Honor Roll – Order of the Karner Blue

Karner Blue

The Karner Blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) is an endangered species found in small areas from Minnesota to Maine. The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore near Valparaiso University provides a protected habitat for this exquisite critter. It’s lively beauty makes it a fitting emblem for the following persons who have generously contributed their knowledge and artistry to New Ideas in Midwestern Literature.

Dr. Ronald A. Janke, Professor of Geography and Meteorology, Valparaiso University, taught our class about Native American life in central North America at the time of first contact with Europeans

Dr. Randa J. Duvick, Associate Professor of French and Chair, Department of Foreign Languages, Valparaiso University, taught us about Novelle France and the life and work of the trader Joseph Bailly, the earliest permanent resident of what is now Porter County, IN

Gregg A. Hertzlieb, Director of the Brauer Museum of Art, Valparaiso University, helped select and taught us about 30 painters, print makers, and photographers in the VU collection whose work reflects life in the Midwest from the 1830s to the present.

Dr. Edward Byrne, Professor of English and Editor, Valparaiso Poetry Review, taught us about the reversal of value attributed to regional poets and poetry during the last half century; the influence of Midwestern poets and editors in international circles; and read and discussed his own poems.

Ronne Hartfield, author, Another Way Home, took us behind the scenes of her memoir of her wonderful mother and the ties between family life on the South Side of Chicago and the complicated family history in rural Louisiana at the turn of the twentieth century.

Christopher Cock, Director of Choral and Vocal Activities at Valparaiso University, holds the Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Lutheran Music, and is Director of the Bach Institute. Professor Cock opened our ears to the richly endowed tradition of Lutheran Choral music that is rooted so deeply in the churches, colleges, and communities of the Midwest.

James Sherman,  playwright, director, teacher, is a member of the Playwrights’ Ensemble at the Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago.  The film version of his play, Beau Jest, which he also directed, was released on DVD in the Spring of 2009. Our final text was his comedy, Relatively Close, about the struggle of members of a multi-cultural Chicago family to decide how to dispose of their father’s Lake Michigan summer home. Mr. Sherman led our discussion of the play, comedy writing, and the development of theater in Chicago.

John Gutt, authority on the explorers, voyageurs and settlers of the Midwest. He gave a  well-informed, colorful, and dramatic lecture-demonstration on February 8, 2011.  The artifacts he brought to share with us and the stories he told of the sacrifices and skills of our forbears added vitality and actuality to our studies. He stimulated our thinking and brought to vivid reality the lives of people who gave so much to make our lives possible.

Walter Wangerin, Jr, writer, teacher, pastor, senior research professor at Valparaiso University.  Walt visited our class on April 19, 2011. He talked about the influence of his Midwestern life on his calling and craft as a writer. Particularly memorable were his stories of living on the Red River as a boy and on the Ohio River as a young husband and father. We learned of his invitation and journey to attend a Lakota Sun Dance that informed his novel A Crying for a Vision; of the creative challenges of writing I Am My Grandpa’s Enkelin and other books for children.

Comments are closed.