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1171 Main Street
St. Johnsbury, VT, 05819
United States


First Wednesdays

2016 St. Johnsbury First Wednesdays Events


First Wednesdays is supported in part by the National Life Group Foundation and the Institute of Museum & Library Services through the Vermont Department of Libraries.

Series Underwriters: St. Johnsbury Academy

Program Underwriters: Bill and Sharon Biddle, Gil Steil AssociatesMerchants BankPassumpsic Savings Bank-Member FDICVermont Council on World Affairs

Library Underwriters: Adler & McCabe, PLCFriends of the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum

Past Events

October 7 — What If Poor Women Ran the World? • Annelise Orleck

Labor historian Annelise Orleck tells the story of nine African-American union maids in Las Vegas who, during the 1970s, challenged welfare cuts and built a long-lasting, vibrant anti-poverty program run by poor mothers.

November 4 — Georgia O’Keeffe: A Critical Look • James Maroney

Georgia O’Keeffe produced more than 2,000 works in her 75-year career. James Maroney, the former head of American Paintings at both Sotheby’s and Christie’s in New York who appraised her estate after her death, presents a critical evaluation of her best work. Underwriter: Passumpsic Savings Bank-Member FDIC

December 2 — The Literary Achievement of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales • Peter Travis

Dartmouth professor Peter Travis discusses the genius, comic wisdom, and enduring humanity of Geoffrey Chaucer, the fourteenth-century “Father of English Poetry.”

January 6 — Art and Life in Renaissance Venice • Katy Smith Abbott

Middlebury professor Katy Smith Abbott explores how fifteenth-century Venetians came to see themselves reflected in depictions of St. Mark, the Virgin Mary, Mars, Venus, and others, and what this reveals about Venice’s distinct place in the Renaissance.

February 3 — Celebrating E. B. White • Nancy Jay Crumbine

From Charlotte’s Web to his exquisite essays in The New Yorker, E. B. White remains the master’s master of elegant prose, sophisticated wit, and graceful irreverence. Drawing on his stories, essays, poems, and letters, Dartmouth professor Nancy Jay Crumbine celebrates White’s versatility and enormous legacy.

March 9(Note date) — The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition • Caroline Alexander

In 1914, polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton left England for the Antarctic with a crew of 27 on his ship Endurance. When it was crushed by sea ice, they became castaways in the harshest environment on Earth. A century later, author Caroline Alexander shares a thrilling saga of stoic courage that also serves as a master class in leadership. Underwriter: Gil Steil Associates

April 6 — Understanding Islamic Extremism • Haviland Smith

Former CIA Chief of Counterterrorism Haviland Smith examines the roots of Islamic fundamentalism, its spread since 9/11, how it affects us, whom it targets, and how the US might respond. Underwriter: Vermont Council on World Affairs


May 4 — The Memoir Boom: Who, What, Why • Irene Kacandes

Dartmouth professor and experimental memoirist Irene Kacandes discusses current approaches to life writing and considers why we continue to love reading about others’ lives. Underwriter: Bill and Sharon Biddle

Photos (top to bottom): Georgia O’Keeffe, 1918, by Alfred Stieglitz; detail of The Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese (1528–1588); The Endurance stuck in Antarctic sea ice, 1916, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division; former Taliban fighters returning arms to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, 2012, Department of Defense photo by Lt. j. g. Joe Painter.