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Tuesday, March 11, 2003


Hostetler to explore Mennonites, Indians, poetry, peace in Smith lecture March 26

GOSHEN, Ind. — Associate Professor of English Ann Hostetler will discuss "Mennonites, Indians, Poetry and Peace: Anna Ruth Ediger Baehr and the Southern Cheyenne" in the annual C. Henry Smith Lecture at Goshen College March 26 at 7 p.m. in Room 28 of the Administration Building.

Selected to lecture, Hostetler will explore poetry as a path to peacemaking – particularly in an intercultural situation where two world views and spiritual belief systems collide, as in the Mennonite mission to the Cheyenne. Her specific focus is the life and poetry of Anna Ruth Ediger Baehr, in particular the poetry she wrote about the Cheyenne, a people she lived among the first 18 years of her life as the daughter of Mennonite missionaries Jacob and Agatha Regier Ediger.

The broader aim of her presentation, according to Hostetler, is to understand the context in which Baehr became a poet – drawing on the material from her Mennonite and Cheyenne experiences, as well as the ways in which she adapted her Mennonite spirituality to new contexts, as in her interfaith women’s group in Long Island, N.Y., and the Long Island poetry community.

The lecture is also planned to focus on the intersection of several new territories. Little has been written about Mennonite mission to the Cheyenne, little has been written about the role of poetry in intercultural (or intracultural) understanding among Mennonites and other peoples or within the Mennonite community itself, and little has been written about the ways in which Mennonites who leave the physical community still maintain a Mennonite identity, according to Hostetler.

“If reconciliation, as well as Christian mission, is our goal [as missionaries], we must be open to being transformed by the ‘other,’ as well as offering our spiritual ‘good news’ to them,” said Hostetler. “Anna Ruth’s life and work offers an example of this kind of mutual transformation.”

Hostetler is the author of “Empty Room with Light: Poems” (Pandora Press U.S., 2002). Her poetry has also appeared in “The American Scholar,” “Mid-America Poetry Review,” “Cream City Review,” “Mennonite Life” and other journals. Hostetler edited an anthology of poetry by Mennonite writers, “A Cappella: Mennonite Voices in Poetry,” to be published by University of Iowa Press in the fall of 2003.

Hostetler, who received a bachelor’s degree from Kenyon College and a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, has also taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marquette University and the University School of Milwaukee.

This event is free and open to the public.

The annual C. Henry Smith Lecture is interpreted broadly to include various media through which the peace witness can be communicated and highlights a distinctive Anabaptist peace perspective.

Goshen College is a national liberal arts college known for leadership in international education, service-learning and peace and justice issues in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program and exceptional educational value, GC serves about 1,000 students in both traditional and nontraditional programs. The college earned citations of excellence among U.S.News & World Report and Barron’s Best Buys in Higher Education. For more information, visit www.goshen.edu.

Editors: For information, contact Jodi Hochstedler at (574) 535-7572 or jodih@goshen.edu.


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