Stewart selected as Obermann Fellow

Cornell College Professor of History Catherine Stewart has been selected as one of five fellows-in-residence at the University of Iowa’s Obermann Center for Advanced Studies for the spring semester.

Katy Stewart Portrait
Professor of History Catherine Stewart

The goal of the center is for fellows to fully devote themselves to significant research projects while participating in an interdisciplinary community of writers. The Obermann Center provides an office, a $1,000 stipend, and staff support for the projects.

“Writing can be a lonely and isolating endeavor, and being a fellow-in-residence provides much-needed support and accountability, along with the opportunity to learn about other scholars’ interesting projects, as well as their process,” Stewart said. “It is so helpful to be reminded that we all share similar challenges along the writing path.”

Stewart will be working on her second book “The New Maid: African American Women and Domestic Service During the New Deal” throughout the fellowship. The book will provide a social and cultural history of African-American women who labored as household workers during the Great Depression.

She believes this fellowship will be key to providing her with a place to focus on her book.

“I’m not a coffee-shop writer; I need privacy and complete quiet to think and write well,” Stewart said. “The Obermann Center provides me with a lovely writing space all my own in a beautiful building close to my home in Iowa City. As Virginia Woolf  said, ‘a woman must have money and a room of her own to write.’”

An additional benefit is full access to the University of Iowa Libraries’ extensive resources, including their online databases.

“Having that direct access, right from my Obermann office, is like discovering a new superpower,” Stewart said.

Stewart was also awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities worth $50,400 that supports a full-year sabbatical leave to write the book, which started in January of 2019.  

The history professor aims to have her book in the hands of readers by the spring of 2021.