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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 13, 2003

Thunder-McGuire Will Recall Bicycle Trip For Saturday Scholars Oct. 18

Steve Thunder-McGuire, a story-teller and long-distance bicyclist, will describe his recent trips encircling Iceland at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 18 in Room 40 of Schaeffer Hall, the southeast building on the University of Iowa Pentacrest.

Thunder-McGuire's free public lecture, "Tandem Stories: Travelling Iceland By-cycle," is part of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' "Saturday Scholars" series. In a preview of his Oct. 18 presentation, Thunder-McGuire will be a guest on "Iowa Talks," on radio station WSUI-AM 910, at 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 16.

Iceland is an island country whose limited geography is intimately connected with an extensive tradition of both oral and literary sagas. This combination of a small physical space with a large oral tradition provided an ideal match for Thunder-McGuire's interests.

During 2002 and 2003, he rode around Iceland, following a circle that literally rings the island, visiting specific locations featured in the Icelandic sagas. Along the route he recorded portions of the sagas, as told by the people who live on the land where they took place, and photographed the people in the communities along the way seated on his recumbent tricycle.

"What is remarkable is that every person I visited with wove together place and saga, reflecting their daily experience of the relationship between landscape and story," Thunder-McGuire said.

"In my lecture, I will present portions of the projects' documentation, including still images and video. Because it is important to understand storytelling performance to be able to situate how, every day, a person sets side-by-side experience and landscape, I will tell a story used for this project and the resulting DVD."

"Saturday Scholars," developed by Linda Maxson, dean of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, gives members of the public a chance to hear about the latest teaching and research innovations by faculty members in the college. The sessions last about an hour, including a 20-30 minute presentation followed by time for questions. Refreshments are served.

The remaining lectures in the current series will be:
--Nov. 1, "Herbal Products: They're Organic But Are They Safe?" by David Wiemer, professor and chair of chemistry; and
--Nov. 15, "Maps and their Makers: Decidedly Deliberate Deceptions and Distortions" by Marc Armstrong, professor and chair of geography.

An avid bicyclist, Thunder-McGuire has traveled more than 100,000 kilometers by cycle and completed several memorable long-distance rides. His 1995 completion of the Iditasport bicycle race on the 250-mile Iditarod Trail in Alaska provided the material for one of his most memorable stories, featured on his CD "Completing Stories."

Since then he has combined storytelling with long-distance riding several times. In 1994 and again in 1997 he rode his bicycle from Fairbanks to Iowa City -- a distance of 3,478 miles -- to raise money for Close Encounter Art Workshop, a two-week summer residency program for high school students with disabilities that is offered at the UI Hospital School.

In 1999 he rode around Iowa, both telling and collecting stories at senior care centers. The project, "1000 miles of Iowa Stories," was a collaboration of Thunder-McGuire and retired UI Social Work faculty member Tom Walz with Care Initiatives of Iowa. He made a large circle through the center of the country in the fall of 2000, making story-telling appearances at colleges in Illinois, Indiana, Arkansas, Missouri and Colorado. And in the summer of 2001 he rode his recumbent tandem tricycle across Iowa for "Stories Quest On The American Discovery Trail: Iowa Route," collecting stories in towns along the route. His DVD of stories collected on that trip, together with images and accounts of the ride across Iowa, was completed in 2003.

Thunder-McGuire has been on the faculty of the UI School of Art and Art History since 1990. He is program coordinator for art education and studio division coordinator in the School of Art and Art History. He has received numerous awards for his teaching, including the 1997 Collegiate Teaching Award from the UI and the 1999 Iowa Higher Education Art Educator of The Year.

More information on Thunder-McGuire is available on the world-wide web at

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in advance at 335-2610.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072,