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Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities


The Donald Benson Memorial Lecture


This annual lecture honors Donald Benson, whose scholarship emphasized interdisciplinary approaches to literature, science, and the arts. See below for more about professor Benson.

Nominations open for the 2016 Benson Lecture. Due September 15, 2016.
More information (PDF).


2015 Donald Benson Memorial Lecture

The Arc of Memory: Building a Progressive
Historic Preservation Movement

Max Page

Monday, 30 Mar 2015 at 7:00 pm
Sun Room, Memorial Union

Max Page, Professor of Architecture and History, and Director of Historic Preservation Initiatives at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, will discuss how the historic preservation movement contributes to building more sustainable, meaningful, and fair communities. His talk looks ahead to the fiftieth anniversary of the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act, which established the policies by which we in the United States preserve our physical past.

Dr. Page is a recipient of fellowships from the Howard Foundation, Fulbright Commission, and Guggenheim Foundation, and was one of three scholars to receive the 2013 American Academy in Rome Prize for Historic Preservation and Conservation. He has written or edited a number of publications about architectural history, urbanism, and the politics of urban development. They include The Creative Destruction of Manhattan, 1900-1940; The City’s End: Two Centuries of Fantasies, Fears, and Premonitions of New York’s Destruction, and Giving Preservation a History: Histories of Historic Preservation in the United States.



About the Donald Benson Memorial Lecture Fund


This annual lecture fund honors Donald Benson, a former ISU English Professor, who had long-term interest in the relationships among the three intellectual disciplines of literature, science and the arts.

Donald R. Benson

March 30, 1927 - March 30, 1998

Professor Donald Benson came to Iowa State University's Department of English in 1958 and was Chairman of the department from 1972 to 1978. He remained teaching until 1993 and died, after struggling with Lou Gehrig's Disease, in 1998.

Over the years he taught a wide range of courses from Freshman English through Chaucer, to British Literature of the Renaissance to Milton, on to Modern Fiction and Technical Writing. He eventually became interested in the interconnections between Literature and Science and the Visual Arts. With his colleague, Karl Guiasda, he developed and taught a two semester graduate course called "Science and Literary Imagination." Students responded enthusiastically saying that it was the most challenging experience in their graduate work.

He began publishing with a ground breaking article on the novelist, Joseph Conrad, "Constructing an Ethereal Cosmos: Late Classical Physics and Conrad's Lord Jim." He prepared and published a paper entitled "The Reconstruction of Space in Kandinsky's Aesthetics Theory," for the very first Symposium on Literature and Science, and later for the same organization, "The Spatial Paradigm: Teaching Students to Read Literature and Science."

This lecture series emphasizes continuing study of such intriguing connections.



Previous Speakers


Spring 2013 - Ann Taves, V. Cordano Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara

Spring 2012 - Elliott West, Distinguished Professor, Alumni Distinguished Professor, History - American West, American Indian at the University of Arkansas