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Spring 2018 Courses

Why Carousel Still Haunts, Beguiles, and Upsets Audiences 

Frank Rizzo
Thurs., Jan. 25; Feb. 1; 1–2:30 p.m.; KF Room
Cost: $70; Fellows, $50. Register online.

With the Broadway revival starting in late February of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel, Variety and Connecticut theater critic Frank Rizzo takes a timely look at the evolution of the composing team’s dark and complex follow-up to their landmark Oklahoma!, including its world premiere at New Haven’s Shubert Theater. He also looks at its film adaptation and subsequent revivals, including this latest one. In the second half of this two-class study, Rizzo deconstructs the score and shows why Time magazine called Carousel the best musical of the 20th century.

FRANK RIZZO is a writer/critic for Variety and contributes to The New York Times, American Theatre magazine, Theatre Development Fund’s Stages website, the Tribune newspapers (Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun), the Connecticut Hearst papers (Greenwich Time, Stamford Advocate, Connecticut Post, Danbury News-Times), and Fox 61, among other media outlets. For nearly 34 years he was staff arts writer and theater critic for The Hartford Courant. He graduated from the University of Arizona with a BA in journalism and was a Shubert Fellow in playwriting in graduate school, also at the U of A. He lives in New Haven and New York. His theater blog is showriz.com and you can follow him on Twitter @ShowRiz.

The Emergence of Britain: Politics, Religion and the Arts 1600–50

Humphrey Tonkin
Mon., Feb. 5, 12, 19, 26; March 5; 3–4:30 p.m.; Wilde Auditorium
Cost: $100; Fellows, $75. Register online.

When Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, the century-long reign of the Tudor family came to an end. Her successor, James VI of Scotland, who became James I of England, united in his person the realms of England and Scotland, ending the rivalry of these two kingdoms and reviving the old vision of a unified Britain under a single ruler. Yet in many ways the new Jacobean era continued the trends already present in the reign of Elizabeth. London grew in size, manufacturers (or manufacturing) expanded, the commercialization of agriculture continued, colonization expanded, and education and literacy reached more and more people. Tension between crown and parliament, already evident in the final years of Elizabeth, intensified, especially under James I’s successor, Charles I. England, which had congratulated itself on avoiding the bloodshed of the religious wars that tore France apart in the 16th century, had only postponed the inevitable: the political tension was accompanied by equally intense religious differences, leading ultimately to the outbreak of civil war in 1642 and the execution of Charles I, in 1649.

The Emergence of Britain 1600-50 will examine this period of social, political, and creative turbulence—both the conclusion of the religious quarrels that began with Henry VIII’s break with Rome 70 years earlier, and the beginning of the modern era with the growth of scientific inquiry and a profoundly introspective sense of individualism. Each week we will look at one decade, focusing particularly on some architectural or literary artifact of that decade and its larger historical and artistic implications. Among our topics will be the poetry of John Donne and John Milton, the flowering of court culture in masques and in royal portraiture, shifts in architectural design as Inigo Jones brings the Italian style to England, and musical continuities in the work of Orlando Gibbons and Thomas Tomkins.

Humphrey Tonkin’s second book on Spenser, The Faerie Queene, was reissued in 2015. He has recently retired as University professor of humanities and as director of the Presidents’ College, which he was instrumental in founding when he was president of the University of Hartford in the 1990s, and for which he has led numbers of trips to England over the years.

The Language of Music

Michael Lankester
Tues., Feb. 6, 13, 20, 27; 10:30 a.m.–noon; Wilde Auditorium
Cost: $90; Fellows, $70. Register online.

Using examples from Palestrina to Penderecki, Mozart to Messiaen, and Bach to Boulez, Michael Lankester explores the very building bricks of music and how it is that the great composers assemble these elements to overpowering and emotional effect.

1.   The Fundamentals: The Harmonic Series, Pitch, Duration, Rhythm, and Dynamics
2.   The Harmony of the Spheres: Chord, Concord, Discord, Tension, and Resolution
3.   The Structure: Form, Pattern, Repetition, Architecture, Shape, and Colour
4.   The Perception: Intensity, Emotion, Stress, Inevitability, Comfort, and Resolution

MICHAEL LANKESTER has been guest conductor with orchestras in Britain and North America, including the Pittsburgh, Toronto, City of Birmingham, and London Symphonies, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Royal Philharmonic, and was for 15 years music director of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. He studied at the Royal College of Music with Sir Adrian Boult and has had close professional collaborations with Benjamin Britten, William Walton, and Michael Tippett.

The Shape of Dissent: American Modern Dance and the Choreography of Social Protest

Betsy Cooper
Thurs., March 1, 8, 15; 2:30–4 p.m.; KF Room
Cost: $85; Fellows, $75. Register online. 

This three-part lecture series investigates socially conscious choreography created by pioneers of American modern dance during the first half of the 20th century. Working individually and through collective action, leading proponents of the “new dance” sought to raise the status of dance in America by presenting it as a serious art form. Though their choreographic methods and means of dissemination differed, each sought to forge a uniquely American dance form based on self-expression, a quest to present universal truths through dance, and a means of responding to the shifting and tumultuous social and political landscape of the early 20th century. Choreographers and collectives under discussion will include: Helen Tamiris, Charles Weidman, Jane Dudley, Eve Gentry, Pearl Primus, the Workers Dance League, New Dance Group, and the WPA Federal Dance Project.

BETSY COOPER is dean of The Hartt School. As a professional dancer, she performed nationally and abroad with classical and contemporary companies, including Seattle Dance Project, Nationaltheater Mannheim, Matthew Nash Music & Dance, San Francisco Opera Ballet, Makarova & Company, and Connecticut Ballet. Cooper’s scholarly research probes at the intersections of dance, politics, and censorship of the body in mid-20th century concert dance and the Hollywood film industry. She has published articles in Theatre Research International, Dance Research Journal and The International Dictionary of Modern Dance. Her essay, "The Body Censored: Dance, Morality and the Production Code during the Golden Age of the Film Musical," appears in Dance on Its Own Terms: Histories and Methodologies, published by Oxford University Press. Cooper holds an MFA in dance from the University of Washington, a BA, with honors, in archeological studies from Yale University, and is a recipient of a 2004 Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of Washington.

Art of the Aegean (Greek Art Before the Greeks)

David L. Simon
Tues., March 6, 13, 20, 27; 11:30–1 p.m.; KF Room
Cost: $85; Fellows, $75. Register online.

When Greek-speaking peoples arrived in the Aegean about 2000 B.C., the region was already home to art-making cultures. The Bronze-Age art produced on the Cyclades islands, on Crete, and on the Peloponnesus peninsula from about 2500 B.C. through about 1100 B.C. is respectively termed Cycladic, Minoan, and Mycenaean. Artistic production included refined small-scale sculptures, charming ceramic vessels, lyrical wall paintings, and monumental palaces and citadels. Archaeologists and other scholars debate the origins and functions of many of these works as well as their relationship to the Greek art that will come to be produced in the same geographic areas after the demise of these Aegean cultures.

DAVID L. SIMON was, until his recent retirement, Ellerton M. Jette professor of art at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. With degrees from Boston University and the University of London, he is a specialist on Spanish art of the Middle Ages. He has published widely on Romanesque art and architecture, and on the history of art in general, and is joint author of Janson’s History of Art.

Thomas Jefferson: Integrity in the Individual Life and the Meaning of “Greatness”

Richard Voigt
Tues., March 6, 13, 20, 27; 2–3:30 p.m.; KF Room
Cost: $90; Fellows, $75. Register online.

Thomas Jefferson is one of the “great men” of American history. Is this status deserved in view not only of his accomplishments but also of how he actually lived his life? Do Jefferson’s financial dealings, his relationships with women, his personal indulgences and deceits, and his failure to free his slaves suggest a need to reassess his historical stature? Does the contrast between his life and that of Edward Coles, a member of the Virginia landed gentry who is virtually lost to history even though he was responsible for one of the boldest challenges to Jefferson’s ownership of slaves, raise fundamental questions about Jefferson’s legacy? This exploration of the life and times of Jefferson asks whether political figures, including those of our day, should be judged by anything other than their public accomplishments.

RICHARD VOIGT is a graduate of Wesleyan University and the Law School of the University of Virginia (“Mr. Jefferson’s University”). He served in the Office of the Solicitor, U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, DC, before entering private law practice in Connecticut where he became a partner in the firm of McCarter & English, LLC. He also serves as a Para-judicial Officer for the U.S. District Court for Connecticut, and has been recognized for his work, including in Best Lawyers in America. He frequently lectures on American history.

Around the Percussion World in Three Days!

Benjamin Toth
Wed., March 7, 14, 28; 9:30–11 a.m.; Bliss Rehearsal Room, Fuller Music Center
Cost: $90; Fellows, $75. Register online.
Enrollment in this class is limited to 20.

This three-session course provides an introduction to the vast world of percussion. Professor Toth will discuss historical, cultural, and musical contexts for various percussion instruments, and will demonstrate their distinct playing techniques. 

The course will begin by providing an overview of Western classical percussion instruments, including various membranophones (drums) and idiophones (cymbals, xylophone, etc.), in both solo and ensemble contexts, from the works of Beethoven to John Cage and beyond. In addition, much of the course will be dedicated to studying, and experiencing, the percussion music of other cultures, particularly that of Africa, Cuba, Brazil, the Caribbean, and the Middle East.

BENJAMIN TOTH, professor of percussion at the University of Hartford’s Hartt School, has presented concerts, radio, and television broadcasts, master classes, and children’s programs in many countries, spanning six continents. His varied musical interests are reflected in his performance credits, highlights of which include: Percussion Group Cincinnati (inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 2017), Nebojsa Zivkovic’s Jovan Percussion Projekt, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Akron Symphony Orchestra, Goodspeed Opera House, Hartford Stage, and the Bushnell Performing Arts Center. He has recorded for the Albany, Arabesque, Bis, Centaur, Equilibrium, GIA, Hartt, Innova, Musica Europea, Naxos, TNC, and Yesa labels.

Film and Dream

Michael Walsh
Mon., March 12, 26; April 2; 3:30–5 p.m.; KF Room
Cost: $80; Fellows, $60. Register online.

One of the most perennial ideas of cinema is that seeing a film is like dreaming. The class will survey theories of dreams from Freud and Jung, to the discoveries of sleep science and the debate about whether dreaming has any evolutionary value. We will consider films that present themselves as dreams, films that can be understood as dreams, and films that pivot on people talking about their dreams. Sample films will come from early cinema (Ferdinand Zecca and Edwin S Porter), from classic Hollywood (Alfred Hitchcock and Fritz Lang), from European art cinema (Bergman, Tarkovsky), and from contemporary Hollywood (Eyes Wide Shut, Mulholland Drive, and No Country for Old Men).

MICHAEL WALSH was born in London, was educated at Sussex and Buffalo, and has chaired cinema departments at Binghamton University and the University of Hartford, where he has taught film for many years. His recent articles are on sound in experimental film and video (in the Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics), and on 1960s durational films (in Slow Cinema, Edinburgh University Press).

Baseball and the American Mind

Walter Harrison
Thurs., March 15, 22, 29; April 5; 10:30 a.m.– noon; KF Room
Cost: $100; Fellows, $75. Register online.

Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball . . .—Jacques Barzun

As the 2018 Major League Baseball season approaches, we will consider the game's place in American culture by examining its history and the literature (fiction, poetry, and drama), cinema, music, and visual art it inspired. Walter Harrison’s thesis is that baseball both reflects and has contributed to Americans' conceptions of themselves in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Not only does the game reflect the American spirit but also our views of democracy, capitalism, race, and gender—indeed what it means to be an American in our rapidly changing world.

We will consider a wide range of history, literature, cinema, and art inspired by the game (which will include a reading and viewing list for those interested in further pursuing the subject), but we will take closer looks at the origins of the game and its early history, Jackie Robinson and the integration of American society in the mid-20th century, and works by Bernard Malamud, Roger Angell, A. Bartlett Giamatti, and August Wilson.

This course is designed not only for ardent baseball fans, but also for those casually interested in the game and anyone interested in American culture.

WALTER HARRISON is president emeritus of the University of Hartford. He served as president from 1998 until 2017, a period of growth, vitality, and transformation of the University. As the longest serving president in the University’s history, he oversaw a dramatic improvement in the University’s financial stability, a growth in the University’s endowment, which almost tripled during his presidency, and a transformation and re-design of the University’s campus, constructing or renovating 17 different University buildings during his tenure. Most importantly, he oversaw a significant growth in the undergraduate and graduate student population, new professional programs in architecture and the health sciences, and a noticeable improvement in the rigor and quality of the University’s academic offerings. The University’s libraries are now named for him, to recognize his devotion to the life of the mind.

Harrison received his bachelor’s degree, with honors in English, from Trinity College in 1968, his master’s degree in English from the University of Michigan in 1969, and his doctorate in English from the University of California, Davis, in 1980. He served as an officer in the United States Air Force, reaching the rank of captain, from 1969–1972.

Harrison’s career in higher education began in 1976 as an English faculty member at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, Iowa State University (1978–80), and Colorado College (1980– 85), where he became an administrator, serving first as associate director and then director of college relations.

Harrison is a scholar of American literature, especially the modern novel. He has focused most of his academic work on the place of sports, particularly baseball, in American culture. His dissertation, entitled Out of Play: Baseball Fiction from Pulp to Art, was one of the earliest scholarly works in this field. He has continued to teach courses in American literature, American history, and sports in American culture throughout his career.

Artists I Have Known (Who Have Helped Shape the Course of Contemporary Art) in the United States

Douglas Hyland
Wed., March 21, 28; April 4; 10:30 a.m.–noon; Wilde Auditorium
Cost: $100; Fellows, $80. Register online.

Over Douglas Hyland’s 40-year career as a museum director and curator, he has had the good fortune to meet and work with a wide variety of significant painters, sculptors, photographers, and mixed media artists whose influence has been extraordinary. Andrew Wyeth was the first major American artist whom he knew well, and Sol LeWitt was the last. Hyland visited, and organized exhibitions and purchased works of art from Christo and Jeanne Claude, photographers William Eggleston, Robert Frank and Walter Wick, sculptors Nancy Graves and Tom Doyle, and painters George Tooker and Graydon Parrish among many others. He will discuss how they helped shape late 20th and early 21st century art with an emphasis on his personal interactions with them. 

DOUGLAS HYLAND was director of the New Britain Museum of American Art for 16 years. Previously, he served as director of the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Birmingham Museum of Art. He has a PhD in art history from the University of Delaware. He has organized numerous exhibitions and written articles and catalogs on a wide variety of European and American subjects.

The Richard P. Garmany Chamber Music Series at Presidents' College

Larry Alan Smith, Host and Moderator

The Hartt School’s nationally acclaimed Richard P. Garmany Chamber Music Series, now in its ninth season, is partnering with the Presidents’ College to once again offer a two-session course in the spring semester. The first session will feature one of the visiting ensembles in conversation with longtime Hartt faculty member Larry Alan Smith, the series curator. The second session will take a behind the scenes look at how such a series is created.

ATTACCA QUARTET

Wed., March 28, 3–4:30 p.m.; Millard Auditorium
Both spring sessions: Cost $40; Fellows, $20; Register online.

First Prize winners of the 7th Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in 2011, top prizewinners and Listeners’ Choice Award recipients in the 2011 Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition, and winners of the Alice Coleman Grand Prize at the 60th annual Coleman Chamber Ensemble Competition in 2006, the internationally acclaimed Attacca Quartet has become one of America's premier young performing ensembles. Praised by Strad for possessing “maturity beyond its members’ years,” they were formed at the Juilliard School in 2003, and made their professional debut in 2007 as part of the Artists International Winners Series in Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall.

The Attacca Quartet will bring the 2017–18 Garmany season to a rousing finish with a concert on March 29 in Millard Auditorium.

THE FUTURE OF THE LIVE CONCERT

Larry Alan Smith, Host and Curator and Steve Metcalf, Director, Presidents' College
Thurs., April 26; 1:30–3 p.m.; KF Room
Both spring sessions: Cost $40; Fellows, $20; Register online.

Garmany Series Curator Larry Alan Smith and Presidents' College Director Steve Metcalf will discuss trends in classical music programming and presenting, with a special focus on how 21st century chamber music ensembles are positioning themselves to be successful in a rapidly changing world. The session will also feature the unveiling of the 2018–19 Richard P. Garmany Chamber Music Series along with a discussion of the process that led to the final selection of artists for the upcoming 10th Anniversary Season.

LARRY ALAN SMITH is a professor of composition and the former dean of the University of Hartford's The Hartt School. He is curator of the Richard P. Garmany Chamber Music Series.

STEVE METCALF, director of the Presidents’ College, is formerly director of instrumental studies at The Hartt School, and served as full-time music critic at The Hartford Courant from 1982 to 2001. He is the founder and curator of the Garmany Chamber Music Series and a Hartt alumnus. Metcalf is a commentator on the local musical scene and a frequent guest on WNPR’s Colin McEnroe Show.

Nazareth: The Archaeology of the Holy City and the Rise of Christianity

Richard Freund
Mon., April 9, 16, 23; 4–5:30 p.m.; KF Room
Cost: $90; Fellows, $75. Register online.

The University of Hartford has been conducting excavations in Nazareth since 2003 and has made significant discoveries surrounding the life of the city in the first century and the building of the first churches in the Byzantine period. This course will be a lead up to an exhibition and major staging of an original composition by the noted composer Philip Glass together, with pianist Paul Barnes, and local choirs entitled The Annunciation, at the Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford on April 22.

RICHARD FREUND, PhD is the Maurice Greenberg professor of Jewish History and director of the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford. He is the author or co-author of nine books and has directed, on behalf of the University of Hartford, archaeological projects in Israel including the Cave of Letters, Qumran (site of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls), Yavne, Bethsaida, Nazareth, and Har Karkom. He also has a series of projects in Lithuania. Freund’s work has been featured in television documentaries made for National Geographic, NOVA, History Channel, Discovery, BBC, and CNN.

Jane Austen the Radical? Her Revisionist Final Novels

Catherine Stevenson
Tues., April 10, 17, 24; 10:30 a.m.–noon; KF Room
Cost: $90; Fellows, $75. Register online.

Recently, a controversial book has argued that Jane Austen was a “secret radical” whose works have been misread for 400 years. Is there any truth to this assertion?

Through a close reading of her final two works, Persuasion and the unfinished Sanditon, we will explore whether Jane Austen’s social vision, especially in her understanding of class relations in England, underwent a transformation late in her life.

Persuasion is a magnificent treatment of “second chances” and late-life romance; it also provides Austen’s strongest critique of the moral bankruptcy of the aristocracy. No Mr. Darcy’s or admirable Mr. Knightley’s here; instead Austen offers a paean to the new class of self-made men in the Royal Navy who gave England a victory over Napoleon.

The fragmentary Sanditon ventures into totally new territory for Austen—the world of real estate development, particularly the new seaside spas that were beginning to dot England’s southern coast. The magnificent landed estates of her earlier novels are here replaced by seaside villas designed to attract hypochondriacs and the newly moneyed.

Please feel free to read any edition of these books, but please do only read the text of Sanditon written by Austen herself. There have been several recent versions, which attempt to complete the novel.

CATHERINE STEVENSON, former academic dean for International and Honors Programs at the University, is the author of Victorian Women Travel Writers in Africa (1982), and many scholarly articles on English literature, theater, and women’s studies. In her 30 years at the University of Hartford, she served as a department chair, associate dean, assistant provost, and dean of the faculty, and the Harry Jack Gray Distinguished Teaching Humanist. She received the University of Hartford’s Outstanding Teachers Award and the Trachtenberg Award for Service to the University..

Problem Solving Lessons from Pólya

Jean McGivney-Burelle
Wed., April 11, 18, 25; 10:30 a.m.–noon; KF Room
Cost: $85; Fellows: $65. Register online.

In this session, we will explore George Pólya’s influential book How to Solve It and apply a range of strategies including induction, working backwards, solving simpler problems, examining individual cases, and searching for patterns to solve mathematics problems in geometry, algebra, probability, number theory, combinatorics, and more. Come for the math, stay for the fun!

JEAN McGIVNEY-BURELLE is professor of mathematics at the University of Hartford and was named the inaugural executive director of the Center for Teaching Excellence and Innovation in August 2016. She has been a faculty member since 2005 and teaches a range of undergraduate mathematics and mathematics education courses. Her research interests are in the area of technology and the teaching and learning of K-16 mathematics.

Venice: Art, Civilization, and the European Imagination

Patrick McCaughey
Fri., May 4, 11, 18, 25: noon–1:30 pm; Wilde Auditorium
Cost: $120; Fellows, $90. Register online.

John Ruskin called it “the Paradise of Cities” and Venice, despite the onslaught of mass tourism, retains its magnetic beauty and mystery. Its history, art, and civilization are as remarkable as its improbable situation: the city on the sea with canals for streets and waterways for lanes.

The first settlements on the shifting sand banks and mud flats of the lagoon were refugee encampments as the populations on the main land fled from the successive waves of barbarians from the Goths in the 5th century AD to the Lombard invasion of the Italian peninsula from the 6th to the 8th century. By the turn of the millennium, Venice had established itself as a city-state with a burgeoning maritime empire, a bridge between the eastern and western empires. The Most Serene Republic of Venice, as it came to be known, lasted for over a thousand years until 1797 when Napoleon captured it without a shot being fired.

The layers of civilization in Venice have left a rich legacy of art and architecture. This course of four lectures will start with its Byzantine and Gothic origins. We will trace the coming of the Renaissance to Venice in the 15th century and its triumph in the 16th, when some of the greatest masters of the age—Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, and Verones—made Venice their home. A consideration of the final flowering of Venetian art in the 18th century with the veduti, the view painters—Canaletto, Guardi, and Bellotto—will give way to a look at Venice in the European imagination.

It was the inspiration of Turner, Whistler, and Sargent amongst others and the matrix for literature from Goethe to Browning, from Henry James to Thomas Mann. Wagner and Stravinsky were denizens of the city. Stravinsky died there and is buried on the island of San Michele. As much as Rome or Florence, Venice, the idea and presence of the city, persistently haunts the western mind.

PATRICK MCCAUGHEY, art historian and writer, is former director of the National Gallery of Victoria (Australia), the Wadsworth Atheneum, and the Yale Center for British Art. He writes frequently for publications in Britain, the United States, and Australia, and is known as an accomplished lecturer on all aspects of art.

Noah Webster: The Man Behind the Words

Jennifer Dicola Matos, John Morse, Joshua C. Kendall
Tues., May 8, 15, 22; 3–4:30 p.m.
All sessions of the course will take place at the Noah Webster House and West Hartford Historical Society, 227 South Main Street, West Hartford
Cost: $80; Fellows, $60. Register online.

Noah Webster. If people don’t know his full name, they usually know of his magnum opus, An American Dictionary of the English Language. But that’s the extent of most people’s knowledge. The man behind the words is a complex story of language and perseverance, of patriotism and culture, and of identity and legacy. 2018 is a very momentous year for Noah Webster. It’s the 260th anniversary of his birth (October 16, 1758) and the 175th anniversary of his death (May 28, 1843). This course will take a deeper dive into Webster’s role in American history and his lasting legacy. Nowhere is his impact felt more greatly than in West Hartford, Conn. Webster is West Hartford’s favorite son. He was born in the small farming community called the “West Division” in 1758. Through his accomplishments as an adult, he put West Hartford on the map. He also shaped the nation in a profound and lasting way that is rarely acknowledged. Yet for all of this, Webster is a historical figure that is largely overlooked. Even residents of the town of his birth are not aware of his accomplishments, save the dictionary.

Lecture No. 1: Noah Webster, the Man

Jennifer DiCola Matos
Tues., May 8; 3–4:30 p.m.

If the name Webster is synonymous with the word ‘dictionary,’ it could nearly also be synonymous with the word ‘cranky.’ Although he had a reputation for being cantankerous, his correspondence with his family suggests otherwise. At the same time he was badgering politicians with newspaper editorials, he was also a loving father and husband. In this session, Matos will discuss Webster’s childhood here in West Hartford, his studies at Yale, and the circumstances that precipitated him to write the Blue-Backed Speller. What made Webster tick? How did growing up in a farming community in Connecticut shape his character? What were his wishes and dreams? Amongst his professional achievements, Matos will talk about his personal relationships and how they affected and were affected by his 28-year project, An American Dictionary of the English Language.

JENNIFER DICOLA MATOS is the executive director of the Noah Webster House and West Hartford Historical Society, located in the restored birthplace and childhood home of Noah Webster. She has a BA in history and art history from the University of Saint Joseph and an MA in American civilization from Brown University. She currently serves as a co-chair of the New England Museum Association’s Historic Sites Professional Affinity Group and is an advisor at the Women’s Leadership Center at the University of Saint Joseph. Prior to her current position, she worked at a variety of museums and historic sites in the Greater Hartford area, including Connecticut’s Old State House, Connecticut Historical Society, Connecticut Landmarks, and the Wadsworth Atheneum.

Lecture No. 2: Noah Webster to Merriam-Webster: The Legacy of the Dictionary Today

John Morse
Tues., May 15; 3–4:30 p.m.

“Look it up in Webster’s.” A work with such brand recognition that it goes simply by the author’s last name, Noah Webster published his dictionary in 1828. After Webster’s death in 1843, Charles and George Merriam purchased the rights to the dictionary, as well as the remaining unsold copies to sell in their shop. While they would later make significant changes to the text, the Merriam’s recognized the importance of Webster’s name and incorporated it into their company. With great business and marketing acumen, the Merriam’s made Webster a household name. Today, Merriam-Webster Inc. maintains the spirit of Noah Webster and the essence of his life’s work by chronicling the ever-evolving American English language. Morse will detail how Noah Webster’s dictionary became Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, changes made to various editions with special emphasis on the pivotal 1864 version, and how that version established the model for the unabridged dictionary, as we know it today.

JOHN MORSE is the former president and publisher of Merriam-Webster Incorporated, having retired from the company in 2016. He joined Merriam-Webster 1980 and served as manager of editorial operations and planning ,and as executive editor, with responsibility for all product-development operations. He became publisher in 1996 and president and publisher in 1997, but remained actively involved in the company's product-development activities, including the launch of Merriam-Webster’s line of bilingual dictionaries, beginning in 1998; creation of Merriam-Webster's Advanced Learner's English Dictionary, a dictionary for people learning English as a second or foreign language in 2008; and the relaunched of Merriam-Webster.com in 2016. He writes and speaks regularly about the history and evolution of reference works in print, online, and mobile formats. Morse is a graduate of Haverford College and holds a Masters of Arts degree in English language and literature from the University of Chicago.

Lecture No. 3: Noah Webster: The Forgotten Founding Father

Joshua C. Kendall
Tues., May 22; 3–4:30 p.m.

Noah Webster was more than just America’s greatest lexicographer. He was also a Founding Father who helped define American culture. In his book (published in 2011), Kendall describes Webster’s far-reaching influence in establishing the American nation. He was friends with various Founding Fathers, he started New York’s first daily newspaper, he wrote a best-selling schoolbook (the “Blue-backed Speller”) that influenced copyright law and taught millions of Americans how to be American. But perhaps most important, Webster was an ardent supporter of a unified, definitively American culture, distinct from the British, at a time when the United States of America were anything but unified—and his dictionary of American English is a testament to that. Kendall will cover these fascinating stories and more to prove that Webster is indeed a “forgotten” Founding Father. 

JOSHUA C. KENDALL is the author of The Man Who Made Lists (Putnam, 2008), about the creation of Roget's Thesaurus, and The Forgotten Founding Father (Putnam, 2011), a biography of Noah Webster, the lexicographer responsible for Webster's Dictionary. Both of these books were New York Times Editors’ Choice selections. He has profiled seven American icons, including Thomas Jefferson, Charles Lindbergh, Ted Williams, and dEstée Lauder in his group biography, America’s Obsessives: The Compulsive Energy That Built a Nation (Grand Central, 2013). His last book is First Dads: Parenting and Politics from George Washington to Barack Obama (Grand Central, 2016). Kendall's journalism on a wide range of subjects has appeared in The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Parade, Financial Times, Psychology Today, The Nation, Politico, The Daily Beast, and BusinessWeek, among other publications. For his excellence in reporting on psychiatry, he has received national journalism awards from both the American Psychoanalytic Association and Mental Health America. Kendall is currently an associate fellow of Yale University's Trumbull College.

Note: Tuition and fees are non-refundable.