"The Place" in North Liberty and Hominy: Archival and Embodied Memories in Iowa and Oklahoma


As part of the research for "'The Place' in North Liberty and Hominy: Archival and Embodied Memories in Iowa and Oklahoma," professor Janet Hess, associate professor in the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies, recently visited Amish in Kalona, Iowa. Nominated by Sonoma State University for an NEH grant based upon this research, professor Hess explores in her latest work the regional histories and practices of North Liberty, Iowa, and Hominy, Oklahoma, and the way the cultures of these small towns intersect with indigenous narratives. 

The two regions bridge her experience: the sense of place in the title refers to a landscape and geographic location, and to the archival experience she traces, as both of Hess' parents, decades ago, published accounts of these small town regions. This research builds upon her prior experience with fieldwork, which informed her first two books, "Art and Architecture in Postcolonial Africa" (McFarland, 1990), and "Shadows in the Trees: the Art of Richard Mayhew and the Civil Rights Struggle" (McFarland, in press). 

A horse auction near Hess' home town [photograph William Genkins]

As N. Scott Momoday, the Native American author, states, "To the extent that . . . [a storyteller] re-creates his vision in words, he re-creates himself. . . He declares in effect, 'Behold, I give you my vision in these terms, and in the process I give you myself.'" (Momoday 1997: 27) Hess' account bridges the distance between seemingly irreconcilable discourses and addresses memories, regions and modes of small town, working class and "indigenous" American life that are largely forgotten.

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