I'm glad you found my new website, covering my Chautauqua characters and workshops as well as my work in Florida Studies, the Chautauqua Companion books, and other books of verity and fiction, eventually. The list of contents below will serve as a road map to the site, or if you like buttons, you can use the ones on the left to zip around and be adventurous. Please feel free to stay as long as you like and return often. This site is in the birthing process, so content will change regularly. Very soon there will be a dedicated email in case you have questions about booking a single appearance, a residency, or the process of research. Meanwhile, if you have an urgent need to reach me, try 727-735-4608.
Chautauqua News - Visit this page to find out the sites of the 2015 Nebraska Chautauqua, coming this summer, and for fun facts about Betty Jean's workshops, at which she conducts Writing Contests on such invigorating subjects as "Dogs vs. Cats" and "Trees for Tomorrow," both titles of essays by famous authors in the Steinshouer repertoire. Also learn the possibility of bringing a Chautauqua performance to your own town by choosing among the authors and subjects below.
Willa Cather - The author of O Pioneers!and My Antonia is Betty Jean Steinshouer's alpha and omega. Cather started it all and she will no doubt end it all. She is timeless and inexhaustible - in more than 5,000 performances of "Willa Cather Speaks," each has been unique to the audience and location. Other renditions have been developed for the Florida Center for the Book ("On Hemingway: Three Views"), for the Big Read Project of the National Endowment for the Arts ("The Making of My Antonia"), for the Tampa History Center ("America At War"), and for Humanities Nebraska ("Free? Land: 1862 and the Shaping of Modern America"). The first Chautauqua Companion Book will be Life Lessons from Willa Cather (scheduled for release on June 10, 2015).
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings - Also known as Florida's Willa Cather, the people of the Sunshine State clamored for the author of Cross Creek and The Yearling to be added to Betty Jean's repertoire when she did her first tour of Florida in 1989, covering ten cities. In eight out of ten places, Floridians asked, "Please do OUR author next!" Steinshouer promised only that she would stop and read in Rawlings' archive at the University of Florida, and sure enough, it had to be done. The scholar/actress got sand in her shoes and immediately became part of the Speaker's Bureau of the Florida Humanities Council. She has added other authors with a Florida connection over the years. (See below.)
Flannery O'Connor - Once Betty Jean Steinshouer had moved to the south, she felt obliged to revisit a favorite author from speech contest days, having won many trophies in oral interpretation with the likes of "Revelation" and "A Good Man is Hard to Find." Although Miss Flannery was recalcitrant about being brought back to life and the whole idea made her mother cross and borderline litigious, audiences in various parts of Florida as well as New Hampshire, Maine, and Arizona did delight in meeting Millegeville's finest. She has not been set loose on the rest of the country, but it could happen. At the very least, Betty Jean has continued her research and writing and will eventually publish most of what she knows about Flannery & Friends.
Homeless in America - Also known as "Comfort Me With Apples," this ever-changing slice of life among the dispossessed was inspired by a 1993-94 effort by the State of Colorado to find and educate homeless children. The Colorado Endowment for the Humanities hired Betty Jean Steinshouer to research and develop an annotated bibliography on the subject of homelessness in literature and to write an essay for publication in a volume called Address Unknown. Homeless characters that grew out of that research and other events such as September 11, 2001, and Hurricane Katrina are being collected for publication, along with the original essay and bibliography.