John Steinbeck program series: Celebrating 75 years of The Grapes of Wrath
See below for information on programs, films, a performance, and an exhibit celebrating the 75th anniversary of The Grapes of Wrath. This project is supported by grants from the University of North Alabama Student Activity Fees and the Alabama Humanities Foundation, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, with additional support from the University of North Alabama English Department and Humanities Texas.
The Environmental Background of The Grapes of Wrath
Dr. Kenneth Vickers, Martin Methodist College
Sunday, April 6, 2:00 pm
In the 1930s, extreme drought and poor farming techniques caused severe dust storms in Oklahoma and surrounding prairies. This ecological event--now called the Dust Bowl--forced farmers from their homes and caused the mass migration portrayed in The Grapes of Wrath. In this presentation, Dr. Kenneth Vickers will explore the causes and effects of the Dust Bowl, as well as various attempts by New Deal conservationists to stem the problem. He will talk about how these events affected families like the Joads and will discuss how farming and government practices have changed since the Dust Bowl.
"Helping Alabama's Needy Rural People": New Deal Efforts to Rehabilitate Rural Life during the Great Depression
Dr. Lynne Rieff, University of North Alabama
Sunday, April 13, 2:00 pm
Although the events portrayed in The Grapes of Wrath took place on the other side of the country, the struggles of the Joads would have felt familiar to many rural Alabamians in the 1930s. Dr. Lynne Rieff will present on life in rural Alabama during the 1930s. She will discuss efforts of existing government agencies, such as the Cooperative Extension Service to improve depressed conditions. She will also cover the creation of New Deal agencies and programs, such as the Resettlement Administration, to address rural poverty.
UNA Students Present on John Steinbeck
Monday, April 14, 10 am-4 pm
University from North Alabama students will present their research on various topics related to Steinbeck’s works, not limited to The Grapes of Wrath. These students have been taking the course “Special Topics in Literature: John Steinbeck” with Dr. Cynthia Burkhead, author of the Student Companion to John Steinbeck. Presentations will take place throughout the day, with occasional breaks.
The Grapes of Wrath, 1939-2014: Reflections at 75
Dr. Susan Shillinglaw San José State University
Monday, April 14, 6:00 pm
On the exact anniversary of the book’s publication, renowned Steinbeck scholar Dr. Susan Shillinglaw will present on the significance of The Grapes of Wrath, both its impact in 1939 and its relevance 75 years later. During this discussion, she will explore Steinbeck’s life, the historical background of the text, and key themes.
Dr. Susan Shillinglaw is a Professor of English at San Jose State University, where she was the director of the Center for Steinbeck Studies for 18 years. She has written extensively on John Steinbeck, including her most recent publication, On Reading The Grapes of Wrath.
“The Chrysanthemums”: A Concert Reading
Tuesday, April 29, 6:00 pm
John Steinbeck is best known for his novels and novellas, but he was also masterful at crafting short stories. Join us at the library as Pillar of Fire presents a concert reading of “The Chrysanthemums,”adapted by Matthew Spangler from the John Steinbeck short story and directed by Terry Pace. This story, published two years before The Grapes of Wrath, focuses on Elisa, a farm wife who feels trapped by the traditional gender roles she’s confined to. Steinbeck would continue to challenge tradition roles for women through the character of Ma Joad.
The library, Pillar of Fire, and Bookmarks Coffee Shop will present a series of screenings of Steinbeck-related films.
Thursday, April 10, 7:30 pm
John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath (1940), starring Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, and John Carradine
Thursday, April 17, 7:00 pm
Lewis Milestone’s Of Mice and Men (1939), starring Burgess Meredith, Lon Chaney Jr., and Betty Field
Tuesday, April 22, 7:00 pm
Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1944), starring Tallulah Bankhead and scripted by John Steinbeck
Thursday, April, 24, 7:00 pm
Elia Kazan’s East of Eden (1955), starring James Dean, Julie Harris, and Raymond Massey
Sunday, April 27, 2:00 pm
Robert Totten’s The Red Pony (1973), starring Henry Fonda, Maureen O’Hara, and Clint Howard
On display throughout the series
The exhibit The Dust Bowl will be on display throughout the month of April. The Dust Bowl is an exhibition organized by the Nebraska Council for the Humanities in collaboration with Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.