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Cleveland Humanities Festival: 2016 - Concluding Discussion

Archived research guides for Cleveland Humanities Festival


This guide was prepared for the Festival's concluding discussion on April 10, 2016 led by Thomas Palaima.

Panel Biographies

Thomas G Palaima

University of Texas-Austin

Tom Palaima, a MacArthur fellow for his work in Aegean prehistory and early Greek language and culture, is director of the Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory. He has held Fulbright fellowships/professorships in Greece (79-80), Austria (92-93), and Spain (2007) and has been a fellow of the University of Wisconsin Humanities Institute (1983) and the University of Texas Humanities Institute (2002, 2010). In 2007, he was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, London.  For his public commentaries and service within the University, he was chosen one of three honorable mentions for Longhorn of the Year, Daily Texan, December 2010.

He has lectured, written and taught extensively on the subjects of ancient writing systems, the reconstruction of ancient culture, decipherment theory, Greek language, war and violence studies, ancient religion, ethnicity, feasting ritual, kingship ideology and practice, ethics and leadership, song as an important means of communicating social criticism, and Dylanology.

He is a regular commentary writer for the Austin American-Statesman and a regular reviewer and occasional feature writer for the Times Higher Education. He has also written for The Texas Observer and Michigan War Studies Review. He has appeared on NPR, national, Austin and and Boston, and on Wisconsin Public Radio.

Stacey  Peebles

Assistant Professor of English, Director of Film Studies Program
Centre College

Stacey Peebles came to Centre College in 2011 as assistant professor of English and director of the Film Studies program, and was named a Centre Scholar in 2014. She holds a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin.

Before coming to Centre, she was the assistant director of Lloyd International Honors College at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and also worked as a professor and administrator in the Honors College of The University of Houston.

Her research areas include the representation of war and violence, film adaptation, Westerns, and the contemporary American author Cormac McCarthy. Her book, Welcome to the Suck: Narrating the American Soldier’s Experience in Iraq (Cornell UP, 2011), addresses stories about this recent conflict in literature, film, and new media, and she is editor of the collection Violence in Literature (Salem P, 2014). She is finishing a book tentatively titled Cormac McCarthy: Page / Stage / Screen (University of Texas Press) that explores the author’s work in theater, screenplays, and film adaptations by others.

Peebles is editor of The Cormac McCarthy Journal (Penn State UP) and is currently co-editing a special issue of Modern Fiction Studies called “Enduring Operations: The Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq” (Johns Hopkins UP). 

Her most recent essay publications address the use of digital vérité in Iraq War films in The Philosophy of War Films, (2014) and Larry Heinemann’s seminal Vietnam novel Paco’s Story in The Vietnam War: Topics in Contemporary North American Literature, (2015). She recently completed an essay on justice in Western films for The Cambridge Companion to Literature of the American West.

John M. Meyer

University of Texas- Austin

Johnny Meyer is an artist and social scientist studying at the University of Texas at Austin. He earned a three year graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation for his research on organized violence. He also studies  why states deploy special operations forces, and why individuals choose to join such units. In addition to receiving funding from the National Science Foundation, he has received support from the Institute for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research, the Program in British Studies, and the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies. 

Johnny's work as a playwright and an actor has been featured in the Austin Chronicle, The Austin American-Statesman, KUT radio, and the BBC online. His stage play "American Volunteers" won the 2010 Mitchell Award at the University of Texas, and subsequently made the long-list for the Dylan Thomas Prize in the United Kingdom. He performed at the White House thanks to Aquila Theatre's ongoing outreach program, "Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives." His plays have also received support from The Great Plains Theatre Conference, the Cohen New Works Festival, Austin Scriptworks, University Co-Op, and Frontera Fest.

Much of Johnny's work draws on his experiences as an Airborne Ranger. He served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and his military awards and badges include the Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Parachutist Badge, and Ranger Tab

James Sheeler
Shirley Wormser Professor of Journalism and Media Writing

Case Western Reserve University

As a young boy, reading late at night with a flashlight under the covers, I reveled in stories of darkness and light. As a journalist and teacher, I continue to search for stories in the shadows, revealing everyday philosophy and wisdom hidden in people and places that are too often overlooked. As a young newspaper reporter, I specialized in narrative obituaries of people whose names had never before appeared in the newspaper, but whose stories were often more fascinating than any celebrity or politician. Those lives and the lessons they taught (collected in my first book, Obit), largely guided my coverage of the war in Iraq, which began in 2003 with the first casualty from Colorado and continued as I followed a U.S. Marine Casualty Assistance Calls Officer and the families he touched while saddled with one of the most difficult duties in the military. That coverage led to a 12,000 word newspaper story that won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing, and later a book, Final Salute, which was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award in nonfiction. As the Shirley Wormser Professor of Journalism and Media Writing, I’m handing off the flashlight to students, teaching them to find hidden stories. In that search, they’ll use traditional reporting tools – a pen, a notebook and heaps of curiosity – but classes will also use digital techniques including audio, video and still photography on the Web. Whichever medium they choose for publication, I expect my students’ work to remain rooted in a simple request that hasn’t changed for centuries: tell me a story.

James Dawes
De Witt Wallace Professor of English

Macalester College

James Dawes teaches literature and human rights. He is the author of Evil Men (Harvard University Press, 2013), winner of the International Human Rights Book Award; That the World May Know: Bearing Witness to Atrocity (Harvard University Press, 2007), Independent Publisher Book Award Finalist; and The Language of War (Harvard University Press, 2002). He has written for or appeared as the feature guest on media outlets ranging from National Public Radio, the BBC, and Bulgarian National Radio to the Boston Globe, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and He was a Junior Fellow at the Society of Fellows, Harvard University. He received his Ph.D. in English Literature from Harvard University and his M. Phil. from Cambridge University.

Books by the panelists

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