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Boston Athenaeum

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The Boston Athenæum, a membership library, first opened its doors in 1807, and its rich history as a library and cultural institution has been well documented in the annals of Boston’s cultural life. Today, it remains a vibrant and active institution that serves a wide variety of members and scholars. With more than 600,000 titles in its book collection, the Boston Athenæum functions as a public library for many of its members, with a large and distinguished circulating collection, a newspaper and magazine reading room, quiet spaces and rooms for reading and researching, a children’s library, and wireless internet access throughout its building. The Art Department mounts three exhibitions per year in the institution's Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery, rotating selections in the Recent Acquisitions Gallery, and a number of less formal installations in places and cases around the building. The Special Collections resources are world-renowned, and include maps, manuscripts, rare books, and archival materials. Our Conservation Department works to preserve all our collections. Other activities for members and the public include lectures, panel discussions, poetry readings, musical performances, films, and special events, many of which are followed by receptions. Members are able to take advantage of our second- and fifth-floor terraces during fine weather, and to search electronic databases and our digital collections from their homes and offices.

The Boston Athenæum, a membership library, first opened its doors in 1807, and its rich history as a library and cultural institution has been well documented in the annals of Boston’s cultural life. Today, it remains a vibrant and active institution that serves a wide variety of members and scholars. With more than 600,000 titles in its book collection, the Boston Athenæum functions as a public library for many of its members, with a large and distinguished circulating collection, a newspaper and magazine reading room, quiet spaces and rooms for reading and researching, a children’s library, and wireless internet access throughout its building. The Art Department mounts three exhibitions per year in the institution's Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery, rotating selections in the Recent Acquisitions Gallery, and a number of less formal installations in places and cases around the building. The Special Collections resources are world-renowned, and include maps, manuscripts, rare books, and archival materials. Our Conservation Department works to preserve all our collections. Other activities for members and the public include lectures, panel discussions, poetry readings, musical performances, films, and special events, many of which are followed by receptions. Members are able to take advantage of our second- and fifth-floor terraces during fine weather, and to search electronic databases and our digital collections from their homes and offices.
More Information

Location:

Boston, MA

Description:

The Boston Athenæum, a membership library, first opened its doors in 1807, and its rich history as a library and cultural institution has been well documented in the annals of Boston’s cultural life. Today, it remains a vibrant and active institution that serves a wide variety of members and scholars. With more than 600,000 titles in its book collection, the Boston Athenæum functions as a public library for many of its members, with a large and distinguished circulating collection, a newspaper and magazine reading room, quiet spaces and rooms for reading and researching, a children’s library, and wireless internet access throughout its building. The Art Department mounts three exhibitions per year in the institution's Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery, rotating selections in the Recent Acquisitions Gallery, and a number of less formal installations in places and cases around the building. The Special Collections resources are world-renowned, and include maps, manuscripts, rare books, and archival materials. Our Conservation Department works to preserve all our collections. Other activities for members and the public include lectures, panel discussions, poetry readings, musical performances, films, and special events, many of which are followed by receptions. Members are able to take advantage of our second- and fifth-floor terraces during fine weather, and to search electronic databases and our digital collections from their homes and offices.

Language:

English


Episodes

David A. Hopkins, “Red Fighting Blue: How Geography and Electoral Rules Polarize American Politics”

12/15/2017
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December 11, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. The national electoral map has split into warring regional bastions of Republican red and Democratic blue, producing a deep and enduring partisan divide in American politics. In Red Fighting Blue, David A. Hopkins places the current partisan and electoral era in historical context, explains how the increased salience of social issues since the 1980s has redefined the parties' geographic bases of support, and reveals the critical role that American...

Duration: 00:42:29


Keridwen N. Luis, “Naked Among the Karma Eaters: The Body Politics of Women’s Lands”

12/14/2017
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December 5, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. At the risk of stating the obvious: we exist in the world in bodies. How our bodies interact in cultural spaces shapes us and shapes our cultural spaces. This talk examines how the "body politics" of women's land—communal living spaces created by and for women—shape individual experiences and larger expectations about gender, race, identity, and virtue. How does nudity change how bodies are perceived and policed? What does being connected to the...

Duration: 00:54:04


Maya Jasanoff, “The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World”

12/11/2017
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December 4, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. Immigration, terrorism, the dangers of nationalism, the promise and peril of technological innovation: these forces shaped the life and work of Joseph Conrad at the dawn of the twentieth century. Joseph Conrad described the beginnings of globalization as we recognize it today. As an immigrant from Poland to England, and in travels from Malaysia to Congo to the Caribbean, Conrad traced an interconnected world and described it in a literary oeuvre of...

Duration: 00:52:52


Laura Cavendish, Countess of Burlington, “House Style: Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth”

12/5/2017
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November 15, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. Chatsworth has been home to the Cavendish family and the hereditary dukes of Devonshire since the original Elizabethan house was built on the site purchased by Sir William Cavendish in 1549. A famous historic house in England, Chatsworth is renowned as much for its fashionable history—its majestic dresses and tiaras, magnificent lace, and splendid uniforms—as its unrivaled collection of art, palatial gardens, and celebrated family dynasty. From the...

Duration: 00:50:36


Stephen Greenblatt, “The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve”

12/4/2017
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November 14, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. With the insight, eloquence, and erudition that have thrilled hundreds of thousands of readers of his books about Shakespearean England and the Italian Renaissance, Stephen Greenblatt breathes new life into the ancient story of Adam and Eve. He tracks the story’s origins back into humanity’s deep past and its first written form to the Hebrews’ exile in Babylon. Returning to us a precious cultural inheritance, The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve is an...

Duration: 00:47:19


Liza Mundy, “Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II”

12/1/2017
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November 7, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. In 1942, reeling from Japan’s devastating surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States military launched a secret program to recruit young, female college graduates to act as code breakers in the newly ramped up war effort. In Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II, award-winning journalist and bestselling author Liza Mundy reveals for the first time the revolutionary achievements and patriotic service...

Duration: 00:44:14


Carol Sanger, “About Abortion: Terminating Pregnancy in Twenty-First-Century America”

11/29/2017
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November 1, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. One of the most private decisions a woman can make, abortion is also one of the most contentious topics in American civic life. Protested at rallies and politicized in party platforms, terminating pregnancy is often characterized as a selfish decision by women who put their own interests above those of the fetus. This background of stigma and hostility has stifled women’s willingness to talk about abortion, which in turn distorts public and...

Duration: 00:55:38


Otto Penzler, “The Big Book of Rogues and Villains”

11/16/2017
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October 31, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. Edgar Award-winning editor Otto Penzler's new anthology brings together the most cunning, ruthless, and brilliant criminals in mystery fiction, for the biggest compendium of villains ever assembled. Join us on Halloween for his spooky book talk. Penzler gathers the iconic traitors, thieves, con men, sociopaths, and killers who have crept through the mystery canon over the past 150 years, captivating and horrifying readers in equal measure. The 72...

Duration: 00:44:54


Helene Atwan, Ladette Randolph, Michael Reynolds, and Meghna Chakrabarti, “Editorial Perspectives”

11/16/2017
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October 26, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. For the reader, the world of books may seem a simple one: go to the local library or bookstore, select a title that suits our taste, open, and turn the pages. The story of the editors who shape the works we cherish is rarely told. What choices and challenges do these editors face? How do they perceive themselves and their role in the world today? How does their mission drive the works they publish? Join us for this rare opportunity to spend an...

Duration: 00:54:39


Katherine Paterson, “My Brigadista Year”

11/13/2017
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October 21, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. In her new historical novel, Katherine Paterson tells a moving coming-of-age story, shedding light on a little-known moment in history. Inspired by true accounts, the narrative follows a Cuban teenager as she volunteers for Fidel Castro’s national literacy campaign and travels into the impoverished countryside to teach others to read, sharing in the danger posed by counterrevolutionaries hiding in the hills nearby. The novel includes an author’s...

Duration: 00:39:56


Kate Harding and Samhita Mukhopadhyay; Moderated by Jaclyn Friedman, “Nasty Women”

11/3/2017
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October 18, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. The 2016 election of Donald Trump to the presidency was a devastating blow to the country’s marginalized populations—immigrants, Muslims, the LGBTQ community, and Black Americans, to name a few. Intersecting with each of these groups were women, who despaired as their rights as equal citizens were called into question. Women of all walks of life bore witness as one of the most qualified candidates in history, Hillary Clinton, lost to an...

Duration: 00:40:50


Tunney Lee, Shauna Lo, and Lisong Liu, “Boston and the Chinese Exclusion Act”

10/25/2017
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October 17, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. This panel, led by Tunney Lee with Shauna Lo and Lisong Liu, will cover the changing nature of Chinese immigration to Boston from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 (CEA) through its repeal in 1943 to today. Although the main driver for the CEA was West Coast conflicts between European settlers—recently arrived via transcontinental railroad—and Chinese immigrants, Boston and Massachusetts played key roles in the passage and enforcement of the law....

Duration: 01:10:33


Donald Louria, “Systems Thinking, Extraordinary Longevity, and Pot”

10/16/2017
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October 11, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. In his book reThink, preventive medicine and public health expert Donald Louria argues that “societally connected systems thinking” can allow us to solve problems where conventional methods have failed. By analyzing an entire issue through systems diagrams rather than its component parts, problem solvers are able to examine causes and consequences, understand patterns and themes, and identify leverage points. Societally connected systems thinking...

Duration: 00:55:57


Henry William Brands, “The General vs. the President”

10/13/2017
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October 10, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. Harry S. Truman was one of the most unpopular presidents in American history. Heir to a struggling economy, a ruined Europe, and ever-increasing tension with the Soviet Union, on no issue was the path ahead clear and easy. General Douglas MacArthur, by contrast, was incredibly popular, as untouchable as any officer has ever been in America. The lessons he drew from World War II were absolute: appeasement leads to disaster and a showdown with the...

Duration: 00:39:21


“Recording Lives at Lightning Speed”

10/11/2017
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October 5, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. In conjunction with the Boston University Center for the Humanities Fall Forum, Recording Lives: Libraries and Archives in the Digital Age, we are pleased to host a conversation on local cultural organizations’ use of digital technologies to expand access to their collections. In this program, representatives from six cultural organizations charged with the material past will give a “lightning round” of presentations on how they are embracing the...

Duration: 00:41:25


Neil Swidey, “The Boston Roots of the Trump Anti-Immigrant Playbook”

9/28/2017
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September 26, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. President Trump’s immigration rhetoric has elicited outrage in Massachusetts, and especially in the vicinity of Harvard Yard (where Trump won just 4% of the vote). So, in Greater Boston, it may turn more than a few faces crimson to learn that—like basketball, the microwave oven, and public education—the intellectual playbook for anti-immigration policy was drafted right here in Massachusetts, by a small group of Harvard-educated Brahmin...

Duration: 00:50:12


William Dalrymple, “Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World’s Most Famous Diamond”

9/25/2017
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September 20, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. On March 29, 1849, the ten-year-old Maharajah of the Punjab handed over to the British East India Company in a formal Act of Submission to Queen Victoria not only swathes of the richest land in India, but also arguably the single most valuable object in the subcontinent: the celebrated Koh-i-Noor diamond. Using original eyewitness accounts and chronicles never before translated into English to craft the first comprehensive and authoritative...

Duration: 00:50:50


William Kuhn, “Prince Harry Boy to Man”

9/19/2017
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September 14, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. Author and historian William Kuhn discusses his recently published satirical war novel, a lighthearted work of fiction that recounts Prince Harry’s wartime experiences in Afghanistan. A former historian in the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle, Kuhn will share personal anecdotes, including his impressions of a Christmas party at Buckingham Palace.

Duration: 00:44:08


Adam Begley, “The Great Nadar: The Man Behind the Camera”

9/8/2017
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September 6, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. The first great portrait photographer, a pioneering balloonist, the first person to take an aerial photograph, and the prime mover behind the first airmail service, Nadar was one of the original celebrity artist-entrepreneurs. A kind of 19th-century Andy Warhol, he knew everyone worth knowing and photographed them all, conferring on posterity psychologically compelling portraits of Manet, Sarah Bernhardt, Delacroix, Daumier and countless others—a...

Duration: 00:47:34


Geoff Wisner, “Thoreau’s Wildflowers and Animals”

8/3/2017
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August 2, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. Many of the most vivid writings in Henry David Thoreau’s journals were inspired by the plants and animals that inhabit the sprawling fields, forests, and wetlands of Concord and nearby communities. An inveterate year-round rambler and keen and thoughtful observer, Thoreau wrote frequently about these creatures, faithfully recording each sighting or encounter with the accuracy of a scientist and the deep spirituality of a transcendentalist and mystic....

Duration: 00:50:02

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