Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940, Jill Brett (202) 707-2905
View the exhibition online.

July 26, 1993

Traveling Exhibition of Literary Maps and Photos Opens at Library of Congress

"Language of the Land: Journeys into Literary America" examines the nation's literary heritage through picturesque literary maps, photographs evocative of specific regions of the country, and quotations from authors who have created their own lasting images of America in their works of prose and poetry.

The exhibition opened in the foyer of the James Madison Memorial Building of the Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue, S.E., on August 5 and will remain on view through January 17, 1994. Hours for the exhibition are 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

Developed by the Library's Interpretive Programs Office in cooperation with the Geography and Map Division and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, "Language of the Land" is made possible by a generous grant from the Lila Wallace- Reader's Digest Fund. Additional support was provided by the James Madison Council of the Library of Congress. The exhibition is part of the Center for the Book's Literary Heritage of the States project.

Using the metaphor of a journey, "Language of the Land" tours the literary landscape of the United States. The core of the exhibition begins with quotations that provide impressions of the U.S. by "roving authors" who toured the country, such as Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, and William Least Heat Moon. These quotes link four regional sections (Northeast, South, Midwest, and West), each of which is introduced or framed by images and other quotations that strongly evoke that region.

Within each regional section, a map is used to highlight a famous literary journey associated with that region, such as Huckleberry Finn's travels down the Mississippi River with Jim and the Joad family's trek to California in Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Quotations from authors who created works that are particularly identified with a specific region are also included in the individual sections.

Along with the photographs and quotations, the exhibition features a selection of 50 literary maps of places associated with a literary tradition, an individual author, a specific work, or a famous literary character. The maps, drawn from the Library's vast collections, have been produced by a variety of groups for different purposes, ranging from advertising a product to promoting a love of reading.

The design of "Language of the Land" reinforces the theme of a literary "journey" through the use of "road" motifs. For example, the title of the exhibition is displayed as the entrance to an interstate highway, and some quotes and photographs appear as billboards and highway signs. Cutouts of well-known literary characters, including Hiawatha, Scarlett O'Hara and Captain Ahab, add visual excitement to the exhibition.

"Language of the Land" will travel to libraries, museums and other institutions around the country under the auspices of 16 state centers for the book. The grant from the Lila Wallace- Reader's Digest Fund supports educational programming at each exhibition site.

At the Library of Congress venue alone, rare book and manuscript materials are included in the exhibition; however, they are not part of the traveling version of the exhibition. Among these are an original map of William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County drawn by the author himself; manuscript pages of works by Walt Whitman, Sinclair Lewis, Zora Neale Hurston, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Robert Frost; and rare editions of books by other important American literary figures.

The exhibition as displayed in the Madison Building of the Library of Congress also includes a section of maps, books, prints, photographs, and other items associated with purely fictional places such as Oz, Middle Earth, and Fairyland, as well as real places that have been transformed to mythic status through an author's treatment, such as the London of Sherlock Holmes.


Currigan Exhibition Hall
Denver, Colorado
Oct. 1 - Oct. 30, 1993
Susquehanna Art Museum
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Nov. 14, 1993 - Jan. 8, 1994
North Dakota Heritage Center
Bismarck, North Dakota
Jan. 30 - March 26, 1994
Broward County Main Library
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Feb. 13 - April 9, 1994
Christensen Ctr., Augsburg College
Minneapolis, Minnesota
April 17 - June 11, 1994
Des Moines Main Public Library
Des Moines, Iowa
May 1 - June 25, 1994
Connecticut State Library
Hartford, Connecticut
July 3 - Aug. 27, 1994
Quail Springs Mall
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
July 17 - Sept. 10, 1994
Mich. Library and Historical Ctr.
Lansing, Michigan
Sept. 18 - Nov. 12, 1994
Kentucky Dept. for Libraries
Frankfort, Kentucky
Oct. 2 - Nov. 26, 1994
Virginia State Library
Richmond, Virginia
Dec. 4, 1994 - Jan. 28, 1995
Oregon State Capitol
Salem, Oregon
Dec. 18, 1994 - Feb. 11, 1995
Kansas Museum of History
Topeka, Kansas
Feb. 19 - April 15, 1995
Indiana State Library
Indianapolis, Indiana
March 5 - April 29, 1995
Seattle Public Library
Seattle, Washington
May 7 - July 11, 1995
Calif. Library & Courts Bldg. II
Sacramento, California
May 21 - July 15, 1995

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PR 93-096
ISSN 0731-3527

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