Jill Lepore Talks Democratic Process

Jill LeporeJill Lepore, Ph.D. wears many hats: author, essayist, staff writer for The New Yorker, professor at Harvard University, podcast host, and most recently, the 2022 Christian Culture Lecture speaker at Saint Mary’s.

“As a writer, thinker, and researcher, her reach is unspeakably vast,” said Laura Williamson, associate professor of the Department of Humanistic Studies. “Her award-winning work on American history and politics has impacted not just academic circles but also community book clubs, readers of The New Yorker, and podcast listeners.”

Lepore is a best-selling author, writing about American history, law, politics, and popular culture. Her impressive career includes a long list of published work and many prizes and accolades, including the Bancroft Prize and the American History Book Prize. These Truths: A History of the United States was named one of Time magazine’s top-10 nonfiction books of the decade.

“We were especially excited about the seminar that Dr. Lepore offered Saint Mary’s students in Humanistic Studies and History as this afforded students a chance to learn from a top historian and public intellectual,” Williamson said.

Lepore sat down with the small group for a writing workshop. During the session, students asked questions about her writing process, shared stories of inspiration, and connected as women writers.

Later, Lepore spoke in O’Laughlin Auditorium about her work as a historian and asked everyone to participate in an anonymous poll about democratic culture. She focused on the Amendment process in the United States, relating the Amendment clause to a self-cleaning oven. “When The Framers wrote the Constitution they were very mechanically minded. They wanted the Constitution to be a watch, and when you wound it up it would just go and it would always be able to correct itself,” said Lepore.

Following the lecture, Jill Tiefenthaler ’87, CEO of The National Geographic Society and vice chair of the College’s Board of Trustees, joined Lepore for a spirited conversation to answer audience questions.1

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