Chestertown, MD, March 4, 2003 — On Monday, March 31, at 7:30 p.m., Washington College's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience presents “The Future of the Past,” a lecture by Alexander Stille, author of the recent book of that title and frequent contributor to New Yorker magazine. Stille will discuss the provocative thesis of his latest book, in which he ranged across the globe to portray how cultures worldwide are losing touch with their own history. The event will be held in the College's Hynson Lounge. It is free and open to the public. A book-signing will follow the lecture.
“Our society is in the midst of a fundamental rupture with the past,” Stille says. Although modern technology – such as carbon-dating and genetic research – makes it easier to recover some historical data than ever before, he observes, technology and its byproducts also “threaten to destroy in a few generations monuments and works of art that have survived thousands of years of war, revolution, famine, and pestilence.” His research for his book – which began as a series of New Yorkerarticles – took him to places as far-flung as Egypt (where fast food franchises share the desert vista with the Great Pyramid), New Guinea (where natives are trading in their traditional carved canoes for power boats), and the Vatican (where a lone monk from Milwaukee fights a one-man crusade to revive the Latin language). In his lecture, he will describe what he found on his travels, and how it fits together into a global cultural phenomenon.
The Future of the Past, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, is Stille's third book of history and reportage, and has been widely praised. Publisher's Weekly called it “a must-read for anyone interested in the preservation of our world's decaying treasures.” The Future of the Past was preceded by Excellent Cadavers: The Mafia and the Death of the First Italian Republic (1995) and Benevolence & Betrayal: Five Italian Jewish Families Under Fascism(1991), which won the Los Angeles Times Book Award and Italy's Premio Acqui. Besides his work for the New Yorker, Stille is a frequent contributor to the New York Times “Arts and Ideas” page, the New York Review of Books, and the leading Italian daily La Repubblica. He holds degrees from Yale University and the Columbia School of Journalism, and taught at Vassar College as Distinguished Gladys Delmas Professor. He lives in New York City.
For more information about C. V. Starr Center events and programs, visit the Center online athttp://starrcenter.washcoll.edu, or call 410-810-7156.