Authors and Artists

Fall 2019


Shanna Benjamin (English) received a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies and a literary studies fellowship from the George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation for her project “The Life and Legacy of Nellie Y. McKay.” McKay was a groundbreaking feminist thinker who co-edited The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. The project examines McKay’s role in the field of black literary studies, her secret personal life, and the ways in which she achieved professional success.

Vance L. Byrd (German) won the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s New Directions Fellowship for his project, “Handmade History: Panoramas and 19th-Century Global Cultures of Commemoration.” The project examines the untold history of the trans-Atlantic business of memorials of the American Civil War and Franco-Prussian War, which contributed to American national identity, the formation of the German empire, and the complicated legacies of race, slavery, and colonialism in both countries. The award will allow him to study art history and Civil War history during a yearlong leave spent at Northwestern University.


Katherine Factor ’98 offers 9- to 12-year-old readers an historical adventure around the world. Choose Your Own Adventure Spies: Mata Hari (Chooseco, 2019) enacts the early life of an actual spy, Margaretha Zelle, who was best known by her stage name, Mata Hari. More than a dancer and spy, Mata Hari was an intelligent and courageous feminist, a resourceful survivor, and an adventurous spirit who lived dangerously.

In The Fifteenth Month: Aztec History in the Rituals of Panquetzaliztli (University of Oklahoma Press, 2019), John “Fritz” Schwaller ’69 focuses on one of the most important months in the Mexica (Aztec) year. Panquetzaliztli, the 15th month, was significant for its proximity to the winter solstice and for the fact that it marked the beginning of the season of warfare. Schwaller’s work marks a new methodology in which traditional sources for Mexica culture, rather than being interrogated for their specific content, are read for their insights into the historical development of the people.

Ann-Janine “A.J.” Morey ’73 shot the photographs for The Horse Cure: True Stories: Remarkable Horses Bringing Remarkable Change to Humankind by Michelle Holling-Brooks (Trafalgar Square Books, 2019).


Grinnell-based lounge-rock ’n’ roll act Pink Neighbor (Katie In ’13, Erik Jarvis ’12, Carlos Ferguson ’92) released their debut album, Time Beach Universe, Sept. 13. Founding members In and Jarvis oversaw production of the album, which was recorded and mixed to tape in Rock Island, Illinois. The eight-song album offers an array of psychedelic-pop hooks and cinematic soundscapes, with songwriting that combines Brill Building sophistication with Woodstock eccentricity. Unexpected chord changes collide with radio-friendly refrains, all delivered with charming vocal harmonies. Indeed, these songs serve not only to demonstrate the group’s musicality, but also to invite you in.

Johanna Giebelhaus ’96 researched, produced, and edited Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, a feature documentary film, that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2019. The film explores the work and life of Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. It has been screened at numerous film festivals, received very positive reviews, and opened in theatres nationwide during the summer.

Summer 2019


Drawing on research from a variety of psychological perspectives, from cognitive and biological to social and developmental, Janet Gibson, professor of psychology, explores factors that affect our detection, comprehension, liking, and use of humor. Throughout An Introduction to the Psychology of Humor (Routledge, 2019), Gibson explores theories and paradigms of humor, with each chapter dedicated to a distinct field of psychological research. Covering topics including humor development in children and older adults, humor’s effectiveness in advertisements, cross-cultural psychology, and humor’s functions in the workplace, Gibson addresses the challenges psychologists face in defining and studying humor despite it being a universal and often daily experience.

Gary Giddins ’70 released the second volume of a multipart biography, Bing Crosby — Swinging on a Star: The War Years, 1940–1946 (Little, Brown, 2018). In this follow-up to Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams — The Early Years, 1903–1940 (Little, Brown, 2001), Giddins focuses on Crosby’s most memorable period, the war years and the origin story of “White Christmas.” Set against the backdrop of a Europe on the brink of collapse, this work traces Crosby’s skyrocketing career. While he would go on to reshape both popular music and cinema more comprehensively than any other artist, Crosby’s legacy would be forever intertwined with his impact on the home front, a unifying voice for a nation at war.


At Grinnell, Ron Stanford ’71 produced many concerts of roots music while Fay Hazelcorn Stanford ’72 made the publicity posters. In a dorm room on South Campus, a Cajun musician named Dewey Balfa convinced the Stanfords to move to Louisiana one day to study Cajun music. The couple moved to Louisiana in 1972 and spent two years researching, photographing, and writing about French music. In September and October, Ron Stanford is presenting an exhibition of his photographs, Big French Dance: Cajun and Zydeco Music 1972–1974, at the Acadiana Center for the Arts in Lafayette, Louisiana. He’s also publishing a book of his Louisiana photographs.