Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities

Recent CEAH Events (2014-2015)

2015 CEAH Fellow in the Arts and Humanities

Matthew Wynn Sivils

CEAH logo

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
7pm -8pm

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.

CEAH Research Summit

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
302 Catt Hall

The Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities announces the first annual Arts and Humanities Research Summit at Iowa State University to be held Thursday October 23, 2014. Iowa State faculty working in the arts and humanities disciplines will present their creative and research-based scholarship in a collegial setting over a single morning culminating in a light lunch reception for attendees and participants.

The morning event will be comprised of two panel presentations and several lightning round sessions where each participant will introduce their creative and research-based scholarship in timed four-minute segments.

Summit Agenda

9:05 - Welcome and Introductory Remarks

  • Christopher Hopkins, Director, CEAH
  • Wolfgang Kliemann, Associate Vice President for Research

9:15 - Lightning-Round Research Presentations

  • Amanda Petefish-Schrag (Theatre)
  • First, do no harm: Sustaining Tradition, Aesthetics, and Ethics in Puppet Design and Construction

  • Diane Al Shihabi (Interior Design)
  • Beaux-Arts Design Theory and Historic Preservation Practice: Facilitating Civic Responsibility Through Engaged Scholarship

  • John Cunnally (Art and Visual Culture)
  • Art and Visual Culture The Amici Huberti Project

  • Benjamin Shirtcliff (Landscape Architecture)
  • Playing-in-place: appropriation and environmental justice in the Crescent City

  • Chris Martin (Integrated Studio Arts)
  • Chieftaincy Stool - Symbol, Metaphor, or Blank Canvas

  • Brad Dell (Theatre)
  • Directing the Great Plays

  • Ross Exo Adams (Architecture)
  • To Fill the Earth: Circulation and Urbanization

Panel Discussion

10:00 - Connecting Arts and Humanities with the Sciences: creativity, communication, and culture

  • "Innovative Ideation Behavior in Design and Engineering"
  • Seda Yilmaz (Industrial Design, Center for e-Design, HCI)

  • Communicating Science in Controversial Contexts"
  • Jean Goodwin (English/Speech Communication, Science Communication Project @ISU)

  • "Connecting History and Cultural Contexts With Engineering and Science"
  • Amy Bix (History, Center for Historical Studies of Technology and Science)

10:45 - Lightning-Round Research Presentations

  • Jane Cox (Theatre)
  • Exploring the one-woman script

  • Will Prindle (Industrial Design)
  • Research, design and development of explosion resistant receptacles

  • Paula J. Curran (Graphic Design)
  • Artist's Books: Convergence of book object and the written word

  • Jan Lauren Boyles (Journalism and Mass Communication)
  • Beyond Algorithms and Analytics: Examining the Data-Driven Newsroom

Panel Discussion

11:10 - "Advancing Arts and Humanities Research with Major Awards

  • "African Sculpture and the French Invention of Primitive Art"
  • John Monroe (History, 2013 Howard Foundation Fellowship)

  • Roman Columns: Finding Nervi in Italy
  • Thomas Leslie (Architecture, 2013 Rome Prize, American Academy in Rome)

  • "Showcase Technology, Visual Culture and the Narrative Value of Soviet Public Space"
  • James T. Andrews (History, 2013 residency grant Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars)
11:55 (End)
Noon - 1 p.m. - Light Lunch Reception

Past programming offered by CEAH

2013-2014 program: Jane Jacobs and Rachel Carson: How They Changed Our World

2012-2013 program: Relationships Renewed

2011-2012 program: Interstitial Connections

2010-11 program: Drawn, Analog to Digital

2009-10 program: Iowa in the Global Community : Inside/Out

2008-09 program: Sustaining the Earth

2007-08 program: The Book of Life in a Genomic Age

2006-07 program: Places, Peoples, and Spatial Practices

2005-06 program: Cultivating the Creative Faculty

2004-05 program: Cultures in Contact: Cultures in Conflict

2003-04 program: Arts & Humanities in the Environment