Week 7 Prompt: Wrapping up Some Luck

Since we’ve reached the novel’s end, I want to give you the opportunity to reflect on whatever is most meaningful to you. Our discussion on Wednesday was useful for developing the direct linkages between changes in agricultural policy and practices and issues related to public health, food access, and food insecurity. This might be a moment to go back to our big picture definitions of sustainable systems from the early days in the course to consider how all of these pieces fit together in the novel.

We also talked about race quite a bit on Wednesday. Some Luck ends by sounding a death knell (quite literally) for a way of life that the novel considers primarily through the lens of assimilated Anglo-immigrants–Germans and Irish–whose ties to and awareness of their European past fades into a homogenous whiteness as the novel . Yes, she is writing about Iowa, but Smiley is also telling a particular story about farming that has come to stand as the icon of what has been lost. It is nostalgic and can be heart wrenching. It is also very much tied to discourse in our current political landscape.

I don’t know if I have a particular question, just my own meditations about. As we move into Parable of the Sower You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, Underground Railroad, and Under the Feet of Jesus, we’ll be delving into alternative perspectives on the ways that our cultural, economic, and political relationship to food shapes the lives of a diverse set of characters. I want to take the time to 1) particularize the experience of the Langdon family rather than let it stand for the universal experience, and 2) think beyond the novel to the effects of the iconization of the small family farm of yore and its inhabitants.

The readings we’ll be moving into don’t necessarily have traditional farming at the core, but I wanted to call attention to all of the ways that African American history, too, was and still is tied to the family farm… so here’s some additional interesting, optional reading for us. Also, if you’re looking for a recommendation, Jesmyn Ward’s newest novel Sing, Unburied, Sing has a small, African American family farm at its core; it is superb.

Emily Contois, “33 Food Studies Books for Black History Month” Emily Contois Blog. 8 Feb. 2017.

Monica White, “Food Justice Requires Land Justice,” Civil Eats. 15 Jan. 2018.

Alan You, “Black Farmers are Sowing the Seeds of Health and Empowerment.” NPR. 16 Dec. 2017.

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