Discussion Series Explores "Community: The Way We
The Stafford Co. Museum Library hosted a four-part book
discussion series February through May entitled "Community: The Way We Live."
The series was sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council (KHC),
a nonprofit cultural organization, as part of its Talk About Literature in Kansas (TALK) program. KHC furnishes the books
and discussion leaders for the TALK series. For more information about KHC, visit www.kansashumanities.org.
The first meeting was held Feb. 3. Kim Stanley led a discussion of
Mama Day, by Gloria Naylor. Twelve readers participated. On the Georgia sea island of Willow Springs, people still
use only herbal medicine and honor ancestors who came over as slaves. Matriarch Mama Day, who can call up lightning storms
and see secrets in her dreams, tests her powers when her great-niece, a stubbornly emancipated woman, finds her life and soul
in danger from the island's darker forces.
Kim Stanley chairs the Department of Modern Languages at McPherson
College. She received her PhD in English from the University of Texas at Austin and her MA in Liberal Arts from St. Johns
College at Santa Fe. She has won the Dean's Teaching Award at University of Texas, the Professor of the Year Award (twice)
at McPherson, and the Public Scholar Award from KHC. Kim is a former member of the KHC board of directors and has been leading
TALK discussions since 1992.
The quest for community has taken many forms in the history of the
United States. Today we worry that our sense of community may be weakening as a result of crime, mobility, and greater ethnic
diversity. "Community: The Way We Live" visits both rural and urban communities, each with a unique message about how people
find ways to live together and depend upon one another for support and tolerance.
2. FRIED GREEN TOMATOES AT THE WHISTLE STOP CAFE
Cheryl Duffy led a discussion of Fried Green Tomatoes at the
Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg, on March 3. There were 17 in attendance. This endearing novel travels from the 1980s
back to the 1930s, when Idgie and Ruth's Alabama cafe offered good barbecue, love, laughter, and even an occasional murder.
Cheryl Hofstetter Duffy is a professor of English at Fort Hays State
University. She holds a PhD in English from University of Kansas and an MA in English from Fort Hays. Previously, she taught
at Colby Community College, as well as working with disabled students. Cheryl has been a speaker for a number of public humanities
programs sponsored by KHC and became involved in KHC book discussion programs in the mid-Eighties.
3. THE MILAGRO BEANFIELD WAR
Dana Waters led a discussion of The Milagro Beanfield War,
by John Nichols, on April 7. There were 15 in attendance. When feisty Joe Mondragon decides to irrigate his bean crop with
"stolen" water, he drags the neighbors in his New Mexico village into a hilarious battle to save their community.
Dana Waters has chaired the Fine Arts and Humanities Division at
Dodge City Community College since 1996. She earned her master's degree in English from Fort Hays State University. Dana teaches
classes in composition, American literature and children's literature, and has written extensively on the art of writing.
She joined the KHC TALK program as a discussion leader in 2009.
4. SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS
Brenda Craven led a discussion of Snow Falling on Cedars
by David Guterson on May 5. There were nine in attendance. A fisherman drowns and a Japanese American is charged with his
murder, forcing the island residents of San Piedro to come to terms with their past, including the exile of local Japanese
families during World War II.
Brenda Craven is an instructor of English at Fort Hays State University,
where she teaches world literature and composition. Her previous responsibilities at the university included assistant alumni
director and assistant director of ProjectSERV AmeriCorps. Brenda received her M.A. in English from Fort Hays State University.
Her interests range from travel and wilderness camping to politics and current events. While much of her reading focuses on
works by 20th century Midwestern and Southern writers, Brenda relaxes by reading espionage novels set during the Cold War.
She joined the KHC TALK program as a discussion leader in 2008.