Daily Syllabus for Writing Home Summer Institute

Theme One: Finding a Home: Migrating in Search of Homeplace

Key Goals: immersion in the institute’s core concepts; analytical writing
  • Examine the history of settlement in the Plains
  • Develop comparative analyses of migration experiences
  • Explore literary and popular culture accounts of migration
  • Write thoughtful arguments in response to migration narratives
Concepts Explored
Migration, settlement, historical context, intersections between identity and place, memorializing homesteading experiences in public monument-making, story-telling about migration
Date
July 19
evening
Topics
  • Arrivals into new territory
  • Depicting homesteading in film
  • Sharing responses to institute readings
  • Meeting each other
Reading/preparation to complete before meeting
Review the institute syllabus Read introductory materials from summer scholars on the institute website Bring an artifact a personal, family or historical moving experience from your home region [facilitators: institute directors Baker, Brooke and Robbins]
Major Activities
Welcome Dinner
Introductions Viewing and discussion of scenes from Jan Troell’s epic film, The New Land, reviewed here by the New York Times shortly after its release in 1973
Date
July 20
morning
Topics
Experiences of newcomers to the Plains in differing historical moments
Reading/Preparation to complete before meeting
Deloria, Ella Cara. Waterlily. Lincoln: U of Nebraska, 1988. [excerpt: 57-83, Chapters 5 and 6]. Mari Sandoz, “The Kinkaider Comes and Goes: Memories of an adventurous childhood in the sandhills of Nebraska.” The North American Review (April 1930): 422-431; Mari Sandoz, “The Kinkaider Comes and Goes: Further recollections of an adventurous childhood in the sandhills of Nebraska.” The North American Review (May 1930): 576-583; Mari Sandoz, “The Neighbor,” Prairie Schooner 30.4 (Winter 1956): 340-349.[facilitator: Robbins] Mary Pipher, The Middle of Everywhere: Helping Refugees Enter the American Community.[facilitators: Brooke and Morgenson]
Major Activities
Lecture: introductions to Sandoz and Pipher as authors writing about finding home Whole-group discussion of Sandoz and Pipher texts and informal response writing Comparative analysis of Sandoz’s and Pipher’s narratives
Discussion of NWP teacher consultant Morgenson’s civic engagement work her work as sponsor of the International Club at Lincoln North Star High School, and as curriculum builder for Yazidi Cultural Center in Lincoln and her leadership with local refugee communities and its links to Pipher’s research Brainstorming possibilities for expository/argumentative essays in small groups Synthesis discussion
Date
July 20
evening
Topics
Writing in response to “Finding Home” narratives; constructing text-based arguments
Reading/Preparation to complete before meeting
Linda Friedrich, Rachel Bear, and Tom Fox, “For the Sake of Argument: An Approach to Teaching Evidence-Based Writing.” https://www.aft.org/ae/spring2018/friedrich_bear_fox[facilitator: Baker and Morgenson]
Major Activities
Overview of C3WP initiative’s focus on source-based argumentation as a crucial public skill in our era; Exploration of the “thinking moves” associated with the program
Date
July 21
AM/PM
Topics
  • Public memory and Homesteading
  • New archives and lenses for Native studies
Reading/Preparation to complete before meeting
“Homesteading and Indian Land Disposition” and “Women Proving Up Their Claims” chs. 5-6 (91-162) from Homesteading the Plains: Toward a New History, Richard Edwards, Jacob Friefeld, & Rebecca Wingo, Lincoln: Nebraska UP, 2017.[2019 Nebraska Book award, 2018 Choice award]
Major Activities
Trip to Homestead National Monument Viewing National Park Service documentary “Land of Dreams: Homesteading America” video; meeting with NPS leaders on site; touring and discussing specific exhibits
Date
July 22
morning
Topics
  • Manliness and Migration
  • Location and Historical Context
  • Crafting imagery to create historicized narratives of “finding home”
Reading/Preparation to complete before meeting
1. Choose one of these texts: John Muir, The Story of My Boyhood and Youth, Boston/New York, Houghton Mifflin, 1913. Read “A New World” (especially ‘Crossing the Atlantic’ and ‘A New Home’ sections), “Life on a Wisconsin Farm” and “Ploughboy” chapters from archive.org Wright Morris, The Home Place. Lincoln: U of Nebraska Press, 1968. [Reprint of 1948 Bison Books] Francisco Jimenez, The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child, U of New Mexico Press, 1997; Scholastic Press, 2000.Resource: “Preparing to Read The Circuit
Major In-Class Activities
Engaging with each narrative in three small discussion groups based on your choice of reading Identifying the function of imagery, setting, and characterization as linked to historical context in each narrative Synthesis whole-group discussion
Date
July 22
evening
Topics
Re-vision
Reading/Preparation to complete before meeting
Re-read the text(s) you are writing about from this thematic cluster.
Major In-Class Activities
Writing and workshopping essaysConsidering approaches for teaching the theme’s texts and essay-writing about them

Theme Two: Home-making: Enacting Domestic Roles

Key Goals: Considering Gender in Different Contexts of Home-making; recovering gendered stories of finding home in American culture
  • Visit key sites of Willa Cather’s My Antonia to link her authorship to her own experiences and her depictions of characters’ lives.
  • Immerse in and interpret archival records of settling the Plains.
  • Situate individual stories of women “finding home” in larger historical contexts.
  • Study and try out processes of recovery for disseminating previously-untold stories of women’s writing about finding and making a new home.
Concepts Explored
Authorship and experience, gendering home-making, “recovery,” the role of authorial memory sites, archives and artifacts
Date
July 23
AM/PM
Topics
Memorializing Cather as Woman Writer of the Plains
Reading/preparation to complete before meeting
Willa Cather, My Antonia; View “Yours, Willa Cather” (stream on www.pbs.org)
Optional supplementary reading: Andrew Jewell and Janis Stout, The Selected Letters of Willa Cather (New York: Vintage, 2014 for the paperback); Complete Letters of Willa Cather: A Digital Edition; Homestead, Melissa. “‘Live Property’: Willa Cather’s 1926 Revisions to the to the Introduction of My Ántonia and the Specter of Nineteenth-Century Women’s Regionalism.” In “Something Complete and Great”: The Centennial Study of My Ántonia, ed. Holly Blackford. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2017. 81-101.
Major Activities
  • Travel to Red Cloud, visit these sites: Red Cloud Opera House, Willa Cather Childhood Home, Burlington Depot, St. Juliana Falconieri Church, Grace Episcopal Church, Farmers & Merchants Bank (all sites in town related to characters and events in My Antonia) and the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie (a relict prairie south of town)
  • GROUP LUNCH
  • Discussions on women’s lives in town and on farms in late 19th-century Webster County, conflicts and cooperation between “American” and immigrant communities, and Willa Cather’s negotiations of the same in childhood and in her novel;
  • DINNER & after-dinner reflections on the day; overnight stay
Date
July 24
morning
Topics
Writing Diverse Domestic Experiences
Reading/Preparation to complete before meeting
David Murphy, “Jejich Antonie: Czechs, The Land, Cather, and The Pavelka Farmstead,” Great Plains Quarterly 14 (Spring 1994): 85-106
Major Activities
Visit the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie (a relict prairie south of Red Cloud) and the Pavelka Farmstead; return to Lincoln for lunch
Date
July 24
evening
Topics
Doing Archival Research
Reading/Preparation to complete before meeting
Browse collections online: Identify photos, letters and artifacts of interest to you; Sharer, Wendy B., “Traces of the Familiar: Family Archives as Primary Source Material.” (47-55) and Wider, Kathleen. “In a Treeless Landscape: A Research Narrative.” In Beyond the Archives: Research as a Lived Process. Edited by Gisa Kirsch and Liz Rohan. Carbondale: Southern Illinois U Press, 66-72.
Major Activities
Rendezvous after lunch at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln
Using ideas from your readings of Sharer and Wider, select one intriguing artifact or a cluster of artifacts to examine closely and situate into a larger historical context. Make notes of description and inquiry.
Date
July 25
morning
Topics
“Making Home” as Aesthetic and Social Enterprise
Reading/Preparation to complete before meeting
1)  Zitkala-Ša, “Impressions of an Indian Childhood,” Atlantic Monthly, January 1900; reprinted in American Indian Stories, Washington: Hayworth Publishing, 1921. [memoir on archive.org]; Mari Sandoz, “The Vine” from Prairie Schooner, 1.1. (January 1927): 7-16. [story from a creative writing cluster in a regional magazine]; Charlotte Hogg, From the Garden Club: Rural Women Writing Community (excerpt) [scholarship incorporating creative non-fiction & first-person text]

2)  Writing on archival recovery: situating and artifact in conversation with others
Major Activities
Lecture by co-director Robbins

Whole-group discussion of texts by Zitkala-Ša, Sandoz, and Hogg
Date
July 25
evening
Topics
  • Film as Text
  • Researching to Document and Tell Stories
Reading/Preparation to complete before meeting
Re-read your own writing about archival recovery of domestic home-making and prepare to share reflections on your work, including how you might empower your students to do primary research on home-making.
Major In-Class Activities
Lecture by Marcia Franklin, Idaho Public Television producer, on her collaborative work with family and community members to research the life of Annie Pike Greenwood and prepare a documentary

View and discuss documentary, We Sagebrush Folks: Annie Pike Greenwood’s Idaho

Sharing from individual writing projects on recovery

Brainstorming how to do recovery in your own region: family, community, curriculum-building
Date
July 26
Topics
Reading, Writing, and Exploring Lincoln, NE, individually and in small groups

Theme Three: Historicizing Home: Re-visiting Native American Sovereignty

Key Goals: Re-considering westward migration as settler colonization of Native American homelands; understanding the lasting legacy of war, displacement, and assimilation on teaching and learning today. Concepts Explored
Settler colonization, assimilation, boarding school experiences of Native children, sovereignty, decolonization
Date
July 27
morning
Topics
Native American Homelands
Reading/preparation to complete before meeting
“The Earth on Turtle’s Back” origin story [Turtle Mountain version]

David Treuer The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to Present. Riverside Books, 2019

Mari Sandoz “The End of the Dream,” chapters from Buffalo Hunters: the story of the hide men. New York: Hastings House, 353-367.
Major Activities
Lecture: Lajimodiere (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe)

Discussion of readings
Date
July 27
evening
Topics
War on the Great Plains
Reading/Preparation to complete before meeting
Civil War on the Great Plains: The Fight for Homeland in America. Prairie Public Broadcasting, 2018.

Additional resources:Additional resources:
NMAI website on Northern Plains History and Culture: “Belonging”

Excerpt from Hansen, Karen V. Encounter on the Great Plains: Scandinavian Settlers and the Dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013
Major Activities
Deep viewing and discussion of a segment or segment from the DVD; response writing

Exploring NMAI website on Native peoples and Nations experiencing’ “Belonging” on the Great Plains

Analysis of archival documents, treaty language, view maps of reservations, fractionation of Native land
Date
July 28
morning
Topics
Red Cloud’s Displacement from Native Homelands
Reading/Preparation to complete before meeting
“Spirit of Old Friends: Reflections and Reparations at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument”

“A Birthday with the Sioux” excerpt from Heart Bags and Handshakes by Dorothy Cook Meade Chapter 14: The Sioux’s Choice 171-183; Letters from Red Cloud p. 173, 174
Major Activities
Knispel and Weis present the idea of how history is recorded and look at the Winter Count document. Choose a significant account in their life and create a pictograph of it.
Date
July 28
evening
Topics
Settler/Native relationships and Gifts
Reading/Preparation to complete before meeting
“Ghost Dance Piece” from 50 Years of the Old Frontier by James Cook
Major Activites
Virtual Visit to Agate Fossil Beds

Video Conference with Ranger orienting group to some of the online resources.

Gift activity

Discussion with teacher consultants Knispel and Weis about their research and teaching
Date
July 29
morning
Topics
Boarding Schools and Assimilation boarding school trauma
Reading/Preparation to complete before meeting
Excerpt from Denise Lajimodiere’s Stringing Rosaries: Stories from Northern Plains Indian Boarding School Survivors. (2019)

Jigsaw reading of several boarding school narratives

Zitkala-Sa “In the Land of Apples” chapter from “School Days of an Indian Girl” essay, Atlantic Monthly 1900
Major In-Class Activities
Lecture: Lajimodiere on the work of the Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition
Date
July 29
evening
Topics
We are still here: the continuous thread of resistance
Reading/Preparation to complete before meeting
Waziyatawin and Michael Yellow Bird, “Decolonizing our Minds and Actions” from the Introduction to For Indigenous Minds Only: A Decolonization Handbook
Major In-Class Activities
Video Conference with Michael Yellowbird on Decolonization

Theme Four: Sustaining Home: Reconsidering the Land Itself

Key Goals: Exploring the relationship between people and the physical land of homespace.
  • Understand key components of the Great Plains as physical space, agriculture and natural resources
  • Investigate the representation of the physical place of the Plains in poetry
  • Write source-based arguments in response to conflicting ideas of physical space
  • Analyze public rhetoric from multiple points of view on management of natural resources on the plains
Concepts Explored
History of agriculture on plains Homestead-to-present, relationship between physical space/natural resources/agriculture
Date
July 20
morning
Topics
Agriculture as represented in canonical and contemporary accounts of Plains
Reading/preparation to complete before meeting
Ted Genoways, This Blessed Earth: A Year on the Life of an American Family Farm. NY: Norton, 2017. 2018 Great Plains book of the year. Esp. Part Two, The Homeplace, and Part 4, Irrigation Nation

Mari Sandoz, WINTER THUNDER and “Hail on the Panhandle”’ ch. 12 OLD JULES Selections from William Kloefkorn, Alvin Turner as Farmer (poem cycle)
Major Activities
Overview of agriculture in NE (Brooke)

Discussion of representation of agriculture on plains
Date
July 30
evening
Topics
Understanding public rhetoric around natural resource debates on Plains, featuring multiple positions on Keystone pipeline discussions
Reading/Preparation to complete before meeting
Cluster of Keystone Pipeline Readings, including: “Field Analysis Report.” Department of Homeland Security, May, 2017.

Hefflinger, Mark. “Help Plant ‘Seeds of Resistance’ to Stop Keystone XL and Other Pipelines.” BoldNebraska, May, 2016.

Hackbarth, Sean. “President Obama’s Absurd Reasons for Rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline.” U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

And Casey Olsen, “Teaching Informed Argument for Solution-Oriented Citizenship” English Journal 107.3 (2018): 93-99.
Major Activities
Analysis of rhetorical actions representing land/people/resources in Keystone Pipeline. (Matt Whitaker, UNL, facilitator)

Guided reading/writing activity to locate core claims/moves by public writers, to evaluate those claims/moves, to write one’s own understanding of the complex controversy (Brooke/Baker, based on C3WP NWP practices)
Date
July 31
morning
Topics
Exploring poetic representation of Nebraska land, esp. In relation to resource controversy
Reading/Preparation to complete before meeting
Nebraska Poetry of Place
“Nebraska” Kelly Madigan
“So This is Nebraska” Ted Kooser
“Advice from a Provencal” Don Welch
“Plain Talk from the Platte River” Kathleen West
“La Nebraska” Lenora Castillo
“We Are in Nine-Mile Prairie When” Twyla Hansen
“Great Plains Prayer” Grace Bauer
(Most of these poems are from Nebraska Poetry: A Sesuicentennial Anthology 1867-2017. Ed. Dan Simon. Nacogdoches, TX: Stephen F. Austin State UP, 2017.

Poetry of Place Celebration website featuring student poetry over several years.
Major Activities
Reading.interpreting.writing sequence to reflect on representation in contrasting poems, develop one’s representation

Jennifer Long, poet and secondary teacher from Gretna Nebraska, facilitator
Date
July 31
evening
Topics
Synthetic writing from cluster experience
Reading/Preparation to complete before meeting
Review and rewrite source-based argument from agriculture, Pipeline, or poetry unit
Major Activites
Focused individual writing time

Peer-review of writing with other participants in institute

Whole group “soundbyte share session” of emerging main claims in our writing

Small group review time

Whole group share

(Baker, Brooke, Robbins facilitator)
Date
August 1
morning
Topics
Examine representation of Plains landscape through canonical writer Loren Eiseley and the emerging digital humanities sites devoted to his view
Reading/Preparation to complete before meeting
Loren Eiseley reading—prose/poetry

selected poems and essays from The Star Thrower.

Tom Lynch, “Loren Eiseley’s Nebraska” Digital Map project

Tom Lynch, Braided Channels of Watershed Consciousness: Loren Eiseley’s “The Flow of the River” and the Platte Basin Timelapse Project from Thinking Continental: Writing the Planet One Place at a Time Nebraska UP 2017

Tom Lynch, “The Borders between Us”: Loren Eiseley’s Ecopoetics, in Artifact and Illuminations: Critical Essays on Loren Eiseley
Major In-Class Activities
Zoom discussion with Dr. Tom Lynch about Eiseley as Nebraska naturalist, and examination of digital projects
Date
August 1
evening
Topics
Immersion into the prairie
Reading/Preparation to complete before meeting
Prepare brief written comments on your major takeaways
Major In-Class Activities
Visit to prairie preserve outside Lincoln.

Possible facilitator: Dr. Julie Thomas, Interim Associate Dean for Research, UNL, and Nebraska Master Naturalist

Present certificates for participants

Discuss immediate opportunities for continued networking and learning