But University of Oklahoma history professor David Wrobel says the state's reputation has not been cursed by the book.
"His (Steinbeck's) portrayal of the Joad family, the state and the Okie migrant experience was intended to be uplifting and ought to be read that way," Wrobel says.
Wrobel delivered the first of several presentations at the March 11 Teach-In on the topics of The Great Depression and World War II.
"I believe that a solid understanding of our country's history has never been more urgent," says OU President David Boren. "America cannot remain great unless all of us understand how we overcame adversity and became great in the first place."
KGOU is airing the presentations from the Teach-In over the next several weeks on its Oklahoma Voices program.