One State / One Story: The Year We Left Home Campus Read grants catalyze the study of contemporary midwestern identity at Indiana colleges and universities.

Campus Read Grants

Four Indiana colleges and universities were awarded Campus Read grants to support course development, program series and other campus events about the themes of Jean’s Thompson’s novel The Year We Left Home. These exciting, insightful and varied projects will take place between between Jan. 2020 and June 2021. 

  • Ball State University (Muncie): English Department faculty will offer a two-part course called “Midwestern Stories,” which encourages students to investigate Midwestern identity through a wide variety of texts, including literature, film, oral histories, advertisements and more. The courses will culminate in a public exhibition at Minnetrista in Muncie.
  • IUPUC (Columbus): A section of the Reading, Writing and Inquiry course will be re-designed to encourage student engagement with the idea of the Midwest and what it means to be a Midwesterner today.
  • IUPUI (Indianapolis): Religious studies students will turn their attention to the religious history of the Midwest, including local indigenous religion, the history of European religions and their families’ religious history. Along the way, students will learn research methods and engage with new ways to share this information with the public. 
  • University of Indianapolis (Indianapolis): Faculty across several departments and a dozen courses will use Thompson’s novel to create a campus-wide conversation about Midwestern history, culture, politics, identity and more. Through local field trips and discussion, students will have the opportunity to talk across disciplines about the many different perspectives that make up our idea of the Midwest. 

Want to learn more about these projects? Read the project descriptions.


The Year We Left Home follows the Erickson family through the many changes affecting American life at the end of the twentieth century. From city rooftops to country farms, college campuses to small-town main streets, the characters in Thompson’s novel search for fulfillment and happiness in an ever-changing, often alienating country. The story asks us to consider the enduring, uniting power of place—why we choose to leave and when we decide to come home. Thompson’s novel provides an intergenerational look midwestern identity and the forces and places that produce this identity.


If you received a Campus Read grant, congratulations! Here are resources to help make your Campus Read a success:


Contact Megan Telligman, program manager ( | 317.616.9409)