A Conversation with Steven Conn

Monday, March 26th, 2024 at 6:30 PM

Please join us for A Conversation with Steven Conn about his book, The Lies of the Land. Joining Conn as an interlocutor will be Temple University professor Bryant Simon.

About the Book

It seems everyone has an opinion about rural America. Is it gripped in a tragic decline? Or is it on the cusp of a glorious revival? Is it the key to understanding America today? Steven Conn argues that we’re missing the real question: Is rural America even a thing? No, says Conn, who believes we see only what we want to see in the lands beyond the suburbs—fantasies about moral (or backward) communities, simpler (or repressive) living, and what it means to be authentically (or wrongheadedly) American. If we want to build a better future, Conn argues, we must accept that these visions don’t exist and never did.

In The Lies of the Land, Conn shows that rural America—so often characterized as in crisis or in danger of being left behind—has actually been at the center of modern American history, shaped by the same forces as everywhere else in the country: militarization, industrialization, corporatization, and suburbanization. Examining each of these forces in turn, Conn invites us to dispense with the lies and half-truths we’ve believed about rural America and to pursue better solutions to the very real challenges shared all across our nation.

About the Author

Steven Conn is the W. E. Smith Professor of History at Miami University in very rural Oxford, Ohio. He is the author of 7 books on a range of topics and though he has lived and taught in the midwest for nearly 30 years he remains implacably a Philadelphian.