Kentwood Series: Steve Wiegenstein on July 11th at 7:00 p.m.

Kentwood Series: Steve Wiegenstein on July 11th at 7:00 p.m.

Steve WiegensteinThe Kentwood Series of talks and presentations about various facets of Ozarks history and life will continue on Thursday, July 11th, beginning at 7:00 p.m., when the renowned author, educator, and historian Steve Wiegenstein will speak.

His talk will focus on utopian communities in Missouri, past and present. Nineteenth-century Missouri was home to several alternative communities, often termed “utopian communities” for their emphasis on social betterment and a different way of life. But although their neighbors sometimes considered these utopians odd or eccentric, they were often within the mainstream of progressive social thinking of the time. Steve Wiegenstein has been researching these communities for decades, both as a scholar and in his role as a leading historical novelist. In this presentation, he will invite discussion of Missouri’s well-known and lesser-known utopian communities, including religious communes, secular communities, and those in between.

Steve Wiegenstein is the author of five books, most recently Land of Joys (2023), a historical novel that takes place at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair and in the fictional Ozarks village of Daybreak. His short story collection Scattered Lights was a finalist for the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award in Fiction. He has written three earlier historical novels, also set in Daybreak: The Language of Trees, This Old World, and Slant of Light. Steve grew up in the Missouri Ozarks and worked there as a newspaper reporter before entering the field of higher education. He taught journalism, English, and communication for a number of colleges and universities during his career, but is now retired from teaching and writes full-time. Steve’s interest in 19th century utopian communities began in the 1980s, and he has published many articles, book chapters, and essays on the subject since then. An avid hiker and canoer, he returns to his home region every chance he gets; he also writes and blogs about rural and Ozarks issues at The son of a rural librarian, he received the Missouri Author Award from the Missouri Library Association in 2022.

Registration is not required. The event begins at 7 p.m. at the Crystal Ballroom inside Kentwood Hall across the street from the Shrine Mosque on East St. Louis Street in Springfield. Ample free parking is available. Light refreshments will be served. 

The Kentwood Series is just one initiative of the MSU Libraries and its Ozarks Studies Institute, an ongoing initiative of the Missouri State University Libraries. Others include OzarksWatch Magazine, a publication that focuses on local history and culture; and the Ozarks Book Series, a list of locally focused titles it has published. It also led the digitization of dozens of episodes of the Ozark Jubilee, a national TV show created in Springfield, and is home to regionally significant collections of books, ephemera and other research materials. Click here to learn more.

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