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Lowell Lecture Series 2015: Revolutionary Ideas

The 2015 Lowell Lecture Series explores social, political, cultural, and economic themes related to the American Revolutionary War era (1750-1800). This year’s Lowell Lecturers include acclaimed historians, authors, and experts in the field to reflect upon this pivotal period in American history and its enduring legacy. The series accompanies the library’s major gallery exhibition We Are One: Mapping America’s Road to American Independence, presented by the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center and on view at the Central Library in Copley Square through November 29, 2015.

All lectures take place in the Abbey Room and begin at 6:00 p.m. A book sale and author signing will follow some lectures. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Lowell Lecture series is generously sponsored by the Lowell Institute, established in 1836 with the specific mission of making great ideas accessible to all people, free of charge.

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Jun. 11
6:00 p.m.

Abbey Room
Joseph J. Ellis on The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution

Joseph Ellis

A leading scholar of American history, Joseph Ellis is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation and the National Book Award-winning American Sphinx, a biography of Thomas Jefferson. In his latest work The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 (2015),Ellis gives a gripping and dramatic portrait of one of the most crucial and misconstrued periods in American history: the years between the end of the Revolution and the formation of the federal government. The triumph of the American Revolution was neither an ideological nor a political guarantee that the colonies would relinquish their independence and accept the creation of a federal government with power over their autonomy as states. The Quartet is the story of the second American founding and of the men most responsible—George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison.


Jul. 21
6:00 p.m.

Abbey Room
Cokie Roberts on Founding Mothers, Ladies of Liberty, and Capital Dames

Cokie Roberts

With a lifetime of experience in Washington politics and a deep and abiding interest in the role women have played in American history, Cokie Roberts has a singular perspective on the importance of women in shaping our country. Her books Founding Mothers and Ladies of Liberty (published in 2004 and 2008 respectively) became instant bestsellers, and her most recent work Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington, 1848-1868 (2015) commemorates the achievements and legacies of remarkable women during that wrenching period. Ms. Roberts is a political commentator for ABC News, providing analysis for all network news programming, as well as for NPR. In her more than forty years in broadcasting, she has won countless awards, including three Emmys. In 2008, the Library of Congress named her a "Living Legend." Seating is first come, first serve and will begin at 5:30 p.m.


Oct. 5
6:00 p.m.

Abbey Room
Peter Barber on The Colonies in Context: The Place of North America in King George’s World View

Peter BarberPeter Barber served as Head of Map Collections at the British Library from 2001 to 2015. He has a longstanding research interest in English monarchs and their maps, and he initiated the ongoing British Library project to re-catalogue and digitize King George III’s Topographical Collection. In addition to research articles and contributions to scholarly works on medieval world maps and the links between maps and government in early modern Europe, he has curated major exhibitions, acted as a consultant and presenter for television, and authored and edited several popular books on the history of maps.


Oct. 14
6:00 p.m.

Abbey Room
M. T. Anderson on A Revolution Within the Revolution: The African-American Struggle for Freedom

MT AndersonAward-winning author M. T. Anderson has written stories for adults, picture books for children, adventure novels for young readers, and several books for older readers (both teens and adults). His highly praised Octavian Nothing saga is set in Boston during the American Revolution; the first volume, The Pox Party, won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 2006 and both the first and second volumes of that two-part series were Printz Honor Books. Meticulously researched and presented in 18th-century prose, Anderson’s sweeping 900-page epic explores race, science, morality, and the darker facets of America’s quest for liberty.


Oct. 28
6:00 p.m.

Abbey Room
Jane Kamensky on John Singleton Copley and the Sideways American Revolution

Jane Kamensky

Jane Kamensky is Professor of History and Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute of Advance Study. She is a historian of early America, the Atlantic world, and the age of revolutions, with particular interests in the histories of family, culture, and everyday life. Kamensky’s major publications include The Exchange Artist: A Tale of High-Flying Speculation and America’s First Banking Collapse (Viking, 2008), a finalist for the 2009 George Washington Book Prize; and Governing the Tongue: The Politics of Speech in Early New England (Oxford UP, 1997). With Edward G. Gray, she edited the Oxford Handbook of the American Revolution (Oxford UP, 2012). Her next book, Copley: A Life in Color, a history of painting and politics in the age of revolution centered on the life of John Singleton Copley, will be published by W. W. Norton.


These programs are presented as part of Revolutionary Boston, a citywide commemoration. To see a full list of programs, visit www.bpl.org/revolution.

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