Spring 2004

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UNL to Host Inaugural Scholars' Summit

by Jennifer Overkamp, University of Nebraska–Lincoln

On the "off" years of international Cather seminars, beginning in June, 2004, University of Nebraska–Lincoln's Cather Project will host Scholars' Summits; these will be seminar- type working sessions of 12-15 distinguished scholars in the field who will use Cather as a forum for addressing current issues in the humanities. Participants in each Scholar's Summit will interpret themes fundamental to the summit topic, identify objectives for addressing those issues, and propose actions by which such aims might be realized.

The overall objective of the June 2004 summit is to tell the "story" of the Cather Scholarly Edition as a case-study of a long-term scholarly project in the humanities, describing the impact of the Cather Scholarly Edition on the academic community and interpreting its prospects. Scholars attending this years summit are editors of the Cather Scholarly Edition from throughout the nation and Canada.

The work of the scholarly edition continues to yield a wealth of new perspectives on Cather. "Until the scholarly edition, I think we can say, many readers thought of Cather's texts as relatively unproblematic and straightforward," said Guy Reynolds, a Cather scholar and Professor of English at UNL. "Now we have a much more complex and interesting sense of their layered editorial histories. Equally, the scholarly editions point up the sheer width and range of Cather's interests, bringing in as they do a comprehensive sense of the reading, the research, and the imaginative background that Cather brought to each of her works."

Ladette Randolph, Executive Editor of the University of Nebraska Press, concurred: "For those scholars and serious readers of her fiction, the Scholarly Editions answer many questions. Also, because she was meticulous about revision, there has been great interest in the various changes they have found to the novels and evidence of both her hand and that of Edith Lewis in those revisions. The discovery only recently of late drafts of The Professors House and other manuscripts has led to new understandings about her process."

Cooperating with the Cather Project in hosting the summit, partners in this years event are the University of Nebraska Press and the University Libraries, particularly the Archives/ Special Collections and the E-Text Center, with its Digital Center for Research in the Humanities.

As the Chair of Digital Initiatives & Special Collections, Kay Walters supervises the continuing effort both to preserve and to provide accessibility to the University of Nebraska's extensive collection of Cather materials. "At the Scholars Summit I'll be talking about the archival collections here at University of Nebraska–Lincoln and the development of the Willa Cather online archive. By putting materials online, it makes the humanities more accessible for the public and for scholars, even those thousands of miles away. It also helps scholars to see if they do need to come here."

Scholars and students are invited to attend as fellows of the Summit. Sessions will take place in the University Library, the Student Union, and the University of Nebraska Press.

Please contact Susan Rosowski, General Editor (srosowski2@unl. edu, (402) 472-6645) or Beth Burke, Cather Project Program Coordinator (eburke3@unl.edu, (402) 472-1919) for further information or to register.