The Columns

W&L Professor George Bent Discusses His New Book at Library Author Talk Series

— by on March 24th, 2017

“Street corners, guild halls, government offices and confraternity centers contained paintings that made the city of Florence a visual jewel at precisely the time of its emergence as an international cultural leader.”

The Anne and Edgar Basse Jr. Author Talk Series, at Washington and Lee University, presents George Bent, the Sidney Gause Childress Professor of Art at W&L, on April 5 at 5 p.m. in the Book Nook on the main floor of Leyburn Library.

George Bent

He will be discussing his new book, “Public Painting and Visual Culture in Early Republican Florence” (2017). The talk is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be provided.

“Street corners, guild halls, government offices and confraternity centers contained paintings that made the city of Florence a visual jewel at precisely the time of its emergence as an international cultural leader,” said Bent. “This book considers the paintings that were made specifically for consideration by lay viewers, as well as the way they could have been interpreted by audiences who approached them with very specific perspectives.

“Their belief in the power of images, their understanding of the persuasiveness of pictures and their acceptance of the utterly vital role that art could play as a propagator of civic, corporate and even individual identity made lay viewers keenly aware of the paintings in their midst,” Bent continued. “Those pictures affirmed the piety of people for whom they were made in an age of social and political upheaval, as the city experimented with an imperfect form of republicanism that often failed to adhere to its declared aspirations.

Bent is the author of “Monastic Art in Lorenzo Monaco’s Florence: Painting and Patronage in Santa Maria degli Angeli, 1300-1415” (2006); “Early Renaissance Art” (2002); and “Gothic Art” (ed., 2002).

Bent, a member of the W&L faculty since 1993, is a member of College Art Association, Renaissance Society of America, Italian Art Society and International Center of Medieval Art. He earned his B.A. from Oberlin College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University.

W&L Hosts Joint Reading and Talk on Ecological Approaches to Poetry

— by on March 24th, 2017

A joint reading and talk on ecological approaches to poetry with Ann Fisher-Wirth and Laura-Gray Street will be held at Washington and Lee University on April 3 at 5 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library.

The event is free and open to the public. Books will be for sale and refreshments will be offered. The event is co-sponsored by Environmental Studies at W&L and the dean of the college.

Ann Fisher-Wirth

Fisher-Wirth’s fourth book of poems is “Dream Cabinet” (2012). With Street, she coedited “Ecopoetry Anthology” (2013), which is a comprehensive collection of American poetry about nature and the environment, stressing the relationship of people to the other-than-human world.

Her current project is a collaborative poetry and photography manuscript called “Mississippi” with the acclaimed photographer Maude Schuyler Clay (2017).

Fisher-Wirth, who teaches and directs the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Mississippi, has been awarded residencies at The Mesa Refuge; Djerassi Resident Artists Program; Hedgebrook; and CAMAC/Centre d’Art in Marnay, France.

She is a Fellow 2015-2018 of the Black Earth Institute, the recipient of a senior Fulbright to Switzerland and a Fulbright Distinguished Chair award to Sweden and past president of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment.

Laura-Gray Street

Street is the author of “Pigment and Fume” (2014) and co-editor with Fisher-Wirth of the Ecopoetry Anthology (2013).

She has been the recipient of poetry prizes from The Greensboro Review; the Dana Awards; the Southern Women Writers Conference; Isotope: A Journal of Literary Nature and Science Writing; and A Journal of the Built and Natural Environments.

Street’s work has been published in the Colorado Review, Poecology, Poetry Daily, Hawk and Handsaw, Gargoyle and Shenandoah. Her work has been supported by fellowships from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Artist House at St. Mary’s College in Maryland and the Hambidge Center for the Arts and Sciences, where Street was the Garland Distinguished Fellow.

She is an associate professor of English and directs the Creative Writing Program at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Federal Reserve Bank President to Give 2017 H. Parker Willis Lecture

— by on March 24th, 2017

Jeffrey Lacker

Jeffrey Lacker, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, will deliver the H. Parker Willis Lecture on April 3 at 5 p.m. in the Millhiser Moot Court Room of the Washington and Lee University School of Law.

Lacker will speak on “From ‘Real Bills’ to ‘Too Big to Fail’: H. Parker Willis and the Federal Reserve’s First Century.” The talk is free and open to the public.

Lacker serves on the Federal Open Market Committee, which conducts monetary policy for the Federal Reserve. Previously, he was a senior vice president and the director of research for the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank.

Before joining the Federal Reserve, he was an assistant professor of economics at the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University and had previously worked at Wharton Econometrics in Philadelphia. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin and a B.A. in economics from Franklin & Marshall College.

Lacker is the author of numerous articles in professional journals on monetary, financial and payment economics.

The event is sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the Williams School and the Journalism and Mass Communications Department.

The H. Parker Willis Lecture series began in 2002 to honor the first dean of the School of Commerce at W&L, H. Parker Willis (1874-1937). Often called the “Father of the Federal Reserve System,” Willis was economic advisor to Congressman Carter Glass and consultant to the House Banking and Currency Committee in 1912-1913.

Shenandoah Editor R.T. Smith Publishes Sixth Collection of Stories

— by on March 24th, 2017

“These stories are music itself, voiced by unlikely balladeers. To read them is to hear the songs of fallen angels.”

R.T. Smith

R.T. Smith, Shenandoah editor and Washington and Lee University writer in residence, has published his sixth collection of stories, “Doves in Flight.”

He said, “The book takes its title from a vintage model Gibson guitar with inlaid doves which almost seem to fly off the instrument.” The stories have been previously published in a variety of journals, including Southern Review, Missouri Review, Florida Review and Fugue.

Characters in the 13 stories, which are set in western Virginia and often involve an element of the fantastic, include a religious TV knife show host, a gamecock-loving girl, a famous figure skater, the Jack of beanstalk fame, a teenager who vanishes from Natural Bridge, a 19th-century Appalachian version of Rumpelstiltskin and Satan himself.

Novelist Cary Holliday has written about Smith’s book, “These stories are music itself, voiced by unlikely balladeers. To read them is to hear the songs of fallen angels.”

Smith was raised in Georgia and North Carolina and served as writer in residence at Auburn University before moving to Lexington. He teaches courses in the W&L English Department and has also taught poetry writing at Virginia Military Institute. He has twice received a Library of Virginia Book of the Year Award.

Smith’s earlier volumes of stories are “Sherburne,” “Chinquapins,” “Faith,” “The Calaboose Epistles” and “Uke Rivers Delivers.” His work has also appeared in Best American Short Stories, Best American Mystery Stories, New Stories from the South and this year’s edition of Best American Poetry.

In 2006, he was one of three recipients of the National Magazine Award for Fiction. Smith recently served as the Coffey Distinguished Professor of Writing at Appalachian State University.

“Doves in Flight” is available in local bookstores and may be ordered from either Louisiana Literature Press at Southeastern Louisiana University or Amazon.

Lee Chapel and Museum Presents Lee Family Day

— by on March 24th, 2017

Lee Family Day

Lee Chapel and Museum will present Lee Family Day on April 1 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Lee Chapel and Museum on the campus of Washington and Lee University.

The Lee Family Day will show the importance of both family and the family of Robert E. Lee. It is free and open to the public.

There are many stations to learn about the wife, seven children and extended family of Lee.

Activities include a portrayal if Mildred Lee, family tours and museum activities, jewelry making inspired by the Lee daughters, the construction of Lee Chapel, stories of travel and postcard making and Lee family pets.

If you plan on coming, please register with Lee Chapel at (540) 458-8768.

Lee Family Day

U.S. Marine Liaison to Japan Self Defense Forces to Speak

— by on March 24th, 2017

Col. Chris Goff

Colonel Chris Goff, U.S. Marine liaison to the Japan Self Defense Forces, will give a talk at Washington and Lee University on March 28 at 7 p.m. in the atrium of the Ruscio Center for Global Learning at W&L.

The title of his lecture, which is free and open to the public, is “Japan and East Asian Security Challenges.” It is sponsored by East Asian Languages and Literature and East Asian Studies.

“Since the end of the World War II, the U.S.-Japan Alliance has underwritten the postwar Rules Based International System (RBIS) in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region,” Goff said. “Both this system and the Alliance are facing unprecedented pressures and challenges from China, an unpredictable North Korea and a declining Russia in what was once projected to be the Asian Century.

“As the largest and most dynamic region in the world, the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region continues to hold both opportunities and security challenges for the Alliance. Understanding Japan and the Alliance has never been more important for America than today. A vital question we must answer is: Are the U.S. and Japan capable of continuing to be effective in the region and maintaining security and stability in the years to come?”

Goff, a 1988 graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, he is also a graduate of military courses and colleges including the U.S. Army’s Infantry Mortar Leader Course, Airborne School, the Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) Command and General Staff College and the Japan Ministry of Defense National Institute for Defense Studies.

He served in the Persian Gulf War and was selected to become the Marine Corps’ first Japan, North-East Asia Foreign Area Officer in 1989. Joining the U.S. Pacific Command in 2010, Goff served as chief, Southeast Asia policy division and chief of strategic plans.

Goff assumed his current position as the Marine Forces Pacific liaison officer to the JGSDF in 2013. He most recently served as director of operations, CJ-3, for Operation Inherent Resolve, Iraq, from June to December 2016.

Personal awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal; Bronze Star Medal; the Taiwan Badge of Honor, awarded by the Taiwan Minister of Defense; and the Combat Action Ribbon with gold star.

W&L Executive-in-Residence Sandy Whann ’86 to Speak on Contemplating Relevance

— by on March 15th, 2017

Sandy Whann ’86

Sandy Whann, president of Leidenheimer Baking Company in New Orleans, will give a public talk at Washington and Lee University on March 27 at 5 p.m. in the Hillel House Multipurpose Room. He will speak on “Contemplating Relevance: Thoughts on Life and Business from a New Orleans Baker.” The event is free and open to the public.

As the W&L Williams School Executive-in-Residence, Whann will spend several days on campus meeting with students, visiting classes and providing one-on-one career mentoring in the Career Development Office.

Whann is the fourth generation of his family to operate the bakery that was founded in 1896 by his great-grandfather. Leidenheimer Baking Company services primarily restaurants and po-boy shops with traditional New Orleans French bread products. It is known as an invaluable contributor to New Orleans’ unique food culture.

A New Orleans native, Whann graduated from W&L in 1986 with a degree in business administration where he was a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society. He joined his father in the family business after internships with Sunbeam Bakery and Mrs. Baird’s Bakeries. In 2002, Whann received the “Rising Star” award from Baking and Snack Magazine.

Leidenheimer’s reputation for excellence in baking has led to distribution in over two dozen states and the opportunity to work on customized baking projects with a number of multi-unit restaurant concepts. In 2000, he launched Wild Flour Breads, which specializes in artisan breads, with New Orleans chef Susan Spicer.

Whann has been active on numerous boards and committees, including serving as chairman of the board of directors of the Independent Bakers Association and development chairman of the Bureau of Governmental Research. He was also an integral part of a New Orleans Chamber of Commerce committee which developed a specific curriculum for training food manufacturing workers.

In 2010, Whann was inducted into the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame and in 2013 he was recognized by the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation with the Bryan Klotz Outstanding Philanthropy Award. He lives in New Orleans with his wife and two children.

For those who cannot attend, Whann’s talk will be livestreamed:

Stanford Professor Robert Reich to Speak on Role of Philanthropic Foundations

— by on March 15th, 2017

Robert Reich

Robert Reich, professor of political science at Stanford University, will give a lecture at Washington and Lee University on March 30 at 5 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library.

His talk, “Repugnant to the Whole Idea of a Democratic Society?: On the Role of Philanthropic Foundations,” is free and open to the public.

“Philanthropic foundations represent the institutional codification and promotion of plutocratic voices in democratic societies. With low accountability, donor-directed preferences in perpetuity and generous tax subsidies, they are institutional oddities,” said Reich. “What, if anything, confers democratic legitimacy on foundations?

“I will first discuss why foundations might be a threat to democratic governance and then defend a particular mode of operation that offers redemption,” he continued. “I argue that foundations can play an important discovery role in democracy, a mechanism for experimentation in social policy over a long time horizon.”

His current research focuses on the relationship among philanthropy, democracy and justice with two book manuscripts unpublished on the topic, “Just Giving: Toward a Political Theory of Philanthropy” plus “Philanthropy in Democratic Societies” (eds.) published in the fall 2016.

Reich also has courtesy appointments in philosophy and at the Graduate School of Education at Stanford. He is the faculty director of the Center for Ethics in Society and faculty co-director of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (publisher of the Stanford Social Innovation Review). He also is the co-director of the Digital Civil Society Lab.

Other publications include “Repugnant to the Whole Idea of Democracy? On the Role of Foundations in Democratic Societies” (2016), in PS: Political Science and Politics; “Occupy the Future” (co-ed., 2013); and “Education, Justice, and Democracy” (co-ed., 2013).

He is a board member of, a nonprofit dedicated to finding giving opportunities through in-depth analysis and the magazine Boston Review.

Reich’s lecture is the last talk in the year-long series on Markets and Morals and is sponsored by W&L’s Roger Mudd Center for Ethics. For more information about this series, see:

W&L to Host Southeastern Composers League 2017 Forum

— by on March 15th, 2017

SonoKlect, Washington and Lee University’s new music series, will host the Southeastern Composers League 2017 Forum on March 24 and 25. Twenty-nine composers from around the Southeast will spend two days in Lexington presenting their original works.

The concerts are on March 24 at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., and on March 25 at 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. All concerts are in Concert Hall, Wilson Hall, and are free and open to the public. Each concert is approximately one-hour long, and each composer will be in attendance for questions. There will be a reception following the final concert on Saturday night.

The Southeastern Composers League is one of the oldest organizations of its kind in the country. Each year, members gather on a Southern campus for a forum to discuss the art and craft of making music, to catch up on the past year’s events and, primarily, to hear each other’s music performed.

A wide range of musical styles and genres will be represented. This year, many of the performers come from W&L’s Music Department. The University Wind Ensemble and W&L‘s vocal groups, Cantatrici and the Men’s Glee Club, will appear alongside soloists and chamber ensembles.

Special guests, from Hillsdale College, include soprano Kristi Matson, clarinetist Andrew Sprung, percussionist Stacey Jones-Garrison and pianist Brad Blackham. Additional performers from W&L include Gregory Parker, Shuko Watanabe, Julia Goudimova, Jamie McArdle, Anna Billias and Ting-Ting Yen.

The League is comprised of composers from Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Learn more at:

Lee Chapel Spring Lecture to Feature Author Jeff Shaara

— by on March 15th, 2017

Jeff Shaara (photo credit: Olivia Cowden)

The Lee Chapel Spring Lecture will feature Jeff Shaara, The New York Times bestselling author of war novels, on March 23 from 7-8 p.m. in Lee Chapel Auditorium, Washington and Lee University.

Shaara will speak on “A Storyteller’s View of the First World War” which is based on his book, “To the Last Man: A Novel of the First World War” (2005). The talk is free and open to the public.

There will be a book signing in the museum shop following the lecture from 8 to 8:45. Shaara will be signing “To the Last Man” on the first World War and “Fateful Lighting” on the American Civil War.

Also on campus the same day is an exhibit at W&L’s Watson Pavilion, open from 5-6:45 p.m., that ties into Shaara’s lecture. “Mementos of the Great War: Toby Jugs Commemorating Allied Leaders of World War I” features ceramic jugs made in the likenesses of famous World War I figures. It also is free and open to the public.

Shaara is the author of “Gods and Generals” (1998) and “The Last Full Measure” (2000) — two novels that completed the Civil War trilogy that began with the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “The Killer Angels” (1987), written by his father, Michael Shaara.

Shaara’s World War II series includes “The Rising Tide” (2008) and “No Less than Victory” (2011). In 2012, Shaara returned to the Civil War with “A Blaze of Glory: A Novel of the Battle of Shiloh (the Civil War in the West)” (2013) and “The Fateful Lightning” (2016). His latest book, to be released in May 2017, is “The Frozen Hours,” a novel of the Korean War.

Shaara is a two-time recipient of the American Library Association’s William Young Boyd Award for Excellence in Military Fiction for Gods and Generals” and To The Last Man.”

He has also received The Lincoln Forum’s Richard Nelson Current award, the Bell I. Wiley award from the New York Civil War Round Table and the Distinguished Author Award from the General Nathan Bedford Forrest Historical Society.

For more information on Jeff Shaara, please visit