Comprising only a few ancient verses, the story of Adam and Eve has served as a mirror in which we seem to glimpse the whole, long history of our fears and desires. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stephen Greenblatt, a Harvard professor and general editor to The Norton Anthology of English Literature, explores its literary and cultural history in The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve. He will be joined onstage by interviewer Lesley Hazelton—veteran author and journalist, and former Town Hall Scholar-in-Residence. Tracking the tale into the deep past, Greenblatt and Hazelton delve into the tremendous theological, artistic, and cultural investment over centuries that made these figures so profoundly resonant in the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim worlds and, finally, so very “real” to millions of people even in the present. The biblical origin story, Greenblatt argues, is a model for what the humanities still have to offer: not the scientific nature of things, but rather a deep encounter with problems that have gripped our species for as long as we can recall and that continue to fascinate and trouble us today.
Stephen Greenblatt is Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. He is the author of thirteen books, including The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve; Shakespeare’s Freedom; and The Swerve: How the World Became Modern—and he is General Editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature and The Norton Shakespeare. His honors include the 2016 Holberg Prize from the Norwegian Parliament, the 2012 Pulitzer Prize, two Guggenheim fellowships, Harvard University’s Cabot Fellowship, and Yale’s Wilbur Cross Medal.
Lesley Hazelton is a Seattle-based author, psychologist and journalist—and inaugural Town Hall Scholar-in-Residence—whose work has focused on religion and politics. She has written for The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, Esquire, Vanity Fair, The Nation, and more. Her most recent books include After the Prophet, Mary: A Flesh-and-Blood Biography of the Virgin Mother and Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible’s Harlot Queen.