We talk with Dan Kaiser, emeritus professor of history, who shares three lesser-known stories from the 1930s and 40s that illustrate the evolving relationship between the town and College. From racist housing covenants and Japanese internment to botanical gardens and reduced tuition for Episcopal students, we discuss some moments that show how this complex relationship has played out over the years.
Edith Renfrow Smith '37, the first African American woman to graduate from the College, shares her memories of growing up in Grinnell, her family's history of slavery, and her incredible life.
Smith received an honorary degree at the 2019 Commencement ceremony. After graduating from Grinnell with a major in psychology and minors in history and economics, Smith then moved to Chicago, where she has lived since, working as a stenographer and public school teacher. Smith is now 105 years old and is part of a Northwestern University study of "superagers." In the episode, Smith discusses the importance of education in her family as they went from slavery to college graduates in two generations, and reflects on lessons learned from her long life.
On this special episode of All Things Grinnell, we talk with Shafiq Khan, the winner of the 2019 Grinnell College Innovator for Social Justice Prize. Khan is the founder and CEO of EMPOWER PEOPLE, an organization in northern India that works to eradicate bride trafficking and empower and liberate the women and girls who are victimized.
George Drake '56 kicks off Season 2 of All Things Grinnell by taking us on a tour of the College's religious history. The College was founded by a group of Congregationalist ministers, in large part to train future ministers. Drake discusses how Congregationalism impacted the development of the College's values and priorities. Although Grinnell is no longer affiliated with any religious institution, the legacy of its religious past endures, manifested in its tolerant environment and commitment to critical thought.
All Things Grinnell is back for season 2 starting September 19. This season, we'll turn the lens inward to examine the people, places, and history that make up Grinnell- the town and the College. Highlights include George Drake '56, former professor and president of the College, and Edith Renfrow Smith '37, the first African-American woman to graduate from the College. Episodes will be released every other Thursday.
On this episode, the season finale, we say goodbye to Mike Latham, outgoing vice president of academic affairs and dean of the College, and talk about his time here in Grinnell and the importance of global education, before he becomes the president of Punahou High School in Hawai’i. Then we get global ourselves and talk to the language assistants from this past year, Mélanie Izrael, Maria Kustova, and Carla Wagner from Argentina, Russia, and Germany. We’ll also hear from Ania Chamberlin ‘19, who put on quite the art exhibit in Smith Gallery before graduating this spring. To round out the show we recap this year’s Summerfest event at the College.
Amy Tan, bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club and many other novels, aspiring nature journalist, and musical dominatrix for the literary band The Rock Bottom Remainders, gave the 2019 Commencement address. She sat down to talk about the values she shares with Grinnell and how she found her own path to a meaningful career after a traumatic childhood. She discusses how writing has influenced her life and helped her to understand who she is and connect with her family, as well as millions of readers around the world.
What happens after death? On this episode, we wrestle with that age-old question alongside Shakespeare and our very own John Garrison, associate professor of English. His recently published book, Shakespeare and the Afterlife, reckons with how the Bard grappled with some of the biggest questions of life and death during his time. Then, we turn to a seemingly more uplifting topic, reconciliation, with Jan Frans Van Dijkhuizen, associate professor of English literature at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Dijkhuizen, paints a bleak picture of the literary history of reconciliation, but his conclusions bear strongly on our present moment, especially the polarized political landscape that surrounds us. We also hear from our music correspondent, Gabriel Shubert ’20, who spoke with the drummer from Camp Cope, an Australian independent alternative punk band that performed in Grinnell on April 19.
On this podcast extra, we talk with Gina Caison, assistant professor of English at Georgia State University, about the famous podcast, S-Town, from the producers of Serial and This American Life. We discuss the tropes of southern literature present in S-Town, the relative shitty-ness of Woodstock, Alabama, and the complexity of characters in the show. Is S-Town just a recycled Faulknerian tragedy, or something deeper and more revealing?