The American Council of Learned Societies was formed in 1919 to support humanistic learning in the United States and to represent American scholarship abroad. When John William Ward became President of the ACLS in 1982, he believed that the ACLS's tradition of high caliber scholarship and teaching should be commemorated through an annual lecture delivered by a distinguished humanist on the "life of learning." As a result of Ward's vision, each year since 1983 the American Council of Learned Societies has invited one of America's leading scholars to deliver the Haskins Lecture, in honor of Charles Homer Haskins, a distinguished scholar and teacher who was instrumental in the founding of the ACLS. In this volume, which commemorates the 75th anniversary of the ACLS, Douglas Greenberg and Stanley Katz bring together the lectures presented by ten of America's most distinguished scholars.
Each lecture is a personal and intellectual glimpse into the "life of learning" of such celebrated scholars as Maynard Mack, Annemarie Schimmel, and John Hope Franklin. The lectures focus on self-reflection of lives dedicated to learning, rather than on scholarship in the usual sense of the term. Ranging from being forced to learn Latin to painful memories of war and racism, the lecturers all recount stories from their eventful lives. Each offers thoughts on the body of work he or she has produced and the forces, personal and intellectual, that have shaped it. The scholars bring something of their disciplines to the lectures, sharing not only personal anecdotes but their love of learning.
The range of disciplines the lecturers come from represents the diversity of the scholarship supported by the ACLS. Their lectures offer a unique intellectual history of some of our most renowned scholars and will also serve as a history of the Council - the role it has played in fostering scholarship and the vast contributions it has made to American letters throughout the past seventy-five years.