The James P. Danky Fellowship  

2015 Danky Fellow: Kera Lovell

Kera Lovell is a PhD Candidate in American Studies at Purdue University.  Her research focuses on how visual and material culture shape the relationship between activism and identity, particularly within the context of post-World War II urban protest.  Titled, “Radical Manifest Destiny: Urban Renewal, Colonialism, and Transnational American Identity in the Urban Spatial Politics of the Postwar Left,” her dissertation examines how activist groups used environmental and performance art, public green space, and food to anarchically reimagine urban space as political territory.

Her dissertation traces a unique tactic of civil resistance in which coalitions of activists permanently occupied vacant lots by converting those spaces into public parks, called “People’s Parks.”  Influenced by the civil disobedient tactics of labor strikes and civil rights movement sit-ins that challenged urban power structures by staking claim to public and private space, People’s Parks drew countercultural crowds and incited police violence by blending art installations with public performances of political theater and declaring newly-created green spaces “liberated” territories.  Having unearthed more than two-dozen People’s Parks, from their Northern California origins to Madison, WI, British Columbia, Denmark, and South Africa between 1969 and 1999, her dissertation analyzes the image and impact of these green spaces as sites for building and imagining cross-cultural coalitions across national borders.  In turn, differences in race, location, class, occupation, and nationality greatly impacted critical reception and regulation of these spaces.  Ultimately, by analyzing how activists equated urban power structures with global imperialism and insurgent place-making with radical historical preservation, she argues that People’s Parks became visual and rhetoric tools for constructing coalitional, transnational, and transhistorical narratives of urban space that united disparate activist groups.

Because the Midwest is home to a majority of activist-created People’s Parks, the Wisconsin Historical Society serves as an invaluable site for conducting research on social movements, print culture, and urban history in the region that comprise the core themes of her project. In particular, the museum holds essential resources that shed light on the importance of Madison’s own People’s Park to the city’s countercultural movement.  In addition, the museum’s collections of social action posters and newspapers will be consulted to analyze how activists constructed these green spaces as cross-cultural.

Past Danky Fellows

About the Fellowship

In honor of James P. Danky's long service to print culture scholarship, the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture, in conjunction with the Wisconsin Historical Society, is offering an annual short-term research fellowship.

The Danky Fellowship provides $1000 in funds for one individual planning a trip to carry out research using the collections of the Wisconsin Historical Society (please see details of the collections at Grant money may be used for travel to the WHS, costs of copying pertinent archival resources, and living expenses while pursuing research here. If in residence during the semester, the recipient will be expected to give a presentation as part of the colloquium series of the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture.

Preference will be given to:

  • proposals undertaking research in print culture history
  • research likely to lead to publication 
  • researchers early in their career
  • researchers from outside Madison

We strongly encourage applicants to speak with Lee Grady, Reference Archivist at the WHS ( or 608-264-6459) before applying for a grant. Lee may be able to identify potential collections of which you may not otherwise be aware.

There is no application form.  Applicants must submit:

1)  A cover sheet with name, telephone, permanent address and e-mail, current employer/affiliation, title of project, and proposed dates of residency.

2)  A letter of two single-spaced pages maximum describing the project and its relation to specifically cited collections at the society and to  previous work on the same theme, and describing the projected outcome of the work, including publication plans. If residents of the Madison area are applying, they must explain their financial need for the stipend.

3)  Curriculum vitae.

4) Two confidential letters of reference. Graduate students must include their thesis advisor.

Applications are due on May 1. We are currently accepting applications.

Please email applications to: 

Anna Palmer
Coordinator, Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture


All donations are tax deductible.

Please visit to make a donation to the Danky Fellowship. Leave a message in the Comments box to designate your donation for the Danky Fellowship.

You may also write a check (marked "Danky Fellowship") payable to the Wisconsin Historical Foundation and mail it to: Wisconsin Historical Foundation, 816 State Street, Madison, WI 53706-1482 (phone: 608-261-9364).

Thank you for your generosity.