The Cather Project

Willa Cather leans on an engraved boulder in front of University Hall; photo courtesy of University Archives and Special Collections

The Cather Project

Staff Publications News and Events

The Cather Project promotes teaching and research about American novelist and University of Nebraska graduate Willa Cather at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and beyond. Designated a Program of Excellence by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents in 2002, the Cather Project produces the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition and Cather Studies, supports research by UNL English department faculty and students on Cather, brings scholars from outside of UNL to present on Cather and conduct research in UNL Special Collections, and organizes conferences and other events.

Cather on the S. S. Northland bound for London

An 1895 graduate of the University of Nebraska, Willa Cather was born in Virginia in 1873 and moved with her family to Webster County, Nebraska, in 1883. After working as a magazine editor, journalist, and teacher in Pittsburgh, she moved to New York City in 1906 to join the staff of McClure’s Magazine, which she left in 1911 to devote herself to fiction writing. Living in Manhattan for the rest of her life, she wrote novels featuring European immigrant heroines living on the Great Plains, like My Ántonia (1918); however, she also wrote about other places and themes. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for One of Ours (1922) (inspired by the life of her cousin who died in battle in World War I); the Howells Medal by the American Academy of Arts and Letters for Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927) (a historical set in nineteenth-century New Mexico); and the Prix Femina Americain for Shadows on the Rock (1933) (set in seventeenth-century Quebec).

Cather Project Staff

Melissa J. Homestead, Professor of English and Program Faculty in Women’s & Gender Studies, serves as Director of the Cather Project. In addition to her scholarship on Cather, Homestead’s research focuses on nineteenth-century American women’s writing. With the assistance of Beth Burke, Homestead is responsible for most the Cather Project programming, and she serves as General Editor of both the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition and Cather Studies.

Kari Ronning, Research Associate Professor Emerita of English, serves an editor of the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition. Ronning also contributed to the Willa Cather Archive by writing annotations for the Complete Letters of Willa Cather. In addition to textual work, she was co-historical editor, with Susan J. Rosowski, of A Lost Lady, historical editor of Obscure Destinies and My Mortal Enemy, and co-editor of Cather's University Days.

Beth Burke is the Cather Project Specialist. She administrates the Cather Project programming, visiting scholars and artists, and assists with editing and rights and reproductions for the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition and Cather Studies. She has a background in museum work, historic property management, and archives and has a Biology and Art degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University and a Masters in Art History from UMASS-Amherst.

The Willa Cather Scholarly Edition

The Cather Project partners with the University of Nebraska Press to publish the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition, the major scholarly edition of Cather’s work. Each volume contains an extensive apparatus, featuring textual commentary, explanatory notes, and a “Historical Essay” on the genesis of the particular text. Volumes are reviewed and approved by the Modern Language Association Committee on Scholarly Editions. The Willa Cather Scholarly Editions volumes for those works in the public domain are also published digitally by the Cather Archive.

Print Volumes

Digital Access

Cover of Lucy Gayheart volume
Cover of Cather Studies 12

Cather Studies

The Director of the Cather Project serves as general editor of Cather Studies, which is published by the University of Nebraska Press. Each volume is keyed to the theme of the biennial Willa Cather International Seminar. The Cather Archive provides digital access to previous volumes of Cather Studies. Address inquiries to the Director of the Cather Project.

Print Volumes

Digital Access

The Willa Cather Archive

The Cather Project collaborates with the Willa Cather Archive, a digital project of the UNL Libraries. Led by Dr. Emily Rau (Libraries), the Cather Archive endeavors to create a rich, useful, and widely accessible site for the study of Cather. The Cather Archive is the home of The Complete Letters of Willa Cather, of which Melissa Homestead is co-editor and Kari Ronning served as associate editor. Homestead is also co-director of the National Endowment for the Humanities-funded Digital Library of Willa Cather’s Literary Manuscripts, which will be published on the Cather Archive in 2026.

Willa Cather Archive

Willa Cather Archive logo with photo of Cather