An Indiana University Kokomo English professor is among 25 IU faculty chosen as Bicentennial Professors, as part of the celebration of the university’s 200th anniversary.
Rachel A. Blumenthal, assistant professor of English, will host public presentations around the state of her research in American literature and the history of psychology.
"It’s an honor to be part of this cohort of people representing all of IU’s campuses," she said. "I appreciate that IU is committed to investing in and supporting a mission of getting out into communities. Being part of a university willing to support that, intellectually and financially, is meaningful to me."
Bicentennial professors represent all IU campuses, and include faculty in the humanities, medicine, business, public and environmental affairs, education, sciences, health sciences, and public policy.
While Blumenthal speaks specifically about her own research, she also shares her belief in the value of humanities — areas including literature, philosophy, history, and sociology — that aren’t vocational.
“The diversity of perspectives humanities offers is more important now than ever,” she said. “Humanities help us imagine viewpoints, horizons of thought, and ways of looking at the world that exceed our own limitations.”
Speaking engagements will be arranged by IU’s Office of the Bicentennial, with the goal of reaching all 92 Indiana counties.
Eric Bain-Selbo, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, called Blumenthal a gifted scholar, adding that she sets an example for other researchers with her work with others outside her own field of study.
"Dr. Blumenthal’s research represents the kind of cutting-edge scholarship that is sweeping across the humanities," he said. "No longer can researchers sit comfortably in their disciplinary silos. Interdisciplinary work is now imperative, and her scholarship illustrates this point in particularly insightful ways."
Blumenthal joined IU Kokomo’s faculty in 2014, and is advisor for Field: A Journal of Arts and Sciences, the campus’ peer-reviewed student journal. She was project director for Thirteenth: Literature & Legacy, a 2017 reading and conversation series about race in the United States, which was supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and Indiana Humanities.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and history from Vanderbilt University, and her Master of Arts in English, and her Ph.D. from Northwestern University.
The IU Bicentennial Professorships program is part of the university’s continued commitment to public outreach and community engagement. Each Bicentennial Professor will travel around the state delivering public presentations at community forums that describe — in an engaging and accessible manner — some of their research or professional activities.
IU was founded on January 20, 1820, and will celebrate its bicentennial with a multiyear, multi campus program to recognize and chronicle its history, showcase its significant contributions to the world, and set a course for the next century.