Spending Time With Shepherds

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit


Publication Date

Summer 2010


As the distance between our rural past and our techno present widens, so does the ignorance about how that quaint old world works, how it feels and smells, how to use the language crucial to a description of it. If your hands are daily dirtied by the facts of husbandry, by plowing, planting, cultivating, and irrigating, by performing the thousands unclean acts to keep things growing and healthy and profitable, then you have a different view of nature and rural life than one whose relation is more theoretical, descriptive, and remote. Of course, all description has an agenda, serving some sentiment or painterly background function; however, if we misname things or crudely stereotype them, the effect is generally lost, the illusion broken, and instead of authentic context out of which the emotions spring, there can be comedy and pathos. This disconnect is causing problems with authenticity in contemporary writing about the rural world.


This article was originally published in The Midwest Quarterly.

Due to copyright restrictions, this article is not available for free download from ScholarWorks @ CWU.


The Midwest Quarterly


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