Department of Languages and Literatures

English Graduate Students Curate "James Hearst in Prose"


James Hearst in Prose logo

James Hearst in Prose, a new exhibit at the Hearst Center for Arts, explores the nonfiction and fiction of James Hearst. The exhibition, which opens on November 7 and will run through December 29, 2019, has been prepared in conjunction with graduate English students in the UNI Department of Languages & Literatures. The public is invited to a discussion and reception with the UNI student curators on November 7 from 4:00 p.m. at the Hearst Center with an opening reception to follow from 5:00-6:30 p.m. 

A Cedar Falls native who published over 600 poems during his lifetime, James Hearst is best known as Iowa’s farmer-poet. However, he was also a prolific writer of memoir, essays and fiction, and this exhibit offers an introduction to this part of his literary legacy. James Hearst in Prose features a series of displays that offer explanations and analyses of Hearst’s three prose collections—his memoir, My Shadow Below Me; a collection of essays, Time Like a Furrow; and a co-written novel, Bonesetter’s Brawl.  Additional displays present information on Hearst’s uncollected farm journalism, essays, and fiction. A booklet with excerpts of Hearst’s writing will also be produced as part of the exhibit.

“We’re thrilled to be working with UNI students on the project,” said Emily Drennan, Hearst Center curator. “It’s an opportunity to bring new voices to the work of the Hearst Center while celebrating the writing of James Hearst.”

According to UNI Professor Jim O’Loughlin, whose students are curating the exhibit, “James Hearst was a much beloved figure within Cedar Falls, and he has been rightly celebrated as a poet. This exhibit is a chance to learn about another side of his work.”

One of the student curators, Robyn Groth, notes, “Working on the exhibit gave me a better understanding of the space I'm in while allowing me to consider an alternative space for my own writing to inhabit."

The exhibit includes James Hearst’s original desk where he composed much of his work. Of course, the building where the Hearst Center for the Arts is located was originally his house. James Hearst and his wife, Meryl, bequeathed their home to the City of Cedar Falls in 1983 and asked that it be used as an arts center for the community. In 1988-89, the poet’s home was reconstructed into what is now the community’s own 12,000-square-foot arts center, complete with two galleries, three classrooms, a sculpture garden, two meeting rooms, office space, and a performing arts facility.