“Frankenstein” is still teaching readers 200 years after its publication

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On March 22, the John Martin Rare Book Room and Special Collections and University Archives teamed up to create the event, “Curating Frankenstein”, which included a lecture from Peter Balestrieri, Curator of Science Fiction and Popular Culture at Special Collections, and material from both the John Martin Rare Book Room and Special Collections.

Caroline Hogan, graduate student in the School of Library and Information Sciences and a student worker for the John Martin Rare Book Room, and Elizabeth Riordan, graduate student in the School of Library and Information Sciences and the Brokaw Graduate Assistant at Special Collections, collaborated together for close to six months to create this event that took place at the Rare Book Room’s open house.

The idea for this event came to Hogan and Riordan when they were attending the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section conference in June 2017. They had finished a talk about ghosts in the library and doing spooky things, like candlelight readings, when Riordan mentioned it was going to be 200 years since Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” was released. After that, they started working together to make the event happen.

“I talked to Donna, the head of the Rare Book Room, and she thought it would be perfect to do it here and for our open house,” Hogan said.

“We have an open house every March, but this one is a little more special because we’ve never teamed up with Special Collections or have had a lecture before. We added a lot to this open house.”

All of the materials they had on display were from the late 1700s or early 1800s that were mentioned in “Frankenstein” in some way. For example, Darwin was mentioned in the novel, who could have been Charles Darwin’s relative, so there was book written by Charles Darwin out on display. Not only were the materials related to the novel, but some were also linked back to Iowa.

“This event opens up different ideas in your head,” Cheryl Jacobson, a spectator from the event, said.

“It’s interesting how there’s a connection between all of these writers and how they influence each other and their works.”

People who attended the event learned things they never knew before. Craig Gibson, another spectator from the event, said he used to teach this novel but learned a lot more about it from coming to this event and listening to Balestrieri and seeing the materials.

This was Gibson’s second time attending an event with the John Martin Rare Book Room. He attended one on the Black Death a couple of years ago with his daughter and they both agreed this one was more interesting with the lecture and materials on display.

One of the only problems the event had was it wasn’t long enough. Balestreri had a time limit on his lecture, and when it was up, Balastreri had more to say and people were still asking questions.

“I am always learning more about ‘Frankenstein’, sometimes purposely, sometimes serendipity, and probably because there seems to be growing interest in the subject, expressed in a variety of ways by various authors and artists,” Balesteri said.



Photo Storytelling

In Gibson Square Park, at the University of Iowa, there are a bunch of benches placed throughout for people to sit and enjoy the beautiful weather. Whenever I walk through the park, I never really notice people using them, so I thought I would take some pictures of the benches to give them the spotlight for once. I selected one bench and I did the simple establishing shop and medium of the bench that everyone would see. Then, I did close ups from different angles to give it a different point-of-view.

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University of Iowa Attendance Policies Get Students to Class

On the University of Iowa campus, it’s the students’ responsibility to attend class as much as possible. Professors use attendance as part of their grading system to get their students to class. Students are spending a lot of money to be at the university; by not attending class, the financial, academic and social impact is large.

The university has an umbrella policy for the overall College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and each professor creates their own policy based off that or their own ideas of how they want to run their class. Whatever they choose, it must be stated on their syllabus and stressed in class on the first day.

It’s the student’s obligation to come to class but learning happens in a community, Dr. Kathryn Hall, senior director of academic policies, said.

By not being in class, students don’t get the opportunity to learn from their peers. And that can only hurt their learning and their grades.

“They understand that their coursework is import for their career goals; it’s what drives most of them to class,” said Lindsay Mattock, assistant professor for the School of Library and Information Sciences.

Most professors grade attendance with participation. In order to get those points for the day, students need to show up and discuss the materials in discussion. When students don’t show up, they’re grade suffers more than if they showed up and not participated.

To hear more about how attendance policies help to learn in classrooms from Dr. Kathryn Hall, listen below.

Some professors set their policies so that for every day the class meets during the week, that’s how many unexcused absences students have for the semester. And those days are used for the unforeseen incidents like funerals, sicknesses, and lack of parking.

“I don’t think attendance policies are problematic when they’re reasonable, and there’s nothing unreasonable about holding students responsible for coming to class,” Elena Alvarez, a junior studying journalism, said.

“After all, in the end that’s what you’re driving yourself into student debt for, right? Why not go to class when you’re paying for it?”

Students are paying thousands of dollars in tuition to be at the university. And most of that money is for the classes they are taking. By not making it to class, they are throwing away hundreds of dollars.

In an ideal world, attendance would be optional, Jon Crylen, professor of cinematic arts, said. Being in class doesn’t necessarily help grades. People come to class who don’t want to be there.

College is a place where students go and experience their first step of adulthood. They don’t have parents to tell them what to do anymore. With an attendance policy in place, it encourages students to go to class and learn.

Having an attendance policy is important for schools because they are not liable to get students to class, Josh Park, a junior majoring in sports studies and philosophy, said. By having a policy, it is expected that students meet the standard for it; for their self and the school.

An attendance policy is not a law contract. It is put in place for encouragement. Professors are making the time to meet with students and teach them. Therefore, students should consider making the time to go to their classes.

Students are adults. They need to be treated like them. It is not the professor’s responsibility to get students to class.

“They can show up if they want or not show up if they don’t want,” said Margaret Zimmerman, assistant professor for the School of Library and Information Sciences.

Invisible Hawkeyes: David McCartney speaks about the undocumented

In the exhibit hall on the first floor of the Main Library at the University of Iowa campus, a new attraction has opened on Feb. 2 called Invisible Hawkeyes. David McCartney, university archivist at Special Collections and University Archives, opens up about what this exhibit is about and how it came to be.

The exhibit is based on the book released last year, “Invisible Hawkeyes: African Americans at the University of Iowa during the long civil rights era” by Lena and Michael Hill. The book documents experiences of African Americans within a white community that would otherwise have gone undocumented.

“[Invisible Hawkeyes is about] being an outsider essentially; being an African American student in a predominately, and in the case of Iowa, overwhelmingly white institution,” McCartney said.

“It also applies to students who feel as though they aren’t a part of a larger institution on account of their racial identity or other factors. But, in this case, Invisible Hawkeyes would apply to African American students here at a predominately white institution.”

It’s not just about the undocumented stories of African Americans. This exhibit reaches a broader community. It’s about being an outsider at a predominately white facility. And this exhibit brings the book to life and expands on it to make it inclusive to all communities who feel like they don’t fit in with the society around them.

Being the university archivist, McCartney works with materials pertinent to student life, so he was a part of the journey and research for the exhibit. He helped finding the right materials from the University Archives within Special Collections and the stories found within the department to help support this exhibit. However, the person behind it all is Katie Buehner, head of the Rita Benton Music Library. Her contributions to the show are African American students in the arts.

Some of the items McCartney talked about was a thesis written by Elizabeth Catlett. She was a student here at the University of Iowa, which was the state university at the time, in 1940. The University of Iowa, at the time, was the first institute of higher learning in the United States of America to confer the MFA degree (Master of Fine Arts). Catlett was the first African American to receive an MFA in 1940, along with two other students.

Other items at the exhibit are photographs by African American students in the journalism program, and there will be reproduced prints of The Daily Iowan from the 1940s.

An item that is not officially part of the exhibit, but is available to see on the third-floor corridor display cases of the Main Library directly outside Special Collections any time, is a very rare scrapbook from the 1920s created by Peatrobas Cassius Robinson. Robinson graduated the University of Iowa in 1927 with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry and collected photos and items for this scrapbook. There is very little documentation of student life before the 1950s, so this is a door that allows people to look into African American life during that time.

Data Shuts Stereotypes Down and Adds Other Surprises

I examined offenders released from Iowa prisons in the month of September 2015. When I first started looking at the data, I expected to find something different.

This first graph looks at the average months men and women have been in prison for their offenses. And what’s a little surprising is that men have stayed longer than women even though they were in prison for the same offenses.

The one that is the closest for both genders staying in prison is a weapons offense, which is shocking because something that is a little heavier offense, like assaults, men stay longer even though an assault charge is worse than a weapons charge.

The other shocking thing was that of the people released in September 2015 for murder, none of them were women. All of them were men. It’s strange that there were no females because it seems like there are no females in prison for that offense.

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The second graph shows offenses and the number of people who committed them based on their race.

Based on the stereotypes that we grew up with, that black people are the ones to avoid on the streets, it was interesting to see this graph prove that wrong. Non-Hispanic Whites dominate in every category on the graph. And non-Hispanic Blacks only make it in four of the six offenses shown.

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Data Visualization

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This visualization shows that men earn more in all positions besides Instructor. This wasn’t that shocking to me. It was interesting to see that women do make more in one position, but that could also be based on the number of women verses men working as an instructor.

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Looking at this visualization, I noticed that Michigan’s out-of-state tuition was higher than California’s. You would think that California and New York would be higher since they are on the coast and a target destination for students who want to learn the Arts and get jobs out there after graduation.

Is Big Data Something You Need to Worry About?

L. Miguel Encarnação, assistant professor at the University of Iowa in the Department of Computer Sciences,  and Ion Vasi, associate Professor at the University of Iowa in the Department of Sociology,  sit down and talk about the importance of big data with UI World Canvass on April 19, 2016. Throughout their interview, they explain what big data is, and how researchers are using the information people post online, as well as if people need to be more cautious as to what it is they are posting. They discuss how people want free apps and in return for that free app, they give up information about themselves to companies. Companies use this information, as well as other data gathered from the Internet, to help progress their business to get more people interested in them.

If you want to know more about how this affects you and if you are contributing to it Click Here.

Like Explaining the Color of the Sky

What does it mean to be happy?

I thought I was happy. I thought I had friends. I thought people liked me. I thought my life was going somewhere.

But, maybe it’s not.

I feel like I’m living a lie.

Anytime I think my life is going great, I take two steps backwards. The way my life is going right now I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself dying alone with nothing but books and twelve cats surrounding me. And I hate cats.

I have to set small goals for myself to accomplish to make the final one not hurt so bad when I don’t make it. And it feels like I’m not going to make it.

I can’t even attempt to dream up my future. All I see is darkness. It surrounds me. Suffocating me until no end is near.

I don’t do anything with my life. When I’m not working or doing endless amounts of schoolwork, I sit in my room in do nothing. I pretend to do something. I’ll have my laptop open or a book laid out, but really I’m just laying on my bed, staring at the ceiling.

Reading doesn’t even bring me joy. The one thing I could count on as an escape from the life I live isn’t there for me anymore.

And that just leaves me with my imagination, which isn’t the best thing. It only just gets my hopes up even more. I’ll create different scenarios in my head of an event I’m looking forward too, but instead of feeling anticipation for something that could possibly come, I just feel disappointment because I know that what I really want to happen just isn’t going to.

People come to me for problems sometimes and I can give them answers that really help them out when I can’t even answer the questions I ask myself; I believe in others when I can’t even believe in myself.

So, how does one become happy?

Like there’s that saying money can’t buy happiness, but what is happiness really?

How does one find happiness?

Is anyone truly happy?