Grafton to present the Baldwin Lecture on 'Race in the Renaissance?'

March 25, 2009 3:13 p.m.

Anthony Grafton, the Henry Putnam University Professor of History, will deliver the annual James Baldwin Lecture at 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 30, in 101 McCormick Hall.

In an address titled "Race in the Renaissance?" Grafton will look at what traditionally has been seen as the first modern Western culture -- that of Western Europe in the Renaissance -- through the prism of race. He will examine the thought and practices of European artists, scholars and officials, as they: encountered people who were not European or Christian, both in Europe and around the world; tried to understand where they came from and who they were; and drew practical conclusions, which were often, but not always, harsh and tragic from their assumptions about the origins and nature of the peoples of the world.

These assumptions included thinking the people were everything from monsters and beings condemned by their nature to servitude, to non-Christians of great wisdom and virtue. The lecture will pay special attention to Christian views of the Jews, who were strangers living in large numbers inside Europe, but also will examine European responses to many other groups.

Grafton's talk is the fourth annual James Baldwin Lecture sponsored by the Center for African American Studies in honor of the essayist and cultural critic. The series aims to celebrate the work of Princeton faculty and to reflect on issues of race and American democracy.