhibit.

Lehrer's talk is sponsored by Peace and Conflict Studies.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations.

The Exit Zero Project

Christine Walley will present a free public lecture, “The Exit Zero Project,” at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

Walley is an associate professor of anthropology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Exit Zero Project is described as “a transmedia effort to tell the story of the traumatic effect of deindustrialization on Southeast Chicago — once part of one of the largest steel-producing regions in the world.”

The steel mill her father worked in was closed in 1980, part of the deindustrialization happening throughout the United States. The disruption “propelled Walley into a career as a cultural anthropologist,” say Stefan Helmreich, MIT. Describing her 2013 book of the same name, he says, “In Exit Zero, she brings her anthropological perspective home, examining the fate of her family and that of blue-collar America at large.” In a combination of memoir and ethnography, Walley intertwines personal narratives and family photos with an assessment of the social impacts of deindustrialization.

In addition to the book, the project includes a feature-length documentary film and will include an interactive website.

The event is sponsored by Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights, and was originally a part of the Chicago symposium, but was postponed because of travel issues.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations.

Rural Brain Gain and Leadership

Rural sociologist Ben Winchester, who studies positive trends happening under the radar in rural areas, will explore small-town leadership and the rural brain gain in two free public events.

Winchester aims to rewrite the rural narrative that focuses on small towns getting smaller, as churches, schools, clinics, businesses and post offices close their doors and the lucky few migrate out to the big cities.

"This deficit framework dominates how we discuss and envision our rural communities," Winchester says. "But the real story of rural America since 1970 is rich and diverse, with positive trends occurring under the radar. These positive changes require us to rewrite the narrative of rural community change."

Winchester's presentations are:

Re-writing the Rural Narrative: Rural Brain Gain (offered twice)
2 p.m. Monday, May 4, Drake Community Library, 930 Park St, Grinnell, Iowa
7 p.m. Monday, May 4, Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101
Winchester will discuss how the population of rural America has changed significantly in the past 40 years as newcomers aged 30-49 moved into small towns. He will explore how this has had a positive impact on social and economic structures, and how the new residents tend to have bachelor's degrees, careers, professional networks and children.
Re-writing the Rural Narrative: Rural Leadership
10 a.m. Tuesday, May 5, Spaulding Center for Transporation, 829 Spring St., Grinnell, Iowa
Winchester will explore how many people are needed to run small towns, how many leaders are available to serve, and the impact of changing patterns of social involvement on community groups.

"The next 15-20 years appears to be a great opportunity for American small towns," Winchester says, "as a once-tight housing supply begins to open up through the changing preferences of the retiring baby boomer generation. Overall, as we look to the future, the implications of these changes are positive ones for all of our small towns and open country places."

Winchester is a senior research fellow at the University of Minnesota Extension's Center for Community Vitality. He holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Minnesota-Morris, and a master's degree in rural sociology from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Grinnell College is sponsoring Tuesday's event in conjunction with the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation and the Poweshiek Leadership Program. Grinnell College's Office of Community Engagement and Enhancement and Center for Prairie Studies, as well as the city of Grinnell and Poweshiek Iowa Development (POW I-80), are sponsoring Monday's presentation.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. The Joe Rosenfield '25 Center has accessible parking on the east side of the building. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system.  Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations.

MacArthur 'Genius Grant' Winner to Speak

Alison Bechdel, a noted cartoonist and graphic memoirist, will deliver the Scholars' Convocation at noon Wednesday, April 8, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101. The lecture is free and open to the public with a free pizza lunch provided.

Bechdel is best known for her long-running comic strip, "Dykes to Watch Out For," which realistically captured lives of women in the lesbian community. Her comic strip is the origin of the well-known "Bechdel test," which asks if a film featuring two female characters has those characters talk to each other about something other than a man.​​

In recent years, Bechdel has penned several graphic memoirs, including "Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic" and "Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama." Her work, which is striking for its conceptual depth and incisive use of allusion, has earned her a devoted and varied following. In 2014, Bechdel earned a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, also known as a "Genius Grant." Bechdel's visit is sponsored in large part by Writers@Grinnell, who is also sponsoring a round table with Bechdel at 4:15 p.m. the same day in Rosenfield Center Room 209.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. The Joe Rosenfield '25 Center has accessible parking in the lot on the east side of the building. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations.

A Secret History of Sex Workers

Jennifer Worley, associate professor of English, women's studies, and LGBT studies at City College of San Francisco, will present two events at Grinnell College.

Screening and Talk — Sex On Wheels:  A Secret History of Sex Workers
7 p.m. Monday, April 13, Rosenfield Center Room 101
Worley will present her film, Sex On Wheels, with a talk and a question and answer session to follow. This film explores the lives, activism, and accomplishments of San Francisco's sex workers throughout the city's history, uncovering a gang of transgender teen revolutionaries, a feminist assassin, a cross-dressing gigolo, a nude dude ranch, and a madam who became mayor.
Roundtable Reading — Lusty:  Adventures in Stripping and Revolution.
4:15 p.m. Monday, April 13, Mears Cottage Room 115
Worley will read from her book in progress. Lusty is a monograph on San Francisco’s Lusty Lady Theater, whose strippers first unionized then took over the theater as a worker-owned co-operative. The book weaves together the author’s reflections on her years as a dancer, labor organizer, shop steward, and co-op founder at the Lusty Lady, with historical research on the history of the sex industry, the sex-workers’ rights movement and San Francisco’s labor organizing. 

The Stonewall Resource Center, Film Studies, and The Center for the Humanities are sponsoring both events, and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies is providing additional support to for the round-table reading.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east and room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. Mears Room 115 is wheelchair accessible. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations.

Andelson, Chen at Iowa Humanities Festival

Two faculty members from Grinnell College will deliver presentations at the Iowa Humanities Festival in Des Moines, Iowa, April 10-11.

Iowa Humanities Festival LogoThe Iowa Humanities Festival welcomes Iowans to explore significant themes through the lens of the academic and public humanities. This year’s theme, "The Elusive Prairie," will be explored from the perspectives of the arts, biology, history, literature, performance, and religion. Presenters from across the state will be featured in the two-day festival.

Presenters from Grinnell are:

Jeremy Chen, assistant professor of art
9:45 a.m. Saturday, April 11, at the Des Moines Art Center, 4700 Grand Ave.
In "Taking Sculpture for a Walk: Prairie as Site," Chen will explain how a prairie site has infused his artwork with new meanings, and will share further thoughts on his creative process.
Jonathan Andelson, professor of anthropology
3:15 p.m. Saturday, April 11, at Salisbury House, 4025 Tonawanda Drive
Andelson will present "Metaphor and Meaning in Early French Descriptions of 'La Prairie.' " Andelson, founder of Grinnell's Center for Prairie Studies, has conducted research on the earliest French explorers and missionaries in Iowa and the Upper Mississippi Valley and their views of the prairie landscapes they encountered there. His analysis of the first impressions of these settlers offers an interpretation of what has been lost and gained by the conversion of prairie into farmland.

The Iowa Humanities Festival is a ticketed event. Registration is $10. Information on parking and accessibility at each venue can be found at the venues’ websites.