Blog – The Lectern

Musings on history, language, and beyond

“I have no expectation that any man will read history aright who thinks that what was done in a remote age, by men whose names have resounded far, has any deeper sense than what he is doing today.”
–R.W. Emerson, “History”

Header photo: Monastery Library in St. Florian, Austria

Guilford College and the future of the liberal arts…

20.11.2020 in Uncategorized

Dear colleagues, It is with considerable concern that we would like to alert you to the dire situation at our alma mater Guilford College, which recently announced plans to terminate the contracts of dozens of faculty and staff—including tenured professors who have decades of service—at…

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Wildfires and Wittenberg

09.05.2017 in Uncategorized

Who’s responsible for the fire? Last fall several wildfires raged in western NC. Ash rained down on my former high school; some schools closed due to the smoke, and some local residents lost everything, even their lives. At least a few of these fires were…

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“Glaubensfragen” and False Dichotomies

06.11.2016 in Uncategorized

For the past few days,* I’ve been attending the biannual historians’ convention in the metropole on the Elbe. This year the overarching theme of the event was “Glaubensfragen” (questions of belief), and I booked my ticket anticipating a lot of religious history. I wasn’t disappointed,…

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A somber anniversary . . .

10.04.2015 in Uncategorized

During my first semester in Munich, we had a week of fall break. Most of my fellow students made the most of their Eurail passes to travel to far off places to the south or east or west, but I decided to go north, alone,…

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A mile in their shoes . . .

11.03.2015 in Uncategorized

“All art has been contemporary.” It was a large sign, glowing neon, hanging at the entrance to the exhibition. But this wasn’t MOMA—wrong continent. I was in Munich, but it also wasn’t the new Pinakothek der Moderne. No, the sign that caught my attention was…


A stroll down memory lane towards a new endeavor

02.01.2015 in Uncategorized

In the course of preparing this website I picked up my old copy of Emerson’s essays; I remembered that I had quoted his essay in my personal statement in applications to graduate school, and I thought that I might be able to use the quote somewhere on the site.

I wasn’t quite prepared for the trip down memory lane and the feelings of nostalgia that holding the book in my hand aroused. There was a postcard stuck between the pages, an image of Pompeii, and among the many underlined passages in the book, the following, in Emerson’s essay on self-reliance: “Travelling is a fool’s paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. I see the Vatican and the palaces. I affect to be intoxicated with sights and suggestions, but I am not intoxicated. My giant goes with me wherever I go.”

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