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Event Details

Humanities in the Village: Andrew Miller

The Ivy Bookshop and Bird in Hand present the latest installment of Humanities in the Village featuring Andrew Miller, author, most recently, of On Not Being Someone Else: Tales of Our Unled Lives. This event will take place on Zoom.

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A captivating book about the emotional and literary power of the lives we might have lived had our chances or choices been different.

We each live one life, formed by paths taken and untaken. Choosing a job, getting married, deciding on a place to live or whether to have children—every decision precludes another. But what if you’d gone the other way? It can be a seductive thought, even a haunting one. Andrew H. Miller illuminates this theme of modern culture: the allure of the alternate self. From Robert Frost to Sharon Olds, Virginia Woolf to Ian McEwan, Jane Hirshfield to Carl Dennis, storytellers of every stripe write of the lives we didn’t have. What forces encourage us to think this way about ourselves, and to identify with fictional and poetic voices speaking from the shadows of what might have been? Not only poets and novelists, but psychologists and philosophers have much to say on this question. Miller finds wisdom in all these sources, revealing the beauty, the power, and the struggle of our unled lives. In an elegant and provocative rumination, he lingers with other selves, listening to what they say. Peering down the path not taken can be frightening, but it has its rewards. On Not Being Someone Else offers the balm that when we confront our imaginary selves, we discover who we are.

Andrew H. Miller is Professor of English at Johns Hopkins University.  He was long-time editor of the journal Victorian Studies and a founder of the North American Victorian Studies Association. Professor Miller specializes in nineteenth century British literature and, more generally, in the relation of literature to moral philosophy.  His publications include The Burdens of Perfection:  On Ethics and Reading in Nineteenth Century Literature   (Cornell University Press, 2008) and Novels Behind Glass:  Commodity Culture and Victorian Narrative (Cambridge University Press, 1995). He has been a Fellow at Oxford University (Pembroke College) and Birkbeck (University of London), and the recipient of fellowships from the National Humanities Center and the ACLS.  His most recent book, On Not Being Someone Else: Stories of our Unled Lives, is now available from Harvard University Press.






Event Details

Monday, August 31, 2020 - 6:30pm



by Dr. Radut