Pioneers moving into Iowa in the nineteenth century created a distinctly rural culture: family, farm, church, and school were its dominant institutions. After decades of settlement, however, several lively and perceptive generations interpreted their political, economic, and cultural environment—their Iowa—much more imaginatively; they offered such abundant insight, understanding, meaning, and mission that they mentally and spiritually recreates Iowa. In Kinship with the Land historian Brad Burns celebrates this intense period of intellectual and cultural development.
Through their novels, short stories, poems, essays, drawings, and paintings, Iowa's regionalists expressed a rich abstraction of people and place. They conferred meaning,
imparted understanding, defined the soil and the folk, conveyed a sense of place. Grant Wood in his overalls—the quintessential symbol of sophisticated talent and rural values—clearly represented regionalism's spiritual solidarity with the land and the people who worked it. Burns lets these Iowans speak for themselves, then interprets their distinctive voices to present a cogent case for and an understanding of the rural in an overwhelming urban America.
Kinship with the Land emphasizes the importance of Iowa's intellectual and cultural history and reaffirms the state's identity at the very moment that standardization threatened to eradicate it. By endowing Iowa with vibrant, independent art and literature, regionalists made refreshing sense of their environment. Readers from every state will appreciate their generous legacy.
“Enthusiastically reviving both the imagery and ideology of regionalism, this book celebrates the first great age of Iowa writers and artists. It also makes the best of them, like John T. Frederick, Herbert Quick, Ruth Suckow, Margaret Wilson, Grant Wood, and Frank Luther Mott, significant to our own disintegrating age.”—Robert Sayre, editor of Take This Exit: Rediscovering the Iowa Landscape
“E. Bradford Burns deserves praise for returning home and eulogizing an episode of regionalism that might otherwise have been forgotten. His narrative reaffirms and resurrects the work of many worthy regionalists, and it explores the relationship between intellectuals and the folk. This portrait of a state bursting with creativity and pride of place projects a compelling image of regional renewal for our postmodern world.”—Indiana Magazine of History
I. The Earth Is Our Mother
2. The Call of Mother Iowa
3. Writing and Creating Like Souls Possessed
4. The Particular Way, the Fresh Way
5. Morning Promise