UC Berkeley News


Next assignment: Lincoln at Gettysburg
Historian Garry Wills is the centerpiece of this year's "On the Same Page" program

| 19 September 2007

"On the Same Page," a signature program of the College of Letters and Science, is highlighting its second year by exploring the most famous speech in American history with Garry Wills, author of Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America.

Gary Wills

Wills, a prominent author and cultural historian, will visit campus Sept. 25-27, appearing in venues ranging from an informal reception with students and a history-writing panel to a public lecture in Zellerbach Hall.

"Garry Wills is one of the most distinguished and prolific historians of our time," says Jon Gjerde, dean of social sciences in L&S and a professor of American history. "Wills engages us with remarkable insights about our past as well as our present."

An emeritus professor of history at Northwestern University, Wills won the National Medal for the Humanities in 1998 for his written contributions to the fields of politics, history, religion, and theater. He also won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Lincoln at Gettysburg. Wills' subjects have ranged from Lincoln to Richard Nixon, from Aeschylus to Shakespeare, and from the Vietnam war to religion.

Last summer, all newly admitted and transfer students in Letters and Sciences received a free copy of Wills' Pulitzer Prize-winning book, which applies American politics, ancient history, and more to Lincoln's address delivered at the 1863 dedication of a military cemetery near the site of the battle of Gettysburg. The bloody battle is often cited as the Civil War's turning point.

Students have opportunities to discuss Lincoln at Gettysburg and associated topics in several classes. Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby, an associate professor of art history, will offer "An Ex-Slave's Use of Photography: Sojourner Truth's Cartes-de-visite," about the life and photography of the well-known abolitionist and women's rights advocate who once met Lincoln. Richard Hutson, associate professor of English, will explore Wills' book as well as other Lincoln speeches and letters in his class, "Garry Wills' Lincoln at Gettysburg." And Laurie Wilkie, a professor of anthropology and director of the campus's Archaeological Research Facility, will offer "Road to Freedom: Anthropological Perspectives on African-American Life," a course in which she will use material written by archaeologists and anthropologists - along with oral histories - to debunk the popular belief that "emancipation was something done for African Americans." Wilkie and her students will examine how African Americans created their own freedom by resisting racism and through family and cultural lives as well as economics and politics.

Wills will also participate in "Writing History," a panel that will discuss the author's work as well as the challenges and rewards of historical scholarship, on Tuesday, Sept. 25, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the Maude Fife Room (315 Wheeler). Panelists include four Berkeley history professors: Robin Einhorn, author of American Taxation, American Slavery and Property Rules: Political Economy in Chicago, 1833-1872; Susanna Elm, author of Virgins of God: The Making of Asceticism in Late Antiquity; Jon Gjerde, author of The Minds of the West: Ethnocultural Evolution in the Rural Middle West, 1830-1917; and Thomas Laqueur, author of Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud.

Wills' Zellerbach Hall public lecture will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 8 p.m. It is part of Cal Performances' "Strictly Speaking" series. Tickets, priced at $20/$15/$10, are available through the Cal Performances box office at Zellerbach Hall, at 642-9988 to charge by phone, at www.calperformances.net, and at the door the night of the lecture.

For more information about the "On the Same Page" program, visit onthesamepage.berkeley.edu.

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