LAKELAND, Fla., July 24, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Florida Lecture Series returns to the Lawton M. Chiles Jr., Center for Florida History at Florida Southern College for the 2023-24 season with six guest speakers, each offering a glimpse into Florida’s unique lifestyle and culture. 

The series begins on Sept. 14 in Branscomb Auditorium when accomplished author, lyricist, and librettist Ann McCutchan discusses her book The Life She Wanted to Live: A Biography of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Author of The Yearling (2021). McCutchan’s program contextualizes the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, who found her voice in the remote hardscrabble life of Cross Creek, Fla.

On Oct. 5, the series will welcome Clay Henderson, environmental lawyer, educator, historian, and writer, who will discuss his new book, Forces of Nature: A History of Florida Land Conservation (2022), which details Florida’s hard-fought battles to preserve and set aside some of America’s most pristine landscapes. 

On Nov. 16, FSC’s preservation architect Jeff Baker, will speak on restoration efforts on the Frank Lloyd Wright campus at FSC, past, present, and future. Baker will speak at the centerpiece of Wright’s “Child of the Sun,” Annie Pfeiffer Chapel.

French colonization in Florida will be the subject of College of Charleston Professor of History Christophe J. Boucher. Fort Caroline, located near present-day Jacksonville, triggered a dramatic Spanish response, and led directly to the founding of St. Augustine. Boucher’s program will take place on Jan. 18, 2024, in the Hollis Room.

On Feb. 8, guests in Branscomb Auditorium will get a taste of the history of the Cuban sandwich from Andy Huse, the special collections librarian at the University of South Florida. Huse’s book The Cuban Sandwich: A History in Layers (2022) delivers a social and cultural history behind how “The Cubano” became a lunch-counter staple in the U.S. and beyond.

The final scheduled lecture for the 2023-24 will feature one of America’s premier historians, public intellectuals and commentators, Douglas Brinkley. Silent Spring Revolution (2022) is Brinkley’s third installment of his environmental history of America series and will be the subject of his program. Brinkley is a New York Times bestselling author and has been featured frequently on CNN, CBS, MSNBC, and NPR. In total, Brinkley has authored more than 30 books covering such topics as the D-Day Invasion, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, the Nixon Tapes, Walter Cronkite, and JFK and the Space Race. Brinkley is a professor of History at Rice University.

“We are delighted to welcome this distinguished slate of speakers to this year’s series,” Florida Southern Professor of History and the Director of the Lawton M. Chiles Jr., Center for Florida History Dr. James M. Denham said. “From beginning to end we are confident these presenters will offer unique and inspiring insights into the Florida Experience.”  

The Lawton M. Chiles, Jr., Florida Lecture Series is a forum that brings speakers to the Florida Southern College campus to explore Florida life and culture through a wide range of disciplines, including history, public affairs, law, sociology, criminology, anthropology, literature, and art. The overall objective of the series is to bring members of the community, the faculty, and the student body together to interact with and learn from leading scholars in their fields.

All lectures will start at 7 p.m., and be delivered in Branscomb Auditorium, unless otherwise noted. The talks are free and open to the public.

About Florida Southern College  

Founded in 1883, Florida Southern College is the oldest private college in the state. The College maintains its commitment to academic excellence through 70+ undergraduate programs and distinctive graduate programs in business administration, education, nursing, and physical therapy. Florida Southern has a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio, is an award-winning national leader in engaged learning, and boasts 30 NCAA Division II National Championships. Florida Southern is ranked #8 among the “Best Regional Universities in the South” by U.S. News & World Report in its 2023 “Best Colleges” guide. It is included in The Princeton Review’s 2023 Best 388 Colleges guide and the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2024. The 2023-2024 Colleges of Distinction guidebook praises Florida Southern’s AACSB-accredited Barney Barnett School of Business and Free Enterprise alongside the College’s School of Education and its Ann Blanton Edwards School of Nursing and Health Sciences. Poets&Quants, U.S. News & World Report, Fortune, and The Princeton Review further laud the Barney Barnett School of Business and Free Enterprise and the Ann Blanton Edwards School of Nursing and Health Sciences as foremost programs in the nation for business and nursing education. Home to the world’s largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, FSC has appeared on The Princeton Review’s top 25 “Most Beautiful Campus” national listing for 12 consecutive years. Connect with Florida Southern College.  

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