Judith P. Hallett & Stephen Rojcewicz – Thornton Wilder, Lauro de Bosis: Life and Letters at the American Academy in Rome, 1920–21

Tuesday, March 30, 2021–6:00 PM
AAR Zoom
Central European Time
Rome, Italy

Thornton Wilder (left) and Lauro de Bosis

Judith P. Hallett, professor emerita of classics at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Stephen Rojcewicz, an independent scholar, will deliver a lecture on Thornton Wilder and Lauro de Bosis. Tappan Wilder, Thornton’s nephew and literary executor, will introduce the two speakers.

Thornton Wilder’s eight months at the American Academy in Rome during 1920 and 1921—where he studied Latin, Italian, and archaeology, interacted with distinguished faculty, and formed a long-lasting friendship with Lauro de Bosis and his family—imprinted classical literature, Italian culture, and archeological metaphors on his creativity. Lauro’s example as a poet, dramatist, translator, and Hellenist, and his invitation to Thornton to participate in a Plato reading group, strengthened Wilder’s engagement with ancient Greek literature.

Wilder’s fellow students and professors—including Elizabeth Hazelton Haight, Harry Leon, Ralph Van Deman Magoffin, and Walton Brooks McDaniel—bestowed on him a broad Greco-Roman perspective on the classical past, with detailed attention to the private life of the ancients and the role of women. His AAR experience resulted in novels and plays marked by multiple literary and cultural influences that are subtle, intricate, multilayered, often indirect, and integrated with multiple ancient Greek and Roman sources.

This lecture, to be presented on Zoom, is free and open to the public. Please register in advance. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

The start time of this lecture is 6:00pm Central European Time (12:00 noon Eastern Time). It is being recorded and will be edited and posted on the AAR website at a later date.