Sisters and Rebels follows the divergent paths of the Lumpkin sisters, who were “estranged and yet forever entangled” by their mutual obsession with the South. Tracing the wounds and unsung victories of the past through to the contemporary moment, Jacquelyn Dowd Hall revives a buried tradition of Southern expatriation and progressivism; explores the lost, revolutionary zeal of the early twentieth century; and muses on the fraught ties of sisterhood.
July 15–August 19, 2020
This installment in our virtual book club series features six gifted scholars whose work helps illuminate the long history, bitter realities, and complex dynamics surrounding racial oppression in the United States. Over these six events, we look to consider both the breadth of human suffering propagated by entrenched racial bias and the heroic efforts required to correct systemic injustice.
Virtual Book Club: “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination
“Most Blessed of the Patriarchs” looks to shed light on perhaps the most complex of America’s Founding Fathers. Two of the world’s leading scholars of Jefferson’s life and accomplishments, Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf, join forces to fundamentally challenge much of what we think we know and help create a portrait of Jefferson that reveals some of the mystery at the heart of his character by considering his extraordinary and capacious mind and the ways in which he both embodied and resisted the dynamics of his age.
Scholar Cara Robertson explores the stories Lizzie Borden’s culture wanted and expected to hear and how those stories influenced the debate inside and outside the courtroom, offering a window into America in the Gilded Age.
How do we make sense of tragedy when it strikes? How do we remember those who are gone too soon? Written by their Andover classmate, journalist William D. Cohan, Four Friends tells the stories of Jack Berman, Will Daniel, Harry Bull, and John F. Kennedy, Jr.
In clear and compelling terms, Bart D. Ehrman recounts the long history of the afterlife, from the Epic of Gilgamesh to the writings of Augustine, focusing especially on the teachings of Jesus and his early followers. He discusses ancient guided tours of heaven and hell, in which a living person observes the sublime blessings of heaven for those who are saved and the horrifying torments of hell for the damned.
Organized around timeless themes such as the power of fortune and human will, the pain of misbegotten love, the tricks we play on one another, and the importance of virtue, The Decameron’s tales form a mosaic that has influenced writers for centuries and created a lasting document about the vibrancy of life juxtaposed against the suffering caused by the Black Death.
When Paula Blank passed away suddenly in 2016, three members of the English Department at William & Mary honored their friend and colleague's memory by ushering her unfinished manuscript through publication. On Shakespeare’s 456th birthday, Elizabeth Barnes, Erin Minear, and Erin Webster will remember their friend and talk about what it was like to bring her work to publication.
Virtual Book Club: In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love
In an instant, Joseph Luzzi became both a widower and a first-time father. In the aftermath of unthinkable tragedy, Luzzi relied on the support of his Italian immigrant family to grieve and care for his infant daughter. But it wasn’t until he turned to the Divine Comedy—a poem he had devoted his life to studying and teaching—that he learned how to resurrect his life, passing from his own grief-stricken Inferno through the Purgatory of healing, and ultimately stepping into the Paradise of rediscovered love.
For over 230 years, the U.S. Constitution has served as the central document shaping life and law in the United States. Originally consisting of seven articles, the Constitution has been amended 27 times to meet the changing needs of the country and its citizens. Interpretation of its provisions and the intent of its framers has been debated throughout our country's history.