For most people outside the United States, America’s religious fervour conjures up images of intolerance and ultra-conservatism. But Barack Obama captured a large chunk of the evangelical vote and slavery would never have been abolished without the hot gospellers of the nineteenth century. The story of the way religion plays out in American politics is richer and more complicated than is usually understood.
With his customary panache and incomparable knowledge of history strengthened by his relentless trips across America, Simon Schama shed light on this fascinating subject.
George Webber Memorial Evening
Sir Simon Schama, CBE is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University and a Contributing Editor of the Financial Times. He is the author of nineteen books and the writer-presenter of fifty documentaries on art, history and literature for BBC2. His art criticism for The New Yorker won the National Magazine Award for criticism in 1996; his film on Bernini from The Power of Art won an Emmy in 2007 and his series on British history and The American Future: a History, Broadcast Critics Guild awards. He won the NCR non-fiction prize for Citizens, National Book Critics Circle award for Rough Crossings, the WH Smith Literary Award for Landscape and Memory. In 2015 he received the Premio Antonio Feltrinelli in historical sciences from the Accademia nazionale dei Lincei in Rome. His The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words was published in 2015 and the second volume Belonging in 2017. In the autumn of 2016, The Face of Britain, a history of British portraiture appeared as a five-part BBC television series; a book and an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. In 2018, Civilizations, a nine-part BBC television series on world art, of which he wrote and presented five. In May 2019, Wordy: Sounding off on high art, low appetite and the power of memory, was published, and in the spring of 2021 his BBC series The Romantic and Us was aired. At present, he is working on Foreing Bodies, his twentieth publication, and in a new BBC series titled Brave New World. Image cr. Charlie Bibby