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April 1 Program To Continue ‘Conversations’ Series About Truth, Myth & Democracy



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REDDING — The Mark Twain Library and Redding League of Women Voters present the second installment of the series “Conversations: Truth, Myth & Democracy” on Thursday, April 1.

Dr Ty Seidule of Hamilton College and Dr Charles Dew of Williams College will be in conversation beginning at 7:30 that evening, moderated by Western Connecticut State University’s Dr Daniel Barrett.

The virtual discussion is between two Civil War historians who grew up in the South and whose research took them both to some very personal revelations about their own beliefs. Those revelations are the subject of their books and of the conversation.

The program follows a March 4 discussion between Dr Jelani Cobb and Dr Jason Stanley that explored how the country and the international community arrived at a place where so few share an understanding of what is fact and what is not.

The Conversations series is a grassroots effort that continues to examine the underlying meaning of this country’s democracy and how democracy matters even when there are many different ideas about what it should look like.

Mark Twain Library Adult Program Coordinator Elaine Sanders said last month’s program was engaging and full of friendly yet insightful banter about a difficult topic.

“We are really looking forward to continuing the conversation by hearing the personal stories from these two scholars of American history,” she said.

At a time when American democracy has been challenged by the questioning of truth and the fostering of myth, this program is a local community effort devoted to exploring how caring citizens from disparate groups can find common ground through informed dialogue and civil discourse.

In part two, organizers hope to learn from Drs Seidule and Dew about their own journeys and discuss how, as a country and a community, the conversation can be carried forward.

Redding League of Women Voters member Mary Ann Carman said the two historians from different generations “radically changed their world views once they saw that historical facts were at odds with the narratives that had been passed down to them.”

“Each presents his own story with great candor and kindness, and we see this as a healthy way to model how we all can break through our own semantic habits no matter how uncomfortable that may be,” Carman added.

The series was inspired in part by the polarization and divisive nature of the last year. The intent is to better understand the world today by inviting renowned historians, philosophers, social psychologists, and journalists to share their knowledge and exchange ideas about what, why, and how issues are pulling people so far apart.

“Truth, Myth & Democracy” follows several collaborative conversations organized by the Redding League of Women Voters and the Mark Twain Library that began in the fall of 2019 with a handful of then in-person talks with professor Dew about his memoir. That event inspired a series of programs in 2020, both live and virtual, from author talks to discussions such as that of Ava DuVernay’s powerful documentary 13th.

The Conversations series focuses on addressing the difficult issues of truth telling and myth busting within this country’s democracy by bringing much-needed community conversations to help promote education, informed dialogue, and civil discourse. The series is being offered in association with Easton Public Library, Weston Public Library, Friends of the Weston Public Library, Newtown’s C.H. Booth Library, Ridgefield Library, the League of Women Voters of Weston, the League of Women Voters of Ridgefield, and the League of Women Voters of Northern Fairfield County.

Register for the April 1 event at marktwainlibrary.org or call the library for additional information at 203-938-2545.

Dr Charles Dew of Williams College (left) and Dr Ty Seidule of Hamilton College (right) will be the featured speakers during the next “Conversations: Truth, Myth & Democracy” hosted by multiple regional libraries and League of Women Voter chapters. The program will be moderated by Western Connecticut State University’s Dr Daniel Barrett (center).
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