Linda Shenk is an Associate Professor in the English Department at Iowa State University where she teaches Shakespeare and early modern literature. Perhaps true to the Renaissance in ways she never expected, Linda’s research spans seemingly disparate worlds. She has written articles and a book on Queen Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, and such key court figures as Sir Philip Sidney and Robert Devereux. All of these individuals—even Queen Elizabeth herself—produced literary pieces alongside, and connected to, their political work as queen, diplomats, political counselors, and soldiers. Their movement across our current disciplinary boundaries helped coin the term “Renaissance men” —polymaths who bring together seemingly diverse knowledge sets.
Linda, too, is interested in creating a transdisciplinary (and pragmatic) space as an engaged humanist. She applies her background in storytelling to how we incorporate certain types of simulation models, such as agent-based models, into community engagement. Working with stakeholders, particularly with underrepresented populations, she approaches agent-based models as fellow storytellers, using the models’ “what if” scenarios to spark agency and action projects. Through this research, she leads the community engagement for a transdisciplinary research team on Big Data and Sustainable Cities Decision-making team, which is funded by Iowa State's Presidential Interdisciplinary Research Initiative. She has also started collaborating on a watershed project with colleagues at Iowa State in partnership with Story County Conservation as well as Prairie Rivers of Iowa, the Iowa DNR, and the Squaw Creek Watershed Coalition—a project funded by Iowa State’s U-TuRN project.
These connections between the humanities and work in communities is one of the key reasons she is delighted to serve on the Board of Directors for Humanities Iowa.