What prompted your interest in the Place Studies program?
I'm a child of the Great Plains, and as a creative writer, I found that the particular knowledge from that upbringing seeps into everything that I write, and it's a surprisingly rare thing to encounter in literary fiction / poetry, this Midwestern voice and sensibility. Ted Kooser, of course, is a notable, nationally known exception, and that's what focused my graduate school search on UNL.
What have you accomplished with your focus in Place Studies?
Well, my specialization is actually in Great Plains Studies, so I'm not sure that's totally the same, but I think we're working toward the same goals: a greater awareness of and appreciation for the intellectual tradition of the Great Plains over the millennia, a broader reading range of Great Plains writers and the ability to locate them within the intellectual tradition, and a theoretical background, especially in ecocriticism, that helps me to deconstruct the way that place-consciousness "works" in fiction and poetry and makes it possible to understand what our stories say about plains-people and the Plains themselves. The Great Plains Studies specialization is something that I cannot overstate my love for -- the ability to take graduate level grassland ecology, ornithology, and history classes, as well as the internship possibilities, have given me a better background for the rest of my work than I could have hoped for!