A Day of Genius with the Boston Globe

Sunday, October 13, 2019 9:30 am - 1:15 pm


9:30 am - 10:35 am
The Scientific Genius of Marie Curie

Susan Lindee / University of Pennsylvania

The brilliant Polish physicist and chemist Marie Curie lived a life of profound personal courage. Her experiences illuminate a culture of "pure science" now long gone, and they help us understand some of the continuing issues for women scientists. She and her future husband Pierre worked ceaselessly under what turned out to be very dangerous and unwise conditions: they isolated radium and polonium, launched the entirely new science of radioactivity, and basically founded a scientific empire. Curie defended her doctoral dissertation in the spring of 1903 and a few months later she and her husband were awarded the Nobel Prize. After her husband died, she continued her demanding scientific work, going on to win another Nobel Prize for chemical work with radium. She served heroically at the French front during World War I, when Curie and her teen-aged daughter Irene drove an X-ray truck she had outfitted herself, to help doctors assess the brutal wounds of the First World War.

When Curie died in 1934 of a form of anemia brought on by exposure to radiation, she was one of the most famous women in the world. Austere, reserved, and powerful, she became a symbol of female genius, the only female scientist commonly included in children's books and other popular sources. In this lecture, U Penn Professor Susan Lindee will explore her astonishing life and work and its implications for women in science today.

Susan Lindee / University of Pennsylvania

Susan Lindee is a Janice and Julian Bers Professor of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the Associate Dean for the School of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Lindee has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Burroughs Wellcome Fund 40th Anniversary Award, as well as support from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.

10:50 am - 11:55 am
The Legacy of Frederick Douglass


Frederick Douglass, one of America’s most important historical figures, continues to inspire modern day human rights and civil rights activism. He was an educator, activist, abolitionist, and public speaker. Born into slavery in or around 1818 in Talbot County, Maryland, his owner’s wife taught him the alphabet; he subsequently taught himself to read and write. While still enslaved, Douglass taught others how to read and write. Douglass escaped his enslavement and fled to New York and then Massachusetts, where he became involved in the abolitionist movement.

Douglass traveled the U.S. advocating for the abolishment of slavery, as well as the UK and Ireland, and forged relationships with others fighting for freedom and equality. He was an advocate for women’s rights, and specifically the right of women to vote. Douglass was even asked by Victoria Woodhull to serve as her Vice President in 1872. In this class, we will discuss Douglass’ life and work as an advocate for electoral participation, gender inclusion, and racial equity. We will discuss the historical implications of the Emancipation Proclamation, and the subsequent amendments to the Constitution expanding the civil rights and civil liberties in the U.S. In this current political moment, it is important to contextualize the efforts of Douglass to change hearts and minds towards the institution of slavery across the U.S. and abroad.


Kenneth B. Morris Jr. is the great-great-great grandson of Frederick Douglass and the great-great-grandson of Booker T. Washington. He has lectured at universities including Columbia University, Morehouse College, UNLV, Tuskegee University, Loyola University Chicago, Yale University, and University of La Verne, and has appeared on CNN, Democracy Now!, PBS, NPR, Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien, the CBS Evening News, and several National Geographic and History Channel documentaries. He is the recipient of many awards, including the Anne Frank Change the World Award from the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights, the National Association of African American Honors Programs Legacy Keeper Award, and the Frederick Douglass Medal from the University of Rochester. Kenneth continues his family’s legacy of anti-slavery and educational work as co-founder and president of the nonprofit Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives.

12:10 pm - 1:15 pm
The Literary Genius of Shakespeare

Seth Lerer / University of California at San Diego

Shakespeare’s Genius

More than four centuries after his death, Shakespeare continues to allure, to challenge, and to teach. Each year, new books and new productions testify to the endurance of his plays and poetry. What makes William Shakespeare, in the words of his contemporary Ben Jonson, “not for an age, but for all time”? We will explore the range of Shakespeare’s work to see how he awes and teaches us today. This lecture focuses on three important questions, both for his time and ours: What is the place of art in the exercise of political rule? How do our families make and unmake us? Is there a character inside of us, or are we all performers on life’s stage? All of Shakespeare’s works address these questions in some way.

What Makes Shakespeare So Great

This lecture will focus on a couple of the great tragedies (Hamlet, King Lear), a great comedy (Midsummer Night’s Dream), and a range of Sonnets. It will explore the ways in which we may see his work newly on the stage, but also how we can read it privately – and how both media of acting and printing shaped his work from its very beginning.

Learn more about our history by checking out other great videos at OneDayU, including ‘What Happened To The News, ‘Music & Theater: Past, Present & Future& ‘Making Better Choices: The Art & Science Of Rational Decision Making’ all on-demand now.

Seth Lerer / University of California at San Diego

Seth Lerer is Distinguished Professor of Literature and former Dean of Arts and Humanities at the University of California at San Diego. He has published widely on literature and language, most recently on Children’s Literature, Jewish culture, and the life of the theater. He has been awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Truman Capote Prize in Criticism. His book, “Tradition: A Feeling for the Literary Past,” appeared in 2016, and his most recent book, “Shakespeare’s Lyric Stage,” was published in 2018.