Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
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Learning from the past

Historian and author Jill Lepore will present Ruby Lecture

Jill Lepore, a celebrated historian and writer, will speak at Wheaton College Tues., Nov. 13, 2012, from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., as part of the Jane E. Ruby Humanities Lecture series.

Lepore currently is an American history professor at Harvard and a staff writer for The New Yorker. Much of Lepore’s writing, which has appeared in New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and many other publications, has focused on history.

Her talk at Wheaton, which will take place in the Hindle Auditorium in the Science Center, is titled “The Meaning of Life: A History.”

Her book The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American won the Bancroft Prize and Phi Beta Kappa’s Emerson Award, and her 2005 book, New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

She is a cofounder of Common-place, a magazine for those with an interest in American history prior to 1900. She has served as a consultant for a multitude of public history projects, including projects for the National Park Service. She also serves as a board member for the National Portrait Gallery and the Society of American Historians. Her many historical research projects have been funded by prominent national organizations, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Pew Foundation, and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

In addition to her Tuesday night lecture, Lepore will speak to students taking Professor Tripp Evans’s course “Picturing New York” and Professor Kim Miller’s “Introduction to Women’s Studies” course.

Both Miller and Evans say they are excited to have Lepore visit, as their courses are closely connected to her work. They also are huge fans of the historian.

“As Professor Lepore writes about history, she also talks about why and how certain stories haven’t made it into our contemporary consciousness. This is a problem we talk about in all of my women’s studies courses,” says Miller.

Adds Evans: “I’m not only excited that my students will be able to explore this important episode in New York’s history [covered in the author’s book] and to interact with a scholar of Lepore’s stature, but I also hope that we all can learn larger lessons about the way she conducts her research and crafts her writing. She has an extraordinary talent for distilling enormous amounts of information into a compelling narrative.”

The Jane E. Ruby lecture series was established in 1993 by a bequest from the estate of Jane E. Ruby, professor of history emerita, former provost and a Wheaton honorary degree recipient. The series brings prominent speakers to campus each year.

This year Wheaton’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter is sponsoring the lecture through the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholars Program, notes Associate Professor of Philosophy John Partridge, vice president of the Phi Beta Kappa chapter and faculty host/liaison for Lepore.

—Monica Vendituoli '15