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University of Iowa News Release

March 29, 2006

UI Professors Win Stanley International Programs-Obermann Fellowships

Eric Gidal and Robin Hemley, both professors in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, have been awarded Stanley International Programs-Obermann Center Research Fellowships.

These semester-long awards are given to select Obermann Center Scholars whose research focuses on international issues. In addition to receiving an award of $3,000 for travel and research support, fellows present their research at a public lecture to be co-hosted by UI International Programs and the Obermann Center.

Gidal (left), associate professor of English, is spending his Obermann residency researching and writing chapters of his book, "Civic Melancholy: Sorrow and Society in the Eighteenth Century." Gidal said he coined the term "civic melancholy" to "identify uniquely public and political expressions of sorrowful anxiety in literary, political, and philosophical writings from Britain, France, and the United States from the late seventeenth through the early nineteenth centuries."

He is currently working on the book's final section, which covers the period of the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, and the early political and literary writings of the new American republic. The primary figures of this section are Mme de Staël, Lord Byron, and Thomas Jefferson, who, in their public and private writings, and in their lives, both embodied and gave expression to melancholy as a fundamentally public and even civic disposition.

Hemley (right), professor of English and director of the Nonfiction Writing program, is currently working on a novel, "House of Art," about the art world of Nazi Germany from 1933-39. Simultaneously he is working on a nonfiction project centered on the work of art historian Gregory Maertz.

Hemley says Maertz is significant for his "sometimes unsettling revelations regarding the ways in which art of the Nazi period has been contextualized, or rather, has been absented from contextualization by art historians considering the continuum of Modern art in the 20th century." Based on a series of interviews he has done with Maertz over the last six months, Hemley is producing a radio documentary. While Hemley hesitates to draw direct parallels between Nazi Germany and contemporary society, he believes the central question of his two projects is quite relevant: "What is the artist's responsibility to his or her society?"

Hemley plans to use the award for further research in Vienna and Munich. Gidal will travel to London for research at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the National Portrait Gallery.

These fellowships are supported by the Stanley-UI Foundation Support Organization, UI International Programs and the C. Esco and Avalon L. Obermann Fund.

The Obermann Center for Advanced Studies is dedicated to scholarship and intellectual exchange. Some Obermann Scholars work independently, stimulated by uninterrupted blocks of time and by informal conversation. Others work in close collaboration. Obermann Scholars have published numerous scholarly books and articles and have been awarded many external research grants and fellowships for projects begun at the center.

UI International Programs consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost and dean for International Programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

For more information on this award, contact Jenna Burns, assistant to IP Associate Dean Jane Desmond, at 319-335-0368 or or Jennifer New, Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, 319-335-4034,

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,; Program: Jenna Burns, 319-335-0368,; Jennifer New, 319-335-4034, Writer: Jennifer New