West Shore Community College’s Humankind series will host a faculty panel discussion of the novel, “The Women of the Copper Country,” on March 16 at 7 p.m. This event is part of the college’s participation in the Michigan Humanities Council’s Great Michigan Read. “The Women of the Copper Country” is Mary Dora Russell’s imaginative retelling of the 1913-1914 Copper Country Strike in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The novel looks at this important event from multiple points of view, but primarily through the eyes of the determined women who were leaders of the strike, particularly America’s “Joan of Arc” Annie Clements.
“West Shore’s participation in the Great Michigan Read is particularly special this year because it coincides with the college’s ongoing humankind theme of ‘movement,’” according to WSCC Professor of English and Education, Seán Henne, who chaired the Great Michigan Read’s regional selection committee. “The novel focuses attention on the role of immigrant communities in the cultural and economic development of the state. A novel as intense as this one provides a powerful starting point from which we can try to have better conversations about the intersections of immigration, culture, labor, religion, poverty, and just growing up in America, both during the 1910s and today.”
Henne will participate in the panel discussion to offer his perspective as a Professor of English on the novel’s literary achievement. He will be joined by his colleagues Mike Nagle, professor of history, and Dr. Sonja Siewert, professor of chemistry. Nagle will use his historical expertise to address issues of immigration, working conditions, and the historical accuracy of this work of fiction while Dr. Siewert will address the novel from a scientific perspective; for example, explaining the geology of that part of the upper peninsula and discussing the processes used to turn ore into purified metals.