Lectures and Performances
Previous 2013 Lectures and Performances
Wednesday, April 24, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Hanover Theatre, 2 Southbridge St., Worcester MA 01608
“Creating Historical Theater: A Dramatic Reading of Sockdology”
With Jeffrey Hatcher
In partnership with the Hanover Theatre
Cost: $10 for the general public, free for Hanover and AAS members
Reserve tickets by calling: 508-471-1781
This program will feature a reading of the play Sockdology by Jeffrey Hatcher and a discussion about creating historical theater. "Sockdology" is a nineteenth-century boxing term that means a “finishing blow” or the “brutal end of everything.” It is part of the dialogue of the play Our American Cousin and was likely the last word Abraham Lincoln heard before he was assassinated while watching this play at Ford’s Theater. Hatcher used this historical footnote to create a play about the acting troupe performing Our American Cousin and the impact Lincoln’s death had on them and the nation.
Jeffrey Hatcher is a playwright and screenwriter whose work has appeared on Broadway, off-Broadway and in theaters across the country and internationally. He wrote the play Compleat Female Stage Beauty, which he later adapted into the screenplay Stage Beauty. He also co-wrote the stage adaptation of Tuesdays with Morrie with Mitch Albom. Hatcher wrote the screenplays for the films Casanova and The Duchess and has also written for the Peter Falk TV series Columbo. His other plays include Scotland Road, Three Viewings, A Picasso, and such adaptations as The Turn of the Screw, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club, and The Good Soldier. Hatcher researched Sockdology as one of the first AAS Creative and Performing Artist and Writers fellows in 1995, when the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund supported the program.
Thursday, May 2, at 7:00 p.m.
“Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution”
By Nathaniel Philbrick
For most of us the American Revolution is about the Founding Fathers, the Declaration of Independence, and how George Washington led the colonies through the decade-long struggle that ultimately led to the formation of the United States. Lost in this account toward liberty is the truly cataclysmic nature of how the revolution began: the interplay of ideologies and personalities that provoked a group of merchants, farmers, artisans, and sailors to take up arms against their own country. In this lecture, based upon his forthcoming book Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution, award-winning and bestselling author, Nathaniel Philbrick, describes pre-Revolutionary Boston—a city of 15,000 inhabitants packed onto a land-connected island of just 1.2 square miles—and the gradual up-tick of tension that climaxed in June 1775 with the Battle of Bunker Hill, the first major and decisive battle of what became the American Revolution.
In Bunker Hill, which will be published by Viking Press on April 30, 2013, Philbrick brings a fresh perspective to every aspect of the story. As it turns out, the triumvirate of Founding Fathers generally associated with revolutionary Boston—John Adams, Sam Adams, and John Hancock—was nowhere to be found when it came to the real work of choreographing its outbreak. Thirty-three-year-old physician, Joseph Warren emerged as the on-the-ground leader of the Patriot cause. Warren gave William Dawes and Paul Revere the orders to send out the alarm that British troops were headed to Concord; Warren remained in the city until the last possible moment, and was then elected President of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress even as he supervised the organization of the nascent Continental Army.
Nathaniel Philbrick is the author of Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War (2006), which was a finalist for both the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for History and the Los Angeles Times Book Award and won the Massachusetts Book Award for nonfiction. Philbrick is also the author of the acclaimed international bestseller In the Heart of the Sea, which won the National Book Award for nonfiction. Among the other books he has written are The Last Stand; Sea of Glory: The Epic South Seas Expedition, 1838–42; Revenge of the Whale, an account of the Essex disaster for young readers; and The Mayflower and the Pilgrims’ New World: The Story of Plymouth Colony for Young Readers. He is founding director of the Egan Maritime Institute on Nantucket Island and a research fellow at the Nantucket Historical Association. A champion sailboat racer, he has also written extensively about sailing.
Thursday, May 9, at 7:00 p.m.
“Spectacle and Reform in Nineteenth-Century America”
By Amy E. Hughes
In the nineteenth century, long before film and television arrived to electrify audiences with explosions, car chases, and narrow escapes, it was America's theaters that offered audiences such thrills, with "sensation scenes" of speeding trains, burning buildings, and endangered bodies, often in melodramas extolling the virtues of temperance, abolition, and women's suffrage. Based upon her latest book, Spectacles of Reform: Theater and Activism in Nineteenth-Century America, Hughes program scrutinizes these peculiar intersections of spectacle and reform, revealing that spectacle plays a crucial role in American activism. Engaging evidence from lithographs to children's books to typography catalogs, she will trace the cultural history of three famous sensation scenes—the drunkard suffering from the delirium tremens, the fugitive slave escaping over a river, and the victim tied to the railroad tracks—and argues that spectacle was central to the dramaturgy of reform. Ultimately, she suggests that today’s producers and advertisers still exploit the affective dynamism of spectacle, reaching an even broader audience through electronic media and the Internet.
Amy Hughes is an assistant professor of theater at Brooklyn College. Her scholarly expertise is in United States theater, visual, and material culture during the nineteenth century. Additionally she studies theater and performance in the Republic of Turkey and specializes in collaborative learning and other nontraditional pedagogical methods. In 2009, Hughes was awarded by AAS a Deborah and Jay Last Fellowship to research Spectacles of Reform in the Society’s collections.
Tuesday, May 14, at 7:00 p.m.
“Factual Flights and Fictional Worlds: Historical Truth and Narrative Invention in The Movement of Stars”
By Amy Brill
Amy Brill’s debut novel The Movement of Stars was researched at the American Antiquarian Society and is inspired by the work of Maria Mitchell, the first professional female astronomer in America. The novel tells the story of Hannah Gardner Price, a young woman living on Nantucket in 1845 whose passion for astronomy and her relationships with a whaler from the Azores put her in direct conflict with the mores and conventions of the Nantucket Quaker community in which she was raised, where simplicity and restraint are valued above all, and a woman’s path is expected to lead to marriage and motherhood. During this presentation, Brill will read selections from her novel and comment on the journey of research and writing that led to its creation.
Amy Brill is a writer and producer. Her articles, essays, and short stories have appeared in numerous publications including Salon, Guernica, and Time Out New York, and have been anthologized in Before and After: Stories from New York and Lost and Found. As a broadcast journalist, she received a George Foster Peabody Award for writing MTV’s The Social History of HIV, and she researched, wrote, or produced over a dozen other projects for the network’s pro-social initiatives. She was an AAS Robert and Charlotte Baron Creative Artist Fellow in 2005.
Thursday, May 23, at 7:00 p.m.
“Hidden Histories in Nineteenth-Century Scrapbooks”
By Ellen Gruber Garvey
Men and women 150 years ago grappled with information overload by making scrapbooks --- the ancestors of Google and blogging. From Mark Twain to Abraham Lincoln to Susan B. Anthony, African American janitors to farmwomen, abolitionists to Confederates, people cut out and pasted down their reading. Their scrapbooks -- some of them at AAS -- left us a rarely examined record of what they read and how they read it. This talk, based on Ellen Gruber Garvey's new book, Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance, opens a new window into the feelings and thoughts of ordinary and extraordinary Americans.
Ellen Gruber Garvey is a professor in the English Department of New Jersey City University, where she also teaches Women's and Gender Studies. Her book on American magazines, The Adman in the Parlor: Magazines and the Gendering of Consumer Culture won the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing’s prize for the best book of 1996 on the history of the book. She has written and lectured in Europe and the U.S. on scrapbooks and on women’s bicycling, as well as on magazines, billboards, women editors, and stories about slave ships. She co-edits the journal Transformations: The Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy. In 2009, Garvey researched Writing with Scissors at AAS as a Kate B. and Hall J. Peterson fellow.
Thursday, June 6, at 7:00 p.m.
“Parallel Lives of a Patriotic Heroine and a Spy”
by Nancy Rubin Stuart
Ever wonder why the rights of women are still endangered today? Or how marriage can change the destiny of those who marry powerful men? Award-winning author Nancy Rubin Stuart’s presentation from her double biography, Defiant Brides: The Untold Story of Two Revolutionary-Era Women Who Married Political Radicals illustrates how two teenage brides managed long, happy marriages to famous Revolutionary-era men. Their husbands were the handsome traitor Benedict Arnold and the patriotic General Henry Knox.
Defiant Brides captures how passion and marriage changed the lives of both young women: – Peggy Shippen who assisted Arnold in his betrayal of America, – and Lucy Flucker, who faithfully followed General Henry Knox through the army camps of the Revolution, bearing and losing ten children along the way.
Nancy Rubin Stuart is an award-winning author and journalist whose books include The Muse of the Revolution: The Secret Pen of Mercy Otis Warren and the Founding of a Nation; The Reluctant Spiritualist: the Life of Maggie Fox; American Empress: the Life and Times of Marjorie Meriweather Fox; and Isabella of Castile. She has written for The New York Times and many national magazines. Stuart currently serves as Executive Director of the Cape Cod Writers Center, and is a board member of the Women Writing Women's Lives Seminar of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Stuart received a William Randolph Hearst Creative and Performing Artist and Writers Fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society in 2005 to research The Muse of the Revolution.
Thursday, October 3, 7:00 p.m.
Lowell Mills Boardinghouse Keeper
A one-woman show by Kate Carney
Professional theater actor/director, Kate Carney, will perform a historical play based on stories told by Mrs. Lois Larcom, a boarding house keeper in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1843. Carney, appearing in costume and character as Mrs. Larcom, brings to life what it was like for the young Yankee women working in Lowell. Her interactive program dramatizes the changes taking place in the mills and is illustrated with a virtual museum exhibit of artifacts and images from the time period.
Kate Carney is a Massachusetts-based, storyteller, actor and workshop leader. She has been bringing history alive with "HEROIC WOMEN YOU CAN TALK TO" interactive theatre pieces to museums, libraries, schools, and First Nights in the Northeast since 1993. Carney has directed plays on Broadway, performed in Boston and New York theatres, toured nationally and internationally and appeared in films and on network TV. She has taught and directed at Brandeis, Smith and other colleges and trained theatre companies in France and Israel.
Friday, October 18, 7:00 p.m.
“Emancipating Lincoln: the Prose and Poetry of the Emancipation Proclamation”
By Harold Holzer
Co-sponsored by the Franklin M. Loew Lecture Series at Becker College
This lecture will examine two of the most important texts in American history both of which are 150 years old this year: The Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address. In its own time, the Emancipation Proclamation was considered a politically risky, even revolutionary act. In more recent years, many Americans have been taught that it was cautious, insincere, and ineffective. What was the true impact and intent of Lincoln's most famous executive order? And what did he do to prepare the public for its announcement--sometimes to the detriment of his own reputation? The Gettysburg Address fundamentally changed the aims of the Civil War and reinterpreted America’s understanding of its founding principles. How Lincoln created these documents and their subsequent role in American life will be explored in this presentation.
Harold Holzer is one of the country's leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era. A prolific writer and lecturer, and frequent guest on television, Holzer serves as chairman of The Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, successor organization to the U. S. Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission (ALBC), to which he was appointed by President Clinton in 2000, and co-chaired from 2001–2010. President Bush, in turn, awarded Holzer the National Humanities Medal in 2008.
Harold Holzer has authored, co-authored, and edited 46 books. His latest books are How Abraham Lincoln Ended Slavery in America, the official young adult companion book to Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln film; and The Civil War in 50 Objects.
Tuesday, October 22, 7:00 p.m.
"'While Pen, Ink & Paper Can Be Had':
Reading and Writing in a Time of Revolution"
by Mary C. Kelley
Instead of the typical focus on the famed trio of Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin, this lecture looks at the American Revolution through the eyes of two relatively unknown individuals. A son and a daughter of families who counted themselves members of Boston’s elite, William Tudor, who served in the Continental Army, and Delia Jarvis, a Loyalist whom he was courting, forged their relationship in a world of divisive turmoil and radical change. A remarkably rich transatlantic literary culture that remained intact in an increasingly embattled world served as their vehicle. This program will explore not only the letters and the lives of Tudor and Jarvis, but also the fiction and poetry on which these individuals relied as they navigated their way through the momentous events of the struggle for independence.
Mary Kelley is the Ruth Bordin Collegiate Professor of History, American Culture, and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan. She is the author of numerous scholarly articles and books including: Learning to Stand and Speak; Women. Education, and Public Life; Private Woman, Public Stage: Literary Domesticity in Nineteenth-Century America; Woman's Being, Woman's Place: Female Identity and Vocation in American History; and The Limits of Sisterhood: The Beecher Sisters on Women’s Rights and Woman’s Sphere which she jointly authored with Jeanne Boydston and Anne Margolis. She co-wrote and edited with Robert A. Gross An Extensive Republic: Print, Culture, and Society in the New Nation which was Volume II of the AAS sponsored series the History of the Book in America. She is also the editor of the following critical editions: The Portable Margaret Fuller; The Power of Her Sympathy: The Autobiography and Journal of Catharine Maria Sedgwick; and Hope Leslie by Catharine Maria Sedgwick. Mary Kelley is the AAS/Mellon Distinguished Scholar in Residence for the 2013-14 academic year.
Thursday, November 7, 7:00 p.m.
“The Refinement of America: Is There Hope?”
by Richard Lyman Bushman
The tenth annual Robert C. Baron Lecture
Richard Bushman’s The Refinement of America: Persons, Houses, Cities (1992) examines the historical origins, the geographic spread, and the cultural consequences of the rise of “gentility” in early America—a complex of ideas and behaviors that encompassed how to talk, worship, and dress, how to paint your house and furnish your parlor. Combining cultural and social history with the sensitive study of material culture, The Refinement of America offers a comprehensive account of how manners and consumption were used to mark (or obscure) class boundaries from the colonial period to the mid-nineteenth century, and how these shifts interacted with the political and social transformations in early American society. In this lecture, Richard Bushman will reflect on the impact of this work that he said, “began in a museum and expanded to encompass the entire western world for three centuries and seemed to explain everything, including the author’s relationship with his mother.”
Richard Lyman Bushman is the Gouverneur Morris Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University and the Howard W. Hunter Visiting Professor in Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University. Bushman's scholarship includes studies of early American social, cultural, and political history, American religious history, and the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which he is a member. His publications include: From Puritan to Yankee: Character and the Social Order in Connecticut, 1690-1765, which won the Bancroft Prize in 1967; King and People in Provincial Massachusetts; and Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling.
Named in honor of Robert C. Baron, past AAS chairman and president of Fulcrum Publishing, the annual Baron Lecture asks distinguished AAS members who have written seminal works of history to reflect on one book and its impact on scholarship and society in the years since its first appearance.
Tuesday, November 12, 7:00 p.m.
"Common Bond: Stories of a World Awash in Paper"
by Nicholas A. Basbanes
In this lecture based on his latest book On Paper: The Everything of its Two-Thousand Year History, Nicholas Basbanes provides an eclectic and far ranging cultural history of the ubiquitous material that is the basis for printed materials, armed conflicts, packaging, sanitary supplies and so much more. In a starred review, Publisher’s Weekly called On Paper an “engrossing, essential book that no book lover should be without.” This lively talk will explore how paper has and continues to shape our world since its creation over two thousand years ago.
Nicholas A. Basbanes is the author of A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year when it was published in 1995. He has also Patience & Fortitude: A Roving Chronicle of Book People, Book Places, and Book Culture; Among the Gently Mad: Perspectives and Strategies for the Book-Hunter of the 21st Century; Every Book Its Reader: The Power of the Printed Word to Stir the World; Editions & Impressions; and A World of Letters. An award-winning investigative reporter during the early 1970s, Basbanes was literary editor of the Worcester Sunday Telegram from 1978 to 1991, and for eight years after that wrote a nationally syndicated column on books and authors. He was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship to support his latest book On Paper: The Everything of Its Two Thousand History.