Fall Lecture Series

2023 Fall Lecture Series

"The Past and Present Here Unite..."

Over the past 264 year, this house’s occupants have shaped the nation; now, join us in writing the next verse together. This house bears witness to the history of enslavement and activism; the development of a 19th century American literary canon; the evolution of LGBTQ+ life and identity; deep joy, and deep sorrow. This fall, a series of conversations with scholars and community leaders will explore the ways in which these intersecting histories resonate today.

The Longfellow Fall Lecture Series takes place annually and is free and open to the public.

Victorian mourning brooch containing blond  and brown hair
1848 Mourning Brooch containing the hair of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's daughter, baby Fan (blonde, center), and his father, Stephen Longfellow (brown/gray).

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New Date! Thursday, February 1 | 6:00-7:30 PM "In the long, sleepless watches of the night": Exploring the Culture of Death, Bereavement, and Mourning in the Antebellum Period

Paul Lewis and Tegan Kehoe

In partnership with Mount Auburn Cemetery
Hybrid event - register to attend in-person or online

Join literary scholar Paul Lewis and public historian Tegan Kehoe for a conversation exploring loss and bereavement in the antebellum period through the lens of poetry and culture.

Kehoe, the author of Exploring American Healthcare Through 50 Historic Treasures, will discuss the medical and social context for illness, grief and loss in the antebellum period. She will describe evolving 19th-century understandings of the causes of illness and explore how antebellum framings of illness and death influenced people's relationships with loss and grief.

Lewis, a professor emeritus of English at Boston College with a career-long interest in dark humor and gothic fiction, will consider expressions of grief in contrasting works by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Edgar Allan Poe. To what extent is Poe trying to console or horrify readers? To what extent do his intense, gothic renderings of loss conform to, deviate from, and/or satirize antebellum norms?
An American flag flying above a Pride flag, on the same flagpole

The American LGBTQ+ Museum

Thursday November 9, 6:00-7:30 PM | Preserving LGBTQ+ History in Our Communities

Virtual program, with support from the Friends of the Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters

Ben Garcia in Conversation with Joan Ilacqua

Ben Garcia, Executive Director of the new American LGBTQ+ Museum, and Joan Ilacqua, Executive Director of The History Project, will discuss the intersections of their work preserving and sharing Queer History at two remarkable organizations. They'll share insights into how Queer History can help us understand the present and envision our future, the role of communities in preserving Queer History, and how audience members can connect to this ongoing work.

The American LGBTQ+ Museum preserves, investigates, and celebrates the dynamic histories and cultures of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people, as well as those of the emergent and adjacent identities among our communities. Using exhibitions and programs, the Museum seeks to advance LGBTQ+ equality through the lens of social justice movements, including, but not limited to, race, gender, class, immigration, and disability.

The History Project is focused exclusively on documenting and preserving the history of New England’s LGBTQ communities and sharing that history with LGBTQ individuals, organizations, allies, and the public. The History Project is a community archives - a repository, historical society, and museum for the LGBTQ+ community's history.
19th century book opened to show a photograph of a marble statue, with text on the facing page.


Wednesday November 29, 6:00-7:00 PM | The Extra-Illustrated Novel as an Italian Souvenir

Jacqueline Marie Musacchio

George Eliot’s Romola (1863), set in fifteenth-century Florence, and Nathaniel Hawthorne's Marble Faun (1860), set in nineteenth-century Rome, have long appealed to travelers. The Longfellow family was no exception. With their detailed descriptions of Renaissance Florence and Risorgimento Rome, these novels served as guidebooks, their narratives providing both real and virtual travelers with an informative and easy-to-follow itinerary.

They also served as souvenirs. Travelers chose photographs to illustrate their copies, either individually or in pre-assembled sets, then had them fitted with decorative endpapers and specially bound in local stationary shops. Like so many others, Samuel and Alice Longfellow engaged in this practice, and their experience demonstrates how these extra-illustrated novels allowed travelers to carry Italy home with them.

Jacqueline Marie Muscacchio is a Professor of Art at Wellesley College, specializing in Italian Renaissance and Baroque art. She is the author of the recent article "Carrying Home Renaissance Florence in Extra-Illustrated Copies of George Eliot’s Romola."

Last updated: January 10, 2024

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