Judith P. Hallett & Stephen Rojcewicz – Thornton Wilder, Lauro de Bosis: Life and Letters at the American Academy in Rome, 1920–21 (with Tappan Wilder and Alessandro Cortese De Bosis)

Tuesday, March 30, 2021–6:00 PM
AAR Zoom
Central European Time
Rome, Italy
Black and white photos from the early 20th century of Thornton Wilder standing in a suit and Lauro de Bosis standing next to an airplane

Thornton Wilder (left) and Lauro de Bosis (right)

Thornton Wilder’s eight months at the American Academy in Rome during 1920 and 1921—where he studied Latin, Italian, and archaeology, interacted with distinguished faculty, and formed a long-lasting friendship with Lauro de Bosis and his family—imprinted classical literature, Italian culture, and archeological metaphors on his creativity. De Bosis’s example as a poet, dramatist, translator, and Hellenist, and his invitation to Thornton to participate in a Plato reading group, strengthened Wilder’s engagement with ancient Greek literature.

Wilder’s fellow students and professors—including Elizabeth Hazelton Haight, Harry Leon, Ralph Van Deman Magoffin, and Walton Brooks McDaniel—bestowed on him a broad Greco-Roman perspective on the classical past, with detailed attention to the private life of the ancients and the role of women. His AAR experience resulted in novels and plays marked by multiple literary and cultural influences that are subtle, intricate, multilayered, often indirect, and integrated with multiple ancient Greek and Roman sources.

Judith P. Hallett is professor emerita of classics at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Stephen Rojcewicz is an independent scholar. Tappan Wilder, nephew of Thornton Wilder, and Alessandro Cortese De Bosis, nephew of Lauro De Bosis, will speak at the end of the presentations.

This lecture, to be presented on Zoom, is free and open to the public. The start time is 6:00pm Central European Time (12:00 noon Eastern Time).

Christina Huemer Lecture

Christina Huemer was the Academy’s first Drue Heinz Librarian (1992–2007) and deeply committed to the many Academy Fellows, Residents, and readers in the Arthur and Janet C. Ross Library. The Christina Huemer Lecture Series was established by Academy Trustee C. Brian Rose in celebration of her devotion to great scholarship and creativity.

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