speakers bureau: meet the speakers

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Meet Humanities Iowa's speakers for the Speakers Bureau program. Each speaker has a photo, bio, and description of his/her program(s).


  • Humanities Iowa



    Meet the Speakers

  • Roy R. Behrens, University of Northern Iowa

    Roy R. Behrens is a professor of Art at the University of Northern Iowa, he

    teaches graphic design and design history. He is an editor and writer for

    periodicals and books and his writings have been featured on Nova (PBS),

    Equinox (BBC), Living in Iowa (IPTV) and BBC Radio. His most recent book

    is False Colors: Art, Design and Modern Camouflage (2002). He can be

    contacted at behrens@uni.edu or at (319) 273-2260.

    Seagoing Easter Eggs: Art, Design and Modern Camouflage Everett

    Warner, an artist born in Vinton, Iowa, supervised US naval camouflage in

    World Wars I and II. He made important contributions to the development

    of "dazzle painting," a method of ship camouflage in which confusing,

    colored shapes were applied to the sides of a vessel to prevent German submarines from aiming at

    it accurately from a distance. These deceptively painted ships, which the public likened at the time

    to Cubism, resembled, as one writer called them, "a flock of sea-going Easter eggs." This and other

    stories of camouflage artists, designers and architects are told in a slide-illustrated 45-minute talk.

    Participants will come away with an understanding of the relevance of visual perception to art, the

    function of protective coloring in nature, and how the principles of camouflage are used in print

    design, paintings, architecture and more.

    Grant Wood and Frank Lloyd Wright: Little Houses on the Prairie Grant Wood and Frank

    Lloyd Wright had similar influences: Japanese-inspired esthetic principles, the Arts and Crafts

    Movement and Gothic Revival architecture. During this slide-illustrated, 45-minute talk,

    participants are invited to explore the parallels between the works of Wood and Wright, and how

    artists express human values, whatever the medium.

    Galin Berrier, Des Moines Area Community College

    Galin Berrier has been an adjunct instructor in history at Des Moines Area

    Community College in Ankeny since 1994. He is the author of the chapter

    on the Underground Railroad in Iowa in Outside In: African -American

    History in Iowa, 1838-2000, published by the State Historical Society of

    Iowa in 2001. He interprets the Law Office and the Bank to visitors to the

    1875 "Town of Walnut Hill" at Living History Farms and conducts tours at

    the Des Moines Art Center. He makes interactive presentations on the

    Underground Railroad for school classes over the Iowa Communications

    Network. He can be reached at (515) 965-8242.

    The Underground Railroad in Iowa The Underground Railroad,

    historians agree, is shrouded in myth and legend. Did it really exist in Iowa,

    and if so, when and how? Was it highly organized or did its "conductors" and "station agents"

    mostly improvise? Were fugitive slaves usually hidden beneath trap doors in cellars or were they

    more likely to be concealed in attics and garrets or outdoors in heavy brush and timber? What part

    did African Americans themselves play in helping fugitive slaves find their way to freedom? How

    many fugitives are likely to have passed through Iowa and how do we know if reputed "safe

    houses" actually existed in our own communities? These are some of the questions addressed in

    this inquiry into a sometimes controversial but always fascinating episode in Iowa's history.

    Where did they go from here? The Underground Railroad from Iowa to Canada Where did

    black freedom seekers go when they left Iowa? Only in rare cases can we trace their steps all the

    way to Canada, but we can be fairly certain that some were sheltered by Owen Lovejoy at

    Princeton, Illinois or hidden on board Great Lakes steamships at Racine, Wisconsin or aided by

    Quakers like Zachariah Shugart in southwestern Michigan. What challenges faced them along the

    way and what kind of life did they build for themselves after they reached safety in Canada?

  • Richard Caplan, The University of Iowa

    Richard Caplan is Professor Emeritus of Dermatology at the University of

    Iowa College of Medicine. While serving for 21 years as Associate Dean for

    Continuing Medical Education, he founded and developed the Program in

    Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities, where an endowed chair has

    been established in his honor. Medical ethics, medical history and literature-

    and-medicine are among his areas of interest, along with matters musical

    (he is an accomplished performer of piano and clarinet). He is also a

    recognized expert on Sherlock Holmes and he is the founding leader of the

    Younger Stamfords, Iowa City's Sherlock Holmes Society. He can be

    reached by e-mail at richard-caplan@uiowa.edu, (319) 335-6584 (w) or

    (319) 338-0394 (h).

    Medical Ethics, Moral Dilemmas Should you have yourself cloned if you can't have children or

    need "spare parts" to prevent or repair a fatal illness? If genetic testing reveals a probability of

    your developing diabetes, would you change your lifestyle? These and many other ethical questions

    arise frequently for health care professionals. This program offers an opportunity to discuss these

    important questions with the founder of the Program in Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities

    at the University of Iowa.

    Sherlock Holmes in Turn-of-the-Century Britain The stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle have

    inspired generations of readers devoted to Sherlock Holmes. Dr. Richard Caplan, an authority on

    Sherlock Holmes, recently published a book concerning Doyle's famous detective. This special

    interest in the subject also allows exploration of life in Britain at the start of the twentieth century,

    as well as providing much enjoyment. Using his background in medicine and his love of literature,

    Dr. Caplan explores the persisting phenomenon of the great detective's astounding longevity.

    Michael Carey, Poet, Farragut *

    Michael Carey farms 800 acres in Farragut and is the author of four books

    of poetry, a teaching manual, and two historical plays. Carey is also a co-

    founder of Loess Hill Books, a fine-arts subsidiary of Mid-Prairie Books. His

    work has been published in anthologies and magazines across the United

    States, Great Britain and Ireland. His life and work have been featured by

    the Wall Street Journal, Time, and The Associated Press, as well as on Christian Science Monitor

    Television and Iowa Public Television's "Living in Iowa" and "Touchstone" programs. (712) 246-

    3453 (h).

    Reading and Writing the Land/Farm Poetry Michael Carey will read from his popular essays,

    "Reading and Writing the Land" and "Translations," the latter of which concerns his move from New

    York City to a farm outside the small town of Farragut, Iowa. He will also present selections from

    "Local History, Poetry and Myth," which deals with how we mythologize our local histories through

    art. His humorous and insightful prose explores how culture and "agri"-culture cross-pollinate in

    the fertile Iowa soil. After reading the essays, Carey will read a selection of his poetry from his

    acclaimed books The Noise the Earth Makes, Honest Effort and Nishnabotna. All three books are

    inspired by the Iowa farm landscape.

    Carpenter of Song- Poems of Trees Mr. Carey will read a cycle of poems based on the Celtic

    alphabet of ancient Ireland. Every letter represents a tree, a month of the year and an aspect of

    being. Carey gives a rich and personal talk on the redemptive qualities of Irish natural, spiritual

    and poetic symbolism. He also writes and talks about trees native to the Iowa landscape. The

    ancient word for "poet" literally translated meant "Carpenter of Song."

    * Prior to booking Michael please contact our Humanities Iowa office.

  • Hal Chase, Des Moines Area Community College

    Hal S. Chase was born in Des Moines during WW2, but grew up in legally

    segregated Frankfort, KY from eight to eighteen. He teaches U.S., African-

    American, and Iowa history at DMACC, and coordinated and contributed a

    chapter to Outside In: African-American History in Iowa, 1838-2000. He

    can be reached at hschase@dmacc.edu or (515) 248-7250.

    Outside In: African American History in Iowa The program is a 15

    minute audio-visual survey of the major people, organizations, and events

    in Iowa's African-American history from its territorial beginning in 1838 to

    the present. It also emphasizes the African-American history of the place

    where the presentation is made, and Dr. Chase works with local people

    prior to the presentation to uncover and incorporate this material into the program. In addition,

    audience members are encouraged to bring their stories, scrapbooks, and family albums to the

    presentation and share their content.

    *Additional Resources: Outside In: African-American History in Iowa, 1838-2000 ($40, including

    shipping, from the State Historical Society of Iowa-Des Moines. 515-283-1757) All receipts from

    the sale of Outside In go into an account in the State Historical Society Foundation and can only be

    used to acquire, preserve, and promote the African-American history of Iowa. None of the authors

    has or will receive any compensation for their contributions.

    Robert Dana, Iowa Poet Laureate (2004-08)

    Robert Dana was born in Boston, served in the South Pacifi