What was student life like at Dear Old Nebraska U near the end of the 19th century? Willa Cather scholars have a pretty good idea, since the Pulitzer Prize-winning author received her degree here in 1895.
Cather scholar Kari Ronning will explore the student experience through the novelist’s lens during the fifth talk in the 2019 Nebraska Lectures: Chancellor’s Distinguished Speaker Series.
Ronning’s presentation, “Willa Cather on Campus,” is slated for 3:30 p.m. May 7 in the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center, 313 N. 13th St.
Ronning, editor of the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition and research associate professor of English, will draw on scholarly research, student newspaper archives and Cather’s own words to illustrate life on campus during a university growth spurt. She will also examine how Cather’s time at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was pivotal for the author.
The talk will include a multimedia presentation of historical photos of the campus and the people, as well as Cather’s writings from her university years.
“I want to give people a sense of what it was like back then for students and help them understand what Cather’s university experience was like,” Ronning said.
Ronning will also share a little-known Cather work not well-known — a humorous poem about the Roman poet Horace found pasted in the back of a Latin textbook.
“The poem illustrates that she had a very skeptical outlook on things and she could be very funny,” Ronning said.
The Nebraska Lectures series — usually offered twice per year — was expanded in 2019 to coincide with the university’s 150th anniversary and is supported by a $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities through Humanities Nebraska.
All Nebraska Lectures are free and open to the public and are streamed online. The 2019 lectures will also be made available via podcast. Additional talks will continue to be announced throughout the year on the Nebraska Lectures website. Past lectures examined topics such as Americans’ relationships with foreigners, historical campus buildings and Nebraska’s one-house legislature. Podcasts and videos of the lectures are available here.