As author of the “Wilderness Letter” and major award-winning novels, histories, essays, and biographies, Wallace Stegner worked throughout his life to protect western lands, places, and peoples. His writing was and remains an inspiration and guide for countless people attempting to cultivate a sense of place in the American West while tacking their way through uncertain times.
This book tells the story of Stegner and his family as they made a home just outside of Palo Alto, California, during its transition from the Valley of Heart’s Delight (known for its rolling hills and orchards) to Silicon Valley. In this thoughtful study of the novels Stegner wrote in California—including his Pulitzer Prize–winning Angle of Repose—readers are invited to consider with Stegner what the practice of place requires in the American West. Specialists in the literature and history of the American West will find new analyses of Stegner and his influential work. Other readers will be guided through Stegner’s work in concrete and accessible prose, and anyone who has longed for home and a sense of place will encounter a powerful, beautiful, and at times tragic attempt to build and preserve it.
Wallace Stegner, a major American novelist and conservationist, is interviewed by Etulain, a renowned Western scholar, in a series of discussions. Originally published in 1983 and entitled Conversations with Wallace Stegner on Western History and Literature, this book is the ultimate Stegner interview. New foreword by Stewart Udall.
Wallace Stegner (1909-1993) was, in the words of historian T. H. Watkins, "a walking tower of American letters." Winner of the Pulitzer prize and the National Book Award for fiction, founder of the Stanford Writing Program, recipient of three Guggenheim fellowships and innumerable honorary degrees, Stegner was both a brilliant writer and an exceptional teacher.Wallace Stegner and the Continental Vision brings together leading literary critics, historians, legal scholars, geographers, scientists, and others to present a multifaceted exploration of Stegner's work and its impact, and a thought-provoking examination of his life. Contributors consider Stegner as writer, as historian, and as conservationist, discussing his place in the American literary tradition, his integral role in shaping how Americans relate to the land, and his impact on their own personal lives and careers. They present an eclectic mix of viewpoints as they explore aspects of Stegner's work that they find most intriguing, inspiring, and provocative: Jackson J. Benson on the personal qualities that so distinctively shaped Stegner's writings Walter Nugent on the historical context of Stegner's definition of the West T. H. Watkins on Stegner's contributions to the modern conservation movement Terry Tempest Williams on Stegner's continuing importance as an "elder" in the community of writers he nurtured Other contributors include Dorothy Bradley, John Daniel, Daniel Flores, Melody Graulich, James R. Hepworth, Richard L. Knight, Curt Meine, Thomas R. Vale, Elliott West, and Charles F. Wilkinson.Wallace Stegner and the Continental Vision is an illuminating look at Stegner's many and varied contributions to American literature and society. Longtime admirers of Stegner will appreciate it for the new perspectives it provides, while readers less familiar with him will find it a valuable and accessible introduction to his life and work.
This provocative collection of essays reveals the passionate voice of a Native American feminist intellectual. Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, a poet and literary scholar, grapples with issues she encountered as a Native American in academia. She asks questions of critical importance to tribal people: who is telling their stories, where does cultural authority lie, and most important, how is it possible to develop an authentic tribal literary voice within the academic community?
In the title essay, “Why I Can’t Read Wallace Stegner,” Cook-Lynn objects to Stegner’s portrayal of the American West in his fiction, contending that no other author has been more successful in serving the interests of the nation’s fantasy about itself. When Stegner writes that “Western history sort of stopped at 1890,” and when he claims the American West as his native land, Cook-Lynn argues, he negates the whole past, present, and future of the native peoples of the continent. Her other essays include discussion of such Native American writers as Michael Dorris, Ray Young Bear, and N. Scott Momaday; the importance of a tribal voice in academia, the risks to American Indian women in current law practices, the future of Indian Nationalism, and the defense of the land.
Cook-Lynn emphasizes that her essays move beyond the narrowly autobiographical, not just about gender and power, not just focused on multiculturalism and diversity, but are about intellectual and political issues that engage readers and writers in Native American studies. Studying the “Indian,” Cook-Lynn reminds us, is not just an academic exercise but a matter of survival for the lifeways of tribal peoples. Her goal in these essays is to open conversations that can make tribal life and academic life more responsive to one another.
During and just after World War II, an influential group of American writers and intellectuals projected a vision for literature that would save the free world. Novels, stories, plays, and poems, they believed, could inoculate weak minds against simplistic totalitarian ideologies, heal the spiritual wounds of global catastrophe, and just maybe prevent the like from happening again. As the Cold War began, high-minded and well-intentioned scholars, critics, and writers from across the political spectrum argued that human values remained crucial to civilization and that such values stood in dire need of formulation and affirmation. They believed that the complexity of literature—of ideas bound to concrete images, of ideologies leavened with experiences—enshrined such values as no other medium could.
Creative writing emerged as a graduate discipline in the United States amid this astonishing swirl of grand conceptions. The early workshops were formed not only at the time of, but in the image of, and under the tremendous urgency of, the postwar imperatives for the humanities. Vivid renderings of personal experience would preserve the liberal democratic soul—a soul menaced by the gathering leftwing totalitarianism of the USSR and the memory of fascism in Italy and Germany.
Workshops of Empire explores this history via the careers of Paul Engle at the University of Iowa and Wallace Stegner at Stanford. In the story of these founding fathers of the discipline, Eric Bennett discovers the cultural, political, literary, intellectual, and institutional underpinnings of creative writing programs within the university. He shows how the model of literary technique championed by the first writing programs—a model that values the interior and private life of the individual, whose experiences are not determined by any community, ideology, or political system—was born out of this Cold War context and continues to influence the way creative writing is taught, studied, read, and written into the twenty-first century.