Sometimes you attend a lecture or class in order to find answers and instead leave with more questions.
Those questions can become the key to help you discover entirely new approaches to a subject. The Mark Skinner Library's October's First Wednesday lecture, entitled "Victoria's Secrets," did exactly that.
Dr. Antonia Losano of Middlebury College, began the session with a quiz; she asked the audience what they associated with the Victorian Age. The wide range of responses included adjectives describing behaviors (rigid, formal, serious) to names of famous Victorian artists and writers to historic events. Once she allowed the audience to paint a picture of the Victorians, Dr. Losano proceeded to offer a much wider range of alternatives. Many of her examples dealt with Victorian literature; they served to show us how narrow our viewpoint of the subject has become. Using Middlemarch as an example of a typical Victorian tome, Dr. Losano read snippets from lesser-known books that had been best sellers in the Age of the Victorians. She left us with a thirst to discover why this has happened, why our stereotypes reflect only a small percentage of the lives, interests and behaviors of those who lived in Victorian times.
Dr. Losano's presentation was not only informative, it was entertaining. Her enthusiasm for her subject was contagious and, as usual with First Wednesday programs, our minds were opened to a subject we didn't know we would find so interesting.
I encourage others to attend November's First Wednesday with NPR's Tom Ashbrook.