Obermann Center Fellows-in-Residence fully devote themselves to projects within an interdisciplinary community. The program supports artists, researchers, and scholars during periods when focus and feedback are crucial. The program is rooted in our mission: to support the work of individual scholars, while also providing them with the opportunity to enrich a single, discipline-specific project through interdisciplinary exchanges with a lively intellectual community of Fellows.


Mary Cohen (Music, CLAS; College of Education)

  • cohenpiano 2Conducted research for her book Silenced Voices: Music-Making in U.S. Prisons
  • Edited the proceedings from the 2016 Community Music Activity Seminar
  • Developed a partnership with Iowa City’s Horace Mann Elementary School to create opportunities for UI School of Music graduate students to teach at Horace Mann
  • Formed “Buddy Mentors” program for UI music education students; the program partners current students with recent graduates of the program who are teaching in the region
  • Planned Oakdale Choir concert performance, including arranging three original songs and rehearsing with the choir

“It was great to have a place to go to away from home…. I also really appreciated meeting the other Obermann fellows.”

Edward Cohn (History, Grinnell College)


  • Wrote an article manuscript, presented it at the Midwest Russian History Workshop at Northwestern University, revised it, and then submitted it to a journal
  • Drafted a conference paper for the Conference on Baltic Studies in Europe
  • Submitted an application for an NEH Fellowship application
  • Entered information about 300 cases of KGB persecution in the Baltic states into a database for a book project

“The Obermann Center has been a great place to work this semester. I’ve enjoyed participating in the Center’s biweekly seminar (where I presented a journal article I’m about to submit), and it’s been really convenient to be near the UI library and other historians and scholars of Russia.”

Kathleen Diffley (English, CLAS)

  • Diffley235Submitted a revised book prospectus for The Fateful Lightning: Civil War Stories and the Literary Marketplace, 1861-1876
  • Completed a newly theorized book introduction
  • Revised and submitted a conference paper for a biennial author society meeting (“Numbered, Numbered: Commemorating the Civil War Dead in Woolson’s ‘Rodman the Keeper’”), a paper that has since become an invited essay for a prestigious special issue of American Literary History on Reconstruction
  • Organized and chaired two American Literature Association sessions, one of which resulted in an invitation to edit a special issue of ESQ on Reconstruction(s)
  • Organized an eight-session conference for November 2017

“You bet I’m grateful for the encouragement, support, and sheer quiet that the Obermann Center provides. The staff is uniformly welcoming, and the biweekly seminars have always been collegial, productive, and truly invigorating.”

James Enloe (Anthropology, CLAS)

  • enloe235Prepared data from the Upper Paleolithic archaeological site of Verberie, France, for a monograph on the excavation of this prehistoric reindeer hunters’ campsite
  • Began drafting the French language text of a chapter of the Verberie monograph
  • Wrote yearly report for Coralville Reservoir excavation permit and submitted it to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Prepared presentations on Woodpecker Cave for the 2016 Midwestern Archaeological Conference and the 2017 meeting of the Society for American Archaeology
  • Co-authored a paper for the Journal of Human Evolution

“Obermann’s biweekly seminar was an integral part of the success of my fellowship. By bringing in viewpoints from other disciplines, I was able to sharpen the clarity of my papers. As the only professed scientist in the group, it reminded me of how to effectively integrate humanist points of view in emphasizing the significance of my scientific questions and results. Participating in the seminar when others presented helped me keep a more open mind on other disciplines, enriching my understanding of the humanities. And it was fun!”

Marian Wilson Kimber (Music, CLAS)

  • kimber235Wrote an article on women composers’ concerts organized by Phillis Fergus in the 1930s on behalf of the National League of American Pen Women
  • Prepared a lecture recital of compositions for spoken word and piano by Phyllis Fergus and other women composers, memorizing and practicing eleven poems
  • Conducted research at Pen Arts archive in Washington, DC
  • Designed a new course

“The biweekly seminar was helpful in my thinking beyond my specific project about my next career steps, my relationship to academia as a whole, and the state of academia’s relationship to the broader world.”

Matthew Kluber (Art, Grinnell College)

Professor Kluber was a Mellon University of Iowa/Grinnell College Digital Bridges Fellow-in-Residence.

  • Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 12.33.57 PMBuilt a digital image database of artwork created by Grinnell students, which will eventually be accessible to current students and faculty as well as prospective students and alumni. It will become part of Digital Grinnell, the database for Grinnell College scholarship, with a link on the Department of Art and Art History’s website.

Shaun Vecera (Psychological and Brain Sciences, CLAS)

  • Vecera235Revised and resubmitted a manuscript on attentional disengagement under active listening
  • Wrote follow-up manuscript on attentional disengagement under working memory maintenance and manipulation
  • Met weekly with a group of three undergraduate students for a guided independent reading project
  • Visited Prof. David Strayer at the University of Utah to develop a collaborative study on attentional search/scanning during driving

“My time at the Obermann Center was valuable for giving me space that I could devote to writing, reading, and thinking.”

Manuel Vilas (Author)

  • vilas235Wrote the poem “Great Hotel of the Borromean Islands,” which won the prestigious XXV Manuel Alcántara Poetry Prize in June 2017
  • Worked on a new nonfiction book, Crónicas Americanas (American Chronicles), which develops a literary and socio-poetic approach to the space of several American cities through the perspective of a Spanish narrator confronting American myths and culture

About Obermann Center

The University of Iowa’s Obermann Center for Advanced Studies in Iowa City, Iowa.