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Mud, Blood, and Ghosts: Populism, Eugenics, and Spiritualism in the American West

April 15 @ 5:00 pm - 6:15 pm PDT

Sponsored by The Book Club of California

An archive survives to be revived. The archive as a limit, a thing in a box, is always also an opening. It opens on losses sustained, harms inflicted, the tenacity of survival, and on the persistence of lineages both proud and shameful. But what is it to approach an archive, to unlock the cabinet, lift the top off the box, to begin to read? It is to invite a haunting, which nevertheless begins long before we open any books. And to invite the ghosts into the open, one must be ready to hear what they teach.

Reading from her new book, Mud, Blood, and Ghosts, and screening a short film by Carolina Ebeid that engages archival images, Julie Carr will tell the story of her great-grandfather, Omer Madison Kem, a settler in Nebraska, a founding member of the Populist Party, a three-term Congressman, a practicing spiritualist, and an avid eugenicist. Kem’s final years were spent in Oregon where he owned a power company and became a passionate advocate for the forced sterilization of all those he came to believe were “unfit” to breed. This talk will focus on the ties between the American eugenics movement, American populism, and the American West.

A virtual presentation by Julie Carr, author and professor of English, University of Colorado, Boulder

Click here to REGISTER for the Virtual Presentation on Zoom


April 15
5:00 pm - 6:15 pm PDT
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