Public Program- Bruce Ronda

Lectures and Performances
Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - 7:30pm

The Kaleidoscope of History: John Brown after Fifteen Decades
by Bruce Ronda

Bruce Ronda, the author of Reading the Old Man: John Brown in American Culture, (University of Tennessee Press, 2008) will provide an overview of the ways John Brown has been understood and portrayed, first in New England, and then nationally, from 1859 onward by focusing on four creative individuals — Henry David Thoreau, John Greenleaf Whittier, Jacob Lawrence, and Robert Hayden. This lecture will also suggest the deep moral and political questions that Brown's career posed to Massachusetts citizens in 1859 and continue to pose to Americans today, including: what do we do when law and justice seem in conflict? What justifies breaking the law? How might we understand the motives of those who choose to break the law in the name of a .higher law.? What role did religion play in motivating John Brown, and what role does it have for those who desire to change or challenge society and its culture? And finally, what perspectives do the creative arts and artists bring to these social and political questions, as they explore the nuances, complexities, and contradictions of such cultural icons as John Brown?

Bruce Ronda is professor and chair of the Department of English at Colorado State University where he teaches American literature and culture, particularly of the nineteenth century. In addition to Reading the Old Man, Professor Ronda is also the author of Intellect and Spirit: The Life and Works of Robert Coles and Elizabeth Palmer Peabody: A Reformer on Her Own Terms. He is the editor of The Letters of Elizabeth Palmer Peabody: American Renaissance Woman. Ronda has also written various journal articles and reviews that have appeared in Emerson Society Quarterly, American Transcendental Quarterly, and other journals.

John Brown and New England
A series of public programs commemorating the 150th anniversary of John Brown's raid on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry. John Brown and New England is a collaborative project of the American Antiquarian Society, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Thoreau Society, Worcester State College, and Mechanics Hall. This program is funded in part by the Mass Humanities, which receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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