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Kentucky Humanities centers statewide literacy initiative on Wendell Berry’s ‘Hannah Coulter’


Kentucky Humanities has selected Wendell Berry’s Hannah Coulter for its 2020 Kentucky Reads.

The novel will be at the center of statewide conversations on the changes in rural America, rural Kentucky and including what it means to be part of a rural community.

Hannah Coulter was selected in conjunction with the arrival of the Smithsonian traveling exhibit Crossroads: Change in Rural America coming to seven Kentucky communities beginning September 2020. The schedule for the exhibit can be found at www.kyhumanities.org.

Kentucky Reads will offer 25 scholar-led discussions of Hannah Coulter to community organizations throughout the Commonwealth. Kentucky Humanities has accumulated an impressive group of scholars who will lead engaging, thought-provoking discussion about the themes of the book.

Any nonprofit organization in Kentucky can host a discussion of Hannah Coulter for a booking fee of $50 and each host organization will be provided with 15 copies of the novel to share among participating members. Publicity materials to promote the discussion will also be provided. A list of scholars and the booking form can be found at www.kyhumanities.org.

“Selecting Wendell Berry’s Hannah Coulter as the focus for our 2020 Kentucky Reads was an obvious choice given its close ties to the Smithsonian traveling exhibit, we are bringing to the state beginning September 2020,” said Bill Goodman, Kentucky Humanities Executive Director. “Crossroads: Change in Rural America brings forward many of the same themes found in Hannah Coulter — themes that are prevalent and important at this time, just as they have been for generations.”

Hannah Coulter is Wendell Berry’s seventh novel and a continuation of his Port William, Kentucky saga. This is the first novel by Berry to be told from the perspective of a female character, an elderly farmwife looking back on her life and community even though they are threatened by 20th-century technologies.

Born in New Castle, Berry is a poet, essayist, novelist, and farmer. He attended the University of Kentucky, earning a B.A. and an M.A. in English. Berry has taught at Stanford University, Georgetown College, New York University, the University of Cincinnati, Bucknell University, and the University of Kentucky. He is the author of more than 40 books.

Berry has received numerous honors and awards, including a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, Membership in the Fellowship of Southern Writers, the Ingersoll Foundation’s T. S. Elliot Award, the National Humanities Medal, and the 2012 Jefferson Lecturer, to name a few. Berry and his wife, Tanya Amyx Berry, live on their farm in Port Royal.

Kentucky Humanities’ first edition of Kentucky Reads, in 2018, featured Kentucky native Robert Penn Warren’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel All the King’s Men to guide statewide conversations on contemporary populism, political discourse, and their relationship to journalism.

Kentucky Humanities is a nonprofit Kentucky corporation affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities. For information about Kentucky Humanities’ programs and services, including Kentucky Reads, visit kyhumanities.org.

From Kentucky Humanities


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