Where are they going? Where have they been? – The Plain People

By Sabrina Völz

The scene is July 4, 2012. 8:56 p.m. Ira Wagler sends an e‑mail halfway across the world, answer­ing an inquiry from a uni­ver­si­ty instruc­tor in Ger­many whom he cor­dial­ly grants an inter­view about his book, Grow­ing Up Amish. “Thanks for your invi­ta­tion to come tour a few uni­ver­si­ties in Ger­many,” he con­tin­ues. “I won’t say ‘nev­er;’ the jour­ney of the book has led to many unex­pect­ed places already. But for now, well, I’m quite con­tent here where I am.”

Ira Wagler at Leuphana in 2013

Lit­tle did he know, and lit­tle did I know then, that his grant­i­ng of that very inter­view would take him not once but twice to Ger­many. And as irony would have it, he will be back exact­ly three years to the day I received that first email. The good news is that he won’t be alone. Your pres­ence is kind­ly requested.

Ex-Amish blog­ger and mem­oirist, Ira Wagler, will be at Leuphana Uni­ver­si­ty Lüneb­urg, Ger­many, with Don­ald Kray­bill, Dis­tin­guished Pro­fes­sor in the Young Cen­ter for Anabap­tist and Pietist Stud­ies at Eliz­a­beth­town Col­lege, PA, at an inter­na­tion­al sym­po­sium from July 2–4, 2015. The sym­po­sium “Anabap­tist Roots in North Amer­i­can Land­scapes: The Plain Peo­ple Today”, which we in the Cen­ter for Mod­ern Lan­guages lov­ing­ly refer to as the Plain Peo­ple Con­fer­ence, is not your run-of-the-mill aca­d­e­m­ic affair. So before you start to yawn, let me fill you in on a few details.

PosterThere will cer­tain­ly be inspir­ing talks, the exchang­ing of ideas, and per­haps even a few heat­ed debates, but there will also be an inde­pen­dent film screen­ing, a teacher’s round­table, spe­cial guests, and an audi­ence filled with a unique blend of schol­ars, teach­ers, stu­dents, and an occa­sion­al city res­i­dent. The venues: a beau­ti­ful his­toric build­ing in down­town Lüneb­urg and the uni­ver­si­ty cam­pus. And as an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary con­fer­ence, we will bring soci­ol­o­gists, his­to­ri­ans, the­olo­gians, and lit­er­ary schol­ars togeth­er and expe­ri­ence top­ics “out­side of the box” of our schol­ar­ly train­ing. And final­ly, with the assis­tance of Don­ald Kray­bill, we may even solve a few “rid­dles” of the Amish.

So mark the dates. Get reg­is­tered, and join us as we find out more about the peo­ple who are simul­ta­ne­ous­ly demo­nized and exoti­cized. It’s that plain and simple.

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