The Community Library’s annual Ernest Hemingway Seminar will be held in a fully virtual format this year, from Tuesday to Thursday, Sept. 15-17.
Focusing on the theme “Out of the Box,” the event organizers took a creative approach to present as comprehensive a Hemingway experience as possible while proceeding safely under the current circumstances.
Academics, researchers, collectors, historians and literary fans generally congregate en masse for the seminar. Though COVID-19 concerns curtailed any in-person event of that scale, the library has compiled a program to offer participants unique insights into the library’s robust collection of Hemingway artifacts and personal effects, a look into Hemingway’s final home and some rare accounts of his ongoing legacy in Idaho.
“The ‘Out of the Box’ theme signifies the ways we’ve had to think creatively about this year’s seminar,” said Martha Williams, programs and education manager at the library. “Once we realized that our seminar-as-usual wasn’t going to happen, we started brainstorming all the ways we could still connect with the community around Hemingway.
“This year, we’ll literally be pulling artifacts out of boxes, we’ll be taking people ‘inside’ the Hemingway House—which is, itself, quite boxy—and we’ll be exploring a short story about Hemingway by Ray Bradbury.”
The seminar will include two live evening presentations focusing on the preservation and research conducted by the library’s Jeanne Rodger Lane Center for Regional History.
First, on Tuesday, Sept. 15, at 6 p.m., Hemingway in Idaho Research Fellow Allison Kittinger will present her new virtual exhibit “#HemingwayLife: The Man and the Brand,” showcasing artifacts from the library’s collection to explore Hemingway’s celebrity status.
Following Kittinger’s presentation, Director of Regional History Mary Tyson and Regional History Museum Librarian Nicole Potter will highlight some of the most exciting items from the library’s recent acquisition of the David Meeker Collection.
The Meeker Collection, donated to the library last year, consists of thousands of items owned by Hemingway, members of his inner circle and scholars who dedicated their careers to studying his works. The collection includes books, photographs, personal correspondence, ephemera, textiles and other artifacts. This will be the library’s first showing of items from the Meeker Collection.
On Thursday, the library will present a never-before-seen insider’s visit to the historic Mary and Ernest Hemingway House, the final residence of the author and site of his death. The building remains private under the library’s stewardship; it is closed to all public visits. Only library personnel and visiting scholars are granted entry to the home. For Hemingway enthusiasts and researchers, this virtual tour—led by Tyson and Library Director Jenny Emery Davidson—is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Davidson and Tyson will engage in a live question-and-answer session after the tour.
“It’s all new and different, but we’re excited to be connecting the community with these resources and showcasing the incredible work in Regional History,” Williams said.
In addition to these two programs, seminar participants will have several opportunities each day to engage in literary discussions facilitated via Zoom at numerous times throughout each day.
“It feels appropriate to showcase the uniqueness of this seminar and how we can engage with the community in ways we might not otherwise be able to,” Williams said. “While we are far apart, all navigating this global pandemic in different ways, we’re looking forward to coming together—safely and virtually—to continue our fellowship around Hemingway and his place in Idaho and our literary lives.”