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Author to Discuss “One Nation, Under Gods”

Date: March 04, 2015
Former Starr Center writing fellow Peter Manseau returns to campus Wednesday, March 4, to discuss his critically acclaimed new book, which chronicles how religious minorities have helped shape American freedom.

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Peter Manseau, the novelist, memoirist, and historian, returns to Chestertown on Wednesday, March 4, for a talk based on his critically acclaimed new book, One Nation Under Gods: A New American History (Little, Brown). The program begins at 5:30 p.m. in Hynson Lounge, Hodson Hall, on the College campus and will be followed by a reception and book signing. Cosponsored by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and the Department of Philosophy and Religion, the talk is free and open to the public. 

Much of One Nation Under Gods was written in Chestertown, where Manseau spent 2011-12 as the Patrick Henry Writing Fellow at the Starr Center. Manseau’s book traces history’s arc across 500 years.  By presenting a rich array of American spiritual voices, he argues that members of religious minorities – from the Jews who sailed with Columbus, to the Buddhists who built the railroads, to the Scientologists of recent times – have played a disproportionately large role in shaping American freedom. The result is a groundbreaking and fascinating reexamination of America’s past. 

In a starred review, Publishers Weekly hailed “the subversive and much-needed revisionism of Manseau’s tour de force” and praised the author for writing “with a historian’s eye for detail and a novelist’s sense of character and timing.” Articles based on the book have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Slate, and elsewhere over the past several weeks. 

“Peter writes with a rare combination of erudition and élan, and One Nation, Under Gods is one of those too-rare works of innovative history that also manage to be works of literary art,” says Adam Goodheart, the Starr Center’s Hodson Trust-Griswold Director. “We’re proud that Washington College played a part in its genesis.” 

At Washington College, Manseau taught courses in the departments of Philosophy, Political Science, and English and co-directed, with Goodheart, the Starr Center’s “Historically Corrected” collaboration with the New York Times

Peter Manseau received his doctorate in religion from Georgetown University and is currently curating an exhibit on America’s diverse religious past for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. Manseau’s previous books include the memoir Vows, the novel Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter, and the travelogue Rag and Bone

Launched by the Starr Center in 2008, the Patrick Henry Fellowship aims to encourage reflection on the links between American history and contemporary culture, and to foster the literary art of historical writing. The Henry Fellowship’s funding is permanently endowed as part of a $2.5 million challenge grant package that the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded through its nationwide “We the People” initiative for strengthening the teaching, study and understanding of American history and culture. 

Washington College acquired the Patrick Henry Fellows’ Residence in January 2007 through a generous gift from the Barksdale-Dabney-Patrick Henry Family Foundation, which was established by the Nuttle family of Talbot County, direct descendants of the patriot Patrick Henry. 

Founded in 1782 under the patronage of George Washington, Washington College is a private, independent college of liberal arts and sciences located in colonial Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience is dedicated to fostering innovative approaches to the American past and present. Through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach, and a special focus on written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between the academic world and the public at large. 

Last modified on Feb. 24th, 2015 at 12:43pm by Jean Wortman.