From “Grapes of Wrath” to “Of Mice and Men,” American novelist John Steinbeck’s books are central to the history of California. In honor of his great body of work, San Diego State University will celebrate the Nobel Prize-winning author with a series of multi-disciplinary events during the month of April.
“An Enduring Voice for California – A Celebration of John Steinbeck” starts April 2 with an exhibition at SDSU’s University Art Gallery titled “Field Work: Documenting California’s Migrant Farm Labor Experience - Images 1935 – 2003.” The exhibit will feature prints from the 1930s collaboration between Life Magazine photographer Horace Bristol and Steinbeck, vintage prints by Dorothea Lange photographed in the farm fields of California between 1935 and 1940, and works by contemporary California artists Roger Minick, Paul Turounet and Louis Hock. The exhibition curator is Tina Yapelli, director of the University Art Gallery.
The marquis event of the month will feature keynote speaker Susan Shillinglaw, former director of the Center for Steinbeck Studies and a professor at San Jose State University who will discuss “The Wrath of a Nation: Reading the ‘Grapes of Wrath,’ 1939-2007.” Shillinglaw authored the book “A Journey into Steinbeck’s California.” The lecture will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 15 in West Commons 220.
“John Steinbeck reveals to us the complexity of the diverse cultures, communities, languages and peoples of California,” said Bill Nerricio, SDSU professor of English and Comparative Literature. “SDSU’s exploration of this ‘enduring voice for California’ helps remind us of the way literature forever changes and renders great, the lands and peoples of our remarkable state.”
As part of the celebration, SDSU’s theater department will perform a live stage show “John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath,” April 27-May 6. The 1990 Tony-Award winning play is based on the novel about poverty and struggle of Oklahoma farmers forced to become migrant workers in California.
Other Steinbeck events will include:
Steinbeck’s Wrath — Commies,Oakies and the Battle for California’s Heartland
Watching Steinbeck’s Ethnic Eye/I
Of Mice & Men, Mice & Beans, and Laughing Tomatoes — Steinbeck and Mexican-American Children's Authors
– Different “Readings” of Steinbeck’s Work
Local teachers can benefit from the month-long celebration and learn how to integrate Steinbeck into their curriculum through a workshop offered by SDSU’s International Studies Education Program. Teachers will have the opportunity to earn university credit by attending three of the events and the teacher-idea exchange workshop. The workshop takes place from 8:30 - 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 5, and will include discussion of classroom implementation ideas and a lesson plan exchange.
This month long celebration is sponsored by SDSU’s College of Arts and Letters, College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts, and made possible by a grant from the James Hervey Johnson Charitable Trust.