Charles J. Shields is practiced in the art of putting other people’s experiences into words. The best-selling author and self-described “literary detective” will capitalize on that skill in his new role as associate director of the UMW Great Lives public lecture series.
Shields will work with Great Lives Director William B. Crawley Jr., distinguished professor emeritus of history and American studies, to pump up promotion of the annual spring-semester event. The series already enjoys a national reputation among biographers.
“There is no other program quite like it in the United States,” Shields said. “My goal is to make the program visible to, and accessible by, a larger audience beyond the Fredericksburg region.”
A Great Lives lecturer, Shields got a rousing ovation when he spoke about reclusive novelist Harper Lee last spring. He is the author of The New York Times best-selling biography Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee. Shields will lead the next series on Jan. 24, when he will speak on his recently released And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life. [Read more about Shields’ Kurt Vonnegut in Book Report.] The Chappell Lecture Series, Great Lives: Biographical Approaches to History is endowed by a grant from John Chappell, the widower of Carmen Culpeper Chappell ’59.
Great Lives 2012
Jan. 24 Kurt Vonnegut, by Charles J. Shields: And So It Goes
Jan. 31 Lafayette, by Marc Leepson: Lafayette
Feb. 2 Noah Webster, by Joshua Kendall: The Forgotten Founding Father
Feb. 7 Aaron Burr, by David O. Stewart: American Emperor
Feb. 9 Christopher Columbus, by Laurence Bergreen: The Four Voyages
Feb. 14 Richard and Mildred Loving, a panel discussion on the 1967 Supreme Court case on the legality of mixed-race marriage, by Peggy Loving Fortune, the Lovings’ daughter; Bernard Cohen, former ACLU attorney for the Lovings; and Nancy Buirski, maker of the film The Loving Story
Feb. 16 Jackie Robinson, by Jonathan Eig: Opening Day
Feb. 23 Clarence Darrow, by John A. Farrell: Attorney for the Damned
March 13 Louisa May Alcott, by Harriet Reisen: Louisa May Alcott
March 15 Juliette Gordon Low, by Stacy A. Cordery: Juliette Gordon Low
March 27 Sherlock Holmes, by Jeremy Black
April 3 J.E.B. Stuart, by Emory M. Thomas: Bold Dragoon
April 5 Marie Curie, by Lauren Redniss: Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie
April 10 Madam C.J. Walker, by A’Lelia Bundles: On Her Own Ground
April 12 Wright Brothers, by James Tobin: To Conquer the Air
April 17 Atatürk, by Nabil Al-Tikriti
April 19 Anne Frank, by Sid Jacobson: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography
April 24 P.T. Barnum, by Neil Harris: Humbug: The Art of P.T. Barnum
April 26 The Civil War Soldier, by James Robertson: The Untold Civil War
All lectures are open to the public free of charge and begin at 7:30 p.m. in Dodd Auditorium, George Washington Hall. For further information, call 540/654-1065 or visit umw.edu/greatlives.