7 February 2013

Today I submitted the official title for the first ever paper I will present at an academic conference. I am going to be on the MidAmerica Award panel at the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature (SSML) annual symposium. The SSML MidAmerica Award went to William Barillas’ Midwestern Pastoral. In the book Barillas defines Midwestern pasotalism, and, in light of this distinctive pastoralism, offers studies of Willa Cather, Aldo Leopold, Theodore Roethke, James Wright, and Jim Harrison who all work within the Midwestern pastoral tradition.
My paper is called, “A Means to an End: Midwestern Pastoralism and John Steuart Curry’s Residency at the University of Wisconsin’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences”. I take the title for my paper from something that the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Chris L. Christensen said about the purpose for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He said, “To teach rural youth to grow better crops, select, feed, and care for better livestock, and conserve the fertility of the soil is only a means to an end. That end is better living conditions on the farm.” He brought Curry to Madison to be an Artist in Residence, because he saw cultivating the arts in rural areas as essential to making rural areas pleasant to live in.
My paper will consider Curry’s work and his position at Madison in terms of Barillas’ definition of Midwestern pastoralism.

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