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Spring 2024 CEAH Award Winners Announced

Grants Awarded to Support Scholarly Work in Arts and Humanities

Caitlin Ware, Iowa State University Office of the Vice President for Research

Posted Apr 3, 2024

Eight Iowa State University scholars have been selected to receive more than $57,000 in institutional funding from the spring 2024 round of grants offered through the Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities (CEAH).

Offered twice each year — and administered in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President for Research — the suite of CEAH funding opportunities provide support to Iowa State’s humanities, arts, and design faculty members who are engaged in scholarly work that builds knowledge and bolsters the university’s reputation as an innovative research institution. The grant recipients selected this spring will receive funding support to pursue humanities-focused research projects, plan conferences and seminars, and explore digital scholarship over the course of fiscal year 2025.

“This spring represents an exciting group of new CEAH grant recipients, each of whom are engaged in innovative work that — in a variety of ways — contributes to Iowa State’s land-grant mission,” said CEAH Director Matt Sivils. “This funding will help faculty conduct research that furthers their scholarly agendas, enriches their teaching, and raises Iowa State’s status as a major research institution.”

CEAH Research Grants

CEAH Research Grants provide funding for research and creative activity designed to make a significant contribution to the scholarly development and academic career progression of faculty in the arts, design, and humanities disciplines. They can be utilized to fund scholarly humanistic inquiry and creative artistic productivity, including research in the design and social sciences disciplines that have artistic or humanistic content and employ artistic or humanistic methods.

This spring, six Iowa State scholars were selected to receive CEAH Research Grants.

Sarah Dees, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies

Proposal Title: “Religion in Museums: Then and Now”

Dees’ project will explore the museum exhibition of sacred objects over time, while considering challenges and best practices for telling stories about specific religions and cultures to a broad public. This project is expected to yield two related scholarly articles examining museum displays of religious objects. The first will be a historical essay written for religious scholars. The second article will focus on contemporary museum practices and will be aimed at museum studies scholars.

Abby Dubisar, Associate Professor of English

Proposal Title: “Cookbooks as Civic Action: Food Rhetorics for Peace and Justice”

This project will allow Dubisar to conduct archival research in the Manuscript Cookbook Collection at Kansas State University and the Culinary Collection at Harvard University’s Schlesinger Library. Dubisar will analyze available primary materials as part of a new book, bearing the same name as her winning grant proposal: “Cookbooks as Civic Action: Food Rhetorics for Peace and Justice.” Using rhetorical analysis, the book will demonstrate how cookbook authors use visual and written strategies to persuade readers to engage in civic action.

Rachel Haywood, Associate Professor of World Language and Cultures

Proposal Title: “The Dawn of Genre Science Fiction in Latin America: Más Allá, Edições GRD, and Crononauta

Haywood’s project will form a pivotal chapter of her second book manuscript, “Latin American Science Fiction in the Space Age.” The book will examine the history of the science fiction genre in Latin America from 1945 to 1969 and will demonstrate how Latin American writers have adapted science fiction to reflect their own realities. For the chapter completed with support from CEAH funding, Haywood will study the full print runs of two science fiction magazines from Argentina and Mexico, as well as multiple volumes from a pioneering Brazilian science fiction book series.

Luana Lamberti Nunes, Assistant Professor of World Languages and Cultures

Proposal Title: “Helvécia Portuguese: the Linguistic and Social Contribution of the African Diaspora in Brazil”

This research project will examine the linguistic consequences of the Atlantic slave trade on the formation of Helvécia Portuguese, an Afro-Brazilian dialect spoken in Helvécia, Bahia, Brazil. Lamberti Nunes’ study will address the gaps in language contact and Creole studies and contribute to a nuanced understanding of language formation in contexts of multilingualism. Through extensive fieldwork in the summer of 2024, Lamberti Nunes will investigate the origins of Helvécia Portuguese, the role of Niger-Congo languages in its formation, and the impact of sociohistorical conditions on language attitudes within the Helvécia community.

Hugo Salgado, Assistant Professor of World Languages and Cultures

Proposal Title: “Ini Tay Tinat ‘This Is What We Say’: Nawat Oral Literature as Told by Nawat Elders”

Salgado’s documentation project is aimed at recording stories, poems, and songs from the last native speakers of Nawat, the critically endangered indigenous language of El Salvador. The project will span 18 months and will consist of four stages: gathering of Nawat oral literature, transcription and translation, analysis, and dissemination. A total of 70 hours of Nawat oral literature will be recorded, transcribed, analyzed, and disseminated among the Nawat people and in conferences and journals specialized in indigenous languages of the Americas.

Shenglan Zhang, Associate Professor of World Languages and Cultures

Proposal Title: “Chinese Script: Culture, Politics, and Art”

This book project will provide a comprehensive account of Chinese script and offer a comparative perspective for audiences in the West who are interested in understanding the complexity and impact of the writing system. Zhang’s finished book will consist of six chapters which explore a variety of interconnected topics, including: the origin and features of script, how political forces have shaped the script, and the historical and contemporary uses of Chinese script.

CEAH Digital Scholarship Research Grants

To foster innovative digital scholarship, the CEAH provides Digital Scholarship Research Grants for research and creative activity that incorporates a substantial digital component and that will make a significant contribution to the scholarly development and academic career progression of faculty in the arts, design, and humanities disciplines.

This spring, one Iowa State scholar was selected to receive a CEAH Digital Scholarship Research grant.

Sinem Sonsaat-Hegelheimer, Assistant Professor of English

Proposal Title: “AI-powered Golden Speaker for the Improvement of Pronunciation Skills in Second Language Speech”

In this two-fold project, Sonsaat-Hegelheimer will synthesize non-native and native English speakers’ voices by using generative AI-powered speech synthesis. This type of speech synthesis  will make non-native English speakers’ speech sound more like a native speaker while maintaining original voice quality. The synthesized voices created by generative AI will be used in the creation of a pronunciation training intervention study to improve the comprehensibility and fluency of second language speakers in academic environments.

CEAH Symposium Grants

The CEAH also provides Symposium Grants to support the creation of artistic and scholarly conferences, symposia, or seminars on Iowa State’s campus that will attract significant national attention and bring recognition to the scholarly work being done by the university’s arts and humanities faculty.

This spring, one Iowa State scholar was selected to receive a CEAH Symposium Grant.

Jeremy Best, Associate Professor of History

Proposal Title: “Pathways of Persecution: Dispossession and Violence in Europe and on the Great Plains”

Genocide, ethnic violence, and brutal persecution are not spontaneous expressions of human evil. In Europe during the Holocaust, on the North American Plains during the nineteenth century, and in other ethnically and racially dynamic communities of North America, perpetrators and victims, collaborators and bystanders all participated in, or resisted, large-scale examples of violence. To understand the causes of such violence, Iowa State and partners will host a symposium designed to reconstruct these pasts, examine how they affect the present, and explore ways they can influence our research and teaching. “Pathways of Persecution: Dispossession and Violence on the Great Plains” is a symposium organized and supported by Iowa State, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), University of Northern Iowa (UNI), and other partners. 

The first day of the symposium, to be hosted at Iowa State in October 2024, will feature classroom instructional visits, a pedagogical roundtable, and a moderated keynote panel for a campus and community audience. The second day, hosted at UNI, will feature morning workshops for teachers and a plenary panel on the practical challenges of teaching these topics.

“Our faculty in the arts and humanities play a critical role in helping Iowa State fulfill its land-grant mission, and they are vital in helping us achieve our strategic aspiration to be the university that cultivates a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment where students, faculty, and staff flourish,” said Vice President for Research Peter Dorhout. “We’re delighted to support the pursuits of these eight scholars for the valuable contributions they make to their disciplines and the various communities our institution serves.”