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#Charlestonsyllabus Display in Burling Library

On June 17, 2015, nine people were shot to death at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  The shooting was a racially motivated hate crime against black lives perpetrated by a young white man, Dylann Roof.  In response to the news of the horrific event, historians, scholars, and non-academic readers alike took to Twitter under the hashtag #Charlestonsyllabus to amass a list of resources any person could turn to in order to educate themselves about the history of race and racial violence in America.

Dr. Keisha N. Blain, the co-founder of the #Charlestonsyllabus movement, keeper of the online syllabus, and author of the forthcoming book, Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism, and Racial Violence, visited Grinnell College to speak to the community in the college’s 2016 celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Dr. Blain discussed the bridging of scholarship and activism and the immediate connections made possible by social media.

In response to Dr. Blain’s visit, Grinnell College Libraries has documented the locations and availability of the resources suggested in the #Charlestonsyllabus. The libraries have 228 of the 296 books and films listed on the #Charlestonsyllabus. The #Charlestonsyllabus is listed here in its entirety, with links to the catalog for the materials that our library currently owns.  Many other resources are available through Interlibrary Loan.

The resources don’t end here, either. Look around in the stacks at the books surrounding the ones on this list, or think about additions you would make to it.  The #Charlestonsyllabus was a community effort, one that required a deeper engagement than just consumption (although in a list of over 300 materials, consumption is a good place to start). Share your thoughts and opinions on the list and the readings with those around you and/or online.

And be sure to visit the #Charlestonsyllabus display, located between the Latino Collection and the jungle gym in the southwest corner of Burling Library.

#Charlestonsyllabus is found on the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS) webpage.

Optima Typewriter Owned by David Lustbader ‘65

Just before winter recess, Special Collections and Archives received a very exciting new acquisition — an Optima portable typewriter! We don’t have a large collection of artifacts, but once we heard the story behind this typewriter we knew we had to have it for our collection. This particular typewriter was owned by alum David Lustbader ’65 during his time here at Grinnell College and in his years at law school.

The summer before his first year at Grinnell, Lustbader and his father visited a typewriter shop in Newark, New Jersey.  There were two portable models available, the popular Olivetti and an Optima. According to Lustbader, the Olivetti was thin and light weight, while the Optima keyboard was not as flat. Lustbader preferred the Optima, which was manufactured in West Germany. His father, however, was very reluctant to purchase anything from Germany.

Lustbader’s father had good reason for not wanting to support German manufacturing. During WWII, he had worked in the shipyards in Kearney, New Jersey, building Liberty Ships. Additionally, several of his father’s close friends, including the best man at his wedding, had served in the army during the war. However, he relented when he saw how much his son liked the Optima. In a fun twist to the story, during his second year at Grinnell, Lustbader became good friends with a German exchange student named Wolf Grabendorff. The two remain good friends to this day.

According to Lustbader, all of his school papers and correspondence during undergrad and law school were written using his Optima typewriter. The Optima owned by Lustbader is an Optima Elite, which was manufactured between 1955 and 1961. Amazingly, the original owner’s manual and cleaning brushes are still inside the case. The manual details helpful tips such as how to type capital letters and change the ribbon, and explains the movement of the carriage. The typewriter and its accompanying case are in beautiful condition, showing how much care they were given during their years of use.

We encourage anyone with an interest to drop by Special Collections and examine this typewriter in person.  Special Collections and Archives is open to the public 1:30–5 p.m. Monday through Friday and mornings by appointment.

Data Across the Curriculum

Students in Monty Roper’s anthropology and global development studies classes gain practical experience in fieldwork, data analysis, and ways to deal effectively with clients when they act as consultants for both local organizations in Grinnell and internationally in an agricultural village in Costa Rica. The clients they work with get free research which is presented to them both in the form of an oral consultation and in a written report.

For a global development studies/anthropology seminar, students prepare research plans during the first half of the semester and then travel to a rural agricultural community in Costa Rica to spend the two weeks of spring break collecting data which is then analyzed and written up during the remaining weeks of the semester. The first year of the project, the class conducted an in-depth community development diagnostic. Since then, they have investigated a variety of rural development issues, mainly focusing on tourism, women’s empowerment, and organizational issues and agricultural projects of the town’s two cooperatives.

In Grinnell, Roper works with Susan Sanning, director of service and social innovation, to identify and explore possible collaborations with community partners who have research needs. In the past, for example:

  • Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) was interested in knowing why families dropped out of their Family Development and Self-Sufficiency Program (FaDSS) before their benefits were fully used,
  • Drake Library was interested in what kinds of programming would best serve the town’s “tween” population, and
  • A hair salon wanted to find out whether it was economically viable to invest in special hair care products and services for black customers.

Ideally, positive change occurs because of the class’ research.

Grinnell students Dillon Fischer ’13 and Sarah Burnell ’13 interviewed graduates of Grinnell High School who had gone on to attend college about their preparedness for college academics. According to the GHS principal, these findings led the school to revise its minimum writing standards, making them more challenging.

The local after-school youth program, Galaxy, requested a study on donor perceptions and desires and subsequently used the results to write a successful grant proposal for support.

This year’s class is planning to do more follow-ups on previous projects to ascertain longer-term results.

See more story and photos.

Christopher Kloeble, Author of "Almost Everything Very Fast", Visits Grinnell College

The  Grinnell College German Department presents a book talk with German author Christopher Kloeble on Tuesday, March 8, at 4 pm in Burling Lounge. Kloeble will discuss his latest novel, Almost Everything Very Fast, translated from the German by Aaron Kerner and published by Graywolf Press in February of this year.Christopher Kloeble's book

Kloeble’s novel is set in a Bavarian village and centers on Albert, a 19-year-old who was raised in an orphanage, and Fred, who is an older man but child-like due to brain damage suffered long ago. The two set off together to investigate Albert’s past, and as their journey progresses, his complicated history is revealed. In its November 2015 review of the book, Publisher’s Weekly called the novel “disturbing [and] ultimately moving” and stated that “Kloeble’s cinematic vision and vivid storytelling encompass a range of human emotion and iniquity.” Copies of the novel will be available during the March 8 book talk.

Christopher Kloeble was born in Munich in 1982 and currently lives in Berlin and Dehli. In 2014, he was a Grinnell College Writer-in-Residence, and he most recently served as a guest professor at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Kloeble is the author of three novels, a collection of short stories, several plays, and the script for the movie Inklusion. Almost Everything Very Fast is Kloeble’s first book to be published in English.

For more information about the author and his latest novel, please visit his website.

Roopika Risam visits Grinnell College

Roopika Risam, Assistant Professor of English at Salem State University, will deliver a talk entitled, "Decolonizing Digital Humanities: Towards New Communities of Practice" on March 11, 4-5:30 p.m., in Burling Lounge. This talk takes a critical look at what it means  –  and does not mean  –  to “decolonize” the digital humanities. It raises concern about the undertheorized ways that “decolonization” has been marshalled in response to digital humanities while examining how postcolonial critique can move the field forward, and how it influences digital humanities practice in existing projects.

This Digital in Public event is co-sponsored by the Center for the Humanities, Digital Bridges, and the Digital Liberal Arts Collaborative.

Writers@Grinnell: Edwidge Danticat

Haitian American best selling author and social activist Edwidge Danticat will read from herEdwidge Danticat image work and discuss writing on Thursday, Feb. 25 as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College.  The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 8 p.m. in the Faulconer Gallery in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

In addition, Danticat will lead a roundtable discussion, which is free and open to the public, at 4:15 p.m. Feb. 25 in Mears Cottage Living Room.

Edwidge Danticat has written ten books and has received numerous awards and honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Story Prize, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

Edwidge Danticat published her first novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory, at the age of twenty-five. The book was selected for Oprah’s Book Club and was immediately recognized by readers and critics alike as heralding the emergence of a shining new literary talent. Danticat’s profound connection to her native Haiti has not only informed her literary output, but has made her a powerful and passionate advocate.

Her newest book, Claire of the Sea Light, is a stunning new work of fiction that brings us deep into the intertwined lives of a small seaside town where a little girl has gone missing. It was published in 2013, to much critical acclaim.

Previous works include Brother, I’m Dying, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and was a National Book Award finalist; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner; and The Dew Breaker, a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and winner of the inaugural Story Prize. Danticat has also received the MacArthur “Genius Grant” and been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and elsewhere.

Testing Utopia: My Summer MAP

I meet up with my guide in the Argiro Student Center.  She’s a Maharishi Vedic Science (MVS) Ph.D. student at Maharishi University of Management (MUM) in Fairfield, Iowa, and she’s agreed to show me one of the meditation domes today. The two domes are where the many hundreds of practitioners of Transcendental Meditation who live in Fairfield come twice a day to meditate.  The principles of Vastu architecture, the origins of which date back over a  thousand years, require all meditator buildings to be surrounded by a white fence, and as we pass through the gate in the fence surrounding the dome I have a feeling that I've just passed a metaphorical threshold. There's no going back now, you're really in it this time! I think as I close the latch behind us and make sure my face is composed to reveal none of my incredulity, excitement, and skepticism. I turn around and face the Bagambhrini Golden Dome for the lady meditators. Here we go….

This past summer, I completed a Mentored Advanced Project with Professor Andelson in which I conducted seven weeks of ethnographic research in Fairfield (pop. 9,500), the county seat of Jefferson Co. in southeast Iowa.  I engaged in participant-observation and conducted interviews with a focus on the surprisingly numerous sustainability initiatives in Fairfield.   Among the questions we addressed were why so many sustainability projects were occurring in Fairfield and whether the community’s accomplishments in this area could be models for other communities such as Grinnell.  My final report, “A Taste of Utopia: Cultivating a Community of Sustainability in Fairfield, Iowa (PDF)", is posted on the Center for Prairie Studies website.

While I was pleased with the outcome of the MAP and the paper, I did not feel as though I was quite finished with Fairfield.  In particular, I wanted to explore the spirituality component of the town in greater detail.  As part of my MAP research, I learned a lot about the role the Transcendental Meditation Movement has played in fostering sustainability initiatives in Fairfield.  However, the role of the Movement is much larger than its impact on sustainability.  The story of the Meditators’ arrival in Fairfield, their influence on the town’s character, the nature of TM (is it a religion, a philosophy, a world view?), divisions within the Movement, and the Movement’s response to the death of its founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi,  in 2008 are topics I hope to explore in a senior thesis in the spring semester. 

 

Religious Diversity in the Heart of Iowa

Tuesday, February 23, 2016 - 7:30pm
Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 101
Timothy Knepper
Professor of Philosophy, Drake University

 

Timothy Knepper, Professor of Philosophy, Drake University

While Christianity may be the most common religion practiced by Iowans, it is not the only one.  Drake University’s “Religions of Des Moines Initiative” is exploring, documenting, and placing Christianity in dialogue with others, including Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism, all of which have practitioners and places of worship in Des Moines.  The Initiative’s goal is to develop and practice a philosophy of religion that is diverse.

Timothy Knepper is a professor of philosophy at Drake University, where he chairs the Department of Philosophy and Religion and directs The Comparison Project, a public program in comparative philosophy of religion. He teaches and publishes in the philosophy of religion, comparative religion, late ancient Neoplatonism, and mystical discourse. He is the author of books on the future of the philosophy of religion (The Ends of Philosophy of Religion, Palgrave, 2013) and the sixth-century Christian mystic known as Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (Negating Negation, Wipf & Stock, 2014). He is currently working on an edited collection on "Comparative Grammars of Ineffability," a textbook on "Global Philosophy of Religion," and a photo-illustrated book on the "Religions of Des Moines.”

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Prairie Studies and the Department of Religious Studies.
 

So You Think You Can Write

Grinnell alumni return to campus for a two-day symposium on written communication Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19 and 20, 2016.

The free, public symposium features informational panels, writing challenges, an internship and information fair, and plenty of opportunities to talk directly with successful alumni in the field.

Schedule

Friday, Feb. 19

4 p.m. Freelance Writing Panel
Tequia Burt ’98, Courtney Sherwood ’00, and Molly McArdle ’09
Alumni Recitation Hall, Room 302
5:30 p.m. Dinner (Open only to those who preregistered by Feb. 12)
Rosenfield Center, Room 101

Saturday, Feb. 20

10 a.m. Writing Challenge Events
Students can take part in writing challenges judged by
Christa Desir ’96 and Katie In ’13.
Rosenfield Center, Room 101
12:30 p.m. Lunch With Alumni
Rosenfield Center Marketplace,
Rooms 224 A and B
2 p.m. Writing Careers: Years in the Making Panel
Dan Weeks ’80, Jeanne Pinder ’75, Jim Bickal ’82, and Molly Backes ’02
Rosenfield Center, Room 101
3:30 p.m. Internship and Information Fair
Speak one-on-one with our guest alumni.
Bucksbaum Center for the Arts rotunda
5 p.m. Networking Hour with Alumni
Refreshments will be served.
Rosenfield Center, second floor lobby
6 p.m. Dinner (Open only to those who preregistered by Feb. 12)
Rosenfield Center, Room 101

Guest Alumni Panelists

M. Molly Backes ’02

M. Molly Backes ’02 is the author of the young adult novel The Princesses of Iowa (Candlewick Press, 2012), which was named Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Fiction for Teens (2013) and Forever Young Adult’s Best YA Books of 2012 and was a finalist on NPR.org’s Best-Ever Teen Novels list in 2012. She has performed her personal essays at reading series including Essay Fiesta, Funny Ha-Ha, Is This a Thing?, and Sunday Salon and is a frequent guest at writing conferences and festivals across the country. Since graduating from Grinnell, Backes has had a number of careers, including middle school English teacher, wildlife conservation educator, arts administrator, marketing department copy writer/editor, and writing coach. She is currently an M.F.A. candidate at Iowa State University, where she teaches composition and creative writing.

Jim Bickal ’82

Jim Bickal ’82 began his career in 1984 as an unpaid intern for Minnesota Public Radio News. He has worked as a reporter and producer for MPR and Twin Cities Public Television. Some of the stories he has covered include the Minnesota Twins’ improbable 1987 World Series championship, the election of Jesse Ventura as governor of Minnesota in 1998, the 2002 Minnesota Senate campaign after the death of Paul Wellstone, and the I-35W bridge collapse in 2007. He has produced two hour-long radio documentaries. One traces a song (“The Rock Island Line” by Little Richard) to its origins, and the other looks at how growing up in Minnesota shaped Bob Dylan’s music. He is currently developing a podcast centered around the events of May 10, 2013. That’s when an unarmed man fleeing arrest broke into Bickal’s home in Minneapolis and was killed by police officers in his basement.

Tequia Burt ’98

Tequia Burt ’98 is a veteran editor and writer with more than 10 years of experience covering marketing, business, media and government. Before becoming a freelancer last year, she was editor in chief of FierceCMO. Burt earned her M.S.J. from Medill in 2005.

Christa Soule Desir ’96

Christa Soule Desir ’96 writes contemporary fiction for young adults. Her novels include Fault Line, Bleed Like Me, and Other Broken Things. She lives with her husband, three children, and overly enthusiastic dog outside Chicago. She is a founding member of the Voices and Faces Project, a nonprofit organization for rape survivors that conducts an international survivor-based testimonial writing workshop, including working with incarcerated teens. She also works as a romance editor at Samhain Publishing and once a week can be found working the stacks at Anderson’s Bookshop.

Katie In ’13

Katie In ’13 is an interdisciplinary media artist and musician based in Grinnell. She graduated from Grinnell College in 2013 with a B.A. in sociology and was a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and recipient of the Ladies Education Society Award. A socially-minded observer of the world and creator of things, In uses video, music, and performance to tell stories and communicate ideas. She is part of the collaborative group Tiny Circus as well as the Midwest-based collective and band called The Plain Mosaic.

Molly McArdle ’09

Molly McArdle ’09 is Brooklyn Magazine’s books editor and a regular contributor to Travel + Leisure. She’s also founding editor of The Rumpus’ Tumblr (The Rumblr) and the creator of The Daily GIF. Her essays, criticism, and reporting have appeared in The Believer, the Los Angeles Review of Books, BuzzFeed, The Rumpus, Atlas Obscura, Bitch Magazine, Pacific Standard, Audubon Magazine, The Oyster Review, Fusion, and Library Journal, where she was an editor on the book review. She was a member of Grinnell’s first D.C. Posse and is working on a novel.

Jeanne Pinder ’75

Jeanne Pinder ’75 is founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts.com, a New York City journalism startup bringing transparency to the health care marketplace by telling people what stuff costs. She founded ClearHealthCosts after volunteering for a buyout in 2009 from The New York Times, where she worked for almost 25 years as an editor, reporter and human resources executive. Pinder is a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. She was born and raised in Grinnell. She started working as a journalist in middle school at The Grinnell Herald-Register, her family’s twice-weekly independent paper. Before The Times, she also worked at The Des Moines Register and The Associated Press. She is a graduate of Grinnell College with a bachelor’s in Russian and studied Slavic linguistics in graduate school at Indiana University. She used to teach Russian, and she lived for a time in what was then the Soviet Union.

Courtney Sherwood ’00

Courtney Sherwood ’00 worked in newspapers for 12 years, first as a reporter then as an editor, before frustrations with the shrinking print industry prompted her to quit her day job to freelance in 2012. She continues to cover hard news from Portland, Ore., with pieces appearing in a wide range of outlets, including Science magazine online, Vice, The Irish Times, the Canadian Broadcast Corp., and many others. Most of her time is divided between NPR-affiliate Oregon Public Broadcasting, where she is a radio editor and web producer; Thompson Reuters, a news service for which she is one of two Oregon correspondents; and The Lund Report, which publishes her wonky analyses of how money moves the health care industry.

Dan Weeks ’80

Dan Weeks ’80 majored in American Studies at Grinnell and earned an M.A. in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa Graduate Writing Program. He has spent the past  30-plus years as a magazine and book writer, photographer, editor, ghostwriter, editorial manager, publishing consultant, and freelancer. His magazine profiles, features, essays, and photographs on subjects ranging from adventure travel to zinnias have appeared in dozens of national, international, and regional magazines. His book Deadliest Catch: Desperate Hours, a companion to the Emmy-nominated reality show about Bering Sea crab fishermen, was a Discovery Channel best seller. He edited The Grinnell Magazine from 2010–2013 and currently edits The Iowan magazine.

Why Americans Love the Welfare State

Spencer Piston '01Spencer Piston ’01 — an assistant professor of political science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University — will present “Why Americans Love the Welfare State in an Age of Economic Inequality” at noon, Tuesday, Feb. 16, in ARH 102.

All are welcome to the free public event. Lunch will be provided.

Piston's research examines the influence of attitudes about social groups — with particular attention to racial and class groups — on public opinion and political behavior.

His work has been published or accepted for publication in leading political science journals, including The Journal of Politics, Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Behavior, Political Communication, and Political Psychology. He has been named a Distinguished Junior Scholar by the Political Psychology Section of the American Political Science Association.

Piston's visit is sponsored by the College's Alumni in the Classroom Program.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. ARH is wheelchair accessible. Automatic door operators are located on the southeast and southwest sides. Accessible parking is available along Park Street. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.