“My idea was to continue the intellectual and artistic stimulation that is so powerful during the summer months into the winter, so that we Berkshire residents can enjoy thinking, looking, and listening even in the winter months… The Distinguished Lecture Series is designed to cover the entire range of cultural endeavors – art, music, politics, science, history, literature – from a wide range of perspectives and experiences.” -Jeremy Yudkin

Professor Jeremy Yudkin of Lenox conceived the idea for the Distinguished Lecture Series in 2006. The lectures take place once a month, usually on the third Sunday of the month and are held at 4 pm on Sunday afternoons in the elegant and restful surroundings of the Sedgwick Reading Room. Sunday afternoon was chosen because it is a quiet time in most people’s weekends, the Library was not being utilized, and it allows time for audiences to attend the lectures and go home (or out) for dinner.

All lectures are free and open to the public thanks to the generosity of the speakers and donations from the public.

No reservations are required.

The Thirteenth Season, 2019-2020

Season Flyer

September 22: Eugene Johnson, Emeritus Professor of Architecture, “Inventing the Opera House.”

October 20: Peter Filkins, Professor of Literature, “H.G. Adler: A Life in Many Worlds.”

November 24: Francis Moriarty, Senior Political Correspondent, “US-China Relations: What Choices Do We Have?”

January 26: Chris Ketchen, Chief Administrative Officer, “Behind the Scenes at Town Hall: What Does a Town Administrator Do All Day Long?”

February 23: Maud Mandel, President of Williams College.  “A Liberal Arts Education.”

March 29: Janet Pumphrey and Al Harper, Attorneys, “Murder 101:  Lenox’s Little House of Murder Lawyers.”

April 26: Jeremy Yudkin, Professor of Music, “Beethoven at 250.”

Past Seasons

September 23: Joachim Frank, “Single-Particle Cryo-Electron Microscopy: A Revolution in Visualizing Biological Molecules”

October 21: Ronald Epp, “Berkshire Cottagers and the Father of Acadia National Park”

November 18: Michael Hammond, “Shakespeare at the Moment”

January 27: Jennifer Browdy, “Writing Your Memoirs: The Elemental Journey”

February 17: Diane Barth, “The Joy and Heartbreak of Women’s Friendships”

March 31: Fredric Rutberg, “Keeping Newspapers Local”

April 28: Ed Gollin, “Hungarian Nationalism in Béla Bartók’s Music”

  • September 17: Bill Morgan, “The Beat Generation.”
  • October 22: Jeffrey Diamond, “Producing Barbara Walters and Other Delights of the Television Trade.”
  • November 19: Laura Smalarz, “The Psychology of Criminal Injustice.”
  • December 10: David Scribner, “Newspapers in the Digital Age.”

January, February, March: the Distinguished Lecture Series was on hiatus.

Past season, 2016-17

September 18 – Prof. Michael Hannahan, “Hope or Fear: The 2016 Election”

October 23 – Prof. Deborah Alecson, “A Good Death in a Death-Phobic Culture”

December 4 – Elwood H. Smith, Illustrator “An Art Career Morphs into a Circus”

January 22 – Prof. Hazza Abu Rabia, “Christians and Jews”

February 19 – “Lenox at 250, Session I.”  Special panel discussion on the first half of Lenox’s history (1767-1880).  Panel I to include Charles Flint and Lucy Kennedy (early history), Carole Owens (1750-1800), Bernard Drew (mid-19th century).  Audience participation encouraged!

March 19 – “Lenox at 250, Session II.” Special panel discussion on the second half of Lenox’s history (1880-2016).  Panel II to include Cornelia Gilder and Richard Jackson (The Gilded Age), David Roche (1940-1970), Olga Weiss (The Music Inn).  Audience participation encouraged!

April 23 – Lenox Library Director Amy Lafave on the newly published book Images of America: Lenox.

September 20, 2015.  Kenneth Gloss, Proprietor of the Brattle Book Shop in Boston, Massachusetts, Antiquarian Books and Manuscripts: “What Makes Old Books Valuable?”

October 18, 2015.  Lionel Delevingne, Photojournalist: “To the Village Square … From Montague, MA to Fukushima, Japan 1975-2014.”

November 22, 2015.  Hugh Howard, Historian and Author: “Mr. and Mrs. Madison’s War of 1812.”

January 24, 2016.  Daniel Klein, Philosopher and Author: “‘Every Time I Find the Meaning of Life, They Change It:’ Wisdom of the Great Philosophers on How to Live.”

February 21, 2016.  Derek Gentile, Journalist and Author: “How the Lenox Merchants Beat the NBA.”

March 20, 2016.  Jeremy Yudkin, Professor of Music, Boston University: “Beethoven at Work.”

April 17, 2016.  Elizabeth Aspenlieder, Shakespeare & Company: “The Art of Acting.”

May 29, 2016.  Steven Weinberg, Nobel Prize Winner in Physics, University of Texas at Austin: “To Explain the World.”

Past Season 2014-15

September 21, 2014. Hugh Hardy, Architect and author of Theater of Architecture, speaking on, “Who Is Architecture For, and What Does It Do?”

October 19, 2014. Cindy Dickinson, Director of Interpretation and Programming at the Emily Dickinson Museum, speaking on, “‘The Brain is wider than the Sky’:  Emily Dickinson in Her Nineteenth-Century World”

November 16, 2014. Rachel Fletcher, author of Infinite Measure, speaking on, “Palladian Architecture and the Beauty of Geometry”

January 18, 2015. Paul Park, author of All Those Vanished Engines, speaking on, “Writing Fiction: Different Rules for Different Games”

February 15, 2015. Charles Steinhacker, photographer, speaking on, “How to See — Photographically”

March 22, 2015. Michael Beck, Executive Director, Berkshire Botanical Garden, speaking on, “Confessions of an 81-year-old Public Garden: How to Remain Young, Beautiful, and Relevant”

April 19, 2015. Canon Stephen Paul Booth, Anglican priest, speaking on, “Are there any green places left? Culture, Community and Conservation in the Housatonic Valley of Berkshire County.”

May 17, 2015. Professor Stephen Berk, Professor of Holocaust and Jewish Studies, Union College, speaking on, “The Intractable Middle East”

Past Season 2013-14

September 22, 2013. Thomas Daly, Curator of Education, The Norman Rockwell Museum, on “Changing Perceptions: Norman Rockwell and America.”

October 20, 2013. The Reverend Michael Tuck, Rector, Trinity Church, Lenox, on “George Washington’s Church: Revolution and the Founding of the American Episcopal Church.”

November 17, 2013. Tom Werman, former assistant to the Director of Artists and Repertoire at Epic Records, on “The Glory Days of the Rock ’n’ Roll Business: An Insider’s Perspective.”

December 15, 2013. David L. Glass, Attorney-at-Law, on “The Beatles Weren’t Really So Great! (Or Were They . . .?).”

January 19, 2014. Michelle Gillett, author, columnist, and poet, on “The State of Contemporary Poetry.”

February 16, 2014. Jay M. Pasachoff, Professor of Astronomy, Director of The Hopkins Observatory, Williams College, on “Transits of Venus.”

March 23, 2014. David Roche, Chairman of the Lenox Board of Selectmen; Smitty Pignatelli, Massachusetts State Representative; Benjamin Downing, Massachusetts State Senator, on “Local Government: Making the System Work for You.”

April 27, 2014. Tony Simotes, Artistic Director, Shakespeare and Company, on “Shakespeare’s Physical Text – The Language of Comedy and Violence on Stage.”

Past Season, 2012-2013

September 23, 2012. Michael Hannahan, Director of the Donahue Institute, University of Massachusetts. “Is America Divided? The 2012 Election”

October 21, 2012. Jerry Fromm, PhD, Director, Erikson Institute for Education and Research, Austen Riggs Center. “A New Way of Looking at Things”

November 11, 2012. Albin Zak, Professor of Music at SUNY /Albany. “I Don’t Sound Like Bobody: Remaking Popular Music in 1950s America.”

December 16, 2012. Richard Berlin, MD, psychiatrist and poet. “Healing through Poetry”

January 20, 2013. John Leupold, Travel Expert

February 17, 2013. Norton Owen, Director of Preservation, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.

March 24, 2013. Mitya Orthofer, Essayist and Reviewer, Founder of The Complete Review.

April 21, 2013. Joseph Cruz, Professor of Philosophy, Williams College

Past Season, 2011-2012

September 18, 2011. Byam Stevens, Artistic Director, Chester Theatre Company.  “The Fabulous Invalid or the Real Truth about Theatrical Symptomology”

October 16, 2011. Elizabeth Tierney, Lenox author.  “Dignifying Dementia,”  on her experience caring for her husband during his illness.  Reception and book signing to follow.

November 20, 2011. Laurence Wallach, Professor of Music and Livingston Hall Chair in Music, Bard College at Simon’s Rock.  “Schubert’s Winterreise: Ultimate Destinations”

December 11, 2011. James Ruberto, Mayor, City of Pittsfield.  “Leaving the Mayor’s Office”

January 22, 2012. Frances Jones-Sneed, Professor of History, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.  “JamesVanDerZee: Race, Place, and Memory”

February 26, 2012. Michael Conforti, Director of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. “The Clark: 21st– Century Challenges to its Dual Mission as an Art Museum and as a Center for Research and Higher Education.”

March 18, 2012. Kevin Moran, Managing Editor, The Berkshire Eagle.  “Content, Sourcing, and Veracity in the Internet Age”

April 22, 2012. David Alan Miller, Music Director and Conductor, Albany Symphony Orchestra.   “Global Issues of Classical Music in Today’s World”

May 20, 2012. William Moebius, Professor of Comparative Literature and Interim Chair of the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, UMass Amherst.  “Disney Bodies, 1922-1937”

Past season, 2010-2011

September 19, 2010: Mark Volpe, Esq., Managing Director of the BSO

October 17, 2010: Joan Edwards, Washington Gladden 1859 Professor of Biology, Williams College on fast plants “Botanical Explosions: Ultra-fast Movements in the World of Plants”

November 21, 2010: The Honorable John Agostini, Associate Justice, Commonwealth of Massachusetts Superior Court, Berkshire County on the challenges of judicial judging

December 12, 2010: Roy Blount, Jr., humorist, author, radio personality

January 23, 2011: Andrew Pincus, author and music critic on his latest novel

February 13, 2011: Dr. Carole Owens, local historian and author on the writing of local history

March 20, 2011: Kenneth Osgood, Professor of American Foreign Policy, Florida Atlantic University on the US government spying on American citizens in the 1950s

April 24, 2011: Dr. Mary Grant, President of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts on higher education

 Past Season 2009-2010

Sept 20, 2009.  STEPHEN GLANTZ (author and screenwriter), “Clara’s War: One Girl’s Story of Survival.”

October 18, 2009.  JOHN FELSTINER (author and professor of English at Stanford University, “Can Poetry Save the Earth?”

December 6, 2009.  JOAN GRISWOLD (painter), “My Work.”

January 17, 2010.  WALLY SWIST, poet, “My Poetry.”  ELIZABETH WILDA (filmmaker), “My film In Praise of the Earth.”

February 21, 2010.  EUGENE DRUCKER (violinist with the Emerson String Quartet and author of The Savior), “The Savior and Bach’s Partita for Solo Violin in D minor.” Performance and Lecture

Past Season 2008-2009

In the second season, 2008-2009, the number of lectures expanded to seven, and the season ran from September to April. Starting in the second season, a gift was made by Lynn Sutton of The Barefoot Gardener and Mary Nash of Mary Nash Consulting to sustain the lecture series and to allow it to offer free admission to all lectures. This led to a significant increase in attendance, with each lecture attracting between 50 and 75 members of the community.

September 21, 2008.  MICHAEL ZARETSKY (violist, Boston Symphony Orchestra), “The Six Suites for Solo Cello by Johann Sebastian Bach.”

October 19, 2008.  MICHAEL HANNAHAN (Director of the Donahue Institute), “The American Presidential Election from the Outside In.”

November 23, 2008.  JOAN ACKERMAN (playwright and author), “From Page to Stage to Screen.”

January 18, 2009.  MIKE GLIER (painter), “Along a Long Line.”

February 15, 2009.  DANIEL KLEIN (author), “My Latest Novel: I’m Serious This Time!”

March 15, 2009.  JULIANNE BOYD (Founder and Artistic Director of Barrington Stage Company); JOAN PALANO CIOLFI (artist); KATE MAGUIRE (Artistic Director and CEO, Berkshire Theatre Festival); TRACY WILSON (Executive Director, Berkshire Music School), “Berkshire Women in the Arts.”

April 26, 2009.  MATTHEW TANNENBAUM (Proprietor of The Bookstore in Lenox), “My Years at the Gotham Book Mart . . . And How I Became a Bookman.”

Past Season 2007-2008

The inaugural season, 2007-2008, consisted of 4 speakers and had a $15 admission fee. The first season was highly successful in terms of range and interest of the lecturers.

November 7, 2007.  ANDREW J. BACEVICH (U.S. Colonel (ret.) and Professor of International Relations at Boston University), “Lessons of the Iraq War.”

December 16, 2007.  DANIEL GORDON (Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst), “Our Remarkable Constitution: The Oddities and Virtues of the American Constitution.”

January 13, 2008.  CHRISTINA SCULL (independent scholar) and WAYNE G. HAMMOND (Assistant Librarian in the Chapin Library, Williams College), “Mastering Middle-Earth: Adventures in Scholarship with J. R. R. Tolkien.”

February 10, 2008.  ERNEST SHAW (sculptor), “What is the Role of Creativity in the Modern World?”

JEREMY YUDKIN is host and organizer of the Distinguished Lecture Series.  He is a resident of the Berkshires and professor of music at Boston University and Oxford University.  Every summer at the Lenox Library he presents the pre-concert lectures for the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood season.

All programs in the Distinguished Lecture Series are FREE and open to the public thanks to the generosity of the speakers, and donors like you.