Best-selling Historian Simon Schama to Lecture at Yale

Simon Schama, the historian who wrote and narrated the popular BBC "History of Britain" series, will give the 2001 Finzi-Contini Lecture on March 22 at the Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall St.

Simon Schama, the historian who wrote and narrated the popular BBC “History of Britain” series, will give the 2001 Finzi-Contini Lecture on March 22 at the Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall St.

A professor of history and art history at Columbia University, Schama is widely credited with bringing the excitement of story telling back to the writing of history. Schama first established himself as a social and cultural historian in the classic mode with “The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age” (1987). But his 1989 history of the French Revolution, “Citizens,” departed from that mode, avoiding traditional scholarly apparatus in favor of brisk narrative and vivid detail.

Since then Schama has written “Landscape and Memory,” an exploration of Western myths and visions of nature; the historical novel, “Dead Certainties”; and “Rembrandt’s Eyes,” which argues passionately for the genius of the portrait painter. His two-part “History of Britain,” the first volume of which has climbed the best-seller lists in England, brings both rich description and epic sweep to the story of British nationhood from the Romans to the present. His Finzi-Contini lecture, titled “British History: In Defense of Epic,” will present and reflect upon some of this new work.

The Finzi-Contini lectureship was endowed in 1990 by the Calabresi family, including the Honorable Guido Calabresi, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and former dean of the Yale Law School, in memory of his mother, Bianca Maria Finzi-Contini Calabresi. The biannual lectureship sponsors a distinguished lecturer in the field of comparative literature, broadly defined. The inaugural lecture in the series was delivered in 1991 by the novelist and philosopher Umberto Eco.

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Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325