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Ilsley Public Library

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75 Main St
Middlebury, VT 05753 United States

March 2016

Building Monticello

March 2, 2016
7:00 pm
Image of Monticello

Dartmouth College senior lecturer Marlene Heck explains the lifelong project Jefferson called his “essay in architecture.” Read More »


April 2016

The Legacy of Rachel Carson

April 6, 2016
7:00 pm
Image of Rachel Carson

Silent Spring not only launched the environmental movement but also identified fundamental problems with our relationship to nature. Dartmouth professor Nancy Jay Crumbine explores Carson’s clarity, courage, and brilliance. Read More »


May 2016

Robert Frost in the World

May 4, 2016
7:00 pm

Middlebury professor and Frost biographer Jay Parini explores how Robert Frost became America's favorite poet by writing accessible poems, creating a uniquely appealing persona, and pioneering the public reading of poems. Read More »

September 2016

Weimar Germany and the Rise of the Third Reich

September 22, 2016
7:00 pm
Image of rally in Germany

Defeated, humiliated, and in chaos, Germany after World War I was imperiled by leftist revolution and right-wing violence. Jack Mayer recounts the origins of the Third Reich through the story of Ernst Werner Techow. Read More »


November 2016

Memoirs of an Art Dealer

November 2, 2016
7:00 pm

Former Head of American Paintings at Christie's and Sotheby’s James Maroney shares stories of his experiences in the art world of the 1970s when American art began to come into its own. Read More »


December 2016

Wallace Stevens and the Art of the Empty Mind

December 7, 2016
7:00 pm

Yale Professor of English and Dean of Humanities Amy Hungerford demonstrates how, in the early 20th century, Wallace Stevens set out to clear away a Romantic view of nature and see the world freshly in his distinctly modern poetry. Read More »

February 2017

The Invention of History

February 1, 2017
7:00 pm

We take history for granted, but it owes its inception and survival to two extraordinary individuals. Middlebury College professor Jane Chaplin looks at the contributions of Herodotus (ca. 484-424) and Thucydides (ca. 455-400) to the development of historiography. Read More »


April 2017

Vincent Van Gogh and the Books He Read

April 5, 2017
7:00 pm

Van Gogh’s letters reveal that his paintings and drawings were inspired by his reading as well as by people, nature, and other painters’ work. Art historian Carol Berry shows the profound influence of the works of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and others on Van Gogh’s life and art. Read More »


May 2017

Don Quixote of La Mancha: The Novel that Invented Modernity

May 3, 2017
7:00 pm
Image of painting of Don Quixote

Celebrated literary critic and author Ilan Stavans considers the impact of the masterful Don Quixote on the eve of the 401st anniversary year of Cervantes’s death. Read More »


Classic Films of the 1950s

May 10, 2017
10:30 am
Image for Classic Films of the 1950s

Rick Winston will show clips from several acclaimed films of various genres from the 1950s and discuss their significance. Read More »


June 2017

What If Poor Women Ran the World?

June 7, 2017
7:00 pm
Image of African American women marching

Labor historian Annelise Orleck tells the story of nine African-American union maids in Las Vegas during the 1970’s who challenged welfare cuts and built a long-lasting, vibrant anti-poverty program run by poor mothers. Read More »


July 2017

Reading Frederick Douglass – Middlebury

July 14, 2017
12:10 pm

Join us as we read together the fiery July 5, 1852 speech in which the great abolitionist orator Frederick Douglass took exception to being asked to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence. This is a participatory event. Community members are invited to witness and/or join in the reading. Copies of the speech will be provided. Read More »

October 2017

Willa Cather’s Prairie Landscapes

October 4, 2017
7:00 pm
Image of prairie

The European immigrant farmers in My Antonia and Cather’s other novels fail as often as they succeed. Amherst College professor Michele Barale examines the relation between Cather’s art and her very tangible earth. Read More »


December 2017

Physicists’ Dream of a Theory of Everything

December 6, 2017
7:00 pm
Image of a painting of a man sitting beside a mountain

Theoretical physicists have long dreamt of a theory of everything that encompasses all particles of matter and their interactions. Dartmouth professor Marcelo Gleiser describes how physics and astronomy obtain knowledge of the natural world and how their limitations preclude us from ever getting to a “final” theory. Read More »


January 2018

Race, Nation, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved

January 3, 2018
7:00 pm
Image of woman covered in mud

UVM professor Emily Bernard explores how Beloved argues that America must reckon with the consequences of our nation’s original sin—slavery. Read More »


March 2018

Presidents Appointing Judges

March 28, 2018
7:00 pm
Image of President Trump with Neil Gorsuch

As UVM professor Lisa Holmes explains, while presidents have long used judicial appointments to tilt the judiciary in one direction or another, less common historically have been presidents gaining great political benefit from appointing judges for ideological reasons. Its impact on the health of the judiciary remains to be seen. Read More »


April 2018

Understanding Scripture

April 4, 2018
7:00 pm
Image of person reading the Bible

Middlebury professor emeritus John Keenan considers how we come to understand scripture and gain an interfaith reading of the text by stepping back to see it in context and by stepping aside the text to see parallels and similarities with other traditions. Read More »


Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project

April 17, 2018
7:00 pm
Image of painting of a woman

Dr. Jack Mayer tells the story of Irena Sendler, a holocaust hero who rescued 2,500 children from the Warsaw ghetto. Sendler’s story remained unknown after the war—until three Kansas teens uncovered a reference to her heroism 60 years later. Read More »


June 2018

Churchill and Roosevelt: The Personal in the Partnership

June 6, 2018
7:00 pm
Image of Churchill and Roosevelt in Casablance

University of Vermont History Professor Emeritus Mark A. Stoler examines the important personal relationship between Britain’s Prime Minister and America’s President during their World War II alliance. Read More »


October 2018

Creativity and Historical Truths

October 3, 2018
7:00 pm
Image of Picasso's Guernica painting

Despite journalism’s essential role in informing the public about significant events, Dartmouth professor Irene Kacandes argues that it’s memoir, fiction, music, and art that often best convey truth and leave lasting impressions. Read More »


December 2018

The Wyeths: First Family of American Art

December 5, 2018
7:00 pm
Photo of N.C. Wyeth painting

Shelburne Museum director Thomas Denenberg discusses the Wyeths—N. C. (1882–1945), Andrew (1917–2009), and Jamie (b. 1946)—and offers new perspectives on these three painters who have shaped the way Americans view their world. Read More »


March 2019

Where’s Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales?

March 6, 2019
7:00 pm

Dartmouth professor Peter Travis discusses the subtle irony with which Chaucer depicts his pilgrims, leaving us to judge them for ourselves. Read More »


April 2019

Slow Democracy and the Power of Neighborliness

April 3, 2019
7:00 pm
Image of Norman Rockwell painting

Author and advocate Susan Clark explains the Slow Democracy movement in which ordinary people mobilize to find local solutions to local problems. In the process some find they can bridge the “us-them” divide so prevalent in our national politics. Read More »


May 2019

Natural Icons and National Identity: Frederic Church’s Landscapes

May 1, 2019
7:00 pm
Image of painting of Niagara Falls

Frederic Church painted landscapes of distinctive American features, including Natural Bridge in Virginia and Niagara Falls in New York. Eleanor Jones Harvey, senior curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, explores how and why we used these American landscapes to distinguish the scale and scope of our cultural ambitions. Read More »


*RESCHEDULED* What You Didn’t Know about Evangelicalism

May 22, 2019
7:00 pm
Image of hands folded on the Bible

Most Americans associate evangelicals with the hard-right precincts of the Republican Party. But as Dartmouth religion professor Randall Balmer explains, evangelicalism in America has a much longer and more complex history, including a distinguished pedigree of working for progressive reforms. What happened? Read More »


November 2019

Immigration Restrictions Then and Now: Short Stories of Edith Eaton (Sui Sin Far)

November 6, 2019
7:00 pm

Suzanne Brown discusses three 1912 short stories by Edith Eaton (Sui Sin Far) that examine the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and its effects on the Chinese immigrant community. Eaton’s stories explore assimilation issues, family separations, discrimination, and fear of deportation in ways that still resonate in 2019. Read More »


Music of the Movement

November 17, 2019
4:00 pm
Image of March: Book One cover

Join Francois Clemmons, Professor Emeritus of Middlebury College, and famously "Officer Clemmons" from Mr. Rogers for an afternoon of music. Mr. Clemmons will share with us his knowledge of the music of the Civil Rights Movement, delight us with his voice, and lead us in a sing-a-long to round out the afternoon. Read More »


January 2020

The Sound of Music: Diamond Jubilee

January 8
7:00 pm

In 1959, Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre premiered a musical on an unlikely topic: an Austrian family who had become famous for escaping Nazi Germany. The Sound of Music went on to win five Tony Awards, along with five Academy Awards in its film adaptation. Pianist and scholar Robert Wyatt discusses the history of the musical as well as the audience’s reaction, then and now. Read More »


February 2020

When the Bicycle Came to Vermont

February 5
7:00 pm

UVM professor Luis Vivanco explores the fascinating early history of the bicycle in Vermont, an invention that generated widespread curiosity when it arrived in the 1880s—helping spark important changes in industrial production, consumerism, road policies, gender relations, and cultural ideas. Read More »

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