Jason Stacy has always been intrigued by Edgar Lee Masters and his most famous book “Spoon River Anthology.”
Stacy, a professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, is basing his research on the history of the myth of Main Street America on Masters’ book and other original writings he authored.
For his research project, Stacy was recently recognized with the university’s 2017 William and Margaret Going Endowed Professorship Award.
“I’m really very honored,” Stacy said by phone from his Edwardsville home Monday. “We have some great scholars at SIUE.”
The Going Award committee selected Stacy for his proposed presentation, “Spoon River America: Edgar Lee Masters, the Midwest, and the Myth of Small Town America.”
Stacy, 46, is a historian of 19th century America and an associate professor in the department of historical studies.
Stacy was raised in Illinois by both of his parents, who are English teachers. Stacy joked that he was rebelling by teaching history. However, he’s become a historian who studies a lot of literature.
“The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree,” he said.
He recalled his mother reading Masters’ book to him when he was very young. Stacy said all the characters in the book are speaking from the graves located in the same cemetery about their previous lives and gossiping about their neighbors in the fictional town of Spoon River.
“It’s a very, very interesting little book,” he said.
In the 19th century, the consequential American rural community was in New England. In the 20th century that shifted to the Midwest small town.
Stacy, a professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Stacy believes Masters’ book shaped modern conception of rural America.
“I’m interested in the way the book helped transform the myth of American small towns,” Stacy said. “In the 19th century, the consequential American rural community was in New England. In the 20th century that shifted to the Midwest small town.”
Stacy said the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield has acquired some original writings by Masters, including letters he wrote to his son during World War I.
Stacy, who said his project is just getting started, plans to present a portion of his work during a public lecture in the fall.
He currently has a book outline, an introduction, two chapters and a bibliography written. He plans to continue writing the book this semester and over the summer. He envisions it being a six-chapter book once completed.
“I’m happy to be working on it,” Stacy said. “It’s a topic of interest of mine.”
Stacy continues to teach classes at SIUE. He teaches 19th century U.S. History and American Intellectual History, among others. He enjoys teaching and the interaction with students, who vary greatly in age from the young student right out of high school to an older student returning to school after a number of years or decades.
“They really just keep it fresh for me,” Stacy said. “The students ... even at 46 ... they keep me young.”
McKendree University welcomes new trustees
The McKendree University board of trustees has three new members — Mark Waltermire of Maryville, Rebecca (Lindstrom) Wohltman of Belleville, and Gregory Mennerick of St. Louis.
Waltermire retired in 2013 as executive vice president of The Laclede Group, where he worked for 23 years. He is a certified public accountant and has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Illinois.
Wohltman is an associate at Mathis, Marifian & Richter, Ltd, a law firm in downtown Belleville. The 2009 McKendree graduate has bachelor’s degrees in accounting and political science and went on to graduate from Saint Louis University School of Law.
Mennerick, who is formerly of O’Fallon, Ill., is an associate with Thompson Coburn LLP. Mennerick has a bachelor’s degree in economics from McKendree and graduated from Saint Louis University School of Law.
Nominate a phenomenal woman you know
The Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is seeking nominations of phenomenal women at the university or in the community. Nominations must be received by Monday, Feb. 20, and awardees will be notified by March 3.
The awardee and the nominator will be invited to attend the third annual Phenomenal Women’s Luncheon during Women’s History Month on Wednesday, March 22 at SIUE’s Morris University Center.
To nominate a phenomenal woman, visit www.siue.edu. For more information, contact Rachel Garrett at firstname.lastname@example.org or Erika Hall at email@example.com.
SWIC to host homeschool informational meeting
The Southwestern Illinois College Running Start program will host an informational meeting for homeschool students and their parents.
The meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27 in Liberal Arts Complex Room 2311-2313 at the SWIC Belleville Campus. Current high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors are invited to attend.
Running Start allows qualifying students to earn a high school diploma while simultaneously earning an associate degree from SWIC.
For more information, contact Jane Sparks at 618-235-2700, ext. 5490 or firstname.lastname@example.org.