Wendell Berry and the Agrarian Tradition: A Common Grace

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Wendell Berry and the Agrarian Tradition: A Common Grace Author: Format: Hardback First Published: Published By: University Press of Kansas Pages: 288 Language: English ISBN: 9780700612307 Categories: ,

Farmer and conservationist Wendell Berry has published more than thirty books, making his name a household word among environmentalists. From his Kentucky farm, Berry preaches and practices stewardship of the land as he seeks to defend the value and traditions of farm life in an industrial capitalist society. A central figure in the greening of American agrarianism, Berry has been an advocate of small farming and traditional values who has tirelessly reminded readers that sustainable agriculture is more than a catchphrase. Kimberly Smith now reveals the depth of his ideas and their relevance for American social and political theory. Berry’s central teaching focuses on the fragility of our natural and social worlds; Smith’s timely book revisits the problem of living a meaningful life in a world filled with both deadly perils and unimagined possibilities. Here is the first book to explore the implications of this central tenet and other key aspects of Berry’s thought, as well as his overall contribution to environmental theory and politics. Smith shows how the many strands of Berry’s thought can be woven together into a coherent agrarian philosophy. Focusing on his relationship to the American agrarian and environmental traditions, the examines how Berry’s ecological agrarianism derives from the concept of “”grace,”” or living in concert with nature and society. Along the way, she defends his social theory against accusations of utopianism, shows how his moral theory subverts the notion of rugged individualism usually associated with farming, and reviews his political theory’s argument for decentralized democracy. By assessing Berry’s reformulation of democratic agrarianism, Smith goes beyond any previous critiques of his writing, and her exploration of Berry’s moral vision shows that such vision is more relevant as America continues to move further away from its agrarian past.

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Kimberly Smith illuminates the integrity of Wendell Berry's social and ecological vision with extraordinary clarity. While linking Berry's writing in many persuasive ways to the larger landscape of stewardship and citizenship in America, Smith's book never flattens his thought to make it fit more neatly into some particular category or lineage. John Elder, Author Of Reading The Mountains Of Home And Coeditor Of The Norton Book Of Nature Writing; ""By showing us how Berry has revived and helped transform an agrarian tradition and how his writings identify a latter-day blend of environmental, democratic, community, and sustainable agricultural values, Smith has provided us a road map for understanding a new rural politics and intellectural tradition."" Robert Gottlieb, Author Of Environmentalism Unbound: Exploring New Pathways For Change

Author Biography

Kimberly K. Smith is associate professor of political science at Carleton College and author of The Dominion of Voice: Riot, Reason, and Romance in Antebellum Politics, winner of the prestigious Merle Curti Intellectural History Award given by the Organization of American Historians.