Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Scholar Examines Winslow Homer's Enigmatic Masterpiece, The Gulf Stream, At February 8 Lecture

Chestertown, MD, January 17, 2005 — Washington College's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, in conjunction with the Department of Art as part of the American Pictures Series of lectures, presents “Understanding a Great American Painting: Inside Winslow Homer's The Gulf Stream,” a talk by Peter Wood, professor of history at Duke University, Tuesday, February 8, at 4:30 p.m. in the College's Casey Academic Center Forum. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.

Professor Wood's lecture will take a new look at Winslow Homer's 1899 masterpiece, picturing a terrifying scene of a black man adrift in a derelict boat tossed by a turbulent sea and surrounded by sharks. The author of numerous books, including Strange New Land: Africans in Colonial America and Weathering the Storm: Inside Winslow Homer's Gulf Stream(University of Georgia Press, 2004)—on which this lecture is based—Professor Wood believes that to understand the painting the viewer must delve into the artist's past, as well as that of our nation, to see it anew through the lens of social and political history. Often interpreted as an allegorical representation of the human condition, for Professor Wood The Gulf Stream more closely portrays Homer's developing social conscience and the tumultuous consequences of slavery and colonialism at the end of the nineteenth century.

A graduate of Harvard College and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, Professor Wood received his Ph.D. in American history from Harvard in 1972. His first book, Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion (Knopf, 1974) was nominated for the National Book Award and won the Beveridge Prize of the American Historical Association. After three years as the Assistant Director for Humanities at the Rockefeller Foundation, in 1975 Professor Wood joined the History Department of Duke University, where he is now a full professor. From 1988 to 1995 he served as Director of Graduate Studies in the History Department, and in 1992 launched Duke's first survey course on Native American History in the United States and Canada. He has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Harvard's Warren Center, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Professor Wood's lecture is sponsored by the Department of Art at Washington College and the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, an innovative forum for new scholarship about American history. Drawing on the special historical strengths of Washington College and Chestertown, the Center is dedicated to exploring the early republic, the rise of democracy, and the manifold ways in which the founding era continues to shape American culture.

News about upcoming events is available online at http://starrcenter.washcoll.edu/, or by calling Program Manager Kees de Mooy at 410-810-7156.

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