Hear ye!

Salo University is a friendly cloud space for thinking about Kurt Vonnegut and why his writing matters today. We, the university founders, believe that Vonnegut’s work is more relevant now than ever before, and that his ideas about people, society, technology, science, religion, and America can help us navigate these difficult times. We plan to feature thoughts and interpretations from scholars, students, and everyday fans as well as news, art projects, discussions, and hopeful signals from anywhere in the known universe.

Kurt Vonnegut in GardenWe are all friendly Hoosiers looking to do something important. We’re mostly students and professors from Indiana University, where Kurt’s grandfather designed our student building. Our Lilly Library contains the largest collection of Kurt’s manuscripts, drawings, and rejection letters. We even have the prototype of the board game he designed. You should come visit us and browse the collection. Kurt once wrote about our town, “Bloomington, Ind., is a hell-hole, God knows, but the Indiana University Writers’ Conference takes place in the student union, which contains four restaurants, a pool hall, a barber shop, a bowling alley and a bookstore, and grown-ups can drink booze in their rooms.” We take issue with his definition of ‘hell-hole,’ but we admire his capacity to find the good in any place. We think you’ll find plenty of good here in Bloomington—it’s a pretty cool town.

Our site is part of a larger Public Humanities Project, which is dedicated to sending knowledge and ideas from our campus out into the world, where we can be more helpful. It’s a publicly spirited endeavor, one that we think Kurt would have appreciated, especially because of its two guiding principles. For one, we think Hoosiers—and Americans in general—need better heroes, and we are proud to celebrate Kurt as a thinker, writer, and citizen. For two, we want to promote the disciplines in the humanities—literature, philosophy, religious studies, etc.—as good tools for being a decent person and citizen. Although Kurt dropped out of college (twice), he loved knowledge and learning, and his books everywhere affirm the values of a well-rounded education for both the individual and democracy. He was a great teacher, and, despite his official record, a great student of life in general.

To start, we’ve assembled a crack team of IU scholars, a “justice league” of professors, if you will. We’ve given them some homework. We’ve asked them to read Kurt’s novels in order and then write about them from their own disciplinary perspectives. They’ll post their ideas once a month, starting with Player Piano on May 15, 2017, and ending with Timequake in about a year or two. Their monthly assignment is framed by two questions: 1) Why should we read this novel today? 2) Why is it important to read this novel through your own discipline? You should break out your old paperback copies and read along with us. You should also share your ideas and feelings or just say hi at hereiam@indiana.edu. We’d really like to hear from you.

On behalf of the founders –

Ed Comentale
Professor of English
Director of IUB Arts and Humanities Council
Self-Appointed Dean of Salo University

Salo University and the IUB Public Humanities Project are supported by a generous grant from the Indiana University Office of the Vice President for Research. Our partners include Indiana University Press, the Lilly Library, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, and the Indiana University Bloomington Arts and Humanities Council.

Meet the Founders

Justice League of Professors

Ted Castronova

Media and Gaming

Ed Comentale

Liberal Arts

Jonathan Elmer


Cooper Harriss

Religious Studies

Sarah Phillips


Eric Sandweiss


Sandy Shapshay

Philosophy and Environmental Studies

Rebekah Sheldon

Magic and Feminism

Rick Van Kooten