Fenwick Fellow Lectures: April 25

Join the University Libraries on Wednesday, April 25 at 2 p.m. in the Fenwick Library Main Reading Room, when Professors Edward Rhodes and John Turner will discuss their research findings from their 2016-2017 fellowships.


Edward Rhodes, Professor, Government & International Affairs, Schar School of Policy & Government

Lecture Title:  “Normalcy”: Rediscovering the Curious Brilliance of Warren G. Harding

Abstract: Dismissed by biographers as an intellectual nullity, mocked by critics for what H.L. Mencken famously described as his “Gamalielese” prose, and remembered in history texts principally for his notably corrupt Secretary of the Interior and for his illegitimate daughter, Warren G. Harding has escaped serious academic scrutiny, living on largely as an easy target for late-night comedians. Harding’s own writings –which were generally in the form of speeches – have gone not only unread but uncollected. For the most part they are, even in this time of widespread digitization, extremely difficult to locate or to access. This is unfortunate because a close reading of Harding reveals not only a clear, sophisticated, and internally consistent vision of America but a deep understanding of the challenges facing a liberal, democratic republic in a period of rapid economic and social change. Forgotten, too, is the fact that Harding was, in his three years in office, extraordinarily successful in advancing his policy agenda, particularly in the realm of foreign policy. Even more interesting, however, is how strongly some of the key elements in Harding’s vision and strategic approach resonate in today’s world.


John Turner, Associate Professor, Religious Studies, College of Humanities & Social Sciences

Lecture Title:  Plymouth Colony and the Making of American Liberty

Abstract: Over the last two centuries, Americans have celebrated “the Pilgrims” as the progenitors of democracy and liberty. At the same time, the Mayflower leaders and their successors in Plymouth Colony imprisoned, tortured, and expelled religious and political dissenters. Were the Pilgrims rank hypocrites, denying others the freedom they desired for themselves? The answer is more complicated. The Pilgrims had a very specific understanding of “Christian liberty,” which essentially meant an obligation to have church according to their understanding of the Bible. While their leaders did not favor a broader “freedom of religion,” Plymouth Colony was riven by debates over the meaning and extent of liberty over its seventy year history.


About the Fenwick Fellows: The Fenwick Fellowship is awarded annually to Mason faculty member(s) to pursue research project(s) that use and enhance the University Libraries’ resources while advancing knowledge in the faculty members’ field. Applications for the 2018-2019 fellowship are currently being accepted; the deadline is May 7, 2018.

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