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Wendell Berry and the Poetry of Place: A Symposium

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Doheny Memorial Library

3550 Trousdale Parkway

Los Angeles, CA 90089

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In 1965, poet Wendell Berry returned home to Henry County, Kentucky, where he bought a small farmhouse and began a life of farming, writing, and teaching. This lifelong relationship with the land and community would come to form the core of his prolific writings. Today, Henry County, like many rural communities across America, has become a place of quiet ideological struggle, where the traditional agrarian virtues of simplicity, land stewardship, sustainable farming, local economies, and rootedness to place have been replaced by a capital-intensive and ecologically-destructive model of industrial agriculture.

At this symposium, cosponsored by the USC Dornsife College English Department, USC Libraries, and Ruskin Art Club, poets and scholars from across the country assess Berry’s role as one of the most passionate and eloquent voices in defense of agrarian life.

Schedule

10:00 a.m.: Registration and refreshments

10:30: a.m.: “Wendell Berry, the poet” (David St. John, Christopher Merrill with readings by Elena Karina Byrne)

12:00 noon: Lunch (provided)

1:00 p.m.: Wendell Berry, the Social and Environmental Activist (Sara Atwood, with readings by Gabriel Meyer)

2:30 p.m.: Screening of Look and See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry (2016 documentary directed by Laura Dunn and produced by Robert Redford, Terrence Malick, and Nick Offermann)

David St. John is chair of the USC Dornsife College English Department and is a Chancellor of the Academy of American poets. Christopher Merrill is an American poet, essayist, journalist, and translator. He is director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Sara Atwood is adjunct professor in English Literature at Portland State University, the director of the North American Guild of St. George, and has written and lectured extensively on the works of John Ruskin.

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Doheny Memorial Library

3550 Trousdale Parkway

Los Angeles, CA 90089

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