2016 Workshop Participants’ Bios

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 6.18.01 PMHeather Wacha is a Ph D candidate in medieval history.  Her interests broadly include women’s economic and social history and the history of book. Her dissertation, entitled “La Puissance du Choix”: Women’s Economic Activities in 12th- and 13th-Century Picardy”, incorporates these two major fields of interest by examining women’s economic transactions in medieval Laon and the Laonnois, as represented in archives of original charters and the books that hold selected copies of these charters (cartularies).

She has been working at The University of Iowa Libraries, Special Collections for the last two years identifying and updating the medieval manuscripts.  Her recent  projects include the integration of digital history into the study of medieval manuscripts, featuring a series of short educational videos entitled “If Books Could Talk…,” based on manuscripts held at the university, as well as the Meet the Manuscript Transcription and Translation Project, which will result in the digital publication of a Spanish will held in the University of Iowa Libraries, Special Collections. 

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 2.44.55 PMPatricia Gonzalo de Jesús (Barcelona, 1978) is a PhD candidate in Hispanic Literatures and an MFA graduate from the UI Spanish Creative Writing Program (Iowa Arts Fellow, 2015). She also graduated from the University Complutense of Madrid with a degree in Slavonic Philology (2004) and from the University of Salamanca with an MA in Publishing (2009), and has worked as a literary translator since. She has translated into Spanish the works of Czech, Slovak and Russian authors such as Karel Čapek, Ladislav Klíma, Arnošt Lustig, Ota Pavel, Leo N. Tolstoy and Joseph Brodsky. Her creative and research interests encompass poetry, translation theory and practice, visual and material culture, and book studies, especially (but not exclusively) in medieval and early modern Hispanic literatures.


Wyatt Brockbank_headshot1Wyatt Brockbank is excited to work on the Meet the Manuscript project. He is a PhD candidate in Foreign Language Education/ESL Education at the University of Iowa. His research interests include English Learners’ use of technology in the home, and language and cultural brokering. Wyatt has studied Spanish in the United States since 1996. He has an MA in Spanish Pedagogy from Brigham Young University, and is a certified (English-Spanish) medical interpreter. He interprets for school districts in the Iowa City area. He teaches Spanish at the University of Iowa, and has taught English at Kirkwood Community College. He hopes to work with secondary and post-secondary language teachers.


John in ChicagoJohn R. Kennedy is a Ph.D. candidate in Religion in Europe and the Americas.  John earned an M.A. in Religious Studies from Missouri State University and an M.Ed. in International Education from Framingham State University.  Previously, John taught middle school social studies, served as a Model United Nations advisor, and worked as a curriculum director at a private international school in Mexico.  John studies the social history of Christianity, with research interests in early modern Europe and colonial Mexico.  John’s dissertation examines eighteenth-century last wills and testaments and death records from Monterrey, Mexico to understand the range of piety among testators.


Spenser1Spenser Santos is a PhD candidate in English and an MFA student in Literary Translation. He earned his B.A. in English Literature, Writing, and Spanish at Winona State University. His PhD work primarily involves the study of medieval English translations and translation practices, and he primarily translates from medieval English and Spanish. 




Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 7.02.42 AMPeter A. Small graduated from Iowa City West High School, lo these many years ago, and went on to earn a B.A. from Grinnell College, where he majored in History. Some years later, he earned a J.D. from the University of Iowa Law School. He has, at different times, worked as a newsletter publisher, an attorney, a Spanish language interpreter, and secondary school teacher. He is a student in the UI Literary Translation MFA program and translates from Spanish to English.


Photo of meBenjamin K. Schmidt is a MLIS Candidate at the University of Iowa School of Library and Information Science and a student in the Public Digital Humanities Certificate Program. He received his undergraduate degree in History and Medieval and Renaissance Studies from Brandeis University in 2014. He also is a HASTAC Scholar at the University of Iowa through the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies. His research interests includes TEI encoding of manuscripts, digital pedagogy, Anglo-Norman political structures, and monastic manuscript culture.



Cortney Benjamin completed her PhD in Spanish literature at the University of Iowa in 2016. She also finished her MA in Spanish literature at the University of Iowa in 2011. Her research interests center on early modern Spanish literature and gender and sexuality studies. Her current work examines vision, spectacle, and female subjectivity in women’s travel literature from the early modern period.


Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 4.07.00 PMMaureen Owens earned her BA in History and Classical Languages with a Medieval Studies Certificate from the University of Iowa. She is entering the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s History Ph. D. program next fall.  Her research interests include women, power and queenship in Early Modern England.  Maureen is also interested in learning more about digital humanities and is very excited for the opportunity to participate in the Meet the Manuscript project.