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St. Johnsbury Athenaeum

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1171 Main St
St Johnsbury, VT 05819 United States

February 2016

Celebrating E. B. White

February 3, 2016
7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Image of EB White with dog

From Charlotte’s Web to his exquisite essays in The New Yorker, E.B. White remains the master’s master of elegant prose, sophisticated wit, and graceful irreverence. Drawing on his stories, essays, poems, and letters, Dartmouth professor Nancy Jay Crumbine celebrates White’s versatility and enormous legacy. Read More »

March 2016

The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition

March 9, 2016
7:00 pm
Image of Shackleton's men waving

In 1914, polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton left England for the Antarctic with a crew of 27 on his ship Endurance. When it was crushed by sea ice, they became castaways in the harshest environment on Earth. A century later, author Caroline Alexander shares a thrilling saga of stoic courage that also serves as a master class in leadership. Read More »

April 2016

Understanding Islamic Extremism

April 6, 2016
7:00 pm

Former CIA Chief of Counterterrorism Haviland Smith examines the roots of Islamic fundamentalism, its spread since 9/11, how it affects us, whom it targets, and how the US might respond. Read More »


May 2016

The Memoir Boom: Who, What, Why

May 4, 2016
7:00 pm

Dartmouth professor and experimental memoirist Irene Kacandes discusses current approaches to life writing and considers why we continue to love reading about others’ lives. Read More »


October 2016

Putting The Sword To The Pen

October 5, 2016
7:00 pm

Journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Rumor of War Philip Caputo reflects on how, in his work, war is a context in which our contradictory natures play out, often with stark clarity. Read More »

November 2016

Hamlet in Prison

November 2, 2016
7:00 pm
Image of hamlet holding out skull

Celebrated literary critic Ilan Stavans discusses his teaching Shakespeare’s Hamlet in correctional facilities, and shares insights his classes have made about the play and revenge, freedom, and redemption. Read More »


December 2016

The Medici Grand Dukes: Art and Politics in Renaissance Florence

December 7, 2016
7:00 pm
Image of painting of man in suit of armor

UVM Professor Kelley Helmstutler Di Dio considers how, despite scandals and even murder, the Medici Grand Dukes maintained their power and prominence for nearly two centuries by giving gifts of art by the great Florentine masters to kings, popes, and emperors. Read More »


January 2017

Face to Face with the Emotional Brain

January 4, 2017
7:00 pm
Image of mother laughing with baby

Whether around the caveman's fire or the conference table, no signal is more important to humans' interpreting social interactions and future behavior than the smile. Dartmouth professor Paul Whalen explores how the human brain processes the facial expressions of others and what these responses mean for understanding our emotional lives. Read More »


February 2017

“In This Here Place”: Race, Nation, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved

February 1, 2017
7:00 pm
Image of painting of Toni Morrison

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


Student Book Discussion: Brown Girl Dreaming

February 13, 2017
1:00 pm

This book discussion features Jacqueline Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming. Students on a 4th-grade reading level are encouraged to participate. Read More »


Haiku Poetry Workshop

February 13, 2017
3:00 pm

This student-focused workshop will introduce the Haiku, a Japanese poetry form. We will discuss poem structure and look at examples of published Haikus, including Haikus in Jacqueline Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming. Read More »


Book Discussion: Brown Girl Dreaming

February 15, 2017
6:30 pm

This beautiful memoir of author Jacqueline Woodson's childhood, written in verse, tells the story of a young person finding her voice and examines the strength of family bonds. Copies are available at the circulation checkout desk. Read More »


March 2017

Hamilton: The Man and the Musical

March 1, 2017
7:00 pm
Image of Alexander Hamilton

From his birth in the Caribbean to death in a duel, Alexander Hamilton's life was part romance, part tragedy—and the inspiration for the blockbuster Broadway musical. Hamilton biographer Willard Sterne Randall discusses the man and the musical, with excerpts from its score. Read More »


April 2017

Reformation and Response: What Luther Did to Art

April 5, 2017
7:00 pm

Dartmouth professor Jane Carroll examines how the Reformation, driven by Martin Luther’s rejection of the establishment Church, brought into question the assumptions by which most Europeans had lived, and how this played out in the art of the time. Read More »


Junior Jam: A Youth Poetry Event

April 28, 2017
6:00 pm

Elementary and middle school students will read original and favorite poetry. Selections from Brown Girl Dreaming will be interspersed throughout the program. Open Mic available after the planned program for attendees to share poetry in the time left. Read More »


May 2017

World War II: American Perceptions and Historical Realities

May 3, 2017
7:00 pm

Americans have held strong beliefs regarding WWII’s causes, consequences, and historical lessons—lessons cited to justify postwar US policies. UVM History Professor Emeritus Mark A. Stoler compares these beliefs about the war with what historians now maintain. Read More »


October 2017

“It Was 50 Years Ago Today”: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

October 5, 2017
7:00 pm
Image of the Sgt. Peppers album gatefold

Released fifty years ago this year, this iconic Beatles album is often regarded as the single greatest rock album ever made. In a multimedia presentation, Beatles music scholar Aaron Krerowicz discusses the album and illustrates the development of its songs. Read More »


November 2017

William Carlos Williams: America’s Most Revolutionary Twentieth Century Poet

November 1, 2017
7:00 pm

UVM professor Huck Gutman considers how William Carlos Williams changed American and world poetry forever by creating a new poetic language and new poetic forms. Read More »

December 2017

Rembrandt and Vermeer in their Place and Time

December 6, 2017
7:00 pm
Image of Rembrandt painting

Middlebury professor Carrie Anderson explores seventeenth-century Amsterdam and Delft through the eyes of Golden Age artists Rembrandt and Vermeer, who lived, worked, and painted in these prosperous Dutch cities. Read More »


January 2018

American Exceptionalism Revisited

January 3, 2018
7:00 pm

Derek Boothby, former director of the UN’s Department of Political Affairs, considers how the determination of America’s original settlers to create a society different from the 18th century European model has fared in the long term, and offers a naturalized American’s assessment of whether modern America is all that different from anywhere else. Read More »


February 2018

Why Facts Don’t Always Change People’s Minds

February 21, 2018
7:00 pm
Image of two smokestacks

Why do people hold false or unsupported beliefs that are so difficult to change? Dartmouth Professor of Government Brendan Nyhan looks at what makes people vulnerable to misinformation about controversial topics, why facts alone are frequently ineffective at countering misperceptions, and what approaches might be more effective. Read More »


March 2018

Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln

March 15, 2018
7:00 pm
Image of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln

Douglass and Lincoln — one born a slave, the other born dirt poor — became respectively one of the nation’s greatest orators and one of its greatest presidents. Harvard professor John Stauffer examines their friendship, the similarities in their lives, and their legacies. Read More »


April 2018

The Invention of History

April 4, 2018
7:00 pm
Image of the Parthenon

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 »


May 2018

Reckoning with Darwin in American Culture

May 2, 2018
7:00 pm

Americans came to terms with Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859) in the aftermath of the Civil War, which shaped how Americans processed new ideas about evolution. Dartmouth history professor Leslie Butler traces the ways Americans responded to Darwin, culminating in the showdown over the teaching of evolution in Dayton, Tennessee in 1925. Read More »


October 2018

Vermont Reads: Bread and Roses, Too Book Discussion

October 1, 2018
6:00 pm

Come join St. Johnsbury Athenaeum in collaboration with Pope Memorial Library for a lively discussion of the Katherine Paterson's Bread and Roses, Too, in an informal setting. Adults and youth are invited to participate. Read More »


Bread and Roses, Too

October 3, 2018
7:00 pm
Image of children walking in parade

Acclaimed children’s book author Katherine Paterson discusses her novel of historical fiction that tells the story of the 1912 “Bread and Roses” strike in the Lawrence, Massachusetts textile mills through the eyes of an Italian-American girl and a runaway boy. Read More »


November 2018

The Fate of Western Democracy

November 7, 2018
7:00 pm
Image of flag in front of building

Liberal democracy—the system of representative democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law on which America was founded—is being challenged by both foreign powers and domestic politicians who favor more autocratic governance. Visiting scholar at Middlebury College Stan Sloan discusses these threats. Read More »


December 2018

Charles Dickens and the Writing of A Christmas Carol

December 6, 2018
7:00 pm
Image of Christmas Carol woodcut

Dickens scholar Barry Deitz considers Dickens’s career up to the publication of A Christmas Carol in 1843, what the novella’s success meant to Dickens’s life and work, and how the story has resonated since, including in films. Read More »


January 2019

Music, Storytelling, and Politics

January 2, 2019
7:00 pm
Image of drummers from Burundi

Ugandan ethnomusicologist and Middlebury assistant professor Damascus Kafumbe examines music-making and storytelling, especially as they are used both to maintain political power and to help people survive political repression in his native Uganda. Read More »


February 2019

The News about the News

February 6, 2019
7:00 pm
Image of hand raised at press conference

In today’s political and cultural atmosphere, it is vital the public stays informed and the press does its job. Pulitzer Prize winner David Shribman examines the current media landscape, distinguishing between fake and real news, amateur and professional, slanted and objective. Read More »


March 2019

The Power of the Journey in Their Eyes Were Watching God

March 6, 2019
7:00 pm
Image of woman's eye and face

Zora Neale Hurston’s landmark novel tells the story of Janie Mae Crawford’s journey from adolescence to maturity, from dependence to autonomy, and most importantly, from silence to speech. Middlebury professor Will Nash examines Janie’s timeless and profoundly relevant journey. Read More »


April 2019

Vincent Van Gogh and the Books He Read

April 3, 2019
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 2019

Bierstadt’s “Domes of Yosemite”: The Creation of an Icon

May 2, 2019
7:00 pm
Image of Domes of Yosemite painting

Yosemite was more than the first federally protected American landscape; it was an emblem of freedom in the years surrounding the Civil War. Eleanor Jones Harvey, senior curator at Smithsonian American Art Museum, discusses the story behind Bierstadt’s monumental painting, weaving together several historical threads to deepen our appreciation of Yosemite as part of our national identity. Read More »


October 2019

Willa Cather’s Prairie Landscapes

October 2, 2019
7:00 pm
Image of prairie

In Willa Cather’s pioneer fiction, landscape is as important as any character in the story. Amherst College professor Michele Barale examines the relationship between Cather’s art and her very tangible earth. Read More »


November 2019

The Racially Fragmented City?

November 6, 2019
7:00 pm

America’s growing diversity is changing its ethnic and racial demography for decades to come, with significant implications for human geography. Dartmouth professor Richard Wright discusses emerging patterns of diversity and segregation on national, state, and local levels. Read More »


December 2019

Lifting Shakespeare Off the Page

December 4, 2019
7:00 pm
Man and woman from Othello

In this interactive workshop, educator and author Peter Gould helps participants access their own powerful voice by reading, reciting, and performing Shakespeare. Learn how to bring new life to immortal characters! No previous theater training necessary; observers also welcome. Read More »


January 2020

Reading Thoreau in the 21st Century

January 8, 2020
7:00 pm
I went to the woods sign in forest

Henry David Thoreau advocated for both civil disobedience to unjust political authority and also for nature’s appropriate role in our economic, moral, and spiritual lives. UVM professor Bob Pepperman Taylor discusses the relationship between Thoreau's political and environmental messages and how they resonate today. Read More »


February 2020

Photography as Social Justice

February 5, 2020
7:00 pm

In conjunction with her retrospective exhibition at Catamount Arts, Dona Ann McAdams sits down with curator John Killacky to discuss her work, and shows her empathetic black-and-white portraits of performing artists, AIDS activists, political protests, people living with schizophrenia, Appalachian farmers, cloistered nuns, and others. Read More »


Vermont Reads: Visible in Vermont Panel Discussion

February 12, 2020
7:00 pm

Visible in Vermont: Our Stories, Our Voices focuses on the experiences of people of color throughout Vermont, challenging racial microaggressions and racist acts and behaviors that often go unchecked. Sha’an Mouliert will lead a panel and community discussion. Read More »


March 2020

Central Park, the Civil War, and the Creation of the National Parks

March 4, 2020
7:00 pm

The national park idea has been credited to “a wonderful and interesting group of rugged western pioneers.” But as UVM historian Rolf Diamant explains, the inspiration of Central Park, the ending of slavery, and the remaking of government during the Civil War were all critical to the establishment of our first national parks. Read More »


April 2020

**POSTPONED** Hidden in Plain Sight: The Truth About Systemic Racism

April 15, 2020
7:00 pm

Through personal stories and aided with the research of national experts, Racial Justice Alliance Coordinator Mark Hughes unpacks systemic racism from several perspectives and discusses solutions. Part of Vermont Reads 2020 exploring The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Read More »


**POSTPONED** Vermont Reads Book Discussion: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

April 21, 2020
5:30 pm

Join the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum for a book discussion of Angie Thomas’ debut novel, The Hate U Give, which runs headlong into the challenges faced by young black kids in a world that doesn’t value their bodies or respect their voices. All are welcome to participate. Check with Adele West-Fisher, Coordinator of Library Services, for availability of books to read before the discussion. Read More »


May 2020

**POSTPONED** The Making of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

May 6, 2020
7:00 pm

Middlebury professor Tim Spears looks at the 1941 publication of "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men." Depicting the lives of southern sharecroppers, writer James Agee and photographer Walker Evans resisted journalistic conventions to produce a book that raises important questions about the nature of documentary work and art. Read More »


June 2020

**POSTPONED** From the Parlor to the Polling Place: Stories and Songs from the Suffragists

June 24, 2020
7:00 pm
Suffragette standing before a banner

Singer and historian Linda Radtke, in period garb and “Votes for Women” sash, celebrates the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment, specifically highlighting the decades-long persistence of Vermonters, both women and men. Read More »


October 2020

*DIGITAL* “If She has a Pulse, She has a Chance”

October 7, 2020
7:00 pm
Couple embracing on couch

“If she has a pulse, she has a chance” is a series of deeply moving photographic portraits, stories, and essays about recovery from opioid addiction. Artist and activist Michael Poster describes his work on the series, completed over two years at the Turning Point Recovery Center in Brattleboro. (Pre-registration required.) Read More »


November 2020

*DIGITAL* Democracies, Libraries, and Free Information

November 4, 2020
7:00 pm
Silhouette of man reading library book in stacks

Democracy works only when citizens enjoy unfettered access to good information. But a broken system of publishing can impede this learning. UVM dean of libraries Bryn Geffert shares the innovative ways that some libraries get information into the hands of everyone who needs it. (Pre-registration required.) Read More »


December 2020

*DIGITAL* Environment and Race: The Hidden Connections

December 2, 2020
7:00 pm
Protesters marching with "Honor Treaty Rights" banner

Middlebury professor Kemi Fuentes-George draws from national and global cases to describe how racism shapes—and is shaped— by environmental management in areas like conservation, waste management, and climate change, and highlights ways towards a more just environmentalism. (Pre-registration required.) Read More »


January 2021

*DIGITAL* Making Rumble Strip in My Closet

January 13
7:00 pm

Erica Heilman’s podcast Rumble Strip covers a range of Vermont-related topics, from mental health, hunger, and homelessness to deer hunting, cheerleading, and donut shops. In this talk, Heilman discusses the interview process and shares stories from her podcast, which she describes as “extraordinary conversations with ordinary people. Or that’s the goal.” (Pre-registration required.) Read More »


February 2021

*DIGITAL* Orozco’s American Epic

February 3
7:00 pm
Detail of mural by Jose Clemente Orozco

"The Epic of American Civilization" is a 24-panel mural painted by Jose Clemente Orozco at Dartmouth College between 1932 and 1934. Mary Coffey, Dartmouth professor and the author of "Orozco's American Epic: Myth, History, and the Melancholy of Race," explores one of the Mexican muralist’s greatest works. (Registration required.) Read More »


March 2021

*DIGITAL* Lowest White Boy: On the Hidden Forces of American Racism

March 3
7:00 pm
Boy with American flag beside car with graffiti

Lyndon Johnson once observed, “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket.” UVM English professor Greg Bottoms discusses his memoir, "Lowest White Boy," which explores the powerful historical, cultural, social, and political forces behind white supremacy. (Registration required.) Read More »


April 2021

*DIGITAL* How China Became Buddhist and Buddhism Became Chinese

April 7
7:00 pm
Buddhist monk creating sand painting

Chinese society never became exclusively Buddhist, but other religious traditions had to respond as Buddhist ideas, practices, and institutions permeated the country. Middlebury religion professor Elizabeth Morrison discusses how the Buddhist tradition came to China, how it was received, and the distinctive Chinese forms of Buddhism that emerged. (Registration required.) Read More »


May 2021

*DIGITAL* Einstein in a Nutshell

May 5
7:00 pm
Image of Albert Einstein

Einstein’s most famous contribution to science—his theory of relativity—is based on an idea so simple it can be stated in one sentence. Yet from that simple idea, explains Middlebury professor Richard Wolfson, follow conclusions that have revolutionized our notions of space, time, and causality. Registration required. Read More »


October 2021

*DIGITAL* Are “We the People” Up to the Task?

October 6
7:00 pm
Young man holding an American flag jumping between rocks in a river

In the United States, all power is derived from the people. While this sounds noble in theory, can we expect the American public to have the wits and self-control to meet the demands of climate change? Constitutional scholar Meg Mott explores the paradox of self-governance when the natural foundations of life itself are changing. (Registration required.) Read More »

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