The Ideology Problem in Teaching and Scholarship: U.S. Intellectual History Conference in Indianapolis, Oct. 9, 2014

S-USIH Conference Program ImageThe sixth annual U.S. Intellectual History Conference in Indianapolis, Oct. 9-12th, 2014, will open with a special two-hour plenary session on THE IDEOLOGY PROBLEM IN TEACHING AND SCHOLARSHIP. This event will be free and open to the public.

We are also happy to announce that RICK PERLSTEIN will be joining our distinguished panel to discuss this subject. The suggestion to add Rick to this panel came from S-USIH’s own Mike O’Connor who noted, as any native Hoosier should, the close proximity of Chicago to Indy. 

The panel will address a series of questions, including: Can the writer-educator avoid being “biased” in favor of a particular set of political or religious ideals? Are disciplinary norms of “objectivity” or “neutrality” themselves in service of partisan agendas? The “ideology problem” is one that has surfaced both explicitly and implicitly at the USIH Blog over the past few years, generating a lot of commentary. For example, see Andrew Hartman’s post of entitled Ideology and Teaching.  Or a post by Ben Alpers called,“Disrespect and the Teaching of Intellectual History.” Or L.D. Burnett’s The Reluctant Historian.

The conference chairs thought it would make a great subject for a plenary to integrate questions of pedagogy as well as research, writing, and the historian’s public role in the debate over ideology and the practice of history. Presenters plan to ask if ideology really is out-of-place in the classroom and to take up some practical questions such as various efforts to ban Howard Zinn’s writings in Indiana schools. You can learn more about our panelists below.

PANELISTS

Andrew Hartman is an associate professor of history at Illinois State University, and was the 2013-14 Danish Distinguished Fulbright Chair in American Studies. He is the author of Education and the Cold War: The Battle for the American School (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), and A War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars (University of Chicago Press, 2015). Hartman is the founding president of S-USIH, one of the original USIH bloggers, and is chairing the 2015 S-USIH Conference to be held in Washington, DC.

David Sehat is associate professor of history at Georgia State University. His first book, The Myth of American Religious Freedom, won the Frederick Jackson Turner Award from the Organization of American Historians.  His second book, The Jefferson Rule: Why We Think the Founding Fathers Have All the Answers, will be published in May of next year.

Rick Perlstein is the author of Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American ConsensusNixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America, and The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan. A frequent blogger and essayist for publications including the NationRolling Stone, and the New Republic, he lives in Chicago.

Michael J. Kramer holds a visiting assistant professorship at Northwestern University, where he teaches history, American studies, digital humanities, and civic engagement and works an editor in the Design, Publications, and New Media Department at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. His book, The Republic of Rock: Music and Citizenship in the Sixties Counterculture, was published by Oxford University Press in 2013. He is the co-founder of the Northwestern University Digital Humanities Laboratory and is currently developing a multimedia project about the Berkeley Folk Music Festival (1958-1970) and the history of technology and culture in the US folk revival. Additionally, he serves as director of the Chicago Dance History Project, a large-scale oral history and archival digital documentation of dance in the Chicago region, and he is the dramaturg for The Seldoms Contemporary Dance Company. He blogs about art, culture, and politics at Culture Rover.

Christopher Shannon is associate professor of history at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia.  He is the author of two book in the field of U.S. Intellectual History, Conspicuous Criticism:  Tradition, the Individual and Culture in Modern American Social Thought (Johns Hopkins, 1996) and A World Made Safe for Differences:  Cold War Intellectuals and the Politics of Identity (Rowman and Littlefield, 2001).  His forthcoming work, The Past as Pilgrimage:  Narrative, Tradition and the Renewal of Catholic History (Christendom Press, 2014), co-authored with Christopher Blum, addresses the relation between faith traditions and the ideology of secularism in the writing of history.

Susan Curtis is Professor of History and American Studies at Purdue University.  She is the author of A Consuming Faith(1991), Dancing to a Black Man’s Tune (1994), The First Black Actors on the Great White Way (1998), Colored Memories(2008), and the co-author of a letter to Purdue President Mitch Daniels challenging his support for efforts to ban the work of Howard Zinn from Indiana public schools (2013).

REPOSTED FROM S-USIH

Award-winning poets and novelist headline Fall 2014 Reiberg Reading Series

INDIANAPOLIS — The Fall 2014 Rufus & Louise Reiberg Reading Series at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis features poets Marcus Wicker and Marianne Boruch and novelist Randa Jarrar.

The Department of English in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI is the series sponsor. All events, which take place at various locations on the IUPUI campus, are free and open to the public.

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Marcus Wicker

The series kicks off with poet Marcus Wicker at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 9 in the IUPUI University Library Lilly Auditorium, 755 W. Michigan St. This event is co-sponsored by the O­ffice for Academic Affairs at IUPUI.

D.A. Powell selected Wicker’s poetry collection, “Maybe the Saddest Thing” (Harper Perennial), for the National Poetry Series. Wicker received a 2011 Ruth Lilly Fellowship and his work has appeared in American Poetry Review and many other magazines. Wicker is an assistant professor of English at the University of Southern Indiana.

Wicker served as the final judge for the 2014 IUPUI Poetry Contest. Contest winners and finalists will share their original poems in an awards ceremony preceding the Wicker reading.

MarianneBoruch

Marianne Boruch

Poet Marianne Boruch will read her work at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 30 in the Emerson Hall Anatomy Lecture Hall, 545 Barnhill Drive. This event is co-sponsored by the IU School of Medicine, the Medical Humanities and Health Studies Program in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, and the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute.

Boruch is the author of the recently published poetry collection, “Cadaver, Speak,” along with eight other books of poetry. Her poetry has been anthologized in the 1997 and 2009 editions of “The Best American Poetry.” Boruch, a Fulbright visiting professor at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2012, currently teaches creative writing at Purdue University.

RandaJarrar

Randa Jarrar

Novelist Randa Jarrar will conclude the fall series with a reading at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 17, at the Herron School of Art & Design Basile Auditorium, 735 W. New York St. This reading is part of the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here Symposium and is co-sponsored by the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute in collaboration with the IUPUI Library. This event is free but registration is required.

Jarrar is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, essayist, and translator. She grew up in Kuwait and Egypt, and moved to the United States after the first Gulf War. Her novel, “A Map of Home,” was published in half a dozen languages and won a Hopwood Award, an Arab-American Book Award, and was named one of the best novels of 2008 by the Barnes and Noble Review. In 2010 Jarrar was named one of the most gifted writers of Arab origin under the age of 40.

The Rufus & Louise Reiberg Series was founded in 1997 in honor of former IUPUI Department of English chair and Professor Emeritus Rufus Reiberg and his wife, Louise. The series is made possible by the generous support of the Reiberg Family; the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute; the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research; the Office of Academic Affairs; University College; and University Library.

Visitor parking for the readings is available in the North Street Garage, 819 W. North St.; the Vermont Street Garage, 1004 W. Vermont St.; and the Sports Complex Garage, 875 W. New York St.

For additional information, contact Terry Kirts at tkirts@iupui.edu or 317-274-8929 or visit http://liberalarts.iupui.edu/reiberg. Facebook user can “like” the series’ page at The Rufus & Louise Reiberg Reading Series @ IUPUI.

David Craig and The Public Ethics of Healthcare Reform

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David Craig, associate professor of Religious Studies at IUPUI

A Religion and Ethics Roundtable

Friday, September 26, 4:00-5:30 pm

The Poynter Center, 618 E. 3rd St., Bloomington IN

The national debate surrounding the Affordable Care Act is understandably divisive. It is divisive because nothing less is at stake than competing visions of a just society. Yet we can understand the competing visions and their associated public ethics of health care obligation by listening to the moral, economic and religious concerns that people bring to the debate and interpreting the underlying values charitably. Surprisingly, neither the reigning conservative nor liberal vision of health care justice fits how health care has been organized in the United States. This talk illustrates that discrepancy with lessons learned from interviews with leaders of religious hospitals and religious activists lobbying for reform. It calls on scholars to do ethics in public—and with the public—to advance the cultural change required for the Affordable Care Act to succeed.

About the speaker     David Craig is associate professor of Religious Studies at IUPUI and author of Health Care as a Social Good: Religious Values and American Democracy (Georgetown University Press, 2014). He has convened conversations about how religious congregations and partner organizations can support a shift toward a more affordable, community-based health care system. He is also the author of John Ruskin and the Ethics of Consumption (Virginia, 2006), along with articles on virtue ethics, ritual studies, philanthropic studies, and environmental, economic and health care ethics.

This is a public program open to all. An RSVP to agitlitz@indiana.edu is appreciated; however it is not required to attend.

Religion and Ethics Roundtables highlight the work of scholars at IUB, IUPUI and beyond, with the goal of engaging the IU community and the public in dialogue about important issues at the intersection of religion, ethics, and society. For more information, contact CSRES director, Lisa Sideris: lsideris@indiana.edu.

Culp, Snell earn Fulbright awards

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Amanda Snell of the School of Liberal Arts | PHOTO COURTESY OF IU COMMUNICATIONS

Brian Culp will spend time in Montreal and Amanda Snell in Laatzen, Germany this school year. And despite the fact that Culp is a faculty member and Snell a student, both are helping build IUPUI’s growing role as an international campus.

Culp is a kinesiology expert from the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management. Snell is an English major from the School of Liberal Arts, and both are prime examples of the impact of the internationally focused Fulbright Scholar Program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Culp will work with Fulbright Canada partners to examine programs and policies in hopes of improving health and physical activity among youth and other under-represented populations in Montreal, Quebec.

Snell, meanwhile, will be part of an English Teaching Assistant Program in Germany and will teach English and Spanish classes at a high school in Laatzen.

Culp, who earned an American Fulbright Scholar Award, be a visiting research chair in The Person and Society at Concordia University in Montreal, studying social justice promotion in health and physical activity in Montreal, a “City of Design” as designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential.

“Amanda Snell’s recognition as a Fulbright awardee demonstrates the impact of IUPUI’s commitment to global engagement,” said Nasser Paydar, IUPUI executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer. “Our students increasingly participate in international experiences during their time at IUPUI and are empowered to transform our community and the world after graduating.”

Culp believes he was chosen for his background in several national and international initiatives in addition to assisting with the design of needed programs and policies, and hopes to provide a Hoosier flavor to the international effort.

“Cities in America are becoming more diverse by the day,” Culp added. That creates both opportunities and challenges. “And cities like Montreal already resemble what Indianapolis could look like in 20 years. We would be remiss if we didn’t prepare to meet the needs of our communities from a health, social and economic standpoint.”

Like Culp, Snell’s work in Europe will connect back to her Indiana roots.

She’ll be part of a partnership in which German students learning English will email Indiana high school students studying German. Additionally, she’ll be doing community literacy projects, including working with immigrant adults trying to learn German.

She credited her IUPUI professors for her upcoming role as a Fulbright awardee.

“I am so grateful for my professors in the IUPUI English department, who mentored me inside and outside the classroom by challenging me academically and encouraging me to apply what I am learning in class to impact the community, in my case, through teaching immigrant and refugee language learners,” she said. “These professors have modeled what I strive to provide to my students: high expectations coupled with support and respect for learners.”

National journal features papers from IUPUI Frederick Douglass conference and IUPUI professor as guest editor

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Frederick Douglass

INDIANAPOLIS — The latest issue of a leading scholarly journal about African American history includes the publication of several papers presented during an Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis conference on the life and work of Frederick Douglass.

IUPUI professor John R. Kaufman-McKivigan served as guest editor for “Rediscovering the Life and Times of Frederick Douglass,” a special edition of the Journal of African American History.

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History recently announced the publication of “Rediscovering the Life and Times of Frederick Douglass” as the Winter/Spring 2014 volume of the association’s Journal of African American History.

Started in 1916 as the Journal of Negro History by Carter G. Woodson — who founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History and the observance of what is now known as Black History Month — the Journal of African American History is a peer-reviewed quarterly. The journal is considered the “jewel” of the association and the premier publication in its field.

“I am very pleased that the Journal of African American History has printed the papers delivered at a stimulating symposium held on our campus in October 2012,” Kaufman-McKivigan said. “It is my hope that these highly insightful essays will draw attention to this often overlooked gem of an autobiography by Douglass.”

Kaufman-McKivigan, the Mary O’Brien Gibson Professor of United States History in the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, is project director and editor of the Frederick Douglass Papers Edition, one of four scholarly publications housed in the Institute for American Thought, also part of the School of Liberal Arts. He specializes in antebellum America, Civil War studies, American ethnic history and American working-class history.

According to an Association for the Study of African American Life and History press release, the journal contributors are leading historians of 19th-century U.S. and African American history who offer insightful and well-documented analyses of “Life and Times of Frederick Douglass,” one of three autobiographical works.

A runaway slave turned abolitionist in antebellum America, Douglass became an influential writer and thinker of the Civil War and Reconstruction periods. The 2012 IUPUI conference celebrated the publication of the Frederick Douglass Papers’ first scholarly edition of Douglass’ final autobiography.

The special journal issue includes one article written by Kaufman-McKivigan, “Stalwart Douglass: ‘Life and Times’ as Political Manifesto.” He also wrote the journal’s introduction.

In addition to chapters on the Douglass autobiography, the special issue includes about 20 book reviews, as well as three essay reviews such as “12 Years a Slave: Narrative, History and Film.”

The Winter-Spring 2014 issue is available for purchase in hard copy and for course use through association publications director Karen May at kmay@asalh.net. A digital version soon will be available through ISTOR Current Journals.

Bradbury lecture celebrates master storyteller’s birthday and legacy

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Center for Ray Bradbury Studies Director Jonathan Eller with science fiction and fantasy magazines with Ray Bradbury stories, part of the Bradbury-Albright Collection.

INDIANAPOLIS — Professor Jonathan Eller, director of IUPUI’s Center for Ray Bradbury Studies and Chancellor’s Professor of English, will present the inaugural Bradbury Lecture at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 20.

The lecture, in the West Reading Room of the Indianapolis Central Library, 40 E. St. Clair St., is free and open to the public.

“Ray Bradbury in the Twenty-First Century” draws on the unique and extensive archives of the Bradbury Center, which is home to the iconic author’s papers, his working library, and a lifetime of his awards and mementos. These materials, recent gifts of the Bradbury family and the author’s longtime friend and bibliographer, Donn Albright, are part of the IU School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

“Everybody knows a Ray Bradbury story,” Eller said. “Generations of school children and college students have read his work in hundreds of anthologies and textbooks; teachers and librarians continue to value his stories and his poetic, metaphor-rich style.”

Bradbury’s stories have a unique staying power in American culture.

“He published more than 400 stories,” Eller said. “And he wove them into such modern classics as ‘The Martian Chronicles,’ ‘The Illustrated Man,’ ‘The Golden Apples of the Sun,’ ‘The October Country,’ and two enduring titles that emerged from his Midwestern childhood: ‘Dandelion Wine’ and ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes.’ ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ his classic cautionary tale of censorship and book burning, remains a perennial bestseller more than 60 years after publication.”

Eller’s illustrated presentation will focus on two intriguing questions: How did Ray Bradbury, a child of the Great Depression who never attended college, become one of the best-known American writers of his time? And why does this master storyteller of the 20th century remain a powerful cultural influence today?

The inaugural Bradbury Lecture falls during the author’s birthday week, and Eller plans to schedule subsequent lectures each August as Bradbury’s centennial year — 2020 — rapidly approaches.

Eller said, “He was born in 1920, when the Martian Canals of Percival Lowell and Edgar Rice Burroughs were still high in the American imagination; he passed away in 2012, just as the Curiosity Rover was about to land on Mars, at a site named in Ray Bradbury’s honor.” The center’s holdings include artifacts that have orbited the Earth, and Eller’s lecture will also assess the author’s lasting impact on the American space program.

The timing of the first Bradbury Lecture is especially significant. “Ray Bradbury Unbound,” the second volume of Eller’s three-volume study of Bradbury’s life and career, will be published by the University of Illinois Press in early September. At the same time, Kent State University Press will publish volume two of the Bradbury Center’s “Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury,” a series that recovers the seldom-seen original versions of Bradbury’s earliest published stories.

The Bradbury Lecture also kicks off a campaign to expand the Bradbury Center at IUPUI so that students, researchers and the general public can have better access to the archives and artifacts belonging to one of America’s premier storytellers.

The Bradbury Lecture is presented by the Indianapolis Public Library in conjunction with the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies. Parking for the Indianapolis Central Library is available via Pennsylvania Street in the library garage for a fee.

For more information about the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies, call 317-274-2173 or visit the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies’ website.

Study: “The Bible in American Life”

UntitledThe year 2011 marked the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible. It also marked the beginning of a three-year Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI ) study of the Bible’s place in the everyday lives of Americans.

With a $507,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture – a program of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI – set out to answer questions of how, where, when and why ordinary Americans use the Bible.

According to findings made public online in the 44-page “The Bible in American Life” report, the four-centuries-old King James Version of the Bible is far from dead. Despite its archaic language and a market flooded with newer, more modern English translations, more than half of the individuals and two-fifths of the congregations surveyed still prefer the King James Bible.

And of those surveyed, African Americans reported the highest levels of Bible engagement.

Seventy percent of all blacks said they read the Bible outside of public worship services, compared to 44 percent for whites, 46 percent for Hispanics and 28 percent for all other races.

Bible memorization is highest among black respondents, 69 percent, compared to 51 percent among white conservative Protestants and 31 percent among white moderate/liberal Protestants.

“There are no measures, individually or in congregations, where ‘black’ is not strongly correlated with the most conservative, most active, most involved level of scriptural engagement, no matter which other group comes closest,” the report says.

“If one wanted to predict whether someone had read the Bible, believed it to be the literal or inspired Word of God, and used it to learn about many practical aspects of life, knowing whether or not that person was black is the single best piece of information one could have.”

The report first looks at the practice of scripture reading in the United States, and then explores eight measures among those who read the Bible, such as Bible translation used; scripture memorization habits; favorite passages; and race.

Roughly half of Americans have read religious scripture outside of a public worship service in the past year. For 95 percent of those, the Bible is the scripture they read.

What did the study reveal about Bible readers?

Most of those people read at least monthly, and a substantial number – 9 percent of all Americans – read every day.

Women were more likely to read than men; older people were more likely to read than younger; Southerners were more likely to read than those of any other region.

The percentage of verse memorizers among Bible readers (48 percent) equates to roughly a fourth of the American population as a whole, or nearly 80 million people.

Psalm 23 – which begins “The Lord is my shepherd” – was the most popular Biblical passage.

Younger people, those with higher salaries and, most dramatically, those with more education among the respondents read the Bible on the internet or an e-device at higher rates.

The written report, based on survey questions on both the General Social Survey (1,551 individuals) and the National Congregations Study III (denominations represented among the General Social Survey respondents), is the first stage of the study and offers sociological data about the role of the Bible.

“Historians and sociologists have been working for years to understand how religion is lived out on a daily level,” said Philip Goff, executive director of the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture and one of the three principal investigators who led the study. “This gives us a good snapshot of the practice of Bible reading. That should also help ministers understand the people in their pews.”

Goff’s co-investigators are Arthur Farnsley, associate director of the center; and Peter Thuesen, chair of the Department of Religious Studies at IUPUI.

full article found here

Students to Dive in For Better English

UntitledINDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Thirty-five undergraduate students from two Japanese institutions are coming to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis this summer to improve their English-language skills while learning more about U.S. culture.

The students will immerse themselves in English-only classes and extracurricular activities offered and organized by the International Center for Intercultural Communication, part of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. And when each school day ends, they will go “home” to the English-speaking Hoosier families serving as their summer hosts.

Twenty-two Tsuda College students will arrive Saturday to participate in what is now known as the annual Women in Leadership Intensive Summer English Program. Two weeks after the Tsuda students finish Aug. 22, the center will host 13 students from Hakuoh University, a co-ed institution.
The Hakuoh Intensive Summer English Program runs Sept. 3 to 15.

For students of Tsuda College — started 100 years ago as Japan’s first college for women — their three-week intensive English-language immersion course is the latest chapter in a 20-year tradition that IUPUI will mark with a special celebration Aug. 21.

“It’s really been magnificent,” International Center for Intercultural Communication director and Chancellor’s Professor of English Ulla M. Connor said of the program that started after a chance encounter between Connor and Tsuda English professor Mary Althaus, now vice president of the Japanese college.

Twenty years ago, when Althaus suggested the ICIC-Tsuda partnership, most Japanese schools focused on exchange programs with universities either in California or on the East Coast. IUPUI is one of only three exchange programs for Tsuda students, and the only U.S. university that offers them a summer intensive English program, Connor said. About 25 students have attended the IUPUI program each year, and the school has never had difficulty recruiting students to attend.

At the request of the Japanese college, women in leadership has been the program’s focus in the past five or so years, Connor said. The Tsuda students use a mainstream book on female leaders, selected readings and academic activities specifically chosen for their inclusion of content on distinguished female leaders and their focus on developing communication skills for women in leadership roles. The class also includes guest lectures by prominent local women such as retired Eli Lilly and Co. human resources professional Joann Ingulli-Fattic and Girls Inc. director of research Catherine Cushinberry.

Althaus and members of the Japan-America Society of Indiana are scheduled to attend the Tsuda anniversary celebration. IUPUI administrators scheduled to attend include Chancellor Charles R. Bantz, School of Liberal Arts Dean Bill Blomquist and IU Associate Vice President of International Affairs Gil Latz.

This summer will mark the sixth year for the International Center for Intercultural Communication’s program for Hakuoh University. This year’s edition revolves around five U.S. culture themes that college students can relate to, such as sports and city life in the U.S. The ICIC-Hakuoh program has been the more traditional two-way exchange program.

“For students who have an interest in Japanese, studying abroad is an invaluable experience,” said Laura Woods, an IUPUI student who spent a year at Hakuoh, earning enough credits for an individualized major in Japanese. “I recommend Hakuoh University as a good place to experience Japanese college life.

“During the year that I studied at Hakuoh University, I was able to significantly improve in my Japanese language ability; and because the classes are conducted completely in Japanese, I was able to learn more quickly than I could in America,” said Woods, who is featured in a promotional spotlight on the Hakuoh University website.

Davis continues ‘telling stories’ in new novel with a twist to an old theme

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INDIANAPOLIS — Thomas J. Davis’ third and latest novel brings something new to the age-old tale of a man selling his soul to the devil.

In The Devil Likes to Sing (Cascade Books), Davis, professor of religious studies and associate dean for academic programs in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, tells the story of Timothy McFarland, a failed theology student who begins writing fiction. Feeling he’s a hack, McFarland strikes a deal with Lucifer, who offers to shape him into a success.

“The book is a look at self-identity,” Davis said. “How we think of ourselves, who we are, whether or not we accept ourselves. Within all of us we have these self-doubts, thinking there is a way to change who we are that will make us more acceptable to others.”

Struggling with self-identity and self-doubt often opens protagonists up to searching for change.

“That’s where the notion of temptation comes in—at what price is one willing to make changes . . .” Davis said. “Once you hit the notion of temptation—especially for me, because I’ve spent my scholarly life studying the history of Christianity—the devil becomes an interesting tool by which to explore temptation because the devil as an image has the benefit of representing both an external force as well as something deeper, an internal struggle.”

Bringing something new to the age-old concept of the deal with the devil story was the author’s challenge. How could his devil differ from interpretations such as Milton’s Paradise Lost, the German myth of Faust, contemporary portrayals such as Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, and even Saturday Night Live?

Davis’ solution is a devil who can be funny, witty and enjoy sublime Anglican church music as well as American rock and roll.

“The character needed balance—a balance of lightheartedness and darkness, gravitas and humor, familiarity and distance, friendship and contempt,” Davis said. “That was the hardest thing to maintain while writing the devil. He had to appear almost friendly, almost helpful, almost fun while currents of evil still ran beneath him. That had to leak out around the edges, but not too much.”

The Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis professor wanted to be a storyteller long before his first foray into fiction, but he focused instead on his education and academic career. The professor’s jump into novel writing was eventually triggered by boyhood memories of stories told by his father.

“My father was grieving about the disappearance of a way of life in the north Georgia mountains that he had known as a boy,” Davis says. “He would tell stories about when he was a kid, and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to capture my father’s sense of wonder in a novel and write about north Georgia through his perspective.’”

That exercise grew into his first novel, The Christmas Quilt (Rutledge Hill Press), a story about a 12-year-old boy and his grandmother’s final months of life. The book earned a Reader’s Choice award and was a selection in the Doubleday Book Club. “That book came from my need to pay homage to my ancestry,” Davis said.

Storytelling also plays a role in his classroom. “Much of what I teach is the history of Christianity, and it tends to be very narrative driven—I tell a lot of stories in class,” Davis said. “I’ve noticed that students tend to be drawn in with a good story.”

In Davis’ new novel, the devil also takes the storytelling approach, only he twists religious history to suit his needs. Davis warns that the epigraphs that open the book—selections from Milton, Blake, and the New Testament on the nature of the devil—are important for the reader. The book also ends with a warning that readers shouldn’t take the devil’s word on matters of Christian faith and practices at face value.

“He is, after all, somewhat biased,” Davis said.

APS Franklin Research Grants, including APS/British Academy Fellowship for Research in London and APS/Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities Fellowship for Research in Edinburgh

UntitledThe Franklin program offers up to $6,000 to scholars for one to two months research.  It is particularly designed to help meet the costs of travel to libraries and archives for research purposes; the purchase of microfilm, photocopies, or equivalent research materials; the costs associated with fieldwork; or laboratory research expenses. In addition to the general grants, there are two specific programs for research in London or in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Deadlines

October 1, for a January 2015 decision for work in February 2015 through January 2016
December 1, for a March 2015 decision for work in April 2015 through January 2016

The Franklin grants are made to individuals, rather than to Indiana University on behalf of the scholar, so they will pay awardees directly. Even though it is not necessary to route proposals through the IU Office of Research Administration, please notify Associate Dean Jeff Wilson (jeswilso@iupui.edu) and Grants Analyst Edith Millikan (emillika@iupui.edu) if you intend to apply. For more information on the School of Liberal Arts procedure for fellowship applications, please visit our website.

For more information on the Franklin Grant click here