Language of the Land: Journeys Into Literary America

EXHIBITION SECTIONS: Introduction - Northeast - South - Midwest - West

Exhibition Overview

Scarlett O'Hara From Robert Frost's New England farms to John Steinbeck's California valley to Eudora Welty's Mississippi Delta, authors have described the American landscape to evoke a strong sense of place. They have peopled our land with memorable characters and woven into their works the regional traits of a dynamic culture. Using the metaphor of a journey, Language of the Land: Journey into Literary America examines the following literary heritage though maps, photographs, and the works of American authors from a variety of periods.

The Introduction of the exhibitions features quotations that provide impressions of the United State by "roving authors" who toured the country, for example. Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, and John Steinbeck. Maps of the entire United States and photographs of typical places from the regions that will be explored in the rest of the exhibit are linked with appropriate quotations.

In the main part of the exhibit, viewers tour four sections of the United States–the Northeast, South, Midwest, and West–guided by passages from authors whose works are rooted in a particular place. The quotations are juxtaposed with photographs that characterize each locality and literary maps that highlight famous works and authors associated with each region. Many of these works also depict a journey, for example, Huckleberry Finn; travels down the Mississippi River from Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and the Joad family's trek to California in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. The overall effect of the exhibit is an excursion into literary America, guided by the voices of writers whose works vividly evoke time and place.

Exhibition Companion Book

Language of the Land:
The Library of Congress Book of Literary Maps

by Martha Hopkins and Michael Buscher
preface by James H. Billington
foreword by Ralph E. Ehrenberg
afterword by John Y. Cole

Inspired by the exhibition it documents, this book contains photographs, descriptions, and bibliographical information for more than 200 literary maps. Sections feature maps pertaining to world literature, individual regions and countries, British literature, American literature, individual states and cities, and specific books and authors as well as maps of imaginary worlds, folklore, myths, fairy tales, and nursery rhymes. The book lists literary atlases and other compilations of literary maps. The introduction is the first-ever discussion of literary maps as a distinct genre.

Paper, 10 by 10 inches, 304 pages; 243 illustrations, including 20 in color
ISBN 0-8444-0963-4; GPO stock no. 030-001-00178-4

Available from the Library of Congress Sales Shop, Washington, D.C. 20540-4985 (credit card orders taken at 202 707-0204) or from the Superintendent of Documents, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA. 15250-7954 (fax 202 512-2250)

EXHIBITION SECTIONS: Introduction - Northeast - South - Midwest - West

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