Oklahoma City University News
Book Discussion Looks at Dust Bowl Camp Life
The final “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma” book discussion for Fall 2009 will be Nov. 10 with Karen Hesse’s “Out of the Dust.”
Winner of the Newbury Medal, Hesse’s novel recounts the coming of age of her protagonist amidst the landscape of the Oklahoma Dust Bowl. Written in memorable free verse, Hesse paints an eloquent closing view of the series theme.
The “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma” discussion series focuses on the stories of those who lived through the tumultuous decade of the 1930s—the “Dirty Thirties”— and who experienced one of the greatest ecological and economic disasters ever to strike Oklahoma and most of the Southern Plains. Beginning in the summer of 1931, eight years of extreme weather conditions ruined farm communities across the plains.
Ill-suited farming techniques coupled with the lack of rain and high winds resulted in a relentless series of choking dust storms. The term Dust Bowl was coined to describe the parched, barren landscape, and the Oklahoma Panhandle in particular became no man’s land of despair as a way of life seemed to come to an end. From these hardships, stories emerged of courage and determination to survive.
Harbour Winn, director of OCU’s Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film and Literature, commented on the written history, novels, letters and poetry books being used for the discussions to show how ordinary people coped with extraordinary circumstances.
“The books in this series give voice to the sorrows, struggles and great endurances of these people,” Winn said. “As we confront another time of ecological and economic challenges now, can we learn from the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression?”
At each “Let’s Talk About It” session, a humanities scholar makes a 30-40 minute presentation on the book in the context of the theme. Participants come together for a brief wrap-up at the end of the session.
The sessions are held in Walker Center room 151 from 7 to 9 p.m. Those interested in participating are encouraged to pre-register and borrow the reading selections and theme brochure by calling Winn at (405) 208-5472, e-mailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org or coming to the Dulaney-Browne Library room 211. Information can also be found on the Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film & Literature Web site: www.okcu.edu/film-lit/.
Books, services and other materials for this series are provided by "Let's Talk About It, Oklahoma," a project of the Oklahoma Humanities Council with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Funding for this series was provided by a grant from the Inasmuch Foundation.