Community feast planned for ‘My Ántonia’ 100th anniversary

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Community feast planned for ‘My Ántonia’ 100th anniversary

The Willa Cather Archive and Willa Cather Foundation, with Community Crops, are hosting a celebratory feast in Lincoln to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the publication of “My Ántonia.” This illustration is from the first printing of the novel in 1918.

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Willa Cather Archive will mark the 100th anniversary of “My Ántonia” with a community celebration, “What a Tableful We Were at Supper: ‘My Ántonia’ Birthday Feast.”

Willa Cather

The archive is partnering with Community Crops to host the event from 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 21 at Peter Pan Park, 32nd and W streets in Lincoln. The feast, which coincides with the publication anniversary of Cather’s seminal work, is open to the public. Admission is $5 for adults and free for children.

Cather’s “My Ántonia” cemented her as an American literary giant. Throughout 2018, the archive has partnered with the Willa Cather Foundation and community organizations to host events across the state. Each event has explored a theme of the book. For example, in August, an event was held in Scottsbluff with the Panhandle Business and Professional Women. There, Emily Rau, assistant editor of the Willa Cather Archive, and Ashley Olson, executive director of the Cather Foundation, used Cather’s life and the novel to lead a discussion with more than 100 women about their experiences in the workplace.

The “‘My Ántonia’ Birthday Feast” is the last event in the series and explores the themes of community and immigration. The community picnic will feature food from El Chaparro, Habibi Kabob and Shawarma, and Vung Tau Pho Grill. There will also be readings from “My Ántonia” in multiple languages, along with live music by Lincoln band The Nancy Marshall Trio. The event is supported by a grant from Humanities Nebraska.

Andrew Jewell, editor of the Cather Archive and professor of University Libraries, said the themes explored this year are still relevant to society, even though Cather wrestled with them a century ago.

“The issues that concerned her still concern us, and we’ve been extremely pleased with the response to the events,” he said. “They’ve demonstrated that this book is a living thing that continues to have great meaning in people’s lives.”

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