WC’s Spring 2018 Concert Series Begins February 2, Offers Four Performances

Washington College’s Spring 2018 Concert Series begins on February 2 and will include genres from chamber music to spirituals.

Each performance will be in Hotchkiss Recital Hall and begin at 7:30 p.m., except for the free concert on February 2, which will be held at noon. Tickets for all other performances are $20 (adults), $15 (non-WC College students/seniors over age 65/WC faculty and staff), and $12 (1782 Member). WC students and youth 18 and under are free.

Trio Simpatico

On February 2, The Concert Series welcomes Trio Simpatico, which performs eclectic chamber music with an orchestral bent. Simpatico’s unusual instrumentation of clarinet, horn, and piano borrows from orchestral timbres. Audiences have remarked, that the trio “sounds like a whole orchestra.”

Simpatico’s members are Phyllis Crossen-Richardson (clarinet), Heidi Brown (French Horn), and Matthew Bachman (piano). All three are active performers and teachers in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore metropolitan area and have collaborated on many projects for the past six years.

Lori Kesner, Dan Shomper, Woobin Park

On February 8, The Concert Series presents The Evolution of Negro Spirituals, a performance by lyric-dramatic baritone, Thomas Beard, accompanied by Julia Morris-Myers and dancer Leandria Gilliam. Beard is originally from Fayetteville, North Carolina. In 2003 he became the first African-American male singer to be chosen by tenor Placido Domingo to be a part of Washington National Opera’s Placido Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, working directly under the maestro’s tutelage. Beard has performed for U.S. senators, governors, and ambassadors in concerts at embassies and concert halls across the country. He was also invited to perform as special guest soloist by former First Lady Laura Bush at an invitation-only event at the White House.

There will be a reception after the concert.

On February 15, Washington College presents Lori Kesner (flute), Dan Shomper (cello), and Woobin Park (piano), performing works by George Crumb, Carl Maria von Weber, Bohuslav Martinu, and Astor Piazzolla. All three performers currently teach at Washington College.

An award-winning musician and scholar, Kesner enjoys a distinguished and active career as both a performing flutist and world music lecturer. As an experienced and actively sought orchestral flutist, she performs regularly with the Annapolis Symphony, Annapolis Opera, and Mid-Atlantic Symphony in Maryland. Shomper is a performer and teacher in the Washington DC/Baltimore/Annapolis area. The Baltimore Sun praised his virtuoso playing, masterful performance, and lyrical expression. Noted for her commanding stage presence and elegant musicianship, Park has appeared throughout the United States and South Korea with various types of solo and chamber recitals as well as collaboration with renowned orchestras.

On March 29, The Concert Series presents John Thomas (saxophone) and Teodora Adzharova (piano), performing a mixture of classical chamber works and jazz standards. John Thomas spans the chasm between the concert and jazz saxophone worlds. He is currently a lecturer in music at Washington College, teaching applied clarinet and saxophone as well as leading the Woodwind and Jazz ensembles at the college. Teodora Adzharova was born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and began piano study at age 7.  By the time she graduated from high school, she had won national and international competitions in Bulgaria, France, Germany, Macedonia, and the Czech Republic. She is currently the Peabody Accompanying Coordinator, and teaches piano at the Conservatory.

Individual tickets for these events can be purchased online with a credit card via EventBrite on the Concert Series website (http://washcoll.edu/concert), or with cash or check at the door.  Inquiries and ticket holds can be sent to Debbie Reed at 410-778-7839 or concertseries@washcoll.edu.

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

Exhibit on the Ongoing Impact of Islamic Art at WC’s Kohl Gallery

In its first show of 2018, Washington College’s Kohl Gallery is presenting “Geometric Aljamía: A Cultural Transliteration,” an exhibition revisiting the ongoing impact of Islamic art, science, and philosophy throughout the world today. The show runs from Jan. 25 through March 6, and an opening reception, free and open to the public, will be Jan. 25 starting at 5 p.m.

“Geometric Aljamía: A Cultural Transliteration” is a group exhibition of American and Middle Eastern artists who consider two-dimensional geometry in art, showing hybrid connections between Europe, the Mediterranean basin, and the Middle East. Geometric ornamentation and diverse ethnic patterns from the Islamic world are incorporated into works of art.

The six artists first met during the 2013 Tasmeem Conference in Doha, Qatar: Tamin Sahebzada, Mohammed Saleh Amin, Reni Gower, Hanane Korchi, Sahebzada, Jorge Benitez, and Julia Townsend. The exhibition examines an extended cross-cultural integration of the arts into life.

On Feb. 1, Benjamin Tilghman, assistant professor of art and art history, will give a talk in the gallery delving into the exhibition. The talk runs from 1-4:30 and is free and open to the public.

Partial funding is provided by Virginia Commonwealth University, VCUarts, and the VCU Printing and Printmaking Department.

Kohl Gallery at Washington College’s Gibson Center for the Arts is open Wednesday to Friday, 1-6p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, 11-4p.m.

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

The Legacy of Fireworks at Washington College Transitions to Sculpture

An artist’s rendering of “Radiant Echo,” the light sculpture to be installed  at Washington College as seen from the green

Former Washington College President Joseph McLain is remembered for many things – but his most enduring legacy may well be the tradition of fireworks displays at the college.

Joseph McLain shares a laugh with students

McLain, a chemistry professor with a lifelong interest in pyrotechnics, attended Washington College as an undergraduate. After college, he served in the World War II chemical corps, working on such projects as an improved hand grenade fuse and underwater cutting torches. After the war, he earned his Ph.D. in chemistry at Johns Hopkins, then returned to Washington College to teach. Over the course of his career, he made the college a center for the study of fireworks, both in the academic community and in the commercial fireworks industry. His work focused, among other things, on improving fireworks ignition systems so as to avoid timing errors, which can be dangerous as well as spoiling the artistic effect of a display. He became the 22nd president of the college in 1973 and served until his death in 1981 — the only alumnus ever to fill the position. McLain was also responsible for establishing the annual Fourth of July fireworks show in Chestertown, which he staged on the Washington College campus.

John Conkling

In 1969, McLain hired one of his former students – John Conkling, also a Hopkins Ph.D. – to join the chemistry faculty at the college. McLain steered Conkling toward the study of pyrotechnics, which resulted in the first federal safety standards for fireworks, jointly created by the two and enacted in 1976 by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission. In 1985, Conkling resigned his full-time teaching position to become Executive Director of the APA – a position he held until 1998. He continued to teach adjunct courses without taking a salary, and hosted the annual Summer Pyrotechnics Seminars at Washington College.

Largely because of the legacy of McLain and Conkling, fireworks displays have become a tradition at Washington College, welcoming students back to campus in the fall and celebrating graduation and other occasions such as the inauguration of current president Kurt Landgraf. Residents near the college often come out to see the shows, which are visible and audible from a wide area of the town.

Chestertown also had a history of fireworks before McLain, most notably with the Kent Manufacturing plant, which, beginning in 1941, produced defense materiel for World War II and then added fireworks to its line after the war. After his return to Chestertown, McLain became a partner in the business, along with founder Tony Fabrizi, whom he had met during his time in the service. That venture came to an end when a fire and explosion destroyed the plant in 1954. But McLain continued to work with the pyrotechnics industry, with a special interest in safety standards.

Now, to create a more permanent monument to McLain, Conkling and their pyrotechnics work, McLain’s daughter Lynn McLain, is raising funds for “Radiant  Echo,” an innovative art installation planned for the atrium of the Toll Science Center at the college. Intended to serve as an enduring art piece for the college and the town of Chestertown, “Radant Echo,” designed by Flux Studio of Baltimore, will be a three- dimensional grid of LED fixtures suspended in the 3-story atrium. The fixtures, which will hang to within 14 feet of the floor, will flash and flicker in emulation of a fireworks display, with chrome spheres suspended within the field to reflect and amplify the lights. According to a prospectus for the program, “As with fireworks, spectators will know that something will happen, but they won’t know exactly what, or exactly when.”

An artist’s rendering of”Radiant Echo” as seen from inside the atrium

The prospectus adds, “The choreography of the sculpture will draw from both the chemical behavior of fireworks and the phenomenal experience of observing them, contrasting familiar aerial exploding with inward collapsing at the atomic scale.” It will be programmed to operate in two states, depending on the time of day. Its default, resting state will feature short bursts of light at the outer edges of the sculpture, a “momentary flickering at the corner of one’s eye that vanishes almost as soon as it appears.” In its nighttime, or active, state, the tentative flickerings will “crescendo and then explode, piercing the darkness and dissolving into a cascading shower of light. At times the whole sculpture will erupt in a cacophony of explosions, recalling the grand finale of a fireworks show.” The displays will be visible from the campus green outside Toll Science Center and from Washington Avenue.as well as to those inside the building.

“Radiant Echo” will also have an educational function. Glenn Shrum, who designed the sculpture, plans to teach an interdisciplinary workshop while the piece is being installed. Also, college faculty will be able to use the sculpture in their classes on physics, chemistry, psychology, computer programming, and art. And as part of its installation, there will be a symposium on fireworks drawing on many different disciplines. There will also be a public honoring of Dr. Conkling and his wife Sandy.

Lynn McLain said on Jan. 7 that she hopes fundraising for the project will be completed within the year. Installation of the project is expected to take 14 to 16 months, she said. The final contacts for the construction of the project are in process.

To help promote the project, Lynn McLain has written an illustrated coffee-table book, For the Love of Fireworks, published in 2017. Proceeds from the book will help to fund the creation of “Radiant Echo.” The book is full of fascinating detail and would make a great gift. The book explores the history and cultural associations of fireworks, and includes a series of trivia questions such as when fireworks were invented, where the largest fireworks display on record took place, components used in their manufacture, and so forth. For the Love of Fireworks is available online at $56.99 or from Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.  Or buy the book, hard or softcover, directly from author McLain at http://www.loveoffireworks.com .   The price is the same and a direct purchase, McLain said, will result in a larger contribution to the project.

Fundraising is underway to cover the estimated $250,000 cost of building and installing “Raidant Echo.” McLain said on Jan 7 that the campaign had raised just over $100,000. To contribute to the effort, contact Lynn McLain at 410-778-4515 or lmclain@ubalt.edu.  You can also contribute through the Washington College Office of Advancement at 410-778-7801. Checks can be made out to the Washington College Office of Advancement, with “Atrium Sculpture Project” in the memo line. The address is Washington College Office of Advancement,  300 Washington Ave.,  Chestertown MD 21620.

And then look forward to fabulous firework displays on Washington College campus, both real and simulated via Radiant Echo.

 

 

 

Really Good Stuff: Washington College, Faculty and Staff Donates $28,000 to Local United Way

Washington College is donating $28,000 to United Way of Kent County, after 82 faculty and staff responded to President Kurt Landgraf’s pledge to match whatever they contributed.

“I am just so proud of the Washington College community, and I appreciate the generosity and caring of this faculty and staff,” Landgraf says. “This United Way campaign result is yet another indication that we take our mission seriously—they’re not just words on a document, but a living action statement to support our community.”

In late fall, Landgraf asked College employees to consider signing up for a payroll deduction to United Way of Kent County, pledging that he would match whatever they raised. Last year, eight employees gave through the payroll deduction for a total of $1,248. As of December 14, 82 employees had signed up for a total donation of $13,944. Landgraf matched this with $14,000.

“Many members of our Washington College community, including students, staff, and faculty, have had close associations with United Way agencies in a number of capacities,” says Sarah Feyerherm, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, and a member of United Way of Kent County’s Board of Directors. “But this recent financial commitment is emblematic of a recognition that we are all partners in improving the lives of Kent County residents. Kurt’s leadership and generosity was just contagious, and the response from our employees was heartwarming. My hope is that this is just the start of a sustained partnership between the College and the United Way of Kent County.”

United Way of Kent County raises and distributes funding to multiple organizations, with a focus on improving the health, education, and financial stability of Kent County residents. In addition to the College’s donations through the workplace campaign, the College has directly supported or provided resources for many United Way member organizations including Character Counts! Kent County, the Kent Center, St. Martin’s Ministries, the Community Food Pantry, Camp Fairlee/Easter Seals, Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties, Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay Council, Kent Forward, For All Seasons, Echo Hill Outdoor School, and the Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence.

Early in his tenure as Washington College President, Landgraf made United Way of Kent County a priority as a way for the College to do more to support the surrounding community.

“A lot of people don’t know this, but I grew up an orphan. I know what it’s like to seriously need the help of others,” Landgraf says. “This is one of the reasons that I have always been a big supporter of the United Way, and why, as soon as I came to Washington College, I got involved in United Way of Kent County. I know how much good this organization can do. And I want to make sure that everybody at our College knows how much good it can do, how it can lift up whole segments of our community’s population that need help the most.”

Hodson Trust Grants $3.5 Million to WC for Student Scholarship Endowment

The Hodson Trust, whose generosity has supported hundreds of Washington College students over 81 years, this year is donating $3.5 million to endow student scholarships. Representatives of the Trust, which has been the largest single benefactor to the College, presented the gift to College President Kurt Landgraf on December 7.

“It is hard to overstate how critical this funding is for our students and programs, and how much we appreciate the loyal support that The Hodson Trust continues to show Washington College,” Landgraf says. “We believe that the education and opportunities we offer to undergraduates are unparalleled, and we are grateful to Chairman Gerald Holm and the Hodson trustees for seeing that value and consistently supporting it with this endowment funding.”

This year’s donation provides$2.75 million to the Hodson Merit Scholarship endowment, and $750,000 to the George’s Brigade scholarship endowment. Already this academic year, as a result of previous Hodson gifts, 105 students are receiving an average merit scholarship in the amount of $21,000, for a total of $2.2 million from Hodson Trust-funded scholarship endowments.

“The need is great,” Landgraf says. “Gifts such as this generous scholarship funding from The Hodson Trust are invaluable for our students in their ambition to attain the strong foundation that a college education in the liberal arts and sciences provides.”

The Hodson Trust is the school’s largest single benefactor. Starting with a grant of $18,191.12 in 1935, the Trust has given Washington College nearly $80 million. The Trust that was established in 1920 by the family of Colonel Clarence Hodson benefits four Maryland educational institutions: Washington College, Hood College, St. John’s College of Annapolis, and The Johns Hopkins University. Colonel Hodson, who received the honorary degree, Doctor of Laws,from Washington College in 1922, served on the College’s Board of Visitors and Governors from 1920 until his death in 1928.

Colonel Hodson, who grew up in Somerset County, Maryland, founded the Beneficial Loan Society to make small loans available to working-class Americans at affordable interest rates.  This groundbreaking business grew into the Beneficial Corporation, one of the largest consumer finance companies in the United States.  An initial investment of $100 grew over the ensuing decades into a trust that has awarded more than $240 million to the four beneficiary institutions. For more information, visit www.hodsontrust.org.

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

Sir Roger Scruton on Intellectuals, Conservatism and President Trump

For many in both Kent and Talbot Counties, Washington College professor Joseph Prud’homme has been a very visible presence in bringing both communities unique public programming in his role as the Director of the Institute for the Study of Religion, Politics, and Culture. So while it wasn’t too surprising that he invited Sir Roger Scruton to Chestertown yesterday, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a big thing. It is.

The reason being is that Scruton is one of those rare endangered species commonly called a conservative intellectual.  Similar to America’s late William F. Buckley, Jr., Sir Roger has reached a similar cultural status in Great Britain for his controversial writing on politics as well as art and music.

The Spy couldn’t resist the opportunity to chat with Mr.Scruton at the Brampton Inn a few hours before his campus visit to talk about a variety of subjects including what many consider to be a war against intellectualism in this country. Sir Roger also shares his thoughts on how the conservative label may also be at risk as the Trump presidency refines the concept itself.

This video is approximately nine minutes in length. For more information about the Institute for the Study of Religion, Politics, and Culture at Washington College please go here

WC Announces New Dual-Degree Partnership with Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment

Environmental science and environmental studies students at Washington College will now have the opportunity to earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years, thanks to a new partnership between Washington College and Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

The agreement, known as dual-degree, allows qualified students to leave Washington College after their third year and enroll at Duke, where they can study for a master’s degree in either environmental management or forestry. After successfully completing their first year at Duke, they will be awarded their bachelor’s degree from WC. The new dual-degree program joins others at the College, including one in engineering with Columbia University, and in nursing and pharmacy with the University of Maryland.

Washington College students get hands-on with Chesapeake blue crabs.

“To me, in environmental science and studies, it’s about creating more opportunities for students,” says Charlie Kehm, chair of the Department of Physics and McLain Associate Professor of Physics and Environmental Science and Studies, who oversaw the development of the dual-degree program with Duke. “I love that they can come into Washington College and see themselves at the end of this really cool path. Parents like that too, because they want to know what’s the next step. So, I think these opportunities are really powerful in that way, because if nothing else, they give you some imagination to see what the possibilities are.”

Patrice DiQuinzio, Provost and Dean of the College, says the new arrangement illustrates the College’s determination to provide distinctive opportunities to its students, and it continues to build upon the College’s growing and energetic environmental program.

“Environmental science and studies is increasingly one of our most popular majors, and this will only enhance what is already a strong, exciting program,” DiQuinzio says. “It also lends force to the power and breadth of the liberal arts, which form the foundation of all we do here.”

Although the program takes effect immediately for incoming freshman in 2019, current freshmen and sophomores are also eligible to work toward the dual-degree. Leslie Sherman, co-chair of the Department of Environmental Science and Studies and W. Alton Jones Associate Professor of Chemistry, says the department will work to help current students attain needed requirements, as well as support incoming students to ensure they stay on track.

“I had envisioned environmental science students wanting to do the forestry program, because we don’t have forestry here,” Sherman says. “But our science students want to do environmental management too, which is exciting. This opens a clear pathway to this wonderful program at a fantastic school. And students who wish to finish their four years at Washington College and then seek graduate admission to Duke will also be able to take advantage of this relationship.”

The Nicholas School of the Environment is internationally known for not only its forestry and environmental management elements but also the Duke University Marine Lab. Two recent Washington College graduates, Anna Windle ’16 and Kelly Dobroski ’16, are currently enrolled at the Nicholas School in the environmental management master’s program, and Sherman is planning for them to return to campus to talk with interested undergraduates. Windle, studying coastal environmental management, in September won a highly competitive NOAA/North Carolina Sea Grant fellowship to assess oyster reef health.

For more information about Washington College’s Environmental Science and Studies program, visit https://www.washcoll.edu/departments/environmental-science-and-studies/

For more information about Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, see https://nicholas.duke.edu/.

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

Program at Washington College Spotlights the African American Church

Washington College’s Institute for Religion, Politics and Culture is launching a new program on “The African American Church and American Ideals.” The inaugural event will be a two-part series titled “The African American Church: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.”

The series will feature three local church leaders: the Rev. Charles Pinkett of Cambridge, the Hon. Corey Pack of Easton, and the Rev. Dr. William T. Wallace, Sr. of St. Michaels.

On Monday, Oct. 16 in Hynson Lounge, the conversation will center on the strength of the African American church today and how it remains vital and vibrant, despite claims to the contrary. The Rev. Pinkett, recipient of the 2016 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Image Award, and the Hon. Pack, member of the Talbot County Council, Sunday School teacher, and lay leader at Union Baptist Church in Easton, will lead the lecture.  It will start at 6pm

 

In the second installment of the series, scheduled for Nov. 6 starting at 6:30PM in Litrenta Hall, Dr. Wallace, pastor of Union United Methodist Church in St. Michaels, will discuss the institution of the church and its history.

“The church is an important part of the American tapestry,” says Joseph Prud’homme, associate professor of political science and director of the Institute for Religion, Politics, and Culture. “It’s important to showcase it and for the community to have a deeper appreciation of its history and vitality.”

Future installments of the new program on the African American Church and American Ideals will include tours to historic sites across the Eastern Shore and performances by various church groups.

For more information about the program, contact Institute for Religion, Politics, and Culture Director Joseph Prud’homme at jprudhomme2@washcoll.edu.

Washington College Among Top Liberal Arts Colleges in America!

 

Statue of George Washington on Washington College campus in front of Middle Hall.

Washington College continues its upward progress in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges rankings, with today’s announcement that the College is 96th among liberal arts colleges across the nation in the 2018 report. This is showing a continuing positive trend, from 99th last year, 100th in 2016, and 105th in 2015.

On an overall score out of 100, Washington College bumped up from 54 to 56, reflecting factors including the College’s three-year average for retention, which went from 83 percent to 84 percent, increasing selectivity of applicants with an acceptance rate change of 54 to 49 percent, and a peer assessment score—based on surveys sent to peer institutions—that improved by a tenth of a point. Alumni giving also increased from 17 to 19 percent over a three-year average.

As previously, the College continued to be well represented in the “A+ Schools for B Students” category—“where spirit and hard work could make all the difference to the admissions office,” as the listing says.

“I am very proud that we are on this list, and that we continue to improve our U.S. News Best Colleges rankings,” says College President Kurt Landgraf. “It shows how hard we as a College have worked across the board to provide our students with terrific opportunities and a liberal arts education among the best in the nation.”

The CAC – Casey Academic Center on Washington College campus

In the U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges rankings, 77.5 percent of a school’s ranking in “is based on a formula that uses objective measures of academic quality, such as graduation rates, faculty information, and admissions data,” the report says. “The remaining 22.5 percent is based on academic reputation, determined by a peer assessment from top academics at colleges; in the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges categories, ratings from high school counselors are also factored in.”

For more information on Washington College, visit their website.

Starr Center’s Goodheart Earns National Endowment for the Humanities Award

Adam Goodheart works in the Library of Congress on his new book, 1865: The Rebirth of a Nation.

Adam Goodheart, director of Washington College’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, has earned a prestigious Public Scholar Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities to research and write the sequel to his best-selling 1861: The Civil War Awakening.

The NEH grant, in the words of its mission statement, supports “scholarship that will be of broad interest and have lasting impact.” It rewards writers who can bridge the gap between academia and popular nonfiction to shed light on a broad range of topics: from diabetes and species extinction to the French Revolution and—in Goodheart’s case—the Civil War. Scholars must have already published a major book to apply, and the acceptance rate is slender, only about 5 percent.

Goodheart, whose 1861: The Civil War Awakening was a New York Times bestseller, is working on its sequel, 1865: The Rebirth of a Nation. He is returning to the same deeply researched narrative techniques for which the Times praised 1861, saying, “Goodheart excels at creating emotional empathy with his characters, encouraging us to experience the crisis as they did, in real time, without the benefit of historical hindsight. He lets the players speak for themselves and make the best case for their own motives and beliefs.”

1861 was also a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in history, and the audiobook, published by Audible, won the Audie Award in history. President Barack Obama invited Goodheart to an Oval Office ceremony to recognize his role in having Fort Monroe, where part of 1861 is set, declared a National Monument.

“As with 1861, I’m working to evoke the lived experience of a moment in history, through vivid depictions of individual people and places,” Goodheart says. “Doing it successfully requires immersing myself in the primary sources, which is something I love to do. For instance, a few weeks ago I was at the National Archives, delving into the thousands of letters that families wrote to the federal government seeking information on loved ones who hadn’t come back from the Civil War. Reading some of them was an emotional experience, even 150 years later. Those little known but powerful human stories interest me more than troop movements and battle strategies.”

Goodheart has been able to take a part-time leave from his Starr Center duties to pursue the research and perform the writing. The book is to be published in hardcover by Alfred A. Knopf and as a Vintage paperback.

“I’m honored to be supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities,” Goodheart says, adding that he hopes Congress will continue to fund the NEH and its sister institution, the National Endowment for the Arts, both of which are zeroed out in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. “If he succeeds,” Goodheart says, “it will be a disaster for the intellectual and cultural life of our country.”