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Grapes of Wrath Conference


California State University, Bakersfield & the Public History Institute Present

The Cultural Legacy of The Grapes of Wrath

A conference at CSU Bakersfield: Thurs.-Sat., November 6- 8, 2014

 Grapes of Wrath Logo

The departments of History and English at California State University, Bakersfield, with the School of Arts and Humanities, announce a conference on the cultural legacy of John Steinbeck’s classic novel, The Grapes of Wrath, on the 75th anniversary of its 1939 publication. Set in the Southern San Joaquin Valley, the story of the Joad family became the iconic representation of the Dust Bowl migration. John Ford’s 1940 film version helped to make the case for social reform that echoed for decades thereafter, through the farm labor movement, folk music, and the musical style known as the Bakersfield Sound—even as it set off the kinds of reactions described in Rick Wartzman’s Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (2008).

We invite proposals for panels and/or 20-min. papers from established and emerging scholars, as well as from graduate and advanced undergraduate students, and seek proposals from diverse disciplines, as well as those that take an interdisciplinary perspective. These are suggested categories for proposals:

  • The Dust Bowl migration, and migration to California
  • Banned books and censorship
  • Musical legacies, including country music and the Bakersfield Sound
  • California agriculture and labor
  • The Dust Bowl in the visual arts, especially in photography and film
  • The Great Depression and the New Deal in California
  • The social protest novelSteinbeck’s literary influence
  • The literature of California

The conference will include plenary addresses by

  • James N. Gregory (American Exodus: The Dust Bowl Migration and Okie Culture in California)
  • Dan Morgan (Rising in the West)
  • Peter LaChapelle (Proud to be an Okie)
  • Rick Wartzman (Obscene in the Extreme)
  • Susan Shillinglaw (On Reading The Grapes of Wrath)
  • Gerald Haslam (Okies: Selected Stories)

Please email abstracts of not more than 200 words, along with a one-page c.v., to Prof. Miriam Raub Vivian at




Click here for pdf of Call for Papers.