The History Series at Salisbury House and Gardens

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2012-2013 History Series

in this series...


Dava Sobel


Joan Hoff


Fr. Augustine Thompson


Alan Taylor

Kerry Trask

Toward A More Perfect Heaven
Dava Sobel

Thursday, September 27th at 7:30 pm

Dava Sobel, a former New York Times science reporter, is the author of Longitude (Walker 1995 and 2005, Penguin 1996), Galileo's Daughter (Walker 1999, Penguin 2000), The Planets (Viking 2005, Penguin 2006), and A More Perfect Heaven (Walker / Bloomsbury, 2011).

In her forty years as a science journalist she has written for many magazines, including Audubon, Discover, Life and The New Yorker, served as a contributing editor to Harvard Magazine and Omni, and co-authored five books, including Is Anyone Out There? with astronomer Frank Drake.

St. Francis
Fr. Augustine Thompson
Thursday, October 25th at 7:30 pm

Fr. Augustine Thompson was reared in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, his family’s home since before the American Civil War. He was the son of Mr. Arthur T. Thompson, a telephone installer for the New York Telephone Company and Anna Dean Leque Thompson, a registered nurse. He has one sister, Martha, who is married and has two adult sons. Educated in the Hastings Public School system, his interest in Church history was in great part due to his mother, who loved history and cultivated a deep personal piety. After college in Baltimore, MD, he went to California to pursue a doctorate in medieval history at the University of California, Berkeley, but, after two semesters, he left the program and worked in a local bookstore. During that year he met the Western Dominicans, whose novitiate he entered in 1977. He ascribes his vocation to religious life to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and his love for the Church to Saint Augustine of Hippo, whose name he took as a Dominican novice. At the request of his religious superiors, Fr. Thompson returned to Berkeley to finish his doctorate in history in 1983, while finishing up his theological studies at DSPT. Within days of his ordination in 1985, he went to Bologna, Italy, to do the research for his dissertation. He lived there for over two years. This stay gave him an abiding love of Italians and all things Italian, especially the food, history, and culture. His research and writing have included extended periods in “il bel paese,” including sabbaticals, during which he did the research for two of his books.

Fr. Thompson returned from Italy and taught in the history department of the University of California, Berkeley (1988-89); the religious studies department of the University of Oregon (1990-1999), where he also served as department chair; and, finally, as Professor of Religious Studies and History at the University of Virginia (1999-2009), where he was director of the doctoral program in Religious Studies. He also served as the director of the Newman Center at Oregon State College, Ashland OR, and assistant pastor of Our Lady of the Mountain Church in Ashland, 1989-88. After nearly 25 years of teaching in secular institutions, in consultation with his superiors, Fr. Thompson accepted the offer of a position to teach at DSPT beginning in fall 2009. His personal interests include historical novels, model railroading, hiking and walking, and, last but not least, the music of Gilbert & Sullivan. He hopes that his research and study of lay piety and the lived religious culture of the period of St. Dominic and St. Francis will open new vistas for our students, not only into the distant past of the Church but also into possibilities for her in the twenty-first century.


The Modern American Presidency
Joan Hoff
Thursday, December 13th at 7:30 pm

Joan Hoff will talk about the evolution of the modern presidency, using her book "Toward A More Faustian Foreign Policy"

An occasional commentator on the presidency for the “Newshour with Jim Lehrer,” Hoff is currently a research professor of history at Montana State University. She is a former president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency, a former executive director of OAH, and a former director of the Contemporary History Institute at Ohio University. She is also the author, most recently, of A Faustian Foreign Policy from Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush (2007), The Cooper’s Wife is Missing: The Trials of Bridget Cleary (2000), Nixon Reconsidered (1994), and Law, Gender, and Injustice: A Legal History of U.S. Women (2nd edition, 1994).

Dying of the Light: Black Hawk and the Collapse of Sauk Society
Kerry Trask
Thursday, February 21st at 7:30 pm

Kerry Trask is a professor of history (emeritus) with the University of Wisconsin Colleges, where served on the faculty from 1972 until his retirement in 2008. He earned his Ph.D. in early American history at the University of Minnesota. A native of Canada, he has had a life-long interest in the history and development of the early Great Lakes region and has taught courses and published numerous articles on that subject. Trask is the author of three books. His most recent is Black Hawk: The Battle for the Heart of America (Henry Holt and Company), which was awarded the 2006 Benjamin F. Shambaugh Award by the State Historical Society of Iowa and recognized for “Outstanding Achievement” by the Wisconsin Library Association. Professor Trask was honored by being made a fellow of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters in 2008.


The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels and Indian Allies.
Alan Taylor
Thursday, April 4th at 7:30 pm

Join us for a lecture presented by one of today's most compelling authors. Pulitzer Prize winner, Alan Taylor, will speak about his recent book, The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels and Indian Allies


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