But after last night’s terrific talk by Suzannah Lipscomb, I kinda wish I was. She came here to our little corner of the middle of nowhere to speak on why Henry VIII became a suspicious tyrant after 1536, when before that time he was known as kind, friendly, even somewhat benevolent as a ruler. Or, in other pictures, how Henry went from this rather unthreatening young man:

To this display of Renaissance machismo:

I gather that her talk was a precis of her book, that the year 1536 saw a number of events which, taken together, thoroughly changed Henry’s outlook. Her thesis was quite convincing (says the professor of literature). Even better, though, was the wonderful balance between gritty, detailed scholarship and engaging presentation. I talked with my students afterward and heard a lot of raving about how interesting the lecture was. That’s high praise, from students at a Friday night lecture! It’s also something to keep in mind, as a teacher.

Attendance was wonderful, a mix of students, faculty, and townspeople, upwards of 200 I would guess. If I was being mean-spirited, I’d say there isn’t much to do in a small college town–but I’d rather say that this is what makes a small college town great, that a Friday night lecture turns out to be just the kind of thing that people want to do. We went out for dinner afterward and had a very pleasant evening.

And now, for Halloween. I’m thinking of going as Slash. It’s a stretch, I know.