The William E. Massey Sr. Lectures in the History of American Civilization

The William E. Massey, Sr., Lectures in the History of American Civilization at Harvard University have been endowed by an anonymous donor to honor Mr. Massey, the Virginia businessman and philanthropist. Mr. Massey was born in Ansted, West Virginia, in 1909 and attended the University of Richmond. At the age of twenty he began to work for the A.T. Massey Coal Company, and before his retirement in 1977 he served as chief executive officer of the company and chairman of the board. Mr. Massey was president of the Massey Foundation, a private philanthropic organization that supports cultural and educational institutions.

Below is a list of in-print works in this collection, presented in series order or publication order as applicable.

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1984.Cover: One Writer's Beginnings

One Writer's Beginnings

Welty, Eudora

Eudora Welty, whose many honors include the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award for fiction, tells the story of her early life and offers guidance for those who aspire to write fiction. Now available as an audio CD—in Welty’s own voice—or as a book.

1986.Cover: The American Newness: Culture and Politics in the Age of Emerson

The American Newness: Culture and Politics in the Age of Emerson

Howe, Irving

What is the Emersonian spirit? What inspired it, what propelled it? And what does it mean to us today? Irving Howe lays before us the intellectual and personal tragedy of the first great American man of letters, yet also shows that Emerson’s belief in the untapped power of free men pervades not only the lives and works of his contemporaries but is also a permanent part of the American psyche.

1988.Cover: Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America

Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America

Levine, Lawrence W.

In this unusually wide-ranging study, spanning more than a century and covering many diverse forms of expressive culture, a leading cultural historian demonstrates how variable and dynamic cultural boundaries have been and how fragile and recent the cultural categories we have learned to accept as natural and eternal are.

1990.Cover: Revolutions: Reflections on American Equality and Foreign Liberations

Revolutions: Reflections on American Equality and Foreign Liberations

Davis, David Brion

Beginning with America’s response to the French Revolution and the wars of liberation in Latin America, David Brion Davis poses the intriguing question of why the United States, born in revolution, has fluctuated between fears of a revolutionary world and a joyous expectation that foreign liberations signal the Americanization of the globe.

1992.Cover: Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination

Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination

Morrison, Toni

Toni Morrison brings the genius of a master writer to this personal inquiry into the significance of African-Americans in the American literary imagination. Through her investigation of black characters, narrative strategies, and idiom in the fiction of white American writers, Morrison provides a daring perspective that is sure to alter conventional notions about American literature.

1994.Cover: The Southern Tradition: The Achievement and Limitations of an American Conservatism

The Southern Tradition: The Achievement and Limitations of an American Conservatism

Genovese, Eugene D.

In recent years American conservatism has found a new voice. But what seems new, Eugene Genovese shows us, may in fact have very old roots. Tracing a certain strain of conservatism to its sources in a rich southern tradition, his book opens a powerful perspective on the politics of our day. As much a work of political and moral philosophy as one of history, The Southern Tradition reconstitutes the historical canon, re-envisions the strengths and weaknesses of the conservative tradition, and broadens the spectrum of political debate for our own time.

1995.Cover: Writing Was Everything

Writing Was Everything

Kazin, Alfred

A deft blend of autobiography, history, and criticism, Writing Was Everything emerges as a reaffirmation of literature in an age of deconstruction and critical dogma. It stands as clear testimony to Alfred Kazin’s belief that “literature is not theory but, at best, the value we can give to our experience, which in our century has been and remains beyond the imagination of mankind.”

1996.Cover: The Dissent of the Governed: A Meditation on Law, Religion, and Loyalty

The Dissent of the Governed: A Meditation on Law, Religion, and Loyalty

Carter, Stephen L.

Between loyalty and disobedience; between recognition of the law’s authority and realization that the law is not always right: in America, this conflict is historic, with results as glorious as the mass protests of the civil rights movement and as inglorious as the armed violence of the militia movement. In an impassioned defense of dissent, Stephen Carter argues for the dialogue that negotiates this conflict and keeps democracy alive. His book portrays an America dying from a refusal to engage in such a dialogue, a polity where, indeed, everybody speaks, but nobody listens.

1997.Cover: Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America

Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America

Rorty, Richard

Must the sins of America’s past poison its hope for the future? Lately the American Left, withdrawing into the ivied halls of academe to rue the nation’s shame, has answered yes in both word and deed. In Achieving Our Country, one of America’s foremost philosophers challenges this lost generation of the Left to understand the role it might play in the great tradition of democratic intellectual labor that started with writers like Walt Whitman and John Dewey.

1999.Cover: The Real American Dream: A Meditation on Hope

The Real American Dream: A Meditation on Hope

Delbanco, Andrew

Since we discovered that, in Tocqueville’s words, “the incomplete joys of this world will never satisfy the heart,” how have we Americans made do? In The Real American Dream literary scholar Andrew Delbanco shows how Americans have organized their days and ordered their lives—and ultimately created a culture—to make sense of the pain, desire, pleasure, and fear that are the stuff of human experience. In a time of cultural crisis, when the old stories seem to be faltering, this book offers a lesson in the painstaking remaking of the American dream.

2000.Cover: To Be the Poet

To Be the Poet

Kingston, Maxine Hong

“I have almost finished my longbook,” Maxine Hong Kingston declares. “Let my life as Poet begin…I won’t be a workhorse anymore; I’ll be a skylark.” To Be the Poet is Kingston’s manifesto, the avowal and declaration of a writer who has devoted a good part of her sixty years to writing prose, and who, over the course of this spirited and inspiring book, works out what the rest of her life will be, in poetry.

2003.Cover: Reporting the Universe

Reporting the Universe

Doctorow, E. L.

Rich with philosophical asides, historical speculations, personal observations, and literary judgments, Reporting the Universe ranges from the circumstances of E. L. Doctorow’s own boyhood and early work to the state of modern society. This series of reflections comes together as an artfully sustained meditation on American consciousness and experience, discrete episodes converging, as in the author’s fiction, to form a luminous whole—a “report” by turns touching and funny, ironic and exalted, and, in its unique way, universally to the point.

2004.Cover: Circles and Lines: The Shape of Life in Early America

Circles and Lines: The Shape of Life in Early America

Demos, John

John Demos offers an illuminating portrait of how colonial Americans viewed their life experiences. The earliest settlers lived in a traditional world of natural cycles that shaped their behavior: day and night; seasonal rhythms; the lunar cycle; the life cycle itself. During the transitional world of the American Revolution, people began to see their society in newer terms. Their cyclical frame of reference was coming unmoored, giving way to a linear world view.

2004.Cover: Architecture as Signs and Systems: For a Mannerist Time

Architecture as Signs and Systems: For a Mannerist Time

Venturi, Robert
Scott Brown, Denise

The views of Venturi and Scott Brown have influenced architects worldwide for nearly half a century. Pluralism and multiculturalism; symbolism and iconography; popular culture and the everyday landscape; generic building and electronic communication are among the many ideas they have championed. Here, they present both a fascinating retrospective of their life work and a definitive statement of its theoretical underpinnings.

2008.Cover: Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter

Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter

Williams, Joan C.

Williams shows how workplace practice disadvantages men as well as women, reinvigorating the work–family debate and offering the first steps to making life manageable for all American families.

2012.Cover: Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, and the Interdependent Self

Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, and the Interdependent Self

Jen, Gish

Drawing on a rich array of sources, including her father’s striking account of his childhood in China, Tiger Writing not only illuminates Gish Jen’s work but explores the aesthetic and psychic roots of the independent and interdependent self—each mode of selfhood yielding a distinct way of observing, remembering, and narrating the world.

2013.Cover: Three Songs, Three Singers, Three Nations

Three Songs, Three Singers, Three Nations

Marcus, Greil

Greil Marcus delves into three distinct episodes in the history of American commonplace song and shows how each one manages to convey the uncanny sense that it was written by no one. In these seemingly anonymous productions, we discover three different ways of talking about the United States, and three separate nations within its borders.

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