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Conversations from the Cullman Center: The Joanna Jackson Goldman Memorial Lectures in American Civilization and Government: HIDDEN, THE HISTORY OF SECRECY

March 26, 2013

The Joanna Jackson Goldman Memorial Lecture on American Civilization and Government

This biannual lecture series at The New York Public Library, established by the Estate of the historian Eric F. Goldman in honor of his wife, aims to encourage provocative comment and analysis concerning contemporary issues of deep, long-term significance for American democracy. 
We are no longer accepting reservations for these events. There will be a stand-by line on the night of each program for guests without a reservation. There is no guarantee seats will become available.

Part One: Mystery

Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 7-8 pm

Beginning with the story of an Invisible Lady who visited New York City in 1804, Jill Lepore considers the strange history of the relationship between the unseen and the unknown. In this first of two illustrated lectures that range from the mysteries of the medieval church to the privacy settings on Facebook, Lepore argues that what was once mysterious became secret and, finally, private.


Part Two: Privacy  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 7-8 pm

In her second illustrated lecture, Lepore considers a paradox of contemporary culture in which the only thing more cherished than privacy is publicity. Tracing the origins of privacy to the early modern practice of keeping common-place books, Lepore chronicles the history of hermits, recluses, and invisible men, from H.G. Wells to Ralph Ellison to people who post on Instagram. 

Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University, where she chairs the department of History and Literature Program. She is the author of several books, including The Name of War, which won the Bancroft Prize, the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award, and the Phi Beta Kappa Society Award; New York Burning, which won the Anisfield-Wolf Award for best non-fiction book on race and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; The Whites of Their Eyes, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice; The Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death; and The Story of America: Essays on Origins.

With Jane Kamensky, she founded the magazine Common-place, a publication that explores and exchanges ideas about early American history and culture. Lepore’s essays and reviews appear frequently in The New York Times¸ The Times Literary Supplement, The Daily Beast, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Journal of American History, American Scholar, and American Quarterly.

Lepore is a staff writer for The New Yorker where she regularly publishes essays on a wide range of topics, including history, politics, social issues, women’s rights, education, and literature.
She has served as a consultant for the National Parks Service and is currently on the boards of the National Portrait Gallery and the Society of American Historians.
She is currently a visiting scholar of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.