Stories of the Hoosier State: Two Centuries of Indiana Literature

Curated by Christoph Irmscher, Director, Wells Scholar Program; Provost Professor of English; George F. Getz Jr. Professor in the Wells Scholars Program

"I DON'T KNOW / WHAT IT IS ABOUT HOOSIERS," wrote Kurt Vonnegut, in a print acquired for this exhibition. "BUT WHEREEVER I GO / THERE IS ALWAYS / A HOOSIER / DOING SOMETHING / VERY IMPORTANT / THERE." In compiling this exhibition, I have striven to honor this sentiment. Rather than imposing a strict narrative line on the texts and artifacts I have included or to sorting them into categories, I have tried to show that Hoosier writers, whether or not they were born and raised in this state, or adopted it as their home, have always thought of their work in connection with the rest of the nation or the world at large. My goal has been to combine the familiar (Lew Wallace's Ben-Hur) with the unfamiliar (Mary Catherwood's letters to Mary Riley). The labels provide context, but the texts and artifacts, in their beauty and richness, speak for themselves. Whether it's a faux Poe poem found in Kokomo or a pin board that once graced the walls of IU professor and novelist Don Belton: stories of the Hoosier state open up new dimensions, if you are willing to listen and look.