The Lit of Siouxland
Once you allow yourself to identify with the people in a story, then you might begin to see yourself in that story even if on the surface it's far removed from your situation. This is what I try to tell my students: this is one great thing that literature can do -- it can make us identify with situations and people far away. ~ Chinua Achebe
In talking with Dr. James Schaap about the books to be read in Siouxland 101, we cannot help but land upon the hardships of old times: grasshopper infestations, prairie fires, the unrelenting hand of nature. Walls of devastation that fell upon the early European settlers of Siouxland, that left families prostrated on the hard ground as their livelihood was lost, do not now, however, register in our list of daily fears. Broadly speaking, we do not concern ourselves with grasshoppers, smoke fills autumn skies as farmers set the fires, and in a year of drought we can have record yields. So the question we had was, "what is the importance of the literature of our past?" He answers that literature reveals our humanity, that time may change, but our relationships and our struggle to live remain constant. The books about our past not only reveal this, but do so in a way that results from the deep and hard work of the authors.
The above description, of course, only touches upon a mere sliver of what is to be experienced in Siouxland 101. Stories will be read about contemporary characters, about life during and after World War II, about, well, us and our world. Have a listen to the interview, which includes readings from some of the authors, and then find your way to the Orange City Arts Council to sign up of the class.