Wendell Berry’s appearance at the South Atlantic Modern Language Association (SAMLA) last weekend in Atlanta is just the latest indication of his increasing profile in the academy. There were at least 13 presentations on Berry, including a talk on Jayber Crow’s critique of agribusiness by a professor from South Korea and a personal narrative from a former high school English teacher who quit her job and started a CSA. So despite his criticisms of the university, Berry’s writings are appearing in many college classrooms.
Berry spoke at two sessions during the conference. At the first he read excerpts from a forthcoming essay, “Our Deserted Country,” and his recently published short story “The Branch Way.” At the second, Chad Wriglesworth, Assistant Professor at the University of Waterloo and the editor of Distant Neighbors, interviewed Berry about a wide range of topics. Both sessions included time for questions from the audience. Rather than trying to cover everything Berry talked about, I’ll discuss some of the recurring themes and then briefly contrast Berry’s vision with that of the other keynote speaker at the conference, Ursula Heise.
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