In the ninth year of the collaboration between Wilton Library and the Wilton Historical Society, this year’s scholarly lecture series — Dancing in the Dark: America from the Guns of August to the Gathering Storm — will focus on the events leading up to World War I, during the war, and after the war.
“We left the previous series at the end of the glamorous, over-the-top Gilded Age, when traditional forms and institutions were breaking down and anything (good or bad) might be possible,” said Louise Herot, chair of the scholarly series planning committee.
“Clearly, this was one of those recognized turning points in history and a logical place to begin the exploration of its significant effects of such massive changes as the world experienced then.”
This year’s series, Herot said, reflects the endpoints of the Gilded Age.
“The Guns of August is the title of Barbara Tuchman’s 1963 book about the beginning of World War I, in August 1914,” she said, “and The Gathering Storm is Winston Churchill’s book about the events leading to World War II.”
In the final planning stages for this series, Herot said, “we learned that the American Legion and the library had arranged to collaborate on a series about the war itself, and so we decided to focus on the context and the impact rather than go over the same ground.”
Because “there were more areas to explore than we could possibly do justice to,” said Herot, “we decided to take a few to focus on in some depth,” including:
- The rising influence of the United States on global events.
- The hardships of the Great Depression and its impact on the still unresolved issues of race in America.
- The new freedoms opening up in the arts as exemplified by the welcoming of a variety of forms of music and social relations in the Jazz Age.
- How all these events sorted themselves out and led to still another world conflict.