First Wednesdays Schedule

The Friends are pleased to bring you  the First Wednesdays Humanities Lecture Series, organised through the Vermont Humanities Council with the sponsorship of The Alma Gibbs Donchian Foundation, the Windham Foundation, and the Vermont Department of Libraries. Lectures are free of charge and, unless otherwise noted, are held on the first Wednesday of the month, October through May in the Ilsley Public Library meeting room at 7 PM.  The Middlebury series is underwritten by The Residence at Otter Creek.

Without the sponsorship of the Friends of the Ilsley Library, our library would have to find other funding to continue these programs. Please consider supporting the Friends of the Ilsley Library.


2018-2019 calendar:

October 3 : Irene Kacandes

Creativity and Historical Truths


November 7: DeRay McKesson

Political Activism and the Case for Hope


December 5: Thomas Denenberg

The Wyeths:First Family of American Art


January 9Frank Bruni

Conversations with Frank Bruni


February 6: Randall Balmer (to be rescheduled)

What You Didn’t Know about Evangelicalism

Most Americans associate evangelicals with the hard-right precincts of the Republican Party. But as Dartmouth religion professor Randall Balmer explains, evangelicalism in America has a much longer and more complex history, including a distinguished pedigree of working for progressive reforms. What happened?

Underwriter: Vermont Council on World Affairs


March 6: Peter Travis

Where’s Chaucer in the Canterbury Tales

Dartmouth Professor Peter Travis discusses the subtle
irony with which Chaucer depicts his pilgrims, leaving us to judge them for ourselves.



April 3Susan Clark

Slow Democracy and the Power of Neighborliness

Author and advocate Susan Clark explains the Slow Democracy movement in which ordinary people mobilise to find local solutions to local problems. In the process some find they can bridge the”us-them” divide so prevalent in our national politics.

Partner: Middlebury College and the Mellon Foundation


May 1: Eleanor Jones Harvey

Natural Icons and National Identity: Frederic Church’s LandscapesA30827.jpg

Frederic Church painted landscapes of distinctive American Features, including Natural Bridge in Virginia and Niagara Falls in New York. Eleanor Jones Harvey, senior curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, explores how and why we used these American landscapes to distinguish the scale and scope of our cultural ambitions.
Underwriter: A Friend of the Series