Two from LAS to present at Iowa Humanities Festival

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Neil Nakadate, English John Monroe, History

Two Iowa State University faculty members will present at the second annual Iowa Humanities Festival in Des Moines, April 12: Neil Nakadate, emeritus professor of English, and John Monroe, professor of history.

The Iowa Humanities Festival is dedicated to providing Iowans an opportunity for cultural and historical exploration through this year’s theme "A World at Home – A Home in the World." Presenters are from Iowa colleges, universities, libraries and historical venues.

ISU’s departments of History and English are academic units in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Nakadate, a first-time participant, said the festival is a good opportunity to showcase his current work.

“A primary focus of my just-published memoir, Looking After Minidoka, is the displacement of Japanese Americans during World War II, their forced removal from homes on the West Coast and incarceration in barbed-wire ‘internment’ camps in Idaho, Arizona, Utah and other interior states,” Nakadate said.

The book took Nakadate two decades to research and write, due to extensive interviews with his parents and with relatives and friends on the West Coast and in Japan. Writing the book also involved a great deal of historical research on the legal, sociological and economic implications of those events and that time.

Monroe, also a first-time presenter at the conference, will speak on an African mask made in the late 19th century in current-day Gabon, (previously French Equatorial Africa). The mask is famous because in Paris in 2006 it sold for $7.5 million, the record price for any traditional African art.

His talk will focus on why this mask has become so valuable and the story behind its journey from Africa to Paris, and then into the hands of a private collector and on to auction. Monroe will also discuss Europe’s relationship to Africa, how people in the West perceive non-Western cultures and the impact of 19th-century European empires on the world today.

“I enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to present complicated historical ideas in ways that are accessible and interesting to non-specialist audiences," Monroe said. "It’s fascinating to create dialogue about the connections between past and present, about the diversity of the human experience, and about how we see ourselves in relation to our society and the rest of the world.”

The Iowa Humanities Festival is a collaboration between several Iowa colleges and universities and Des Moines-area humanities institutions. The event will be held at Des Moines’ Salisbury House and Gardens. -30-

About Liberal Arts and Sciences The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a world-class learning and research community. Iowa State’s most academically diverse college, LAS educates students to become global citizens, providing rigorous academic programs in the sciences, humanities and social sciences within a supportive personalized learning environment. College faculty design new materials, unravel biological structures, care for the environment, and explore social and behavioral issues. From fundamental research to technology transfer and artistic expression, the college supports people in Iowa and around the world.

NEWS RELEASE College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Iowa State UniversityContacts: John Monroe, History, (515) 294-6642, Neil Nakadate, English, (515) 294-3671, Katherine Marcheski, Liberal Arts and Sciences Communications, Steve Jones, Liberal Arts and Sciences Communications, (515) 294-0461,