REGISTER FOR SIOUXLAND 103 HERE. Registration fee covers all six sessions.
Back by popular demand, Dr. James C. Schaap will lead a continued exploration of the history and culture of the Great Plains. Cultivate a sense of place through reading about and touring the region. Dr. Schaap: “We share some landscapes, some history, some character, but the wide expanse of Great Plains has its own shelf of wonderful writers.” Books available through interlibrary loan.
• Ian Frazier, The Great Plains (2001)
• John Neihardt, Black Elk Speaks (1932)
• Willa Cather, My Antonia (1918)
• Mari Sandoz, Slogum House (1937)
• Kent Haruf, Plainsong (1999)
• Jonis Agee, The Bones of Paradise (2016)
Instructor: Dr. James C. Schaap
Dates and times: Feb 7, March 7, April 4, May 2, June 6 and July 11.
First Tuesday, monthly. Begins Feb. 7. 7:15-8:45 pm
Cost: Register by January 31: $55. After January 31: $65. Registration fee covers all six sessions.
For a gift certificate or more information, contact 707-4885 or ocArts@orangecityiowa.com. REGISTER HERE.
Some say it’s the 100th meridian, some say the Missouri River, some say it starts wherever the ground doesn’t get 20 inches of rainfall—we’re talking about land just west of us, a museum full of history and cattle and landscape vistas so wide you can’t breathe. The Great Plains is a place some people feel was and always will be a tough place to live but a great place to play.
Orange City Arts Council’s Siouxland 103 goes west this spring to look at what Great Plains writers have to say about the region’s endless horizons. Great Plains literature is regional only in the sense that it’s set here, just off our doorstep, not that far away.
Here’s what we’ll take from the shelf this spring:
Great Plains—Ian Frazier’s tossed salad of Great Plains history and culture will teach you more about the world out west than you thought you could ever learn. It’s a compendium of life itself that grew out Frazier’s travels out here, a wonderful introduction to the place.
My Antonia—Willa Cather’s classic story of one powerful pioneer woman is set unmistakably in Cather’s home neighborhood of southwest Nebraska. My Antonia is one of America’s most beloved novels, a tribute of love and commitment among pioneer homesteaders.
Black Elk Speaks—Controversies about this book abound, but the state of Nebraska recently named it as next year’s Book of the Year, to be read all around the state. Nebraska’s own John Neihardt listened to an old Lakota man named Black Elk and wrote down what he thought he heard, a treasury of Lakota life and culture that’s both long gone and still there in lots of hearts and minds.
Plainsong—Kent Haruf added some memorable novels to the Great Plains canon before he died recently. His first, Plainsong, does what the title promises, sings a hymn to the plains—in his case, eastern Colorado. If you’ve never read Haruf, you’ll be amazed that you missed him.
Slogum House—Nebraska is proud of its writers, and Mari Sandoz is right up there. She wrote a variety of well-read books, histories, biographies (like Crazy Horse), non-fiction (Love Song to the Plains) and novels like Slogum House, a story that did not enamor her to her Nebraska readers, even generated hate mail. We’ll find out why.
The Bones of Paradise—Just recently released, Jonis Agee’s bloody family saga is rare these days because not many books so defiantly set in Great Plains’ time and space make it through publication in the nation’s literary citadels. Agee’s work has been highly celebrated, and this new novel (August, 2016) will give us a sense of what writers are doing today with the old world of the Plains.
Schaap promises to spice up the selections with some poetry from the region’s foremost poet and former Poet Laureate of America, Ted Kooser.
All told, it’ll be quite a tour. Earlier classes met in places where the work often originated. Siouxland 103 won’t have those possibilities. But a trip to the Neihardt Center, Bancroft, Nebraska, is on the schedule, and there’s a chance of at least one more.
Who knows what surprises await those who enroll? Come west and discover a world just off our doorstep.
As he has for the past two years, Jim Schaap, retired professor of English at Dordt, will lead this Orange City Arts-sponsored class. Schaap continues to write, including a novel soon to be published (hopefully!), as well as Small Wonder(s), historical vignettes of regional history currently being broadcast on KWIT, public radio in Sioux City. You can hear those essays on KWIT’s website, or on Schaap’s own blog HERE.