The Life of Learning: The Charles Homer Haskins Lectures of the American Council of Learned Societies

The Life of Learning: The Charles Homer Haskins Lectures of the American Council of Learned Societies

The Life of Learning: The Charles Homer Haskins Lectures of the American Council of Learned Societies

The Life of Learning: The Charles Homer Haskins Lectures of the American Council of Learned Societies

Synopsis

Each year since 1983 the American Council of Learned Societies has invited one of America's leading scholars to deliver the Haskins Lecture, in honor of Charles Homer Haskins, a distinguished scholar and teacher who was instrumental in the founding of the ACLS. In this volume, which commemorates the 75th anniversary of the ACLS, Douglas Greenberg and Stanley Katz bring together the lectures presented by ten of America's most distinguished scholars. Each lecture is a personal and intellectual glimpse into the "life of learning" of such leading scholars as Maynard Mack, Annemarie Schimmel, and John Hope Franklin. The lectures focus on self-reflection of lives dedicated to learning, rather than on scholarship in the usual sense of the term. Ranging from being forced to learn Latin to painful memories of war and racism, the lecturers all recount stories from their eventful lives. Each offers thoughts on the body of work he or she has produced and the forces, personal and intellectual, that have shaped it. The scholars bring something of their disciplines to the lecture, sharing not only personal anecdotes but their love of learning.

Excerpt

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) was founded in 1919 to support humanistic learning in the United States and to represent American scholarship abroad. Originally composed of twelve learned societies, acls now includes fifty-three member societies, a long list of college and university associate members, and a group of seven affiliates devoted to other areas of humanistic endeavor. Over the course of a distinguished history, the Council has supported the scholarship of thousands of researchers through its fellowship programs, thereby assisting in the publication of innumerable books and monographs, and participated effectively in virtually every aspect of teaching and learning in the humanities.

When John William Ward became President of the acls in 1982, he concluded that the acls tradition of involvement in scholarship and teaching of the highest caliber should be commemorated through an annual lecture delivered by a distinguished humanist on the "life of learning." He further proposed that the lecture be named for Charles Homer Haskins, a scholar and teacher of great accomplishment, who was instrumental in the founding of acls and served as the first chairman of its board of directors.

Ward's conception of the Haskins Lecture was that it should not be a work of scholarship in the usual sense, but should represent an opportunity for selfreflection by a senior humanist still active in his or her field. Such a scholar would be in a position to offer a meditation of sorts on the body of work he or she had thus far produced and the forces, personal as well as intellectual, that had shaped it. Thus, in his invitation to the first Haskins Lecturer, Maynard Mack, Ward wrote:

Our intention is to ask each year's honoree to reflect on a lifetime of work as a scholar, on the motives, the chance determinations, the satisfactions (and the dissatisfactions) of the life of learning, to explore through one's own life the larger, institutional life of scholarship. We do not wish the speaker to present the products of one's own scholarly research, but rather to share with other scholars the personal process of a particular lifetime of learning.

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