In Farm, Joyce Kinkead, Evelyn Funda, and Lynne S. McNeill explore the culture of agriculture through a diverse and multicultural collection of fiction, poetry, essays, art, recipes, and folklore. This reader views farming through a variety of lenses, asking students to consider what farms, farming, and farmers mean, and have meant, to culture in the United States.
In the text, readers are guided through the Jeffersonian idealism of the yeoman farmer (“cultivators of the earth are the chosen people of God”) to literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (Thoreau’s “The Bean-Field,” Cather’s prairie trilogy, Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, and Carpenter’s Farm City). Contributors provide historical context for the literary texts, such as discussion of sharecropping vs. plantation systems, the rise of agribusiness and chemical farming, and Teddy Roosevelt’s Country Life Commission. Written, visual, and oral texts ask readers to consider the farm in art (Grant Wood), ecology (Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring), children’s and young adult literature (classic children’s books, YA novels, nonfiction, and poetry), advertising (from early boosterism to Chipotle videos), print culture (farmers’ market and victory garden posters from both world wars), folklore (food culture, vintners, and veterinarian practices), popular culture (Farm Aid concerts), and much more. Each reading is supported by activities, exercises, projects, and visual rhetorical elements that further connect students to agriculture and the essential work of farmers.