Having received many different nominations for Fall 2018, the Common Reader Experience Committee voted for Willa Cather’s My Antonia for Fall 2018. We will thus celebrate the bicentenary of one of Nebraska’s most renowned works with our incoming first-year students as well as being able to draw upon its many themes and connections for our local celebration. Moreover, we have renowned Cather experts on campus (Charles Johanningsmeier and Todd Richardson, for example) who can lead our efforts; both have already committed to this enterprise.
This novel, about two young (teen) immigrants to Nebraska, is world-renowned. Its story of the struggles of immigrant pioneers on Nebraska’s prairies, and the challenges of agriculture and early life in the American west, should connect to our incoming students. The novel’s homesteading families, the practical challenges to survival in settling as immigrants at the end of the nineteenth century, and how the teenagers grow and develop into adulthood are all valuable potential topics for discussion. Jim celebrates the possibilities of education as he grows, while the gender restrictions for Antonia should prompt further conversation. We hope faculty, staff, and students will join us in our Fall 2018 Common Reading Experience with Cather.
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