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Professor’s keynote to kick off 25th annual ‘Moby-Dick’ marathon

Steven Olsen-Smith, a professor in the Department of English, will present A Wonder, a Grandeur, and a Woe: Melville and Human Progress, the keynote address for the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s 25th Annual “Moby-Dick” Marathon Reading at 5 p.m. (MST) on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021.

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Olsen-Smith is the editor of Melville’s Marginalia Online. The talk will look closely at Melville’s body of work to trace his conception of our prospects for edification and advancement. Olsen-Smith will explore how admirers of Melville might ponder anew the writer’s conception of humanity’s capacity for individual, social and evolutionary growth.

Olsen-Smith is a past president of the Melville Society, and he has held visiting appointments as the Holland H. Coors Endowed Chair at the United States Air Force Academy. Olsen-Smith’s research explores the influence of Melville’s reading and sources on Moby-Dick and other writings.

Since 1977, The New Bedford Whaling Museum has hosted a live reading of the classic work every January. The event draws readers and enthusiasts from around the world to the museum and the livestream reading online. The marathon continues through Sunday, Jan. 10.

The event includes Melville-inspired activities, including opportunities to chat with scholars from the Melville Society Cultural Project (MSCP) and a chance to “stump” the scholars by testing their Melville knowledge. Learn more here.