2015 CEAH Fellow in the Arts and Humanities
Matthew Wynn Sivils
The CEAH Fellowship in the Arts and Humanities distinguishes a well-established ISU scholar who has recently completed a major scholarly project.
Fellows present their research to the ISU community in public lectures and a short series of colloquia and forums.
"The Literary Aftershocks of the New Madrid Earthquakes"
Opening Lecture and Reception
February 4, 2015
Upper Rotunda, Parks Library
6:30 pm hors d'oeuvres reception, 7:00 pm lecture
Drawing from his recent scholarship on early American environmental fiction, Professor Sivils will discuss the cultural reverberations of one of the most powerful natural disasters to strike North America in recorded history: the New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811–1812. He will also examine how the fictionalization of such a cataclysm in early American fiction served as a indicator of growing environmental anxiety among Americans as the nation moved away from its agricultural origins toward an increasingly industrialized future.
"Early Natural History Texts: The Roots of American Environmentalism"
Lecture and Special Collections Tour
March 4, 2015
Special Collections Reading Room, Parks Library
The seeds of America’s environmental identity were first planted by a handful of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century naturalist-explorers. These naturalists—who were as much artists and poets as scientists—made it their mission to discover, record, and share North America’s natural diversity. These volumes, published by figures such as Mark Catesby, Alexander Wilson, and John James Audubon, contain powerful descriptions and stunning illustrations of the plants and animals that would come to define the land. Professor Sivils will provide a brief overview of some of the most influential of these texts, followed by a viewing of rare natural history volumes housed in the ISU Library’s Department of Special Collections.
"Roundtable Discussion on Interdisciplinary Research"
April 2, 2015
Ensminger Room, Kildee Hall
5:30 pm gathering, 6 pm presentation and roundtable discussion
Knowledge rarely confines itself to disciplinary boundaries. Humanities scholars increasingly find it productive to engage in studies that ignore the borders of convention, finding that they must become conversant in areas of inquiry removed from their formal expertise. To help foster a conversation on this subject, Professor Sivils, a former wildlife biologist who is now an associate professor of literature at Iowa State University, will hold an informal roundtable discussion for those interested in pursuing interdisciplinary research in the humanities.
"Imaging the Prairie, Then and Now"
Closing Lecture and Exhibit Tour
April 26, 2015
2pm -4pm Brunnier Art Museum
Walt Whitman called the prairie “America’s characteristic landscape.” Since Whitman’s day the actual prairie ecosystem has suffered greatly from shortsighted exploitation. Nevertheless, this landscape has left an indelible mark upon the nation’s larger cultural identity, a mark that remains with us to this day. Exploring the origins of this imagined prairie in a selection of key works of early American literature, Professor Sivils will discuss how the prairie landscape functioned as a challenge to European-American conceptions of the land, while it at the same time became a defining emblem of the American experience. This event will be held at the Brunnier Art Museum’s exhibit of Iowa artist Ellen Wagener’s landscapes, and following the presentation a tour of Wagener’s work will be provided by Museum staff.
Past CEAH Programming and
For information on past CEAH programming series, seminars, and events: Events