News Briefs

  • Balto, Stern receive prestigious NEH Fellowships

    January 22, 2020

    Simon Balto
    Simon Balto

    David Stern
    David G. Stern

    Two University of Iowa professors have earned highly competitive, prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowships to enable them to pursue their research.

    Simon Balto, Assistant Professor of History and African American Studies, and David G. Stern, Professor of Philosophy, are among just 99 NEH Fellowship recipients nationwide for the 2020-21 cycle, and the only two from the state of Iowa.

    NEH Fellowships are granted to individual scholars pursuing projects that embody exceptional research, rigorous analysis, and clear writing. The fellowships provide $60,000 to give the recipients time to conduct research or to produce books, monographs, peer-reviewed articles, e-books, digital materials, translations with annotations or a critical apparatus, or critical editions resulting from previous research.

    Simon Balto: Racial Framing: Blackfaced Criminals in Jim Crow America

    Balto's project is titled, "Racial Framing: Blackfaced Criminals in Jim Crow America," a book on the practice and implications of Jim Crow-era criminal minstrelsy, or white criminals donning blackface before committing crimes. Balto describes his research:

    "The controversy over early-2019 revelations that Virginia politicians had donned blackface in their college years has generated a resurgence of interest in the history and currency of blackface minstrelsy in the United States. In op-ed pages like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, nighttime news reports on MSNBC and CNN, and podcasts such as BackStory and NPR’s Codeswitch, scholars, journalists, and other commentators have tried to make sense of this phenomenon and its place in American life. At the root of these discussions has been a recognition of blackface as a complex and disturbing practice—steeped in racist mythology, beloved by white audiences, despised by black publics, stubbornly present in nineteenth- and twentieth-century American culture, and still informing American culture and racial perceptions to this day.

    "And yet there is a whole other layer to the history of blackface that has been overlooked both in contemporary conversations about blackface and in all of the established literature on it. During the late nineteenth century and persisting well into the middle of the twentieth, at least hundreds (more likely, thousands) of white criminals drew from the blackface traditions that stage actors, composers, playwrights, and cultural marketers had forged, donning blackface before going out to commit crimes and, in the process, framing black people for them. They made use of a range of items from the blackface minstrels’ visual toolbox, including burnt cork, greasepaint, and field hand overalls. Some of them used gum, cotton, and other materials that could be used to widen the appearance of noses, enlarge cheeks, or make lips more prominent. In this process, they labored to present themselves as black criminals to divert attention from their own white crimes, which included all manner of offense, from murder to robbery to rape, and transcended region across the country. 

    "Racial Framing: Blackfaced Criminals in Jim Crow America, explores this history in detail for the first time. It is a crucial history that reveals a great deal about culture, race, crime, and violence in America."

    Balto teaches, researches, and writes about African American history in the United States. His first book, Occupied Territory: Policing Black Chicago from Red Summer to Black Power (University of North Carolina Press, 2019), explores the development of a police system in Chicago’s Black neighborhoods that over the course of the mid-twentieth century became simultaneously brutally repressive and neglectful. His writing has also appeared in TIME magazine, The Washington Post, The Progressive, the Journal of African American History, Labor, and numerous other popular and scholarly outlets.

    David G. Stern: The First Complete Translation of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus

    Stern's project, "The First Complete Translation of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus," will lead to publication of a complete English-language edition of Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus (1921). Wittgenstein was an Austrian philosopher who lived from 1889–1951. Stern's project includes continuing work on the University of Iowa Tractatus map, a collaboration with the UI Libraries' Digital Studio that presents the structure of Wittgenstein's book in the form of a subway-style map. Stern describes his research:

    "Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, first published in German in 1922, is a foundational work of early analytic philosophy and a modernist literary masterpiece. Two short books will provide the first consistent, accurate, and complete translation of Tractatus and its sources. It will be the first translation of the book’s 526 numbered remarks to use the tree-structured order used to write it, as well as the numerical order in which it was published. This new arrangement will give experts a fresh way of looking at how the book was written. Beginning readers will find it considerably less difficult to read. The new edition will include the first translation of three successive drafts of Tractatus from 1915, 1916, and 1917, and of ten thousand words of wartime diaries."

    David G. Stern's research interests include the works of Ludwig, Wittgenstein, history of analytic philosophy, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, philosophy and computing, and digital humanities. He is the author of two books on Wittgenstein, and editor of three compilations of that philosopher's work and investigations into his ideas. 


    Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at:

  • Professor Ana Merino wins major Spanish literary prize

    January 15, 2020

  • Professor and Dean Emeritus Gerhard "Jerry" Loewenberg (1928-2019); led CLAS, department, and Political Science discipline

    January 15, 2020

  • Ciochon team determines age for last known settlement by a direct ancestor to modern humans

    December 18, 2019

  • Creative Writing student receives honor for her essay emulating the lasting effects of suicide

    December 16, 2019

    April BannisterUniversity of Iowa English and Creative Writing major April Bannister turned her sorrow into art as she shared her personal experience through writing. Her essay was published in UReCA: The NCHC Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity. Bannister’s essay titled “I Owe You An Apology You Will Never Receive,” is a courageous piece that shares the lasting effects of suicide. Bannister is a sophomore at the University of Iowa and is from Saint Paul, Minnesota.

    “Suicide reaches so far beyond what many recognize as its immediate effects, and I wanted to articulate why this matters and why it is crucial that we destigmatize conversations surrounding suicide,” Bannister said.

    UReCA is the official undergraduate journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council. This year only 25 students enrolled in undergraduate degree programs were accepted into the journal at a 13% acceptance rate. UReCA fosters the exchange of ideas between undergraduate students, providing a platform where students can engage with, and contribute to, the advancement of their individual fields. 

    “This work is original and believable, demonstrating a unique perspective in showing the impact individuals have in the lives of the people around them,” a member from the UReCA editorial team said.

    Bannister wrote the essay as an exercise for her Foundations of Creative Writing course taught by Professor Julie Kedzie. Kedzie describes Bannister’s work as reaching far beyond the expectations of the course.

    “I feel lucky to have a student like April in class,” Kedzie said. “April’s writing is well constructed and fully grasps the perfect combination of narrative and lyrism writing.” 

    The prompt for the exercise was to write about a private moment in public time. This was Bannister’s opportunity to express her personal feelings by voicing her experience through writing.

    After perfecting her piece, she decided to submit her work to the UReCA. Receiving recognition through the UReCA was a rewarding feeling for Bannister as she spent hours aiming to successfully emulate her take on suicide.

    Selections for the journal are made from submissions received by a team of undergraduates at multiple colleges across the nation. Submissions are received throughout the year and represent a wide range of subjects, including creative works, scientific studies, and humanities research. Submissions are received on a rolling basis, and final decisions are made every August.

    Bannister plans to continue writing with the goal of increasing awareness and decrease the stigma surrounding mental health.

    “The more we are able to talk about sensitive subjects, the more we empower ourselves rather than let the pain control the narrative,” Bannister said.

    Bannister dreams of attending the Iowa Writers' Workshop after receiving her bachelor's degree, and plans to pursue a MFA in Creative Writing.

  • What will the Communications Center time capsule reveal?

    December 06, 2019

  • Racevskis, Sanders, Tomova appointed Associate Deans in College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

    December 04, 2019

    The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) is appointing three faculty members to new collegiate leadership positions, effective January 1, 2020.

    Roland RacevskisProfessor of French and Italian Roland Racevskis has been appointed as Associate Dean for the Arts and Humanities. Racevskis joined the UI faculty in 1998, and has served as chair of the Department of French and Italian; chair of the Department of German; and associate director of the Division of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.


    Sara SandersProfessor of Social Work Sara Sanders will be Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives, as well as the college's Director of Diversity. In her role as Director of Diversity, Sanders will chair the CLAS Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Sanders, who is currently director of the School of Social Work, joined the UI faculty in 2003.


    Maggy TomovaProfessor of Mathematics Maggy Tomova, who joined the faculty in 2005, is being named Associate Dean for the Natural, Mathematical, and Social Sciences. Tomova is currently chair of the Department of Mathematics.


    Dean Steve Goddard said the new appointments will help CLAS meet its strategic goals.

    "I am delighted to welcome these colleagues to our leadership team," Goddard said. "Each is an accomplished scholar and administrator who will bring new energy, vision, and expertise to our college. I look forward to working with them to develop and implement initiatives that will enable us to better serve our students, state, and society."

    Professors Jerald Moon of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and Ana Rodríguez-Rodríguez of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese led the search committee for the three positions. Goddard expressed his thanks to the committee and the college's faculty and staff for a successful process.

    "I have been impressed by the efficient and inclusive process that the search committee conducted, and by the high level of engagement and interest among our faculty and staff," said Goddard. "The quality of applicants we received and the insightful feedback we got from our colleagues during the process are great signs of our shared commitment to excellence and impact throughout our college and the University of Iowa."

    The appointees will join Marc Armstrong, Associate Dean for Research and Infrastructure; Helena Dettmer, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Curriculum; Christine Getz, Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Outreach and Engagement; and Goddard as the college's faculty leadership. The CLAS senior leadership team also includes staff members Nic Arp, Director of Strategic Communications; Christina Berthel, Senior Director of Human Resources; and Erin Herting, Director of Business and Financial Administration.

  • Professor Jean Gordon finds new ways to help aphasia sufferers use language

    November 21, 2019

  • The Fall of the Berlin Wall Through Iowans' Eyes

    November 08, 2019

  • Gurnett, Kurth: Voyager 2 reaches interstellar space

    November 07, 2019


The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa is a comprehensive college offering 73 majors in the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. More than 17,000 undergraduate and 1,900 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by professors at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all UI undergraduates through the General Education Program, and confers about 70 percent of the UI's bachelor's degrees each academic year.