Michael Newbury, Fletcher D. Proctor Professor of American History, will give this inaugural lecture.
“Monsters in the Monoculture: Farm Horror in the Twentieth Century”
From the turn of the twentieth century forward, movie makers, fiction writers, and journalists have increasingly pushed into view bodies mangled by agricultural machinery, workers drowning in silos filled with grain, and lands laden with synthetic toxins. Farms have frequently appeared not only as ideal homesteads near picturesque villages but also as cogs in the brutality of corporate agribusiness, or as isolated and alien outposts struggling for economic survival in depopulated landscapes. The farm has even grown into a privileged setting for stories of supernatural horror bound to the rise of agriculture’s industrialization. Tangled with images of terror and mutilated bodies, Thomas Jefferson’s once idyllic “labour in the earth” now often takes place in fiction and documentaries on a threatening, quasi-industrial, vast and lonely landscape of corn. This talk will examine this transition and salient examples, primarily from film and fiction in the twentieth century.
Reception precedes the lecture at 4:00 p.m. in lobby.
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