Farm to Text

Agrarian - georgic - pastoral - agri/cultural. A working group of the NYU English Department.

Category: reading group

Reading Group 8: Charles Chesnutt and the Modern, October 19

Wednesday, October 19, 2016, 5:00, English Department Room TBD

  • Chesnutt, Charles. The Conjure Stories, three stories. Ed. Robert B. Stepto and Jennifer Rae Greeson. New York: Norton, 2012. Print.
    • “The Goophered Grapevine” (1887) — if you only have time to read one, maybe this one
    • “Po’ Sandy” (1888)
    • “Dave’s Neckliss” (1889)
  • Reddy, Chandan. “Modern.” Keywords for American Cultural Studies. Ed. Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler. New York: NYU P, 2007. Print.

Reading Group 7 — First in the New Year!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016, 5:00, English Department Room 103

  • Williams, Raymond. The Country and the City (excerpt). New York: Oxford UP, 1973. Print.
    • If you want short and poetic, read the first 12 pages; if you want longer and a more meaty argument, read the last 33; if you rock, read it all
  • EXTRA BONUS: Williams, Raymond. “The Country and the City.” Politics and Letters: Interviews with New Left Review. 1979. London: Verso, 2015. Print.


Sixth Reading Group – April 27

Wednesday, April 27, 2016, 12:30, English Department Room 103

  • Posmentier, Sonya. Cultivation and Catastrophe [unpublished; book in progress].
    • Excerpt: “Cultivating the Nation: Postwar Periodicals and the Critical Reterritorialization of Black Poetry.” Please email to obtain a copy.


Fifth Reading Group – March 23

Wednesday, March 23, 2016, 5:00 PM, English Department Room 306

  • Berry, Wendell. The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture (excerpt).  San Fransisco: Sierra Club Books, 1977. Print.
    • We’re asking that folks read through at least Chapter 1 if they can, which is short and should be easy going; the excerpt we’re providing goes through Chapter 4, however, so we encourage you to read as much of it as you have time for.

Questions?  First time joining us?  Email us at

Reading Group Feb 11 to prepare for Fred Kirschenmann Visit

Thursday, February 11, 2016, 6:00 PM, English Department Event Space

In preparation for our guest speaker Frederick L. Kirschenmann’s visit on February 18, we will watch the 20-minute documentary Food for Thought, Food for Life, which features Kirschenmann and a number of other leaders in the sustainable agriculture movement, and we will discuss several of his short essays and speeches:

  • Cultivating an Ecological Conscience by Frederick L. KirschenmannKirschenmann, Frederick L. Two uncollected essays.
    • “The Industrial Economy’s Swan Song, and the Resettling of America”
    • “Sustainability in our Future Food System”
  • Kirschenmann, Frederick L. Selections from Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher. Ed. Constance L. Falk. Berkeley: Counterpoint P, 2010. Print.
    • “The Pleasure of Good Eating”
    • “On Becoming Lovers of the Soil”
    • “Challenges Facing Philosophy as We Enter the Twenty-First Century: Reshaping the Way the Human Species Feeds Itself”

If you’re interested in the larger scope of Kirschenmann’s work, check out the collection of articles available for free online from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, where Kirschenmann is Distinguished Fellow, here.  You can also watch his 2012 talk at TEDx Manhattan, titled “Soil: From Dirt to Lifeline,” here.

Third Reading Group – December 10

Thursday, December 10, 2015, 1:00 PM

You can view details of both our upcoming meeting and our previous ones here.

Second Reading Group – November 19

Thursday, November 19, 2015, 6:30 PM

English Department, 244 Greene St., NY, NY

  • Marx, Leo. The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America. New York: Oxford UP, 1964. Print.
    • The link provided will take you to the first chapter of the book, which we’ll focus on as somewhat of a distillation of Marx’s argument (we hope).  However, we encourage you to read beyond that into the book — NYU students and faculty can access the full text through the NYU website here by clicking on the “NYU ebrary” link and downloading the required ebrary software.  The PDF will vanish in two weeks, which stinks, but that will at least get you to the meeting.
  • Optional: Cronon, William. “The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature.” Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature. Ed. William Cronon. New York: Norton, 1995. 69-90. Print.

You can view details of both our upcoming meeting and our first one, from October, here.

First Reading Group

(Download poster here)

The material conditions necessary for life include food. Humans have been growing theirs for over eleven millennia. Agriculture today accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other human activity, and it accounts for all of us. Culture today rests on cultivation, art included, few exceptions. How does our agricultural production affect our other cultural productions?

WHEN – Thursday, October 15, 6:00 PM
WHERE – English Department, 244 Greene St., 8th-Floor “Graduate Reading Room”
RSVP – Let us know you’re coming by emailing We’ll send some readings that you can do if you want. Expect food and drink.


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