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Florida Southern College Florida Lecture Series Lawton Chiles History Center

Florida Lecture Series Brings Conservation, Architecture to Forefront

Jul 19, 2023

The Florida Lecture Series returns to the Lawton M. Chiles Jr., Center for Florida History at Florida Southern College for the 2023-24 season with six guest speakers, each offering a glimpse into Florida’s historically unique lifestyle and culture. 

“We are delighted to welcome this distinguished slate of speakers to this year’s series,” Florida Southern Professor of History and the Director of the Chiles Center Dr. James M. Denham said. “From beginning to end we are confident these presenters will offer unique and inspiring insights into the Florida Experience.”

Dr. James M. Denham.

Originating in 2001, the Center for Florida History strives to enhance the teaching, study, and writing of Florida history. The Center seeks to preserve the state’s past through cooperative efforts with historical societies, preservation groups, museums, public programs, media, and interested persons, and through conducting training in Florida history for school teachers. This unique center is not a library nor a museum; it is a source of continuing information created to enhance and increase interest in and appreciation for the history of Florida.

The Florida Lecture Series is a forum that brings speakers to the Florida Southern College campus to explore Florida life and culture through a wide range of disciplines, including history, public affairs, law, sociology, criminology, anthropology, literature, and art. The overall objective of the series is to bring members of the community, the faculty, and the student body together to interact with and learn from leading scholars in their fields.

All lectures will start at 7 p.m., and be delivered in Branscomb Auditorium, unless otherwise noted. The talks are free and open to the public.

The 2023-24 Lecture Series

The series begins on Sept. 14, when accomplished author, lyricist, and librettist Ann McCutchan discusses her book The Life She Wanted to Live: A Biography of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Author of The Yearling (2021). McCutchan’s program contextualizes the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, who found her voice in the remote hardscrabble life of Cross Creek, Fla.

On Oct. 5, the series will welcome Clay Henderson, environmental lawyer, educator, historian, and writer, who will discuss his new book, Forces of Nature: A History of Florida Land Conservation (2022). Henderson’s work details Florida’s hard-fought battles to preserve and set aside some of America’s most pristine landscapes. 

On Nov. 16, FSC’s preservation architect Jeff Baker, will speak on restoration efforts on the Frank Lloyd Wright campus at FSC, past, present, and future. Baker will speak at the centerpiece of Wright’s “Child of the Sun,” Annie Pfeiffer Chapel.

French colonization in Florida will be the subject of College of Charleston Professor of History Christophe J. Boucher. Fort Caroline, located near present-day Jacksonville, triggered a dramatic Spanish response, and led directly to the founding of St. Augustine. Boucher’s program will take place on Jan. 18, 2024, in the Hollis Room.

On Feb. 8, guests will get a taste of the history of the Cuban sandwich from Andy Huse, the special collections librarian at the University of South Florida. Huse’sbook The Cuban Sandwich: A History in Layers (2022) delivers a social and cultural history behind how “The Cubano” became a lunch-counter staple in the U.S. and beyond.

The final scheduled lecture for 2023-24 will feature one of America’s premier historians, public intellectuals and commentators, Douglas Brinkley. Silent Spring Revolution (2022) is Brinkley’s third installment of his environmental history of America series, and will be the subject of his program. Brinkley is a New York Times bestselling author and has been featured frequently on CNN, CBS, MSNBC, and NPR. In total, Brinkley has authored more than 30 books covering such topics as the D-Day Invasion, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, the Nixon Tapes, Walter Cronkite, and JFK and the Space Race. Brinkley is a professor of History at Rice University.

The full Florida Lecture Series brochure for 2023-24 can be found here.