The University of Iowa

Stanley Graduate Awards: 2016 winners

In the spring of 2016, 24 graduate students received Stanley Awards worth $2,500 each for a total of $60,000 awarded. The recipients and their project summaries are listed below. 

Andrew Calvert
M.F.A., Creative Writing
Destination: Philippines
Project Title: The Manila Braves
I am proposing to spend four weeks in the Philippines gathering material for a novel set in Manila during the American occupation. My research will focus on the geography, architecture, social life, and politics of Manila between the years 1902 and 1936. In addition to visiting museums, historical archives, and key battle sites, and I will meet with Filipino scholars— particularly those who have studied the lives of the pensionistas, an elite group of Filipinos selected by American authorities for a U.S. education and a career in politics.

Hyunsik Chun
M.A., Sociology
Destination: South Korea
Project Title: The Impact of University Rankings on Korean Higher Education
For this Stanley project, I will conduct preliminary qualitative research to examine the impact of university rankings on Korean higher education. This project will investigate the technical, institutional, and cultural changes in higher education provoked by university rankings. I will carry out two months of fieldwork consisting of interviews with university administrators and ranking institution representatives, as well as the analysis of collections of ranking-related research materials. As I have been in contact with key informants, I will be able to proceed with this fieldwork over this summer. I expect that I can accomplish the following from this research: First, it provides an opportunity to identify and develop a set of defined research agendas related to this topic. Second, it is an integral phase of data collection attached to my planned Master’s Thesis project on university rankings. Third, it will help me to develop my long-term academic interest, namely, examining the social construction of public measurements, the various roles of third parties in specific fields, and the contested meaning of academic excellence.

Amanda Dennis
M.F.A., Fiction Writing
Destination: Denmark
Project Title: Energy
My proposed project for the Stanley Graduate Award is to undertake research in preparation for a novel about a sustainable energy community. I will spend one month, from July 15th to August 15th, on the island of Samsø in Denmark, the only renewable energy island in the world. The research I will undertake during this month will enable me to write the first draft a novel, which I will submit as my thesis to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop for an MFA in fiction. I will interview Samsø’s residents and the designers of its Ten-Year Renewable Island Energy Project, work on a farm powered exclusively by renewable energy and create a short video documentary of the island, the landscape of which is the blueprint for the setting of my novel. Gaining familiarity with the practical challenges faced by an energy-independent community, will enable me to depict life on an energy island with accuracy, in a way that speaks to real challenges faced by 21st-century communities seeking energy-independent, sustainable lifestyles.

Iracema Drew
M.F.A., Creative Writing
Destination: Ireland
Project Title: Arrivals and Departures: Places Shaped by Immigration
I am applying for the Stanley Grant in order to conduct research for my MFA thesis in Fiction at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. My thesis will consist of a collection of short stories that explore the way places and communities are transformed by immigration. I plan to spend two weeks in Dublin, researching the history of Brazilian immigration to Ireland at the Old Library of Trinity College and the National Library of Ireland, and two weeks in the town of Gort, immersing myself in the daily life and culture of a town uniquely affected by immigration and displacement. In the late 90s, a meat processing plant opened up in Gort, and an influx of new Brazilian workers brought the town’s Brazilian population to over 30%, a majority of whom were forced to leave after the plant closed down in 2007. This history, and its effects on the town and community of Gort, would greatly inform my understanding of place and transnational identity as I prepare for my thesis work.

Sandra Gomez Todo
Ph.D., Art History
Destination: England
Project Title: Forms of (Un)masked Femininity: Self-fashioning, Identity and Female Agency in Eighteenth-Century Masquerades in Britain
Following the completion of my coursework as a second-year Fulbright doctoral student, I intend to undertake a four-week research trip to the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, England and the Assembly Rooms and the Holburne Museum in Bath, England. My goal is to conduct preliminary archival and visual research that will be crucial for the writing of my dissertation proposal on eighteenth-century British art. My project will focus on how the masquerade reached its major heights in leisure culture as the perfect scenario for exploring the boundaries of gender and identity through artistic self-fashioning. This phenomenon produced an extensive visual culture of prints and paintings depicting the festivities. However, due to the popular character of these prints and the understudied status of some of the artists and their work, they are not extensively published or digitized in high resolution. These highly detailed representations of the masquerades, and the often multiple versions of the same work, require a close examination in order to accurately read elements such as the costumes, make-up and the social interactions, which articulated the relations between the act of masking and femininity in eighteenth-century public spaces. Simultaneously, the transference of these motifs to painting demands a thorough comparison between the different media based on a careful visual and iconographical analysis in situ. Finally, familiarizing myself with some of the still existing spaces where these events took place, such as the Ranelagh Gardens in London or the Assembly Rooms in Bath, will enormously enrich my understanding of the context in which the masked balls took place. Ultimately the goal of this investigation is to assert how these events provided a new model for women’s roles in the public space. By examining the existence of agency for women in the past, I wish to contribute to the contemporary discourse on women’s equality through a better understanding of their ancestors’ participation in society and culture.

Rebecca Hanssens-Reed
M.F.A., Literary Translation
Destination: Cuba
Project Title: New Voices from Cuba: Translating Feminist literature from “Special-Period” Havana
I plan to study contemporary women’s literature in Havana, Cuba upon completion of my first year of study as an MFA student in Literary Translation. I am specifically interested in fiction that explores experiences from the economic crisis during the 1990s, also known as the "Special Period". Literature by women in particular became more prominent during this time, yet is scarcely available outside of Cuba. The recent thawing of relations between the United States and Cuba has inaugurated an increased interest in Cuba and its culture, yet the majority of literature written in the last few decades remains untranslated. In Havana, I will gain a greater familiarity of the social, political, and economic climate through access to books that are unavailable in the United States, and by attending local literary events at the Union of Cuban Writers and Artists (UNEAC), an organization and venue that serves as a hub for cultural gatherings. My research will build on the work I have already done with Cuban literature, most recently translating work by literary critic and novelist Margarita Mateo Palmer for Cubanabooks Press. Most importantly, I will be able to work personally with the authors whose writing I will translate. This will be fundamental work for my MFA thesis, for which I will complete a book-length translation project of contemporary Cuban fiction. The Graduate Stanley Award will be crucial for building my knowledge of Cuban literature, as well as my relationship with the Cuban literary community, so that I may complete my MFA thesis and continue to pursue my work as a professional translator.

Kirsten Ihns
M.F.A., Poetry
Destination: France
Project Title: The Poetics of Visual Narrative: Translating the Language of the Bayeux Tapestry
My poems and research are interested in two major questions: how can one translate the logic of a visual medium in a textual form, and how can one render the texture of a foreign language in English? I am applying for a Stanley Grant for International Research to spend ~5 weeks in Bayeux, France, studying the Bayeux Tapestry, and interviewing people from different social classes and education levels about it. My observations, photographs, interview transcriptions, research on the tapestry’s history, and responses to the installation of this massive work will allow me to write a set of poems which will make up a significant portion of my MFA thesis in poetry.

Anna Isbell
Ph.D., Art History
Destination: England
Project Title: Dying for Love: Love Induced Madness and Death in Victorian Art
In the summer of 2016, I will travel to London to conduct preliminary research for my Ph.D. dissertation in nineteenth century English art. My research focuses on the inherent dangers of love for the fragile and impressionable Victorian lady, and how love could lead to her destruction. The Tate Britain, Victoria & Albert Museum, British Library, and the British Museum hold a number of archival materials, paintings, drawings, and prints depicting this theme. Many artists influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites and their colleagues were drawn to poems and stories that portrayed love as an all-consuming emotion capable of driving a woman to madness and sometimes to her death. My four-week research project will examine the Pre-Raphaelite ideal of love, the consequences of transgressive passions that consume every aspect of a woman’s being, and the absolution granted by death. London’s museums hold a vast number of Victorian artworks that depict this theme of love induced madness, suicide, and murder, including images of the Lady of Shalott, Isabella and the Basil Plant, Medea, Queen Eleanor and Fair Rosamund, and Ophelia. Artists with dissimilar backgrounds, views, political leanings, and personalities portrayed these stories of love leading to the destruction of women. The ever-present fear of sexual women did not only present itself in hyper-sexualized femme fatales, but in the belief that women who were consumed by lust and love would harm themselves.

James Mcgrath
Ph.D., Anthropology
Destination: South Africa, Namibia
Project Title: Geochemical sourcing of archaeological ochres in South Africa and Namibia
The purpose of my research is to test a human territoriality model with the sourcing of southern African ochre (red and yellow mineral pigments) from Middle and Later Stone Age archaeological contexts. This model will be tested by determining the distance in which ancient humans traveled in order to procure ochre for paint production. Sourcing of ochres from archaeological contexts involves determining the geochemical makeup of the individual ochres and comparing them to the makeup of raw material sources. I will do this by collecting raw ochre samples and archaeological ochres from several locations in South Africa and Namibia and then submitting these samples for Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis (INAA) and X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyses upon my return to the USA.

Lisa Miles
M.F.A., Book Arts
Destination: Mexico
Project Title: Book Arts in Mexico: Pre-Columbian to Contemporary Art
I am applying for a Stanley Graduate Award for International Research in order to gather materials, techniques, and cultural contexts for my MFA thesis exhibition in Book Arts. I will travel to Mexico to research Pre-Columbian art and contemporary book arts – printmaking, papermaking, bookbinding, natural dyes, and indigenous writing. My research will include museum visits, artist book responses to archaeological sites, an artist residency, learning traditional beaten bark papermaking from native craftsmen, studying plant dyes, and engaging with artists. This integrative research will further develop my skills and material resources culminating in my thesis exhibition that will emphasize hand-printed, hand-dyed bark paper books inspired by the bark paper codices of the ancient empires of Mexico.

Scott A. Olson
Ph.D., Anthropology
Destination: Germany
Project Title: Tied Together: Techniques of Regulation and Intimacy in Berlin BDSM Clubs
To speak of sadomasochistic sex clubs conjures the image of somewhere dark and anonymous, where individuals commit uninhibited, dangerous, potentially violent acts without regard for safety or comfort. However, as I discovered in previous ethnographic work in sex clubs, these spaces spend considerable administrative energy regulating the behavior of their patrons, both to ensure safety, and to promote comfort and intimacy. For this Stanley Award Project, I intend to use semi-structured interviews and observation to investigate the connection between the way BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadomasochism) sex clubs in Berlin, Germany develop and enforce rules regarding acceptable behavior, and how those rules inform the way attendees express physical and emotional closeness with one another. In contrast to the violent and antisocial mainstream image of BDSM, the experiences of many BDSM practitioners point instead to intense and innovative forms of intimacy within these organized and regulated social-sexual spaces. Regulations set by sex clubs in this way appear to be significant not only in preventing unsafe and dangerous behavior, but in shaping the way people in the club express intimacy and affection. As such, this project speaks not only to BDSM clubs and the people who frequent them, but to how institutional regulation and power shapes expressions of intimacy more broadly. With this in mind, I focus on a central research question: how do techniques of regulation in a public BDSM club shape expressions of interpersonal physical and emotional connection between BDSM practitioners? By examining how people connect with each other in these clubs alongside club regulations, this research will shed light on the role institutions play in interpersonal connection more broadly. Furthermore, this project will provide a vital preliminary fieldwork opportunity for a larger dissertation project which extends the current research question to include state power in Germany and public space more broadly. With this in mind, Berlin, Germany’s history with both strong state-based sexual regulation and a vibrant public sex scene makes it a critical site for this research.

Xiaofei Pan
Ph.D., Second Language Acquisition
Destination: China
Project Title: Investigating the Use of Chinese in Collaborative Writing among Chinese Language Learners of Different First Languages
I am applying for the Stanley Graduate Award for International Research in order to travel to Shanghai, China from June to August, 2016, to conduct a preliminary linguistic study for my Ph.D degree in Second Language Acquisition. I plan to go to East China Normal University (ECNU) to recruit intermediate-level Chinese learners that do not speak the same first language, and pair them to write essays together in Chinese. I can only conduct this research in China because the Chinese language classrooms there are composed of learners speaking many different first languages. Such research is rarely possible in the U.S., because students in intermediate-level Chinese classes here predominantly speak English as their first language. I will investigate the ways in which these learners use Chinese, their only common language, to communicate with each other, overcome language barriers and solve problems in the process of writing. The findings will help instructors better understand the features of collaborative writing in Chinese to improve instruction, as well as prepare me for my dissertation and future professional development.

Subin Paul
Ph.D., Mass Communication
Destination: Qatar
Project Title: Newspapers and identity-construction among Malayali migrants in Qatar
For my Stanley project, I propose to examine the role of print newspapers in producing a sense of community among Malayali migrants in Doha, Qatar. This pre-dissertation research will contribute to my doctoral degree in mass communication by enabling me to interview readers and editors of Gulf Madhyamam (GM)—the largest Malayalam-language newspaper in Qatar. GM is published by Malayalis, the dominant indigenous ethnic group in the south Indian state of Kerala as well as the largest immigrant group in Qatar. My fieldwork will illuminate how Malayali migrant workers use the newspaper to negotiate their social position in Qatar where they do not have rights as citizens. With the ongoing Syrian civil war and its spillover in parts of the Middle East, journalism has assumed greater importance not only because of its function to disseminate news, but also to build community among members of Malayali migrants. The examination of news media as an instrument of community building is a growing area of research. Yet, scholars have seldom discussed this in fluid societies like the Middle East. My project addresses this research gap and will contribute to understanding the connections between media and identity.

Annemarie Pearson
Ph.D., English; M.F.A. Literary Translation
Destination: London and Wiltshire, United Kingdom
Project Title: Uncovering the Writings of Lady Elizabeth Herbert: Traveler, Convert, Philanthropist, Translator
The Stanley Graduate Award will be used for travel to the United Kingdom to conduct research during the summer of 2016 for at least five and possibly six weeks on the life and writings of Lady Elizabeth Herbert (1822-1911). Lady Herbert’s writings have unfortunately garnered little in the way of popular or scholarly interest since the early twentieth century. The major proposition to be examined by my research is to explore how Lady Herbert’s conversion to Catholicism and her ardent faith represent key reasons for this historical neglect, as well as to further examine Lady Herbert’s relationship with the important figures of her day, her reasons for traveling to destinations ignored by her contemporaries, and her approach to literary translation. I will employ archival research methods, accessing and assembling heretofore unexamined papers and personal correspondence by Lady Herbert, as well as those of some of the major figures of the Victorian period who she counted as close friends.

Michael Sara
M.S., Geosciences; M.S. Earth and Environmental Science
Destination: Iceland
Project Title: Quantifying morphological and chemical trends in mafic eolian environments from Askja, Iceland as an analog to Mars
Research on Martian sediments, sands, and regolith is an expanding field in planetary geology. The basaltic eolian sediments on Mars may record a long history of local and global climate change. It has been proposed that Martian sand dunes were potential habitats for living organisms where water, nutrients, and organic carbon mixed below the surface. Analog studies provide a way to quantify these processes on Earth and apply our understanding to Mars. Basaltic sands, the most relevant composition to Mars, have not been characterized as well as felsic sands. Evidence suggests the eolian-dominated weathering we see at Askja volcano, Iceland may have occurred on Mars. I have developed a project that will generate geochemical and morphological trends from the Askja sands and link those trends to weathering and depositional processes. We can then compare that to data on Martian sands and that comparison may provide insight into past and present weathering processes on Mars.

Lucy Schiller
M.F.A., Nonfiction Writing
Destination: Sweden
Project Title: Historical Narrative and the Decorated Farmhouses of Halsingland
My proposed Stanley Grant will examine the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Decorated Farmhouses of the region of Hälsingland, Sweden from June 5 to July 7, 2016. Of Hälsingland’s over one thousand richly decorated farmhouses, built in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by wealthy independent farmers and lushly painted in rococo style by local folk artists, UNESCO has designated only seven as being worth preserving. I plan to examine what historical narratives are presented, and how, in these UNESCO houses, as well as how I create historical narrative from my own living space, a non-UNESCO decorated farmhouse. The project will result in a fifty-page essay essential to my degree in Nonfiction Writing, and in particular my thesis on historical narrative and heritage tourism.

Angela Toepp (Schneider)
Ph.D., Epidemiology
Destination: Brazil
Project Title: Quasi-experimental intervention study to determine the R0 of vertical transmission in the dog population of Natal, Brazil
For my Stanley project, I aim to determine the R0, basic reproductive number, of vertical transmission of leishmaniasis, a dangerous parasitic disease. I will do so by working with collaborators in Natal, Brazil to perform a quasi-experimental intervention study in the canine population and then utilize information gathered to model disease transmission within canine and human populations. Ninety percent of visceral cases of leishmaniasis occur in six countries, including Brazil. In Brazil, the disease is endemic in humans and dogs with dogs acting as a major domestic reservoir. Design of a mathematical vertical transmission model in dogs can be utilized to make models for vertical transmission in humans allowing assessment of public health interventions and the rate of human leishmaniasis infections. This project also serves my academic and career goals as this project will be an aim of my dissertation work and will provide me with field experience dealing with infectious diseases in a global health setting.

Alexandros Spyrou
Ph.D., Music Composition
Destination: Germany
Project Title: What is the Darmstadt School today?: a practical approach to the contemporary trends in new music composition
With the assistance of a Stanley Grant, I will conduct independent research in Darmstadt, Germany as part of my PhD in Music Composition. Over a period of three weeks I will study the current schools and aesthetic approaches in composition as represented in the 2016 Darmstadt Festival for New Music. The Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, Darmstadt is the most important new music festival organized biannually since 1946, where internationally acclaimed composers meet to engage in a public discourse on new music. While the festival gave rise to a voluminous scholarship on the compositional styles of the group of composers who attended the meetings in ‘50s, known as the “Darmstadt School”, there is little scholarship devoted to the later decades and almost nothing pertaining to its post-2000 directions. I will travel to Darmstadt to attend concerts, take part in presentations and discussions on new music in the Festival. I will study works by guest composers, and scholarly writings found in the library of Darmstadt’s International Institute for New Music. This will allow me to collect and edit data on the main compositional trends based on an assessment of technical strategies and aesthetic directions. The outcomes of this research will be published in an article that will elucidate the impact of contemporary music in the post-2000 music scholarship and assess the role of the Darmstadt Ferienkurse today.

Scott Sulzener
Ph.D., Modern Germany History
Destination: Germany
Project Title: From Provincial Convents to Imperial Courts: Women Nobles and Local Claims to Power in the German Empire
For my Stanley Graduate Award, I will survey archival materials critical to the completion of my dissertation prospectus on the gender and social history of Imperial Germany (1871-1918). As the sources necessary to complete my work are inaccessible outside of German archives, I will spend five weeks conducting research throughout the northern states of Berlin and Schleswig-Holstein. My project examines four convents for the Protestant nobility (Damenstifte) in the northern region of Schleswig-Holstein in order to understand the intersections of class, gender, and religion in claims to political power by the provincial elite. Damenstifte symbolized local aristocratic control at the same time as they amplified the social standing of noble families across Germany. At a moment of heady economic and political change, Damenstifte allowed Schleswig-Holstein’s nobility to access the levers of federal power while simultaneously reasserting their regional influence. Yet Damenstifte are understudied players in Imperial German social and women’s historiography. In shining a light on the role of women nobles as conduits to power, I hope to demonstrate the uniquely gendered components of social and political life in Wilhelmine Germany.

Joseph TenHulzen
M.A./Ph.D., History
Destination: France
Project Title: Contested Authority in the Provinces: Local Governors and the Implementation of Peace in Picardy
With support in the form of a Stanley Grant, I will visit departmental and municipal archives in the Picardy region of northern France to conduct research on the implementation of peace (the enforcement of royal peace edicts) in the region during the French Wars of Religion (c.1560-1600) for my master’s thesis. My research will concentrate on the manner whereby local governors, royally appointed judicial and/ or military leaders of fortified towns, acted as a conduit between the will of the French monarchy and municipal governments of the towns in which they served. I will explore and analyze the ways that the governors influenced the implementation of peace in towns (through forming leagues, influencing royal peace commissions or local courts, or using their military powers) and whether the local populace approved or contested the actions of the governors. The sources for this analysis are entirely in manuscript form and can only be consulted in the French archives. They include unpublished correspondences, municipal council proceedings, military and judicial records, and the papers of royal peace commissions present in the province.

Jacquelyn Whitman
M.F.A., Dimensional Practice
Destination: Ireland
Project Title: Confronting Ecophobia Through Combinations of Art and Ecology
I am proposing a self-directed, academic research period in Ireland from July 1st-31st, 2016, for the  purpose of collecting analytical and visual documentation to be used for my MFA thesis in Sculpture. For my thesis I am investigating effective ways to combine Art and Ecology to eliminate ecophobia in marine based, environmental education. Ecophobia is the negative response or automatic desensitization to visual images of environmental disasters. As a result of ecophobia, environmental educators, both in the private and public sphere, are censoring or all together eliminating marine threats from the curriculum. I theorize that there are efficient methods to combine Art and Ecology to exhibit primary source documentation without inducing ecophobia. To facilitate this hypothesis, I propose a thirty-day research period where I will volunteer, collaborate with, shadow, and interview professionals at Environmental and Marine Research Institutions in Galway; Environmental and Marine Conservation Organizations; and an Academic Institution that specializes in Art & Ecology programs, where I have also been awarded an Artist Residency for the proposed research period.

Shaorong Yan
Ph.D., Psychology
Destination: China
Project Title: Predictions for sub-lexical information in online reading – data from Chinese readers
The Stanley grant will allow me to spend 5 weeks this summer in Beijing, China to carry out an experiment investigating how readers of Chinese move their eyes during natural reading, and to collect norming data for new experiments. The results of the experiment will provide novel insight into how readers generate and assess predictions as they read in a logographic writing system. This project will provide preliminary data that will help me refine the goals, objectives, and hypotheses that I plan to pursue in my dissertation work. More broadly, conducting this experiment on Chinese readers will broaden the scope of my research and help me achieve my career goal of becoming a psycholinguistic researcher.

Chang-min Yu
Ph.D., Film Studies
Destination: France
Project Title: The Fog-Drowned Singing: Max Ophuls’s Divine and Sans lendemain
My proposed Stanley research project at the Bibliothèque des Archives Françaises du Film and the Cinémathèque Française will focus on the neglected French films made by Max Ophuls from mid-July to mid-August. This preliminary research will contribute toward my PhD degree in Film Studies as one of the areas for my comprehensive examination is French cinema. Born in Germany, Ophuls is primarily known for his French films (e.g. The Earrings of Madame de … [1955]) which are structured by baroque cinematic movements and subtle depictions of femininity. Despite abundant scholarship on Ophuls’s films in the 1940s and 1950s, his first French period (1935-1940) is largely ignored by critics, as if these films themselves were only stepping stones to latter triumphs. My project intends to challenge this bias by looking into Ophuls’s close relation to 1930s France from archival materials, including reviews, scripts, production designs and letters. This approach allows me to see the important role played by French culture, poetic realism in particular, in shaping Ophuls’s films in the 1930s and enables a broader cultural dialogue between this transnational director and a specific French context. This research is crucial to my area of interest in French cinema and its polymorphous manifestations in the 1934-1938 tumultuous time of the Popular Front.

Tianlu Zhang
Ph.D., Second Language Acquisition
Destination: China
Project Title: Learning to read Chinese: Native English Speakers Studying Abroad in China
I am applying for a Stanley Graduate Award for International Research to conduct a qualitative study in Chinese applied linguistics. I will investigate how native English speakers develop their reading skills in Chinese when they study abroad in China. My participants will be 10-20 native English speakers who are enrolled in an intermediate-level Chinese reading course at Beijing Language and Culture University in the Spring 2016 semester. I will focus on three settings that potentially impact the participants’ reading in Chinese: their reading classes, their daily living environment, and their interactions with native Chinese speakers. During the five-week period of data collection (May 16–June 17), I plan to (1) observe the reading classes; (2) interview the participants individually and in small groups; and (3) observe their reading strategies and processes through think-aloud sessions. By documenting the participants’ reading environment in China and collecting the participants’ accounts of their experiences, I will learn how the study abroad environment shapes their perspectives about and their reading processes in Chinese. This Stanley project will serve as preliminary research for my Ph.D. dissertation.