July 2, 2022

Bales Pens Editorial on Horatio Alger for ‘Great Lives’ Lecture

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales

Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales

UMW Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales penned an editorial in The Free Lance-Star on children’s novelist Horatio Alger that ran in advance of his “Great Lives” lecture on Feb. 16. View the lecture here.

NO AUTHOR of children’s books during the last 30 years of the 19th century was more popular than Horatio Alger Jr. (1832–1899). In subsequent decades, his stereotypical “rags-to-riches” narratives became so familiar that in our own times, the term “Horatio Alger story” has come to be commonly used as shorthand for a person who, through diligence and hard work, rises from poverty to achieve notable success.

The author himself was born in 1832 in Revere, Mass., the son of a Harvard-educated Unitarian minister. Intending to follow in his father’s footsteps, Horatio Jr. graduated from Harvard in 1852.

The several years after graduation, however, were marked by Alger’s indecisive search for a career. Although he was preparing for the ministry, he had a longing to write. His first works, mostly short stories and poems, were aimed at adults. Read more.

Merrill Pens Editorial on Goethe for ‘Great Lives’ Lecture

Professor Emeritus of German Sammy Merrill

Professor Emeritus of German Sammy Merrill

Professor Emeritus of German Sammy Merrill penned an editorial in The Free Lance-Star on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in advance of his “Great Lives” lecture on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m. Watch here.

JOHANN Wolfgang Goethe was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, on August 28, 1749. His long life of 82 years was defined by accomplishments that are surprising to those who know him only as the author of that most German of literary works: “Faust.”

Indeed, this dramatic poem—in which a man is so disillusioned with the scholarly life that he turns in despair to the devil himself as an alternative way to meaningfulness—is considered by most critics his magnum opus. Many even regard Goethe as the “German Shakespeare” because of this and other significant plays, some of them path-breaking in world literature. Read more.

‘Great Lives’ Lecture Series Continues with Architect I.M. Pei

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The William B. Crawley Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Thursday, Feb. 11 with iconic architect I.M. Pei, presented by Assistant Professor of Art History Suzie Kim. The JON Properties/Van Zandt Restorations 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.

I.M. Pei

I.M. Pei

Chinese-born American architect I.M. Pei (Ieoh Ming Pei, 1917-2019) was one of the most acclaimed and world-famous architects of the 20th and 21st century. He was awarded the 1983 Pritzker Architecture Prize for his iconic design for the east building of the National Gallery of Art (1968-78) in Washington, D.C., and the underground reception area and the central glass pyramid of the Louvre in Paris, France (1983-93). After earning his B.A. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his M.A. at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, he became well-known for his use of structural concrete as a smooth, ‘men-made’ stone and contemporary interpretation of the Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art) and the International Style. The National Gallery of Art east building is quintessential I.M. Pei with the walls clad with continuous and smooth Tennessee pink marble, the use of architectural concrete molded by skilled cabinetmakers, and the application of the isosceles triangle for all architectural forms and smaller details. Pei’s buildings cover a wide range of skyscrapers, university buildings, and art museums in and outside of the U.S., which have been built in refined geometrical forms and demonstrate harmonizing effects with the surrounding skylines, cityscapes and landscapes.

Other upcoming lectures include novelist Horatio Alger, given by UMW Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales on Feb. 16; General Douglas MacArthur, given by Professor of History and American Studies Porter Blakemore on Feb. 18; and authors and Black rights activists Anna Julia Cooper and W.E.B. DuBois by Professor of Sociology Kristin Marsh. To learn more about Great Lives and view past and upcoming lectures, please visit https://www.umw.edu/greatlives/.

Kim Pens Editorial on Architect I.M. Pei for ‘Great Lives’ Lecture

I.M. Pei

I.M. Pei

Assistant Professor of Art History Suzie Kim wrote an editorial on iconic architect I.M. Pei in advance of her lecture this evening, at 7:30 p.m. All Great Lives lectures can be accessed via Zoom at umw.edu/greatlives/.

CHINESE-born American architect I.M. Pei (leoh Ming Pei, 1917–2019) was one of the most acclaimed architects of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Two years ago, on May 16, 2019, Pei passed away at the age of 102. In its obituary, the New York Times named him as the “Master Architect Whose Buildings Dazzled the World.”

Pei understood how to convey the relationship between human and nature, modern and postmodern, and the old and new in his modern designs. Read more.

Mellinger Writes Editorial on Sir Isaac Newton for “Great Lives” Lecture

Sir Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton

College of Arts and Sciences Dean and Professor of Mathematics Keith Mellinger wrote an editorial about Sir Isaac Newton in advance of his “Great Lives” lecture on Feb. 2. The Zoom talk may be accessed online at umw.edu/greatlives.

BORN ON Christmas Day in 1642 to a family of humble roots, Isaac Newton grew to be regarded by many as the most influential scientist who ever lived. As a child, he showed great talent, and before the age of 30, he laid the foundations for mathematical and scientific theories that changed the world.

Michael Hart’s often debated 1978 book, “The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History,” placed Newton in second place, perhaps a surprising outcome for one whose work was not political or religious, areas where individuals tend to have profound influence.

After a deep dive into Newton’s contributions, one can easily be convinced. Read more.

Great Lives Lecture Series Continues Tonight with Tupolev and Stalin

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The William B. Crawley Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Thursday, Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m. with Associate Professor of European and Modern Russian History Steven Harris, who discusses the lives and fates of Communist dictator Joseph Stalin and Soviet aircraft engineer Andrei Tupolev. The Irene and Curry Roberts 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.

Andrei Tupolev and Joseph Stalin

Andrei Tupolev and Joseph Stalin

The totalitarian system that Joseph Stalin built in the 1930s relied heavily on terror to keep Soviet citizens in line. It also forced them to work for a dictator who took credit for his country’s successes and blamed others for its catastrophic failures. Millions of Soviet citizens suffered under Stalinist repression to such a degree that the Soviet Union was ill prepared to meet Nazi Germany’s invasion of the USSR in June 1941. One such victim was Andrei Nikolaevich Tupolev, an aviation pioneer whose aircraft designs had already made him a household name before the war. Instead of executing Tupolev, Stalin forced him to work inside the Gulag on airplane designs for the war and the dictator’s glory. And soon after the war, Tupolev obliged Stalin’s obsession with American technology by reverse engineering the B-29 bomber. Unlike most of Stalin’s victims, Tupolev outlived the dictator and led a design bureau that propelled the USSR into the Jet Age and even produced a supersonic passenger aircraft. Born in 1888, Tupolev’s incredible career spanned Russia’s turbulent 20th century from Tsar Nicholas II to Leonid Brezhnev before his death in 1972. This lecture explores Tupolev’s life, his relationship to Stalin, and how his cutting-edge designs for military and civilian aircraft helped make the Soviet Union an aviation superpower.

Sir Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton

On Tuesday, Feb. 2, Colleges of Arts and Sciences Dean and Professor of Mathematics Keith Mellinger delves into the life of Sir Isaac Newton. The Community Bank of the Chesapeake Lecture.

Born after the death of his father to a young woman of humble roots in rural England, Sir Isaac Newton grew to be regarded by many as the most influential scientist who ever lived. As a child, he showed great talent, and before ever reaching the age of 30, he laid the foundations for mathematical and scientific theories that proved to have lasting impact, including the laws of mechanical motion, calculus, optics, and more. Some have argued that it was inevitable for the time. Newton was born the same year as the death of the great Galileo and Newton himself said, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” In his productive brilliance, he struggled to live a normal life, almost never cultivating meaningful relationships despite his insights into human behavior, once noting, “Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy.” In addition to gaining a deeper understanding of why Newton’s work remains so influential, we look at the man behind the science.

Art Buchwald

Art Buchwald

On Thursday, Feb. 4, local biographer Michael Hill will provide highlights from his highly anticipated biography on American humorist and Washington Post columnist Art Buchwald, which will be released by Random House in 2021. The Chancellor’s Village Lecture.

Before Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, and even before “Doonesbury,” there was Art Buchwald. For over fifty years his Pulitzer Prize winning column of political satire and biting wit made him one of the most widely read American humorists of his age. At the height of his career his column — published three times a week — was syndicated in 550 newspapers in 100 different countries. The power of his wit was legendary, some describing him as “Will Rogers with chutzpah.” Much like Mark Twain, James Thurber, and H.L Mencken, Buchwald was an American original. For over five decades it seemed as if everyone began their day by reading him as he satirized political scoundrels, lampooned the powerful and the pompous, and over his long career poked fun at ten different Presidents of the United States. Michael Hill is currently at work on a book based on the life, letters, and political satire of Art Buchwald. In his “Great Lives” lecture, Hill will not only explore the genius of Buchwald’s satire and humor, but also provide a colorful and lively portrait of the man and the humorist.

And for those who missed it, Professor of History and Middle Eastern Studies Nabil Al-Tikriti delivered a lecture on Tuesday, Jan. 26 on Süleyman the Magnificent. The Fredericksburg Savings Charitable Foundation Lecture. Watch here

Süleyman the Magnificent

Süleyman the Magnificent

Commonly seen as ruling over the Ottoman Empire at the height of its power, the celebrated Sultan Süleyman the Magnificient (r. 1520-1566) left behind a number of compelling legacies for his family, state, empire, and government. In the course of his long reign, the empire expanded well into Southeastern Europe, Iraq, North Africa, and the Indian Ocean; governance grew increasingly professionalized and bureaucratized; and the Ottomans put forth credible claims for universal empire. His personal life was marked by a mixture of overt romance and tragedy, complete with an unstable inheritance from his father, unorthodox concubine marriage, two occasions where he ordered the execution of his own sons, his own dramatic death while on campaign, and an inauspicious transfer to his least beloved son. One of the giants of early modern monarchy, Süleyman, known as the “Lawgiver” in the Islamic World and the “Magnificient” in the West, certainly lived a life worth inclusion as one of the greats.

To learn more about Great Lives and view upcoming lectures, please visit https://www.umw.edu/greatlives/.

‘Great Lives’ Lecture Series Kicks Off Jan. 19

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The “Great Lives” lecture series kicks off on Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 7:30 p.m. with a lecture on former Presidents James Monroe and George Washington, delivered by UMW Museums Executive Director Scott Harris. The Barlow & Thomas, P.C. 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.

Presidents George Washington and James Monroe are the subjects of the first "Great Lives" lecture on Jan. 19.

Presidents George Washington and James Monroe are the subjects of the first “Great Lives” lecture on Jan. 19.

From Revolutionary War battlefields to the arenas of American politics, George Washington and James Monroe navigated a complex relationship. Mutual regard and affection, born in the shared experience of fighting for the cause of independence, eroded steadily amid the early Republic’s changing political and diplomatic landscape. The resulting estrangement revealed much of the character of both men.

The emergence of Federalist and Republican factions during Washington’s presidential administration enflamed both domestic and foreign affairs. Monroe’s first diplomatic mission to France was a casualty of this partisan divide. His advocacy of Republican principles and the traditional alliance with France ran counter to the Federalists’ goal of improving relations with Great Britain. Recalled from his post in disgrace, Monroe aired his grievances with Washington publicly and received harsh criticism in return. The rift between the two men, personally distressing to both, was never repaired.

Or was it? Monroe’s presidency echoed symbols and values evident in that of Washington: popular tours of the country, efforts to mitigate party divisions, and a foreign policy aimed at insulating the United States from entanglements in European conflicts. Perhaps the Revolutionary Rift between George Washington and James Monroe was, in the end, healed.

The series continues on Thursday, Jan. 21 with a lecture on abolitionist Sojourner Truth by Professor of History Claudine Ferrell. The sPower Lecture.

Abolitionist Sojourner Truth is the subject of the "Great Lives" lecture on Jan. 21.

Abolitionist Sojourner Truth is the subject of the “Great Lives” lecture on Jan. 21.

Sojourner Truth began life in 1797 as a slave named Isabella in Ulster County, New York. After years of hard work and abuse, she ended her enslavement in late 1826. She then re-invented herself. The strikingly intelligent but illiterate young woman became an uncompromising abolitionist, a famed and witty speaker, a proponent of women’s rights, and an inspiring preacher. By the 1850s her Narrative of Sojourner Truth (1850) and Bible-inspired lectures made her name a familiar one throughout the northern states and in the nation’s newspapers. During her life, she used hard work, the speaker’s podium, the courts, and song as she fought against slavery and racial inequality and advocated for rights of women black and white. She won a legal action that freed her son, recruited black troops for the Union army, campaigned for temperance, and met with presidents. After the Civil War, she helped settle freed slaves, and even into her eighties, she worked to aid the migrant Exodusters in the 1870s. She died in 1883 in Battle Creek, Michigan, which honors her today with a massive statue that befits the six-foot-tall traveler for truth.

For more information and a full list of lectures, visit umw.edu/greatlives or contact the Office of University Events and Conferencing at 540-654-1065.

Virtual ‘Great Lives’ Season Showcases UMW Faculty Expertise

Presidents George Washington and James Monroe – and their “revolutionary rift” – are the first of 18 virtual lectures in the 18th season of the William B. Crawley Great Lives lecture series, which begins on Jan. 19.

Presidents George Washington and James Monroe – and their “revolutionary rift” – are the first of 18 virtual lectures in the 18th season of the William B. Crawley Great Lives lecture series, which begins on Jan. 19.

In a year when many are sticking close to home, the upcoming William B. Crawley Great Lives lecture season, now in its 18th year, will be virtual this spring and returns to its roots by featuring the expertise of University of Mary Washington faculty. Authorities in their respective fields, they will chronicle the lives of Goethe and Gandhi, St. Augustine and Sojourner Truth, Isaac Newton and I.M. Pei, among other intriguing subjects.

Prerecorded lectures, which are free for the public to enjoy from the comfort of home, will be available on the Great Lives website at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from Jan. 19 to March 18. Each will feature a live Q&A with presenters, hosted by Professor of History Emeritus William B. Crawley, Great Lives founder and director.

Bringing in outside biographers isn’t an option due to the pandemic, but the 2021 season displays the research of “our own outstanding scholars in the Mary Washington community,” said Crawley, who tapped current and retired faculty to deliver lectures. Read more.