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Library Lectures—Spring 2019

The Library Lectures are sponsored by the Fellows of the Presidents' College as a service to the campus and community..

Detailed information on all lectures for this semester can be found on the spring 2019 catalog.

Online registration opened on January 3, 2019.

Here and Beyond: Rethinking Art and the American Experience at the Wadsworth with Thomas Loughman

Tues., Feb. 19; 10-30-noon; Library Lecture, KF room
Cost: $20; Fellows, $10. Register online.

On the heels of the landmark reclamation and rehabilitation of two thirds of the campus in downtown Hartford, the Wadsworth is turning its attention to a multi-year program to elevate the public experience within the Avery Memorial. Dr. Loughman will share a first look at how the plans have been forming, the thought process being used, and the early fruits of this concerted effort to secure more vibrant future discourse on the art of our nation.

Thomas J. Loughman is the director and chief executive officer at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Conn. He assumed the role of the 11th Director at the Wadsworth Atheneum in February 2016, just months after the institution completed a major renovation. Previously, he served as the associate director at Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass., (2008–16) as well as in a variety of curatorial, research and teaching roles in the field.

Dr. Loughman is a scholar of Italian art and has lectured and published particularly on the art, architecture, patronage, and urbanism in early Renaissance Florence. Additionally, he has contributed to numerous exhibition catalogues on artists as diverse as Claude Monet, Jéan-Leon Gérôme, Jusepe de Ribera, and Nicolas Poussin. As a curator, he has spearheaded a number of projects highlighting Baroque art in Naples, printmaking in 20th century Philadelphia, a focus on sculptors as draftsmen, ancient bronzes from China, as well as the global tour of the Clark’s core collection. Other initiatives have focused on creating a corpus of early Italian paintings and the American Southwest, a course on Giotto Di Bondone, and an exhibition and related catalogue examining Sterling Clark’s career as a military officer and explorer in late Imperial China.


Dr. Loughman earned his AB from Georgetown University where he was a George F. Baker Scholar; the MA from Williams College; and PhD from Rutgers University, where he was a Fulbright Scholar and a Kress Fellow. He lives in the Hartford area with his wife and two daughters.

Anti-Semitism: Past, Present, and Future with Jonathan Elukin

Fri., March 8; 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.; KF Room
Cost: $20; Fellows, $10. Register online.

The lecture will survey theories of the development of anti-Semitism, with a particular focus on understanding how anti-Semitism is evolving in the contemporary political and social climate in the U.S. and Europe. Are we facing one essentially unchanging ideology that has its roots in the medieval world or should we see anti-Semitism as a collection of constantly changing ideas about Jews? Is anti-Semitism different from other forms of racial prejudice? Why does anti-Semitism seem to survive even in democratic societies?

Jonathan Elukin, associate professor at Trinity College, teaches courses in medieval history, Jewish studies, historiography, and the history of the book. He is author of, among other studies, Living Together, Living Apart: Rethinking Jewish-Christian Relations in the Middle Ages. (Princeton, 2007).

The Hidden Health Record of American Presidents–From FDR to Trump with Dr. Mike Magee

Wed., April 24; 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.; KF Room
Cost: $20; Fellows, $10. Register online.

The American democracy relies heavily on its president as both chief executive and commander in chief. The powers of the presidency granted by Article II of the Constitution are limited, but presidential authority over the past century has expanded through inferred "inherent powers" and claims of "executive privilege." In the modern times, presidents have revealed at least partial details of their health records, but there is no law mandating disclosure. Should there be? This 90-minute slide lecture will explore the hidden medical histories and experiences of presidents from FDR to Trump, and the role that presidential health has played in defining America's health and its leadership at home and abroad?

Mike Magee, M.D. is a medical historian and journalist, and the author of Code Blue: Inside the Medical Industrial Complex (Grove Atlantic, 2019). He has served on the faculty of Presidents’ College at the University of Hartford, the C. Everett Koop Institute at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine and Jefferson Medical College, and was a Honorary Master Scholar at the N.Y.U. School of Medicine and the 2008 Distinguished Alumnus award recipient from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Beginning as a country doctor in western New England, he rose to the highest levels of his profession holding senior executive positions at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, as head of global medical affairs for Pfizer, and was a “short list” candidate for Surgeon General in 2002. Over three decades, he was a trusted adviser inside the Medical Industrial Complex to national medical and hospital associations, government scientific agencies, and industry before resigning his position at Pfizer in 2007. He lives in West Hartford, Connecticut, and is the author of the weekly blog Health Commentary.

Locked Up and Locked Out–America's Growing Prison System with Fiona Mills

Fri., May 10; 2–3:30 p.m.; KF Room.
Cost: $20; Fellows, $10. Register online.

Since the 1970s, the number of persons in the American prison system has skyrocketed to 2.2 million. With an unprecedented rise of over 500 percent in the last 40 years alone, the U.S. now stands as the country that incarcerates more persons than any other nation in the world. Harsh drug sentencing laws stemming from the "War on Drugs" in the 1980s along with increases in the length of time served and cutbacks on release, have all contributed to this phenomenon. Not all communities have been equally impacted by incarceration, as people of color (men, in particular) comprise 67 percent of our country's prison population despite only accounting for 37 percent of the total U.S. population. 

Drawing upon the work of legal scholar Michelle Alexander in her best-selling book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, the work of Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and the author of Just Mercy, and Ava DuVernay's 2016 documentary entitled 13th, we will examine the racial and class inequities that undergird the American prison system. We also will explore the historical relationship between slavery, segregation, and mass incarceration.

Along the way, we will consider the long-range impacts of the prison industrial complex on various communities. This includes felony disenfranchisement, the purging of voter rolls, and the creation of new laws that greatly restrict voters in marginalized communities following the 2013 Supreme Court Shelby v. Holder decision, that dismantled key parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that impacted the recent 2018 midterm elections in Georgia and Florida. As Michelle Alexander compellingly urges her readers, "No task is more urgent for racial justice advocates today than ensuring that America's racial caste system is its last."

Fiona Mills, PhD is a lecturer in the humanities department at St. Anselm College and has taught at various universities including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, Keene State College, and Curry College. She received her PhD in African American literature and Latino/a literature and theory from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has recently edited a collection of essays on Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 novel The Help, entitled Like One of the Family; Domestic Workers, Race and In/Visibility in The Help, published this year by Cambridge Scholars Press.