December 4, 2022

Gupta Pens Editorial on Indira Gandhi for Great Lives Lecture

Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Surupa Gupta

Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Surupa Gupta

Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Surupa Gupta penned an editorial for The Free Lance-Star entitled, “Indira Gandhi: Creator of the modern Indian State” in advance of her Great Lives lecture on India’s first and only woman prime minister, which was held on Tuesday, Feb. 22. The program can be accessed through the program website at umw.edu/greatlives.

INDIRA GANDHI is known as India’s first and only woman prime minister, and the world’s second democratically elected female head of government. These titles, however, mask a complex and fascinating personality. Gandhi, as prime minister, emerged as one of the most consequential and polarizing figures in Indian politics.

Derided initially as a “dumb doll,” Gandhi surprised her followers and detractors as a canny politician with a strong sense of realpolitik and an authoritarian bent. Her decisions helped both restore and tarnish India’s image in world politics.

She turned India from a food-scarce to a food-surplus country; her bold move to help establish Bangladesh strengthened India’s credentials as a major Asian power; and yet, her declaration of political emergency in 1975 delivered the first frontal attack to India’s democratic institutions since that nation gained independence from British colonial rule in 1947. Read more.

Great Lives Continues Jan. 27 with Vincent van Gogh

Painter Vincent van Gogh is among the prominent personalities featured in this year’s William B. Crawley Great Lives lecture series.

Painter Vincent van Gogh is among the prominent personalities featured in this year’s William B. Crawley Great Lives lecture series.

The William B. Crawley Great Lives Lecture Series continues this evening, over Vimeo, Thursday, Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. with Professor of Art History Marjorie Och providing illuminating insight into the life of Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. The Barlow & Thomas, P.C. Lecture. The link for Thursday, January 27, 2022, for the talk on Vincent van Gogh is: https://vimeo.com/event/1713863

Vincent van Gogh lived only 37 years (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890), yet his work has had an indisputable influence on artists in the 20th and 21st centuries, perhaps to a greater extent than any previous painter in the West. And his life, while not the origin of the “suffering artist living in a garret” story, codified that fiction into a powerful narrative that haunts any parent whose child says: “I want to go to art school.”

Van Gogh was born into a family of Dutch Reformed ministers, theological students, art dealers, and artists. This family background makes Vincent like so many young men in Europe from antiquity up to that time. As the oldest surviving child of his parents — and a son who bore a family name, Vincent — it was expected that he would continue in the family’s business. Van Gogh tried his hand at each of these professions.

It wasn’t until 1881 that he turned his attention to “artist,” creating nearly 900 paintings and thousands of drawings in his remaining nine years, the most famous of which he produced from 1888 and later, including The Yellow House (1888), Bedroom in Arles (1888), The Night Cafe (1888), The Starry Night (1889), and Wheatfield with Crows (1890). These late paintings have all the trademarks of a “Van Gogh” — brilliant primary colors and evident brushstrokes in repeating patterns that seem to vibrate on the canvas. While color was paramount in his painting, a linear texture was his focus in his drawing in which he creates new techniques for suggesting different qualities of light and the variety of dark in shadows.

Vincent van Gogh, however, was not all about invention. His background, education, and opinions — many of which we can read in his voluminous correspondence — points to an artist embedded in traditions he understood, relished, and resisted. In so many ways, van Gogh offers a vision for us today of forging something new out of the old.

Upcoming lectures include: Jimmy Carter on Feb. 1, Mother Theresa on Feb. 3, Pioneer Female Aviators on Feb. 8 and Homer on Feb. 10. See the full list here.

Due to ongoing concerns regarding the COVID pandemic, the series will continue to use a virtual live-streaming platform for all lectures through at least February 3. Links to the live-stream broadcast may be found on this website. Please consult the website for updates on subsequent lectures.

PLEASE NOTE: After delivery, lectures will be posted on the website as soon as possible after they have been edited (including addition of captions), a process that may take a week or more to complete. Once lectures are uploaded, this will be indicated by an icon in the “Media” column in the lecture listings below.

FLS Highlights Great Lives Series, Returning Jan. 18

This article originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star Weekender.

Painter Vincent van Gogh is among the prominent personalities featured in this year’s William B. Crawley Great Lives lecture series, which returns on Jan. 18.

Painter Vincent van Gogh is among the prominent personalities featured in this year’s William B. Crawley Great Lives lecture series, which returns on Jan. 18.

The William B. Crawley Great Lives series returns to UMW this year with a lineup of personalities who loom larger than life—and who are timely subjects for 2022. The lives of Dolly Parton, Vincent van Gogh, Ida B. Wells, Jimmy Carter and more will be revealed during the three-month series, which marks its 19th season this year.

The organizers are taking a “wait and see” strategy with the lectures. Tentatively planned to be entirely in-person for the first time in two years, the surge of the COVID-19 omicron variant has necessitated the first four lectures—all in January—be livestreamed online. They can be accessed on the program website (umw.edu/greatlives). Crawley said they will monitor the COVID situation with the hope that the subsequent 12 lectures, beginning on Feb. 1, can be in person in George Washington Hall’s Dodd Auditorium. All updates will be announced on the website.

These free lectures will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from Jan. 18 through March 10, at 7:30 p.m. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test is required, as are face masks, for all attendees.

The lecture series was forced online during its last two seasons due to the pandemic. And in 2021, only in-house talent was used. Crawley said UMW’s professors received rave reviews for their lectures, and “when you think about it, teachers make great speakers. They are used to crafting engaging presentations every day.” Read more.

Stull’s Great Lives Lecture on Lillian Hellman Airs on C-SPAN

Professor of Theatre and Chair of Theatre and Dance Gregg Stull

Professor of Theatre and Chair of Theatre and Dance Gregg Stull

Professor and Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance Gregg Stull’s Great Lives lecture on playwright Lillian Hellman recently aired on C-SPAN. Watch here.

C-SPAN to Air ‘Great Lives’ Talk on Horatio Alger

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C-SPAN will air the Great Lives lecture on 19th century youth novelist Horatio Alger, which Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales gave on Feb. 16. The lecture will be aired on C-SPAN 3 on the following days:

Saturday, April 17 at 7:10 p.m. EDT
Sunday, April 18 at 5:10 a.m. EDT
Tuesday, April 20 at 12:12 a.m. and 5:14 a.m. EDT
Sunday, April 25 at 11:10 a.m. EDT

The lecture can be viewed online here:

https://www.c-span.org/video/?510557-1/novelist-horatio-alger-jr

Other Great Lives lectures from this spring and past years will be aired back-to-back on Monday, April 19 starting at 8 p.m. EDT on C-SPAN 3. https://www.c-span.org/blog/?4438/american-history-prime-time-schedule-april-1923-2021.

The schedule is:

8 p.m., Douglas MacArthur, by UMW Professor of History and American Studies Porter Blakemore

8:51 p.m., History of Hawaii, The Life of Queen Lili’uokalani, biographer James L. Haley

10:01 p.m., The Presidency, Theodore Roosevelt’s Life & Legacy, UMW Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus William B. Crawley, Great Lives founder and director

10:52 p.m., Johnny Carson and Political Humor, UMW Professor of Political Science and Center for Leadership and Media Director Stephen Farnsworth

11:36 p.m., Humorist Art Buchwald & Political Satire, biographer Michael Hill

12:12 a.m., Novelist Horatio Alger, UMW Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales

 

 

Stull Pens Editorial on Lillian Hellman for ‘Great Lives’ Lecture

Professor of Theatre and Chair of Theatre and Dance Gregg Stull

Professor of Theatre and Chair of Theatre and Dance Gregg Stull

Professor of Theatre and Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance Gregg Stull penned an editorial about playwright Lillian Hellman for The Free Lance-Star in advance of his “Great Lives” lecture on March 18. The lecture can be viewed at umw.edu/greatlives.

PLAYWRIGHTS hold a mirror to demand an unforgiving reflection of life while posing provocative questions and providing few easy answers. Their characters illuminate a world where equity, justice, and possibility often elude all but the truly privileged.

Few American playwrights have interrogated this truth more than Lillian Hellman (1905–1984), who made an indelible mark on mid-20th century realism, even as she found herself overlooked among other playwrights of her time—such as Tennessee Williams, Clifford Odets, Arthur Miller, Horton Foote, and William Inge. Read more.

Och Pens Editorial on Artemisia Gentileschi for ‘Great Lives’ Lecture

Professor of Art History Marjorie Och

Professor of Art History Marjorie Och

Professor of Art History Marjorie Och penned an editorial on painter Artemisia Gentileschi in The Free Lance-Star in advance of her “Great Lives” lecture on March 16. The lecture can be viewed at umw.edu/greatlives.

 

“You will find the spirit of Caesar in the soul of a woman.”

—Artemisia Gentileschi, 1649

IN Fredericksburg today, one can find many women artists who work in every media: painting, sculpture, printmaking, and ceramics, but also paper and book arts, mosaic, jewelry, weaving and textiles, photography, neon, video, and calligraphy, as well as architecture, interior design, and urban planning.

But women’s presence in these fields is recent in the history of Western art.

The life of acclaimed painter Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1654) allows us to consider how artists were trained in early modern Europe and why a woman might enter the profession in the 17th century, a time when such accomplishments by a woman were rare indeed. Read more.

Rao Pens Editorial on Gandhi for ‘Great Lives’ Lecture

Professor of Communication and Chair of the Department of Communication and Digital Studies Anand Rao

Professor of Communication and Chair of the Department of Communication and Digital Studies Anand Rao

Professor of Communication and Chair of the Department of Communication and Digital Studies Anand Rao penned an editorial on the life of Mohandas K. Gandhi, also known as Mahatma Gandhi, in The Free Lance-Star in advance of his ‘Great Lives’ lecture on Thursday, March 11. The lecture can be watched here.

WHILE touring India in 1959, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited Mani Bhavan, the house where Mahatma Gandhi had lived in Mumbai. It was in this home that Gandhi launched his Indian movement for truth and nonviolence, called satyagraha.

The home had been turned into a museum, and the upstairs room where Gandhi had slept still held his mattress and shoes. When King visited, he asked if he could spend the night in that room, saying, “I am not going anywhere else. I am going to stay here, because I am getting vibrations of Gandhi.”

The curators pulled two cots into the room, and Rev. King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, spent the night next to Gandhi’s mattress. Soon after, King told All India Radio that he had decided to adopt Gandhi’s methods of civil disobedience as his own.

Gandhi’s philosophy of satyagraha inspired development of our own civil rights movement. Dr. King returned from his trip to India committed to employing a Gandhian strategy of nonviolence.

But Dr. King was not the only civil rights leader to follow Gandhi’s philosophy. While Dr. King was introduced to Gandhi and his practice of nonviolent protest in the late 1940s, James Farmer started following the teachings of Gandhi as early as 1940. Farmer employed the techniques and practice of satyagraha in the first civil rights sit-in in Chicago in 1942. Read more.

‘Great Lives’ Lecture Series Continues with Goethe

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The William B. Crawley Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Thursday, Feb. 25 with German poet and author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, presented by UMW Professor Emeritus of German Sammy Merrill. The Davenport & Company Lecture.

Because of restrictions on public gatherings on campus, the entire series of 18 lectures will be pre-recorded and delivered electronically, through Zoom Webinars, with closed captioning available. Although the presentations will be taped in advance, there will still be a live Q&A session following the online debut of each lecture, in which the speaker will be available to answer questions submitted by audience members.

Portrait of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749-1832, a German poet and author.

Portrait of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749-1832, a German poet and author.

The German author, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is known to most of the English-speaking world as the author of Faust, the story of a scholar, who, disillusioned with the course of his life, and seeking new directions to the truth, turns in frustration to the Devil and enters a compact with him. It is one of numerous plays that he wrote, along with hundreds of poems, and four major path-breaking novels.

His first major dramatic work was Goetz von Berlichingen, which immediately catapulted him into the forefront of the movement known as “Storm and Stress.” Similarly, his first novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, was such a sensation that for much of Goethe’s life he was known as the author of Werther. He was also known outside the world of belles lettres for his writings on scientific topics as diverse as color theory, plant and animal morphology, and geology.

Duke Karl August appointed him chief minister of state, the highest official after the duke himself in the duchy of Weimar. During his lifetime Goethe enjoyed close personal and intellectual relationships with many women who were important for his development as an artist and a man. The body of work of this universal genius fills more than 133 volumes in the Weimar edition of his collected works.

Other upcoming lectures include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, presented by Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Jason Davidson; Harlem Renaissance author Zora Neale Hurston and southern novelist Eudora Welty, presented by Professor of English and English Department Chair Gary Richards; and St. Augustine, presented by Associate Professor of Religious Studies Jennifer Barry. To learn more about Great Lives and view past and upcoming lectures, please visit https://www.umw.edu/greatlives/.

Blakemore Pens Editorial on General MacArthur for ‘Great Lives’ Lecture

Professor of Modern European History and Military History Porter Blakemore

Professor of Modern European History and Military History Porter Blakemore

Professor of Modern European History and Military History Porter Blakemore, a former naval officer and aviator, penned an editorial in The Free Lance-Star newspaper in advance of his “Great Lives” lecture on General Douglas MacArthur on Feb. 18. View the lecture here.

DOUGLAS MacArthur is one of the most famous American military officers of the first half of the 20th century. As a young brigadier general in 1918, he was poised for a distinguished future that held great promise.

Yet his potential produced enigmatic success and failure in the career that followed. Today, while some historians consider him one of the great captains of history, others disparage his accomplishments.

The truth falls somewhere in the middle. Read more.