Friday, April 2, 2010

Acclaimed Material Culture Scholar Returns to His Local Roots to Discuss Collections, Collecting, and Why We Love "Antiques Roadshow"

On Tuesday, April 13, at 7:30 p.m., the noted material culture scholar Robert Blair St. George will visit Washington College to give a multimedia presentation titled 18th-Century Souvenirs: From the Founding Fathers to the Antiques Roadshow. Immediately following the talk, he will join Patrick Henry Writing Fellow Marla Miller and Linda Eaton, Curator of Collections at Winterthur, for a public conversation on the role of objects in American memory, from the Revolutionary era to "Antiques Roadshow." This event is free and open to the public.

As a town brimming with "18th-century souvenirs" (featured just this month in both Early American Life and This Old House), Chestertown is an ideal spot to explore the different meanings that objects hold for scholars, owners, and collectors. It is also one of the places that first hooked St. George on reading architecture, a passion that has become his life's work. While visiting the Eastern Shore as a young man, he began to look closely at the buildings around him, finding clues to the past in their architectural details.

Robert Blair St. George is Associate Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, where he serves as Director of the Program in Public Culture. He is the author of four books on American cultural history and material culture, including Possible Pasts: Becoming Colonial in Early America (2000) and Material Life in America, 1600-1850 (1988), a perennially popular textbook in material culture classes.

A graduate of the prestigious Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, St. George received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1982. He has held fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the American Antiquarian Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Gilder-Lehrman Institute for American History.

St. George's talk will include clips from the hit PBS show, "Antiques Roadshow," and a discussion of the show's impact on popular interest in collections and collecting. Public conversation hosts Marla Miller and Linda Eaton will draw the audience into the discussion, turning the conversation toward the ways in which objects are assigned subjective meaning by their owners and users.

Marla Miller, Washington College's 2009-10 Patrick Henry Writing Fellow, is Associate Professor of History and Director of Public History at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Linda Eaton is Curator of Collections at Winterthur, one of America's best-loved period estates.

St. George's talk is cosponsored by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, the Department of Art & Art History and Winterthur. The program will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Litrenta Lecture Hall, John S. Toll Science Center.

About the Starr Center

The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience explores our nation's history—and particularly the legacy of its Founding era—in innovative ways. Through educational programs, scholarship, and public outreach, and especially by supporting and fostering the art of written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between past and present, and between the academic world and the public at large. From its base in the circa-1746 Custom House along Chestertown's colonial waterfront, the Center also serves as a portal onto a world of opportunities for Washington College students. Its guiding principle is that now more than ever, a wider understanding of our shared past is fundamental to the continuing success of America's democratic experiment. For more information on the Center, visit

About Winterthur

Winterthur, known worldwide for its preeminent collection of American antiques, naturalistic garden, and research library for the study of American art and material culture, offers a variety of tours, exhibitions, programs, and activities throughout the year. General admission includes a tour of some of the most notable spaces in the 175-room house, as well as access to the Winterthur Garden and Galleries, special exhibitions, a narrated tram tour (weather permitting), the Campbell Collection of Soup Tureens, and the Enchanted Woods children's garden. Winterthur, located on Route 52, six miles northwest of Wilmington, Delaware, and five miles south of U.S. Route 1, is committed to accessible programming for all. For information, including special services, call 800.448.3883, 302.888.4600, or TTY 302.888.4907. Online, visit

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