Kinship with the land: regionalist thought in Iowa, 1894-1942

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University of Iowa Press, Apr 1, 1996 - Art - 199 pages
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 an abundant insight, understanding, meaning, and mission that they mentally and spiritually recreated 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 overwhelmingly 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 threatens 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.

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About the author (1996)

E. Bradford Burns, a native Iowan, was professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the author of many books and articles.  His book The Unwritten Alliance received the Bolton Prize in 1967; his essay "Ideology in Nineteenth Century Latin American Historiography" won the Hubert Herring Award in 1979; and the Brazilian government has awarded him the Order of Rio-Branco.