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UC Berkeley Press Release

Author, historian Garry Wills "On the Same Page" at Berkeley

– "On the Same Page," a signature program of the University of California, Berkeley's College of Letters & Science in which all new students receive the same book to read and discuss, is highlighting its second year with the book "Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America."

Like Stephen Hawking, author of last year's featured book, "A Briefer History of Time," the author of this year's book, cultural historian Garry Wills, will visit UC Berkeley to talk with students and faculty. He will be on campus Sept. 25-27 in venues ranging from an informal reception with students to a history writing panel to a public lecture in Zellerbach Hall.

Last summer, all newly-admitted Letters & Science students received a free copy of Wills' Pulitzer Prize-winning book that applies American politics, ancient history and more to Lincoln's address, which was delivered at the 1863 dedication of a military cemetery near the site of the Battle of Gettysburg. The bloody conflict is often cited as the Civil War's turning point and produced the war's largest number of casualties.

Students have opportunities to discuss Wills' "Lincoln at Gettysburg" and associated topics in several classes this fall that include:

  • "An Ex-Slave's Use of Photography: Sojourner Truth's Cartes-de-visite," a class taught by Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby, an associate professor of art history, about the life and photography of well-known abolitionist and women's rights advocate Sojourner Truth, who once met Lincoln.

  • "Garry Wills' 'Lincoln at Gettysburg,'" a class led by Richard Hutson, associate professor of English, that explores Wills' book as well as other Lincoln speeches and letters.

  • "Road to Freedom: Anthropological Perspectives on African American Life," a course in which anthropology professor Laurie Wilkie, director of UC Berkeley's Archaeological Research Facility, uses material written by archaeologists and anthropologists - along with oral histories - to debunk popular belief that "emancipation was something done for African Americans." Wilkie and her students are examining how African Americans created their own freedom through family and cultural lives, economics and politics, and resistance to racism, and how race-based slavery impacts contemporary life.

    Wills' talk in Zellerbach Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 26, will be held in conjunction with Cal Performance's "Strictly Speaking" series. Ticket information is online at http://www.calperfs.berkeley.edu/.

    "Garry Wills is one of the most distinguished and prolific historians of our time," said Jon Gjerde, dean of social sciences for the College of Letters & Science and a professor of American history. "Wills engages us with remarkable insights about our past as well as our present. It is a great pleasure to welcome him to Berkeley."

    An emeritus professor of history at Northwestern University, Wills won the National Medal for the Humanities in 1998 for his written contributions to the fields of politics, history, religion and theater. He also won the National Book Critics Circle Award for "Lincoln at Gettysburg." Wills' other subjects have included Richard Nixon, Aeschylus, Shakespeare, the Vietnam War and religion.

    The College of Letters & Science encompasses more than half of the campus's faculty, three-quarters of its undergraduate students and half of its Ph.D. candidates. More information about "On the Same Page" program is online at http://ls.berkeley.edu/.