For Immediate Release
Sept. 2, 2009

David Irwin
(585) 245-5516


Yale English Department Chair to Deliver SUNY Geneseo Harding Lecture Sept. 24

GENESEO, N.Y. -- The chair of Yale University’s English Department, Michael Warner, will address “The Evangelical Black Atlantic” at the sixth annual Walter Harding Lecture Sept. 24 at the State University of New York at Geneseo. 

Warner, also the Seymour H. Knox Professor of English and professor of American Studies at Yale, will deliver the lecture at 4 p.m. in Newton Hall, Room 213, which will be followed by a reception in Welles Hall, Room 111.  Both events are open to the public without charge.  The lecture is made possible by the Harding family endowment, the English department and the President’s Office.

“Dr. Warner brings a breadth and depth of intellectual vitality to all he does and we are delighted to have him deliver this year’s lecture,” said Richard Finkelstein, professor and chair of Geneseo’s Department of English.  “His curiosity is contagious and makes his writing and speaking of interest to those in a variety of academic disciplines.”

Warner’s work ranges from scholarship in early American literature and print culture, to more theoretical writing about publics and social movements, to journalism and nonacademic political writing.  His Geneseo lecture will focus on the development of evangelism and African American Christianity in the context of the “Black Atlantic,” the transnational African diasporic culture that developed in the wake of the Atlantic slave trade.

SUNY Geneseo launched the annual Harding lecture in 2004 in honor of the late Walter Harding, an internationally famous faculty member who was the world's leading scholar on 19th century author Henry David Thoreau.  Author of more than 25 books and numerous articles on the life and work of Thoreau, Harding's biography on Thoreau is still considered the definitive account of his life and was reprinted by Princeton University Press in 1992.  He was the founding secretary and former president of the Thoreau Society, the oldest and largest international organization devoted to the study of any American author.

Harding, a distinguished professor emeritus of English at SUNY Geneseo, died in 1996 at the age of 78. He joined the faculty at Geneseo in 1956 after teaching at the University of Virginia, Rutgers University and the University of North Carolina.  He received his doctorate from Rutgers in 1950.  He served as chair of SUNY Geneseo's English department for six years and was designated a University Professor in 1966 and a Distinguished Professor in 1973. He retired in 1982 and a year later became the first faculty member in SUNY to be awarded a SUNY Honorary Doctor of Letters degree.

Harding's wife, Marjorie Brook Harding, created an endowment to make the lecture series possible. She significantly enlarged the endowment last spring, assuring that generations of Geneseo students and faculty will benefit from Walter Harding’s tradition of scholarship and learning.   In addition, Harding's family donated his extensive collection of more than 15,000 books, pamphlets, articles and other Thoreau memorabilia to his beloved Thoreau Society at Walden Woods in Concord, Mass. The collection includes all Thoreau first editions and first printings.  The family generously ensured that SUNY Geneseo's Milne Library was able to make copies of Harding's works. The Walter Harding Collection consists of writings and 19th-century objects associated with Thoreau and transcendentalism.