The UC Davis department of theater and dance will host “The Grapes of Wrath” Symposium from 10:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Friday, March 7, in Lab A of Wright Hall.
The symposium will explore John Steinbeck’s work directly as well as the larger social, cultural and historical issues it raises, while celebrating this 75th anniversary year since the publication of the epic novel. The symposium is free and open to the public.
Participating UCD scholars include Sasha Abramsky, author of “The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives,” selected as one of the New York Times’ 100 Most Notable Books of 2013. He is a freelance journalist and part-time lecturer in the University Writing Program and a research affiliate with the Center for Poverty Research.
Abramsky discusses contemporary poverty and the new Dust Bowl of Texas and New Mexico, the dislocation that water shortage causes, and how policies after the 1930s have limited agricultural calamity.
Ann Stevens, chair of the UCD economics department and director of the Center for Poverty Research, joins Abramsky to discuss how poverty policies deal (or don’t) with issues specific to rural areas.
Other UCD participants include:
* Eric Rauchway, history professor, discussing the Great Depression as a background context;
* Matthew Stratton, assistant professor of English, talking about changes between the play and the novel;
* W. Scott McLean, lecturer in comparative literature, examining how some of Steinbeck’s issues influenced later songwriters;
* Philip Martin, professor and chair of the UC Comparative Immigration and Integration Program, and Lisa Pruitt, law professor, discussing rural poverty in Oklahoma/Dust Bowl and in the Central Valley, then and now, including efforts to prevent indigents from entering the state in the 1930s. They also will touch on the similar (and different) stresses of rural poverty in the 21st century; and
* Kathy Olmsted, professor of history, talking about labor politics in the 1930s in relation to Steinbeck.