What do we know about the current state of plant diversity? How is it changing? Why is it changing? And why should we care?
That's a lot of territory to cover in one lecture.
"That's obviously a lot of territory," said evolutionary botanist Peter Crane recently by phone.
But the state of plant diversity comes with the territory when you are former director of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, former director of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London, and today dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale. Crane is also a founding board member of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, where he serves alongside executive director Cary Fowler, a native Memphian who was profiled in the Memphis Flyer last year and who was once a student at Rhodes College.
This week, Rhodes welcomes Peter Crane as this year's Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar. Events include meetings with students and tours of the school's arboretum, Overton Park, the Memphis Botanic Garden, and the Dixon Gallery and Gardens.
As NPR's Morning Edition reported this past Monday, President's Day, the second-most written about man in history, behind Jesus Christ, is Abraham Lincoln, and to illustrate the mountain of books about Lincoln, the recently opened Ford's Theatre Center for Education and Leadership in Washington, D.C., has made that mountain into a column — a spiraling column of Lincoln-related "books" made out of aluminum but with jackets from the real books printed on them. The stack climbs 34 feet and measures eight feet around.
Morning Edition quoted Paul Tetreault, director of Ford's Theatre:
"There are books here for people of all ages. There's young people's books, there's an Abraham Lincoln stickers book, there's an Abraham Lincoln coloring book. And then of course there's all of the bestsellers: David Herbert Donald's great book about Lincoln [Lincoln], Doris Kearns Goodwin's book Team of Rivals — all of these major scholars who've written about Abraham Lincoln, they're all contained in this stack."
Professor of history emeritus at Brown University. Author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Radicalism of the American Revolution. Author of the Bancroft Prize-winning The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787. And author of Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 (a volume in the "Oxford History of the United States"), which was a finalist for another Pulitzer Prize. Plus, regular contributor to The New York Review of Books and The New Republic ...
He is Gordon S. Wood, who will lecture this week at Rhodes College. That lecture, titled "What Made the Founders Different," is free and open to the public and takes place on Thursday, February 16th, at 7 p.m. inside the McCallum Ballroom of the Bryan Campus Life Center. On Friday at 1 p.m., a panel of Rhodes faculty will conduct a Q&A with Wood in the Orgill Room of Clough Hall.
For more background on Wood, here's an hourlong, C-SPAN interview with Booknotes' Brian Lamb, which aired in 2002. The 9:45 mark: That's where Wood recalls Newt Gingrich's praise for The Radicalism of the American Revolution — praise that among Wood's more liberally minded academic peers qualified as "the kiss of death."
Questions about Gordon Wood's visit to Rhodes? Contact Jackie Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 843-3818.
According to Paul Russell, "There were certainly moments when I paused and asked myself: Why am I doing this? Why am I essentially forging a dead man's memoirs? ... And every time I was ready to abandon the project, I remembered that Vladimir had done everything he could to erase Sergey's existence. I would think, Damn it, I'm going to give this silenced brother a voice."
"Vladimir" in the above quote is Vladimir Nabokov. "Sergey" is Nabokov's practically forgotten younger brother, who died in a German concentration camp near the close of World War II. And that forged memoir is The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov (Cleis Press), the latest novel from Paul Russell, native Memphian and for nearly 30 years a faculty member at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York.