Wendell Berry: 2012 Jefferson Lecture

Subject: Sustainability / Community
Themes: 21st Century 20th Century Environmental Issues
Age groups: High School Homeschooling
Resource type: Websites

On the National Endowment of the Humanities website, you can watch Wendell Berry deliver his 2012 Jefferson Lecture, entitled "It All Turns on Affection." Read the text of the lecture here.

From Berry´s lecture:

[Wallace Stegner] thought rightly that we Americans, by inclination at least, have been divided into two kinds: "boomers" and "stickers." Boomers, he said, are "those who pillage and run," who want "to make a killing and end up on Easy Street," whereas stickers are "those who settle, and love the life they have made and the place they have made it in."2 "Boomer" names a kind of person and a kind of ambition that is the major theme, so far, of the history of the European races in our country. "Sticker" names a kind of person and also a desire that is, so far, a minor theme of that history, but a theme persistent enough to remain significant and to offer, still, a significant hope.

The boomer is motivated by greed, the desire for money, property, and therefore power. James B. Duke was a boomer, if we can extend the definition to include pillage in absentia. He went, or sent, wherever the getting was good, and he got as much as he could take.

Stickers on the contrary are motivated by affection, by such love for a place and its life that they want to preserve it and remain in it. Of my grandfather I need to say only that he shared in the virtues and the faults of his kind and time, one of his virtues being that he was a sticker. He belonged to a family who had come to Kentucky from Virginia, and who intended to go no farther. He was the third in his paternal line to live in the neighborhood of our little town of Port Royal, and he was the second to own the farm where he was born in 1864 and where he died in 1946.

From the NEH Website on the Jefferson Lecture:

The Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities recognizes an individual who has made significant scholarly contributions to the humanities and who has the ability to communicate the knowledge and wisdom of the humanities in a broadly appealing way. Wendell Berry will deliver the 41st Jefferson Lecture. Past Jefferson Lecturers include Drew Gilpin Faust, Jonathan Spence, John Updike, Tom Wolfe, David McCullough, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Arthur Miller, Bernard Bailyn, Toni Morrison, Vincent Scully, Gwendolyn Brooks, Saul Bellow, John Hope Franklin, Robert Penn Warren, and Lionel Trilling. A complete list of past Jefferson Lecturers is available here.

Read coverage of the 2012 Jefferson Lecture in the New York Times, Inside Higher Ed, and theChronicle of Higher Education.