Colloquium: The Education of Henry Adams and the Intellect’s Contributions to Freedom”

December 6, 2018 - 12:30pm to 2:00pm

Location and Address

Humanities Center (602 CL)

Image: “"Porcupinus Angelicus" or "Porcupinus Poeticus"

Readings: The Education of Henry Adams and Mont Saint Michel and Chartres by Henry Adams.
I contend that in his two greatest books, Mont Saint Michel and The Education, Adams found a new form that let him represent together the various strengths of and threats to US democracy.  He created an axis that allowed him to trace, on one line, the potentialities and dangers in the constitutional and cultural nature of the republic while, on the other line, he could enumerate and dramatize the emerging forces, apparent in his own time that augmented and redirected these same forces and threats.  He embraced a specific knowledge system to master this process, the memory palace, the force of which he literalizes in his comparison of Gothic and Romanesque architecture in the mapping of human, financial, and conceptual circulation in what scholars then called the Medieval Renaissance.  In The Education, the memory palace allows him to organize his massive erudition and research spatially along the lines of his axis to narrate, linearly as it appears, a structural and transformational event known as the “American Experiment,” for the fate of which he always worries.

Reading available here

Paul Bové (English), with responses from Ronald Judy (English) and Jen Waldron (English)