DBSI 2018 Participants

Mériam N. Belli is Associate Professor at the University of Iowa’s History Department. She received her PhD from Georgetown University in 2005. She specializes in the social and cultural history of the Arab Middle East, nourishing a particular interest in oral history/memory, boundaries/mobility, nationalism/colonialism, and cultural performances and practices. Her book entitled An Incurable Past: Nasser’s Egypt Now and Then (University Press of Florida, c2013) explored Egyptian experiences and representations of the 1950s-1960s through oral histories and other stories of schooling and national education; war on the Suez Canal; and religion as seen through Mariophany narratives. Her current book project consists in a transnational history (France, Tunisia, Egypt, and Palestine/Israel) that explores modern cultural and physical boundaries and mobility in the Mediterranean through the lens of death beliefs and funerary practices from the late 19th-century to nowadays. This project makes extensive use of life stories in addition to more conventional sources.


Aiden M. Bettine is a PhD student in the Department of History, focusing on producing community-engaged digital history projects that centralize marginalized histories on the US. He holds both a bachelor’s in History and African & Black Diaspora Studies and a master’s in Critical Ethnic Studies from DePaul University. Aiden is the founder of the Transgender Oral History Project of Iowa with a mission to recognize, preserve, and celebrate the lives and stories of transgender and gender non-conforming people across the state of Iowa. His doctoral work at the University of Iowa examines the development of community archives in college towns and cities across the Midwest and wrestles with issues of race, access, preservation, and historical memory.




Roxanna Curto is an Associate Professor of French and Spanish. In her research, she explores the representation of cultural elements such as technology and sports in literature from the French- and Spanish-speaking worlds. She is the author of Inter- tech(s): Colonialism and the Question of Technology in Francophone Literature (University of Virginia Press, 2016), which examines the representation of modern technologies in the works of Francophone writers from Africa and the Caribbean. In her teaching, she has assigned video projects on three separate occasions: in two Spanish courses, “Introduction to Reading Literature” and “Soccer in Latin America”; and also in her GE course, “Global Sports and National Cultures.” She is looking forward to learning more about digital storytelling, especially with regard to its ability to foster critical thinking and creativity in the classroom.



Daria Fisher Page is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Iowa College of Law, where she direct the Community Empowerment Law Project. Her students represent individuals, nonprofits, and organizations working to strengthen their communities, create economic opportunities, and advance social justice in matters ranging from entity formation and strategic planning to coalition building and the design of advocacy plans. Her scholarship focuses on access to, and experiences of, justice; meaningful community engagement; and legal education reform. Before joining the Iowa faculty, Professor Fisher Page was a Visiting Associate Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center and taught at the Universidad de San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador. Professor Fisher Page also practiced for several years at Africa-Middle East Refugee Assistance (AMERA), the Tahirih Justice Center, and Kids in Need of Defense (KIND).


Claire Frances
is a Senior Lecturer in French and the Director of the Language Learning Center at Grinnell College in Grinnell, IA, where she oversees the peer tutoring programs as well as self-instructional language learning opportunities. Her research centers around three main areas: fostering learner autonomy through goal-setting and self-assessment, retention and retrieval practices for language acquisition, and how to leverage peer tutoring and mentoring to increase student motivation and engagement.




Jenna Hammerich
assists with communications and publicity for the Obermann Center, writing articles, designing posters, and managing websites. She has an MFA in nonfiction writing and an MA in English literature. Currently, she’s fascinated by transmedia storytelling, sound design, and environmental psychology. She and her husband live on a pick-your-own blueberry farm in rural Oxford.




Kirsten E. Kumpf Baele, Visiting Assistant Professor of German at the University of Iowa, holds a Ph.D. in Germanic Literatures and Languages. Kumpf Baele strives to connect her research to the classroom. Her latest projects explore responses in film to the current refugee crisis in Austria and the (re)production of Anne Frank and her diary in the age of global media. Participation in the 2018 Digital Bridges Summer Institute will provide Kumpf Baele with the tools to incorporate digital storytelling into her newly accepted GE seminar Anne Frank & Her Story. This summer she will be finalizing her recent conference presentation “Pedagogical Opportunities of a Cultural Icon, Anne Frank’s Chestnut Tree” for publication by Amsterdam University Press. How Anne Frank is being taught today is of great interest to her.



Albert Lacson is an associate professor of History at Grinnell College. His interest in helping young people who have been marginalized in American society because of their personal identities is mirrored in my scholarship that seeks to explore how people on the margins have struggled to write their way into narratives of American history. Albert is particularly interested, both personally and academically, in the question ‘what does it mean to be American?” In his research and teaching, he explores the contests between those wishing to promote the view of a permanent notion of being American and those who have recognized the contingent nature of American identity. He has been especially interested in the perspectives of those who have sought to expand the meaning of American identity, like African Americans and Native Americans.  In addition to conducting scholarly research and teaching, Albert trying to construct an identity as a blues guitarist.


Victoria (Torie) Burns Torie Burns is a PhD candidate studying American literature from 1900 to the present. Her interests include memoirs, trauma, memory, and food studies. Prior to attending Iowa’s program, she earned a BA in English and Psychology at Duke University and worked at Vanderbilt University’s business school. Torie currently teaches a food-focused Rhetoric course and previously worked as a TA for Foundations of the English Major.





Celeste Miller, MFA is Professor of Dance at Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa, USA where she teaches Choreography, Movement for the Performer, Contemporary Dance in a Global Context, and Dance, Human Rights and Social Justice. She is also the director of Dance Ensemble/ACTivate. Before coming to Grinnell, Miller toured extensively as a solo performer of text and movement based work. Grants and awards from her work have included National Endowment for the Arts Choreographer’s Fellowship, National Performance Network Creation Fund, and others. She is the lead artist and co-founding director of Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival’s Curriculum in Motion, a laboratory for the development of methods that apply choreographic process as a tool for embodied learning and critical thinking, located in a regionalhigh school in Massachusetts.



Kristine Muñoz has taught at the University of Iowa for 23 years and is currently Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. She has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Colombia since 1984, which produced 5 books, 40 articles and book chapters, and 70 national and international conference presentations, workshops and keynote addresses. Since 2016 she has turned her cultural and intercultural research in Colombia into courses for students studying Spanish at the University and partnerships with community organizations in Medellín. Her current work centers on developing those partnerships into study abroad opportunities for students in both directions, and public digital humanities projects that will increase access and impact of cultural inquiry into transformational spaces in and around Medellín.



Farzad Salamifar
is a PhD candidate in French and Francophone World Studies at the University of Iowa, and a recipient of the Ballard and Seashore Dissertation Fellowship. He holds a B.A. in French Language and Linguistics, and an M.A. in French Language and Literature, both from the University of Tehran. His master’s thesis, “René Daumal and the Oriental Keepsakes” investigates the influence of Hindu mysticism and the Far-Eastern philosophy on Daumal’s poetics. Farzad’s dissertation, “The Re-Emergence of the Subject in the French Fiction After May 1968,” explores the popularization of autobiographical and biographical writings in the contemporary French literature from a historical and epistemological perspective.




Carol Seehusen is currently finishing the second year of her Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision, where her research interests focus on individuals with chronic pain. Prior to starting her doctorate, Carol worked at a local non-profit providing mental health counseling/therapy to a variety of individuals from children to older adults on a variety of presenting issues. She holds a Temporary Mental Health Counseling License for the state of Iowa and is certified as a National Certified Counselor and trained in Play Therapy. Carol enjoys hearing people’s stories and uses them to build a holistic view of clients to effectively treat presenting concerns. As a part of her role as therapist, Carol enjoys helping clients rewrite their personal narratives to empower, encourage, and promote self-growth within themselves.



Steve Silva received a BFA in Cinema Studies from New York University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Iowa. He currently serves as the Associate Director of the Center for Teaching, where he manages a portfolio of learning technology consulting services and initiatives including the SITA Program and ongoing investigations of digital course content, among others. He also looks for strategic and emerging opportunities where learning technologies can directly solve faculty instructional goals and support student learning.

He’s interested in the ways that learning technologies impact and change socio-cultural interplay between faculty, students and University administration– for example, how active learning classrooms can upend the power relationship between instructor and student and how that disruption supports students’ creation and ownership of their academic production.



Briana J. Smith received her PhD in history from the University of Iowa in May 2017, where she also served as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of History from 2017-2018. She is currently preparing a book manuscript on the relationship between experimental artists, counter-public spheres, and urban spaces in late twentieth century Berlin. With assistance from the University of Iowa Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio, she created a website and digital mapping project as a supplement to her written work, which you can visit here. Next fall, she will begin a three-year lecturer position in the History and Literature program at Harvard University.



Sarah Suhadolnik is a scholar and teacher of American music, with special interests in jazz and popular music. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, where her dissertation, Navigating Jazz: Music, Place, and New Orleans, was supported in part by the Lillian A. Ives Graduate Student Fellowship at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities, and is currently under contract with University of Michigan Press. She has presented papers at national and international conferences, including the American Musicological Society, the Society for American Music, the American Studies Association, and the International Musicological Society. Her publications include articles in The Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2nd Edition, and a study of the contemporary singer-songwriter Adele featured in the 2016 Cambridge Companion to the Singer-Songwriter. Suhadolnik is participating in the Summer Institute because she is interested in digital media as both a secondary research interest, and a fruitful area of expansion in her pedagogy.


Miriam Thaggert is an Associate Professor of English and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Iowa and the Director of Graduate Studies for GWSS. She teaches courses on African American and American literature, women’s literature, visual culture, and literature and social justice. Her first book studied the relationship between photography and African American modernism during the 1920s. Her project for the Digital Bridges Summer Institute is based on her archival research for her second book, a social and literary history of African American women and the American railroad in the 19th and 20th centuries. Her research has been supported by the Ford Foundation and the NEH.


Elias Vitulli is a Consortium for Faculty Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies and History at Grinnell College. His scholarship examines the criminal legal system as an institution of social control and violence through queer studies, trans studies, disability studies, critical race/ethnic studies, and feminist critical analytics. His current book project, tentatively titled Carceral Normativities: Sex, Security, and the Penal Management of Gender Nonconformity, examines the history of US penal policies and practices regarding the management of gender nonconforming and transgender people from the early twentieth century to the present. His research and teaching focus on issues of social and institutional inequality and violence, intersectionality, and social justice. He teaches a wide range of courses in intersectional feminist studies, queer theory and queer of color critique, disability studies, trans studies, LGBTQ histories, and anti-racist queer and feminist histories of policing and the criminal legal system. He earned his Ph.D. in American Studies, with a minor in Feminist and Critical Sexuality Studies, from the University of Minnesota.


Deborah Elizabeth Whaley is an artist, curator, and writer. She is currently Senior Scholar for Digital Arts and Humanities Research for the Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio (DSPS) and Professor of American and African American Studies at the University of Iowa. Her research and teaching fields include the institutional history, theories, and methods of American and Transnational American Studies, 19th Century to the Present Cultural History, Comparative Ethnic Studies, Black Cultural Studies, Popular Culture, the Visual Arts, Digital Humanities and Critical Theory. As senior scholar and as an ambassador for DSPS, she collaborates with faculty, students, and staff who produce or engage with digital scholarship, research, and new media technologies and pedagogy.