Author Sarah Vowell, best-selling author and social commentator

The New York Times’  bestselling author Sarah Vowell will discuss her book, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10 in Colton Chapel. The talk is free and open to the public as part of the Jones Lecture series at Lafayette College. A reception and book signing will follow in the Clay Ketcham Room, Marquis Hall.

Vowell’s talk will also be live streamed on the Lafayette website. Follow this link to view the event online.

An unconventional account of the Marquis de Lafayette’s service in Washington’s army, Vowell’s work explores how the young French aristocrat expected to discover an America united by the ideals of the Enlightenment but instead found divided allegiances—revolutionaries and loyalists—and a Congress often at odds with the Continental Army.

Called the “Queen of the literary hipster nerds” by Vanity Fair, Vowell has been receiving high praise for her latest book, including recent reviews in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Smithsonian MagazineThe Boston Globe, and NPR. Vowell is known for examining the connections between the American past and present. She offers personal, often humorous, accounts of everything from presidents and their assassins to colonial religious fanatics, as well as thoughts on American Indians, utopian dreamers, pop music, and the odd cranky cartographer.

Click to Tweet, Author Sarah Vowell’s unconventional look at ‘Lafayette in the Somewhat United States’ @LafCol Feb 10

Lafayette is the only college named in honor of the Marquis and has become an important archive of Lafayette papers and memorabilia. Born in 1757, young Lafayette defied his own king to enter the Revolutionary War in America to support the cause of freedom in the New World. After his success as a military leader, he became a renowned statesman, an ardent supporter of emancipation and a member of anti-slavery societies in France and America. He was also known as a friend to Native Americans and he endorsed the views of leading women writers and reformers of his day. Easton lawyer James Madison Porter was so impressed upon meeting the Marquis in Philadelphia during his triumphal Farewell Tour of America in 1824, that he proposed naming the town’s new college after Lafayette as “a testimony of respect for his talents, virtues, and signal services . . . in the great cause of freedom.”

An author, journalist, essayist, social commentator, and actress, Vowell has written seven nonfiction books on American history, including Assassination Vacation and The Partly Cloudy Patriot. She was a contributing editor for This American Life from 1996-2008, producing numerous commentaries and documentaries for the weekly public radio show broadcast and touring the country for many of its live shows. She has made several appearances on the Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

She was also the voice of Violet Parr, the shy teenager, in the Pixar animated film The Incredibles.

Born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, Vowell earned a B.A. in modern languages and literatures from Montana State University in 1993 and an M.A. in art history at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1996.

The Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Visiting Lecture Series was founded by Trustee Emeritus Thomas Roy Jones in 1973 to provide Lafayette students with the opportunity to hear presentations by and interact with individuals of exemplary accomplishment in the academic world or in public life.

The event is sponsored by the Office of the President at Lafayette College.


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Photo courtesy of Lafayette College; photography by Bennett Miller.
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Kristine Y. Todaro
Director of Special Projects/Media Relations
Communications Div.
Lafayette College
Easton, Pa. 18042

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