Institute to offer summer sholl on "Great American Midwest"

Institute to offer summer sholl on “Great American Midwest”


The “Great American Midwest” will be the topic of The Rockford Institute’s Fourth Annual Summer School, to be held at the Institute July 24-28.

“The American Midwest boasts a vast cultural heritage that is greater than garage parties, ‘hot dish,’ and the chicken dance at wedding receptions—a heritage underappreciated by Midwesterners today,” noted Institute Vice President Christopher Check. “With the exception perhaps of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Ernest Hemingway, the great Midwestern storytellers and poets go largely unread in their native land. I suspect that very few Guilford High grads—or Rockford College grads, for that matter—could identify Sinclair Lewis, Louis Bromfield, Booth Tarkington, Glenway Wescott, Edgar Lee Masters or Vachel Lindsay, to say nothing of the Rock River Valley’s own Sterling North.”

“The most noble and humane American political traditions are also Midwestern: Agrarian movements, for example, recognized man’s inseparability from the rhythms of the earth, the seasons and the liturgical calendar. The Copperheads during the War Between the States and the America Firsters who struggled to keep us out of World War II represent the healthy American tradition of minding your own business. America’s habit of meddling in the affairs of sovereign nations over the last century may represent the convictions of a minority of New England Puritans and their busybody descendants of today, but it does not represent the principles of Middle Americans. Catholic and Lutheran immigrants to the Midwest were too busy brewing beer, tilling the land, rearing their abundant offspring, and living lives pleasing in the sight of God to involve themselves in the political affairs of other sovereign states.

“But again, I’d wager that few Midwesterners can say much at all about Fighting Bob LaFollette, Robert Taft or General McCormick. If they know William Jennings Bryan, it is not as one of America’s greatest orators or as a champion of the working class but as the fundamentalist ignoramus dishonestly portrayed as an enemy of scientific thought in Inherit the Wind.”

“Our Summer School is all about raising awareness of our cultural heritage,” added Check. “America is a distinct nation in Christendom crafted out of Hellenic, Roman, Germanic and British traditions, all unified by Christianity and carried across the Atlantic in 1492. As unpopular as this truth has become these days, we ignore it at our peril. As Plato warned, ‘when the modes of the music change, the city’s walls are shaken.’ The Marxists and their liberal heirs in America today are well aware that the best way to destroy a nation is to rewrite the history and throw out the old stories. A people can thrive under tyranny if they keep in their hearts the truths of their past and pass them along to their children, and when they throw off the yoke of an oppressive government, they will see their nation rise to glory again. It is on this cultural front that The Rockford Institute, with its Summer School, engages the battle for the soul of America.”

Special events this year include a lecture on Laura Ingalls Wilder, “The Real Little House”; a reading by Anthony Bukoski; a trip to Lake Koshkonong and the boyhood home of Sterling North; and tours of Rockford, one on the various architectural styles in the Forest City and another entitled “Quick Take and Other Crimes Against Humanity.” The Institute will hold a used-book sale (July 24-25) and present its Third Good and Faithful Servant Award to a great Midwesterner (July 25 at the Irish Rose Saloon).

Open to “students of all ages,” each year the Institute’s Summer School attracts a diverse enrollment from around the country.

The Summer School is open to the Rockford public; however, registration is limited. Anyone interested should contact the Institute at 964-5811.

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