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Bard College Presents the Anthony Hecht Lectures in the Humanities Featuring Simon Schama, November 18–24

Mark Primoff
Bard College Presents the Anthony Hecht Lectures in the Humanities featuring Simon Schama on November 18-24  Image Credit: Photo by Margherita Mirabella
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—This fall Bard College honors preeminent poet, alumnus, and former Bard faculty member Anthony Hecht ’44 with historian Simon Schama delivering the second biennial Anthony Hecht Lectures in the Humanities. Schama, who is also an art historian, critic, author, and broadcaster best known for his award-winning BBC documentary A History of Britain, will present three lectures in November. The lecture series, “The Impossibility of the Contemporary in British Art Now,” examines the fate of post-abstract art in Britain and begins with lectures on Tuesday, November 18, and Thursday, November 20, at 5:00 p.m. in Weis Cinema in the Bertelsmann Campus Center at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. A reception beginning at 4:30 p.m. will precede each lecture. Free and open to the public, Schama’s lectures at Bard are “The Beast: Damien Hirst” (Nov 18), which examines animals (including, occasionally humans) in British art; and “The Artist Naked: Lucien Freud and Jenny Saville” (Nov 20), which explores British artists in their own nakedness (rather than nudity), beginning with Stanley Spencer and ending with Marc Quinn. His final lecture, “Fields of Memory: Rachel Whiteread and John Virtue,” about urban and rural haunts and memory as ghost in British culture, is on Monday, November 24, at 8:00 p.m. in the Kaufmann Concert Hall at the 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Avenue, New York City. Tickets are required for this event. Visit or call 212-415-5500.

“It is a great honor that Anthony Hecht chose Bard as his home, both as a student and a faculty member, and we are delighted to recognize his extraordinary achievements through this important lecture series,” says Bard College President Leon Botstein.

This dedicated lecture series has been established to honor the memory of Hecht by reflecting his lifelong interest in literature, music, the visual arts, and our cultural history. Every two years, a distinguished scholar delivers a series of public lectures at Bard College and in New York City addressing works close to Hecht’s own imagination and sympathies. Each lecture series, which take place during a Bard campus residency, will be published by Yale University Press. Literary scholar and author Christopher Ricks was the first lecturer of the Hecht lecture series.

Through his poems, scholarship, and teaching, Anthony Hecht has come to be recognized as the moral voice of his poetic generation, and his works continue to have a profound impact on contemporary American poetry. John Donatich, director of the Yale University Press, says, “These lectures are a wonderful way to remember Anthony Hecht’s serious commitment to the arts. Many important and enduring books have had their start as lectures; we look forward to many extraordinary possibilities.”

Anthony Hecht (1923–2004) graduated from Bard in 1944 and taught at the College from 1952–55 and 1962–66. Hecht was the author of seven books of poetry, including Flight Among the Tombs and The Darkness and the Light, as well as several critical books, among them Melodies Unheard: Essays on the Mysteries of Poetry and The Hidden Law: The Poetry of W. H. Auden. In 1951 he was the recipient of the Prix de Rome, the first fellow in literature to study at the American Academy in Rome. Numerous honors followed including the Pulitzer Prize in 1968 for The Hard Hours, the Bollingen Prize, the Eugenio Montale Award for lifetime achievement in poetry, the Ruth Lilly Prize, the Wallace Stevens Award, the Robert Frost Medal, the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the National Medal of the Arts. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. From 1982 to 1984 he served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, the position now known as Poet Laureate.

Simon Schama is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University. He previously taught history at Christ’s College, Cambridge, and Brasenose College, Oxford, and art history and history at Harvard. He has delivered the George Macaulay Trevelyan Lectures at Cambridge, the Tanner Lectures at Harvard and Oxford, the Finzi-Contini Lecture at Yale, and the A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts at the National Gallery in Washington. His books, translated into 15 languages, include the History of Britain trilogy (2000–02); Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution (2006); and The Power of Art (2007). His books have won the Wolfson Prize for History, W. H. Smith Literary Award, National Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature, and National Book Critics’ Circle Award for Nonfiction. He has been an essayist and critic for the New Yorker since 1994, his art criticism winning the National Magazine Award in 1996. His television work for the BBC and PBS as writer-presenter includes films on Rembrandt, Tolstoy, and the award-winning trilogy A History of Britain.

For further information, call 845-758-7405

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This event was last updated on 10-31-2008