Jill Lepore to Headline the Third Annual Lore Kephart Distinguished Historians Lecture

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A week or so ago, when my husband and I were powerless, my father called and invited us to dinner at his home, where my mother's orchids still grow, the figurines still shine, and the sun yet goldens the rooms.  Glimmers of my mother, all.  We were almost finished with this delightful repast (cloth napkins! dimmed lights! smart vegetables! organic cookies!) when my father mentioned that the Villanova University committee entrusted with the selection of a scholar for the Lore Kephart Distinguished Historians Lecture Series had made its decision, and that Jill Lepore was slated to come.  She follows Pulitzer Prize winning James McPherson and the utterly engaging Andrew Bacevich  in this role, and she will appear at the university on the evening of December 6th, details to come.

Jill Lepore happens to be one of my idols. She's not just the David Woods Kemper '41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and a staff writer for The New Yorker.  She's a woman who smiles warmly back at you from her portrait photos, despite the fact that her head is preposterously full of stuff about Charles Dickens and the Constitution, Benjamin Franklin's youngest sister and the Tea Party, eighteenth-century Manhattan and the King Philip's War (she has written or is writing books about it all).  For an apparent change of pace, she's even co-authored a widely acclaimed novel called Blindspot.  And once she wrote a New Yorker piece called "The Lion and the Mouse" (about E.B. White, Stuart Little, and the sometimes ridiculously short-sighted nature of critics and publishing houses) that was so letter perfect I didn't just blog about it here.  I wrote Ms. Lepore a gushing fan letter.  Miraculously, Ms. Lepore wrote back. 

Jill Lepore will be talking about the Tea Party and the Constitution in December.  I'll be providing more details as I can.  For now I'm simply expressing my excitement that my mother and father are working together once again to bring all of us something grander than grand.

My thanks to Paul Steege, a good friend, fine teacher, smart writer, and great soul, who remains a key member of this selection committee.


Elizabeth Mosier said...

This is so exciting! Can anyone attend? I'd love to!

Beth Kephart said...

Thank you! Open to everyone, and for free! My mother's legacy and my father's gift. Please come.

Melissa Sarno said...

This is exciting! Your mother's name is Lore. That is so beautiful. That means so much.

Beth F said...

I'll be watching for the date. Very exciting.

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