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University of Iowa News Release

Release: March 24, 2003

Ida Beam Visitor To Speak On Puritanism March 27-28

David Hall, a professor of religious history at Harvard Divinity School, will give two free, public lectures during his visit to the University of Iowa as an Ida Bam Visiting Professor March 27-28.

Both lectures will focus on Puritanism, examining various interpretations of the rise and fall of this religious group in 17th century America. Hall will speak on "Puritanism and Its Great Interpreters: The Problem of Orthodoxy," on Thursday, March 27, and on "Puritanism and Its Great Interpreters: The Problem of Declension," on Friday, March 28. Both lectures are scheduled for 4 p.m. in Room 704 Jefferson Building.

These lectures will address the question of whether Puritanism in New England was a closed, authoritarian system-an "orthodoxy,"--or so fractured by contradictions and local circumstances that orthodoxy was only rhetorical. Hall will also consider the historical decline ("declension,") of Puritanism as the 17th century progressed and why this interpretation is now being questioned.

Hall, a historian of American religion and culture, has taught at Harvard since 1989. Before that, he taught at UCLA, Yale, Boston University, and Cornell University. He writes extensively on religion and society in seventeenth-century New England and England. His books include "The Faithful Shepherd: A History of the New England Ministry in the Seventeenth Century" and "Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment: Popular Religious Belief in Early New England." Another interest is the "history of the book," especially the history of literacy and reading in early America.

Hall's visit is co-sponsored by the American studies department and the department of religious studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Office of the Provost, and The Center for the Book. His activities at the UI are supported by the Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professorships Program, which brings outstanding scholars to the UI campus for residencies ranging from a few days to an entire academic year. A native of Vinton, Iowa, Beam willed her farm to the UI in 1977. Proceeds from the sale of the farm were used to establish the visiting professorships program in her name. Since 1977, hundreds of eminent scholars and scientists have visited the UI campus to give public lectures and to meet with students and faculty.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the American studies department in advance at 319-335-0320.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT(S): Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011, Program: American studies department, 319-335-0320.