The West Virginia Humanities Council’s 2021 McCreight Lecture in the Humanities has been canceled due to public health concerns surrounding COVID-19 and recent transmission rates of the Delta variant. The annual event, which takes place in Charleston each fall, often in conjunction with the West Virginia Book Festival, was scheduled this year for Oct. 21.
“Our distinguished speakers James and Deborah Fallows are excited to return at a later date,” says Council Program Officer Kyle Warmack. The Fallows are the authors of Our Towns: A 100,000 Mile Journey into the Heart of America, which saw the release of a companion documentary on HBO earlier this year. Both the book and film feature Charleston, WV, as an example of rural entrepreneurship, diversity, and progress.
“Historically, one of the aims of the McCreight Lecture has always been to give West Virginia audiences the opportunity to be ‘in the room’ with first-rate authors, filmmakers, scholars, and thinkers” such as the Fallows, and past lecturers like Denise McKiernan, Joyce Carol Oates, and Ken Burns. “The Council, and the Fallows, want to deliver that same feel as part of their McCreight lecture. A postponement, while no one’s ideal, is the best way to ensure continuity of experience for our presenters and guests.”
The Board of Directors of the West Virginia Humanities Council established the annual McCreight Lecture in the Humanities to honor the leadership of Betsy Keadle McCreight, who died in 1985. McCreight was a founding board member, serving the Council as treasurer, vice president, and president. She believed that the humanities were at the heart of a democratic society, a necessary source of wisdom and vision.
Presented each October, the McCreight Lecture affords West Virginians the opportunity to hear internationally respected scholars and public intellectuals speak on a variety of humanities topics. Past McCreight Lecturers have included Henry Louis Gates, Sylvia Nasar, Eric Foner, Joseph Ellis, Elaine Pagels, Gordon Wood, James McPherson, Edmund Morris and Annette Gordon-Reed.
“We hope the nation has turned a corner in the fight against COVID next year,” states Council Executive Director Eric Waggoner. “We’re honored that the Fallows are working with us to make West Virginia a priority despite these difficult circumstances.”