Wendell Berry

Course Objectives

This class is an opportunity to internalize one author’s language and perspective. By close study of Berry’s writings, you will gain another person to think with—meaning both another mind to think along side of and in conversation with, and also another mind to use in your own thinking.

One of the things we’ll focus on this semester is the importance and power of form. As you’ll see from our reading list, we’ll be reading poetry, essays, short stories, and novels. One of the questions that fascinates me is how Berry uses these different forms to convey different aspects of his vision. What is the value of these different forms? As you’ll discover, form is intricately connected with virtue, so we’ll explore the connections between form and virtue throughout the semester. By studying the ways in which Berry uses different literary forms to shape his readers in different virtues, I hope that you will learn to attend to form in other contexts as well.

Grading Breakdown:

Course Grading Scale: A 100-93; A- 92-90; B+ 89-87; B 86-83; B- 82-80; . . . F 59-0.

Required Texts:

  • This Day: Collected and New Sabbath Poems. ISBN: 1619024365
  • A Continuous Harmony. ISBN: 978-1619020009
  • The Hidden Wound. ISBN: 1582434867
  • Andy Catlett: Early Travels. ISBN: 1593761643
  • A Place in Time. ISBN: 978-1619021884
  • Three Short Novels. ISBN: 1582431787
  • Hannah Coulter. ISBN: 1593760787
  • Jayber Crow. ISBN: 978-1582431604

Course Calendar:

We’ll meet in HAL 110 on MWF from 2:00-2:50. This schedule is subject to change.

Week 1

  • Monday 1/17: Introduction; read “Think Little” (also found in Continuous Harmony) before class
  • Wednesday 1/19: This Day 1-71
  • Friday 1/21: This Day 72-139

Week 2

Week 3

  • Monday 1/31: This Day 283-342
  • Wednesday 2/2: This Day 343-397
  • Friday 2/4:A Native Hill

Week 4

  • Monday 2/7: “Two Economies” and “The Work of Local Culture“; Filipiak, Jeffrey. “The Work of Local Culture: Wendell Berry and Communities as the Source of Farming Knowledge.” Agricultural History 85, no. 2 (2011): 174–94. https://doi.org/10.3098/ah.2011.85.2.174.
  • Wednesday 2/9: “Regional Motive” (in CH); “Agrarian Standard“; “Still Standing“; Vernon, Zackary. “The Problematic History and Recent Cultural Reappropriation of Southern Agrarianism.” Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 21, no. 2 (2014): 337–52.
  • Friday 2/11: “Discipline and Hope” in CH 86-130

Week 5

Week 6

  • Monday 2/21: Hidden Wound 65-139; Berry’s conversation with bell hooks in hooks, bell. Belonging: A Culture of Place. New York: Routledge, 2008.
  • Wednesday 2/23: “Christianity and the Survival of Creation” (24); “The Gift of Good Land” (14); Oehlschlaeger, Fritz. The Achievement of Wendell Berry: The Hard History of Love. Culture of the Land: A Series in the New Agrarianism. Lexington, KY: The UP of Kentucky, 2011. chapter 3
  • Friday 2/25: no class

Spring Break

Week 7

Ciceronian Society Conference 3/11-3/12

Week 8

  • Monday 3/14: “A Burden” and “Misery”
  • Wednesday 3/16: “Andy Catlett: Early Education” and “Drouth” and “Not a Tear”
  • Friday 3/18: “A New Day” and “Mike”; Baker, Jack R. “Remembering the Past Rightly: Elegy and Ubi Sunt Tradition in Wendell Berry’s Fiction.” In Telling the Stories Right: Wendell Berry’s Imagination of Port William, edited by Jack R. Baker and Jeffrey Bilbro. Eugene, OR: Front Porch Republic Books, 2018.

Look & See at Bilbro home: 1 pm on Sunday the 20th.

Week 9

  • Monday 3/21: “A Place in Time”
  • Wednesday 3/22: Hannah Coulter 1-58
  • Friday 3/24: Hannah Coulter 59-110

Matt Wheeler concert 3/27 at 4 pm at Center Presbyterian Church (free registration here)

Week 10

  • Monday 3/28: Hannah Coulter 111-156; Fritz O’s chapter
  • Wednesday 3/30: Hannah Coulter 157-end
  • Friday 4/1: Andy Catlett: Early Travels 1-68

Week 11

  • Monday 4/4: Andy Catlett: Early Travels 68-140; Miller, Eric. “Kentucky River Journal.” In Telling the Stories Right: Wendell Berry’s Imagination of Port William, edited by Jack R. Baker and Jeffrey Bilbro, 139-152. Eugene, OR: Front Porch Republic Books, 2018.
  • Wednesday 4/6: A World Lost 225-276
  • Friday 4/8: no class; IFF conference. Read “A Desirable Woman” in preparation for Jayber Crow

Week 12

  • Monday 4/11: A World Lost 276-326
  • Wednesday 4/13: Remembering 119-168; Olmstead, Gracy. “‘The End of All Our Exploring’: Homecoming and Membership in Remembering.” In Telling the Stories Right: Wendell Berry’s Imagination of Port William, edited by Jack R. Baker and Jeffrey Bilbro, 153–71. Eugene, OR: Front Porch Republic Books, 2018.
  • Friday 4/15: Good Friday

Week 13

  • Monday 4/18: Easter Monday
  • Wednesday 4/20: Remembering 169-222; Donnelly, Phillip. “Biblical Convocation in Wendell Berry’s Remembering.” Christianity and Literature 56, no. 2 (2007): 275–96.
  • Friday 4/22: Dismemberment“; “The Branch Way of Doing

Week 14

Week 15

  • Monday 5/2: Jayber Crow 207-282; Esolen, Anthony. “If Dante Were a Kentucky Barber.” In The Humane Vision of Wendell Berry, edited by Mark Mitchell and Nathan Schlueter, 255–74. Wilmington: ISI Books, 2011.
  • Wednesday 5/4: Jayber Crow 283-363

Final will be on Tuesday, 5/10 from 8:00-10:00 am.