Please join us in Willa’s first home, in Frederick County, Virginia, for the 17th International Willa Cather Seminar. In addition to the many scholarly panels and featured speakers (see below), we’ll be visiting many of the sites young Willa knew well and remembered all her life: the Baptist church she attended in the hamlet of Back Creek Valley (now Gore), her Grandmother Boak’s house where she was born, the Mill House (built by her great-great-grandfather in the 1740s), where her Seibert grandparents ran the mill from 1830s-1870s, and the Confederate cemetery where her Confederate uncle, fatally wounded in a Civil War battle, is buried, as well as other family cemeteries.
We’ll be entertained by the present owners of Willow Shade, the home where Willa lived with her family for her first nine years. And we’ll enjoy a picnic supper at Capon Springs, a resort that Willa’s young parents enjoyed. Local relatives of the Cather and Boak families will join us at Shenandoah University (where the Seminar will be based) for dinner and conversation. Wednesday is a day off campus with seminarians visiting Washington, D.C. and spending a day on the Washington Mall, with the opportunity to visit the National Museum of African American Heritage and Culture, for which we’ve obtained passes.
Then, on Thursday, we’ll go to the beautiful Museum of the Shenandoah Valley for a program celebrating a recent gift, an album quilt adorned with names of Cather relatives and friends from the mid-nineteenth century, and to explore local history and art. Friday’s program will end with a festive banquet and program by singer Barbara Davis, followed by local Virginia bluegrass music. And on Saturday morning, there will be a wonderful optional event: a special service led by Reverend Charles Peek for Cather Seminarians at the beautiful Christ Episcopal Church, attended by some Cather relatives and featured in Sapphira and the Slave Girl.
Marilee Lindemann, University of Maryland
Ann Romines, George Washington University, emerita
John Jacobs, Shenandoah University, emeritus
Sponsored by the Willa Cather Foundation, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Shenandoah University, and the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley