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Prize-winning author, historian Jill Lepore to speak at UK Libraries Earle C. Clements Lecture-Symposium

Jill Lepore
Prize-winning author and historian Jill Lepore. Courtesy of UK Libraries.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 11, 2023) — University of Kentucky Libraries will welcome essayist, author and professor of history Jill Lepore for the 2023 Earle C. Clements Lecture-Symposium on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

Drawing from her book, "The Deadline: Essays," Lepore will reflect on the relationship between America's past and its fractious present, exploring such difficult questions as "Why does impeachment no longer work?" and "Why do race riot commissions never fix anything?"

The Clements Lecture will be held at the Young Library Auditorium in William T. Young Library at 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, and RSVPs are appreciated. "The Deadline" will be available for purchase at the event, and Lepore will sign copies after the lecture.

Lepore is the David Woods Kemper Professor of American History and affiliate professor of law at Harvard University and a longtime staff writer at The New Yorker. Her books and essays center on American history, law and literature, exploring absences and asymmetries in the historical record. Lepore’s work is distinguished by its elegance, eloquence and fresh insight, and she is celebrated for her remarkable range, having covered everything from gun rights and police brutality to Bratz dolls and bicycles.

Her first book, "The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity," won the Bancroft Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in the field of American history writing. Her book "New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan" was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and her "Book of Ages" was a finalist for the National Book Award. "The Secret History of Wonder Woman" won the American History Book Prize and was described as a tour de force of intellectual and cultural history. "These Truths: A History of the United States" was an international bestseller and named one of Time magazine’s top 10 nonfiction books of the decade.

Other essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, Times Literary Supplement, Foreign Affairs, Yale Law Journal, American Scholar and American Quarterly, and her works have been widely translated and anthologized.

The annual Clements Lecture-Symposium honors the legacy of Earle C. Clements, who served as governor of Kentucky and represented the state in the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate. Throughout his long and distinguished political career, Clements embodied a spirit of service, a dedication to public life, and a commitment to productive political discourse. The Clements Lecture-Symposium celebrates these ideals by welcoming renowned intellectuals and scholars in the areas of public policy and government. 

The Clements Lecture-Symposium is made possible by the generous gifts of Clements’ daughter, Bess Clements Abell, her husband Tyler Abell, and their two sons, Dan and Lyndon.

“Earle C. Clements believed in public service, and I am grateful that the Clements Abell family has supported UK Libraries in a way that allows us to give back to the community,” said Deirdre Scaggs, associate dean for research and discovery at UK Libraries. “By bringing in speakers with a national voice we are promoting the ideals that Clements believed in and supporting positive discourse in American politics.”

Bess and her family have been longtime supporters of UK Libraries, and their gifts ensure the continued promotion of these ideals. In 2007, a gift by Bess established the Earl C. Clements Graduate Research Fellowship, which supports graduate student research in UK Libraries’ Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center. A 2015 gift to the National Archives established the Earle C. Clements Innovation in Education Award. The award recognizes Kentucky’s best history and civics teachers and is given every year by the National Archives in partnership with the Ford Center. In 2016, a $500,000 gift established the Earle C. Clements Memorial Endowment Fund, which is used to organize the Clements Lecture-Symposium and support UK Libraries’ programs in public policy, government and archival research.

As the premier research library in the Commonwealth, UK Libraries empowers lifelong learners to discover, create and connect by providing ever-expanding access to quality information and collaborating with academic and creative communities worldwide to advance knowledge, enhance scholarship, and preserve the history and culture of the Commonwealth. More information about UK Libraries can be found on its website.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.