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Civic Skinny

Sabbaticals: Dolly Parton, ‘Cantor of Swabia,’ and children sleeping with their parents


Your tax and tuition dollars at work: University of Iowa Music Professor Christine Getz will spend the fall semester next year in Milan, Italy, preparing “a critical edition with historical introduction and commentary of Andrea Cima’s II Secondo Libro Delli Concerti (1627)” and will also “investigate the relationship of the volume’s content to liturgy and ritual at the Milanese church of Santa Maria della Rosa.”

Sabine Golz, an associate professor of German, will edit her feature-length documentary film on the life and legacy of the similarly named Richard Golz (1887-1975), known as “the Cantor of Swabia.” “His story is known only to a few experts, and this film will bring it to international audiences for the first time.”

And Margaret Beck, an associate professor of anthropology, will spend the fall semester next year completing “her analysis of seventeenth-century pottery from Picuris Pueblo, New Mexico, characterizing the manufacturing techniques, raw materials, and vessel forms and sizes.”

Those are three of the 124 proposals for paid sabbaticals that the Board of Regents will be asked to approve — and surely will approve — at its meeting next week. Generally, sabbaticals are for one semester. Some replacement faculty are hired, some courses simply are dropped while the professor is away, and some class sizes are increased to pick up the slack. By the universities’ calculations, the out-of-pocket replacement costs are $438,879 — roughly the equivalent of full tuition for a semester for 60 students. That does not include the salaries paid to the people on sabbatical, which the universities refer to as “professional development assignments.”

The universities, always politically correct in serving up data on gender and ethnicity, report that the recommended sabbaticals will go to 78 men and 46 women, to three Hispanics, 25 Asian-Americans, 6 blacks, a Pacific Islander and one person of “two or more races.” Twenty-four applications were rejected as they wended their way through the system’s “rigorous review process.”

The sabbaticals’ purpose is to “provide increased visibility and prominence of faculty…in research and scholarship” and to “provide direct application of expanded knowledge to students, Iowans, the nation, and the world.”

Some other proposals from the University of Iowa:

Michael Hill, associate professor of English, will draft two chapters of a book on “Adolescence in African American Novels, 1941-2008.”

Robert Ketterer, a professor of classics, “will do archival and historical research to write a book about the ways seventeenth- and eighteenth century operas used stories from Greek and Roman history as metaphors for the interactions between Europe and the Ottoman Empire.”

Margaret Mills, professor of Asian and Slavic languages, will complete research on 10 essays “based on transcribed Doctor-Patient interviews recorded in Russia…for which Mills will offer both linguistic analyses and pragmatic commentary….The monograph’s primary audience is sociolinguistics and cross-cultural discourse analysts, medical anthropologists and sociologists, and Russian linguists.”

Horace Porter, a professor of English, “will do further research and write the introduction and one chapter of his new book, ‘Writers in the Ring: American Writers on Boxers.’”

Sonia Ryang, an anthropology professor, will “do research that may be used to help bring North Korea within the tenet of global understanding through the proposed project entitled ‘North Korea: In Search of Love.’…With her specific focus of inquiry placed on the logic of love in North Korean society, Ryang’s research is expected to fill the current gap in our knowledge of North Korea.”

And at Iowa State:

John Levis, an associate professor of English, will travel to California, England and the Czech Republic, “where he will explore the critical role of pronunciation in intelligible speech.”

Susan Stewart, an associate professor of sociology, will “research the controversial and increasing practice of parents and children sleeping together at night.”

Monica Haddad, associate professor of community and regional planning, will travel to Brazil “where she will develop a spatial methodology that considers environmental impacts of urbanization, as part of an overall effort to improve the planning process of Brazilian cities.”

And at the University of Northern Iowa:

Melinda Boyd, associate professor of music, will “write a book that will make a substantive advancement within current musicological research on women as creators…of country music. Her book will examine the original songs of Dolly Parton and the interrelationship between lyrics, music, and her image.”

Cynthia Goatley, professor of theater, will write a libretto “for an original one-act opera about explorer Isabella Bird. Isabella Lucy Bird Bishop (1831-1904)…became the first woman to become a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. This will be the first operatic work solely devoted to Isabella Bird.”

Vince Gotera, professor of languages and literatures, will “research Philippine mythology and legend as bases for writing poetry, and then compose 40+ poems that relate, reinvent, and reinvigorate for today’s audience traditional Philippine folktales and epics.”

Paul Siddens, associate professor of communications studies, “will create a contemporary play based on Dante’s Inferno to reflect contemporary redefinitions of the seven deadly sins.”

Meantime, the folks who took sabbaticals last year have reported in.

Marybeth Stalp of UNI reports that she had interviews and focus groups with more than 100 women and completed 331 hours of fieldwork in her study of “Gendered Cultural Production: Caring for the Self through Quilting and Knitting.” The study examines “women’s creative work, including how and why women in modern times choose to engage in quilting.” She spent much time in Ireland and disseminated information about “how quilts are made and used in Iowa, including the Grundy County Barn Quilt Project, introducing the idea of quilt-related tourism to Ireland.”

The University of Iowa’s Wendelin Guentner reports that she “finished manuscript preparation for a forthcoming book, ‘Women Art Critics in Nineteenth-Century France: Vanishing Acts.’”

Iowa’s Eric Gidal reports that he “researched and composed a scholarly monograph which studies the dialogue between poetry and geology in the reception of The Poems of Ossian, an eighteenth-century rendition of Gaelic oral traditions which had an enormous influence on European and American arts and letters.”

And Iowa’s Scott Schnell worked on his “ethnographic analysis of the matagi — traditional hunters of bear and other animals in Japan’s mountainous interior.” He “investigated the role of the matagi as vital intermediaries between the forested mountain and domesticated lowland environments, and ongoing efforts to legitimize their activities through a clever manipulation of religious and literary narratives that would otherwise discredit and exclude them.” CV


Comment: Drake Mabry

Drake Mabry was a dogged political reporter driven by boundless curiosity and a sense of outrage. He had the soul of a poet, the wide-ranging mind of a 10-year-old boy and the stubbornness of a luddite. As the newspaper industry moved more and more toward computers, he moved more and more toward longhand on yellow legal pads.

He was, for many years, the managing editor of the Des Moines Tribune, a wonderful newspaper that kept an ever-watchful eye on the state that he loved. After retirement he joined the Ames Tribune, where he inoculated a generation of young reporters with his fervor for thorough reporting. He died Friday at age 85 of heart failure. CV

— Michael Gartner


One proposal

John Dilg, professor of art and art history.

Title: A Contemporary Hybrid of 19th Century Gothic and the Aesthetic of Japanese Rinpa

This proposal is for the completion of 6-8 paintings based in landscape and furthering the relationship in Professor John Dilg’s research between the hybridization of the 19th Century gothic and the Japanese aesthetic of Rinpa — in which art as natural design is marked by a bold graphic abbreviation of natural motifs. Of especial interest to this proposal is how the personal narratives that are based in romanticism can be ordered by the more formal naturalistic properties of Rinpa. The work Professor Dilg plans to accomplish will assist students as they comprehend a contemporary cultural climate in painting that values an inward, idiosyncratically-based viewpoint. Personal, often gothic narratives, in conjunction with the natural motifs of the Midwest, have elucidated life on the prairie for more than 150 years and this proposal seeks, in part, to contribute to a greater understanding of living in the Midwest through a confluence of individual identity and natural design as realized in a contemporary art statement. CV

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