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One Day University: A Morning of History and Literature (St. Petersburg)

February 18, 2018 10:00 AM – 1:15 PM

schedule

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
The Presidential Library: Books that shaped Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt and others

Joseph Luzzi / Bard College

All of us at One Day U who love books wondered about the reading habits of past presidents, and what we found led us to offer this new brand new course.

Award-winning Literature Professor Joseph Luzzi will guide audiences through a fascinating "Presidents' Library," as we explore the books that shaped six of the most powerful men ever to sit in the Oval Office. We will discuss why George Washington was obsessed with a play about a Roman freedom fighter who opposed Julius Caesar; how Thomas Jefferson came to have the largest personal library in the country; what drew Abraham Lincoln to Shakespeare so obsessively (and which Shakespeare play he loved most!); which British poet Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorized as a child and read throughout his life; why John F. Kennedy was devoted to a spy novelist whose books would create one of the greatest film franchises in history; and how Barack Obama came to understand his American identity and spirit through two favorite authors.

Together, we will see how presidential action and presidential reading are intimately linked, as we explore the momentous events in these presidents' lives in light of the books that inspired their thoughts and guided their actions. Professor Luzzi will also summarize his "ALL" (American Library List) detailing the sometimes surprising books and literature which influenced many other U. S. leaders.

Joseph Luzzi / Bard College
Joseph Luzzi is a Literature and Italian Professor at Bard College, and was previously a Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received the Scaglione Prize for his teaching. He is also the author of the audio course, "The Art of Reading." Professor Luzzi previously taught at Yale University, where he was awarded a Yale College Teaching Prize.

11:45 AM - 1:15 PM
Five Turning Points That Changed American History

Jeremi Suri / University of Texas

In the relatively short history of the United States, there have been many turning points and landmark movements that irrevocably altered the direction of the nation and signaled the dramatic start of a new historical reality. Some took the form of groundbreaking political and philosophical concepts; some were dramatic military victories and defeats. Still others were nationwide social and religious movements, or technological and scientific innovations.

What all of these turning points had in common, is that they forever changed the character of America. Sometimes the changes brought about by these events were obvious; sometimes they were more subtle. Sometimes the effects of these turning points were immediate; other times, their aftershocks reverberated for decades. Regardless, these great historical turning points demand to be understood.

The first and most crucial turning point for the newly independent United States was the presidency of George Washington. His leadership unified the country and set the model for democratic executive leadership in the modern world. The Civil War posed the most profound threat to Washington’s vision, and it is the second great turning point in American history. The Union victory in the Civil War gave way to decades of uncertainty and corruption. The Progressive reforms in American domestic and foreign policy during the early twentieth century transformed the United States into a modern world power — our third turning point. The Great Depression, the Second World War, and the early Cold War — the great mid-twentieth century crises — were a fourth turning point, as profound as the Civil War in many ways. The lecture will close with reflections on 9/11/01 and the subsequent “War on Terror” as a fifth turning point in American history that conditions our current economy, society, and troublesome presidential election. Each of these historical turning points has important lessons to teach us about our future as a nation, and the precarious continuity of the American Dream. 

Jeremi Suri / University of Texas
Jeremi Suri holds the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a professor in the University's Department of History and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Professor Suri is the author of six books on contemporary politics and foreign policy. His research and teaching have received numerous prizes, and in 2007 Smithsonian Magazine named him one of America's "Top Young Innovators" in the Arts and Sciences.

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