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Granfalloon: Celebrating the Life and Work of Kurt Vonnegut

A collaborative research guide started in 2022, Vonnegut's centenary year. Work on this guide is ongoing.


"If you wish to study a granfalloon, just remove the skin of a toy balloon. -Bokonon"
In Kurt Vonnegut's 1963 novel Cat's Cradle, a granfalloon is defined as a "false karass." That is, it is a group of people who affect a shared identity or purpose, but whose mutual association is meaningless. Vonnegut writes in his introduction to Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons (1974) that a "granfalloon is a proud and meaningless collection of human beings." The most commonly purported granfalloons are associations and societies based on a shared but ultimately fabricated premise. Examples from Cat's Cradle include: "the Communist Party, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the General Electric Company—and any nation, anytime, anywhere."
This research guide supports the annual Granfalloon: A Kurt Vonnegut Convergence, in Bloomington, Indiana. Presented by the IU Arts and Humanities Council and inspired by legendary Hoosier author Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Granfalloon brings together musicians, artists, thinkers, and good people from all walks of life for a multi-day celebration of art, ideas, and community. The festival kicks off the summer arts calendar in Bloomington and highlights the creative spirit of the Midwest by tapping into the enduring ethos of Vonnegut’s life and work: promoting civic engagement, encouraging independent thought, and championing art and creativity as essential to the spiritual life of individuals and the health of our democracy.
The curated guide will introduce you to Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., his novels, plays, collaborative works, and other creative output, as well as a selection of critical examinations of his life and work. The guide also celebrates works inspired by Vonnegut, his connections to the state of Indiana and beyond, as well as exploring the highlighted themes of each year's annual convergence. Particular emphasis has been placed on resources held by the Indiana University Bloomington Libraries.