Great Books of the Great PlainsTM

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Great Books of the Great Plains, 2006: Childhood on the Prairies

Great Books of the Great PlainsTM, as offered by Communiversity in 2006, features a series of three book discussions focusing on childhood and coming of age on the Great Plains. The first work under discussion, by Dorothy Schwieder, recounts the author's girlhood in Presho, South Dakota. Schwieder is a professional historian who remembers her roots and writes with clear-eyed affection. The author of the second work, Pamela Riney-Kehrberg, is likewise a historian; she offers a landmark study of the rural experience of childhood in America. The third author, Wallace Stegner, is a Pulitzer Prize winner and author of the most-cited memoir of childhood on the plains. Discussion leaders Miles Lewis and Jessica Clark are doctoral students specializing in rural and regional history at North Dakota State University; discussion leader and course coordinator Tom Isern is Professor of History at NDSU.


Date of Discussion (Sunday)

Book for Discussion

Discussion Leader

22 January 2006

Schwieder, Growing Up with the Town

Miles Lewis

5 February 2006

Riney-Kehrberg, Childhood on the Farm

Jessica Clark

19 February 2006

Stegner, Wolf Willow

Tom Isern


The public is invited to take part in these three book discussions. All programs convene on Sunday afternoon at 1:00. See information in the Communiversity catalog (to be linked here when available). (Further information available from Tom Isern.)

The Books

Schwieder, Dorothy Hubbard. Growing Up with the Town: Family and Community on the Great Plains. University of Iowa Press.

Riney-Kehrberg, Pamela. Childhood on the Farm: Work, Play, and Coming of Age in the Midwest. University Press of Kansas.

Stegner, Wallace. Wolf Willow: A History, a Memoir, and a Story of the Last Plains Frontier. Various editions.


All three books available for purchase at Zandbroz Variety. Copies of Wolf Willow available for loan at no charge; pick up at Zandbroz, return at discussion meeting.


The Discussion Leaders


Miles Lewis is a Montana boy, a Marine Corps veteran, a staff member of the NDSU Memorial Union, and a PhD student in History at NDSU. His studies focus on the Great Plains, and his dissertation is a history of the Musselshell country of central Montana.


Jessica Clark is the Theresa Mack Fellow in Germans from Russia Studies, NDSU Libraries, her main duty there being coordination and interviewing for the Dakota Memories Oral History Project. Drawing on project materials, her dissertation deals with childhood among the Germans from Russia.


Tom Isern, Professor of History at NDSU, is a specialist in the history of the Great Plains. Both his most recent book, Dakota Circle (Institute for Regional Studies), and his new CD, Candles at Canaan (North Dakota Public Radio), focus on the folklife of the Great Plains. On several occasions he has led study tours to Eastend, Saskatchewan, boyhood home of Wallace Stegner, author of Wolf Willow.


Graduate Workshop


NDSU will offer a 1-credit hour graduate workshop (HIST/EDUC 600) for teachers in parallel with the book discussion series. Participants in the workshop will read the books, attend the discussion sessions at the Zandbroz, and also participate in web-based discussions. Further information will be linked here.



Great Books of the Great Plains / Plains Folk / Communiversity