MANCHESTER - Amherst College professor Michele Barale will explore the work of novelist Willa Cather in a talk at First Congregational Church in Manchester on Oct. 3. Her talk, "Willa Cather's Prairie Landscapes," is part of the Vermont Humanities Council's First Wednesdays lecture series and takes place at 7 p.m.

The European immigrant farmers in My Antonia and Cather's other novels fail nearly as often as they succeed. Professor Barale will examine the relation between Cather's art and her very tangible earth.

Barale is the Thalheimer Professor of English and Women's and Gender Studies and Director of the Writing Center at Amherst College. She has a long-time interest in Willa Cather's writings and photography. Her recent publications on Cather have focused on Cather's attitudes about artistic inspiration.

The Vermont Humanities Council's First Wednesdays series is held on the first Wednesday of every month from October through May. Talks in Manchester are held at First Congregational Church (unless otherwise noted) and are hosted by Mark Skinner Library. All First Wednesdays talks are free and open to the public.

Upcoming talks in Manchester include "Champlain's Dream" with acclaimed historian David Hackett Fischer on Thursday, Nov. 1; "Monkeys, Mathematics, and Mischief: What Are the Lifelong Lessons of Education?" with Williams College professor Edward Burger on Dec. 5; and "Margaret Bourke-White, Courageous Photographer" with actress and educator Sally Matson on January 2.

The Vermont Department of Libraries is the statewide underwriter of First Wednesdays.

First Wednesdays is also presented in eight other communities statewide: Brattleboro (at Brooks Memorial Library); Essex Junction (at Brownell Library); Middlebury (at Ilsley Public Library); Montpelier (at Kellogg-Hubbard Library); Newport (at Goodrich Memorial Library); Norwich (at Norwich Congregational Church, hosted by Norwich Public Library and Norwich Historical Society); Rutland (at Rutland Free Library); and at St. Johnsbury Athenaeum. The program is free, accessible to people with disabilities and open to the public.

For more information, call the Mark Skinner Library at 802-362-2607.