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Prize-winning Historian Delivers Walpole Lecture

February 3, 2014

Jill Lepore (PhD 1995, American Studies) delivered the twentieth annual Lewis Walpole Library Lecture at Yale in November. She spoke about Jane Franklin, who is the subject of her recent Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (Knopf 2013).

Lepore also participated in “Stubborn Sources – Adventures in the Archive,” one of the panels at this fall’s “Interdisciplinary Americas” reunion conference.

Lepore, the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History and chair of Harvard’s History and Literature Program, joined the Harvard History Department in 2003 and was named a Harvard College Professor in 2012 in recognition of her outstanding teaching.

Since 2005, she has been a contributing writer for The New Yorker, and in 2008, she became a staff writer at the magazine. Her most recent article, “Bad News: The Reputation of Roger Ailes,” appeared in the January 20 issue and compared the head of Fox News to William Randolph Hearst, who at one point owned 28 newspapers in 19 cities.

Another recent piece, “The Man in the Box: Fifty years of Doctor Who,” analyzed the long-running British science fiction television series. She often comments on current events, using historical parallels to put them in perspective. One article compared the National Security Agency’s questionable surveillance practices to an eavesdropping scandal involving Guiseppe Mazzini in 1844; another discussed military spending, past and present.

Lepore is author of several outstanding books, including New York Burning, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; The Name of War, winner of the Bancroft Prize; The Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death, a finalist for the Carnegie Medal; The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle Over American History, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice; and The Story of America: Essays on Origins. Her 2008 novel, Blindspot, written jointly with Jane Kamensky (BA 1985, PhD 1993, History), was also a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Her essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, the Times Literary Supplement, American Scholar, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Smithsonian magazine, The Journal of American History, American Quarterly, and Common-place – an online history magazine she co-founded with Kamensky.

In 2012-13 Lepore was a Visiting Scholar of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. She currently serves on the board of the National Portrait Gallery and the Society of American Historians. Among her honors and awards are the Sarah Josepha Hale Medal for Distinction in Literature and the Kidger Award for service to the historical profession.