Make a Donation Join Mailing List Find Us On Facebook Follow Us On Twitter Follow Us On Instagram Join Us on LinkedIn Foursquare Follow Us On Pinterest Follow Us On Tumblr YouTube Reviews

Registration for Programs

Society Hill - Hot and Healthy “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart? Viewpoint from an Interventional Cardiologist."

Tuesday, May 7, 2:30 PM

Dr. Howard Haber is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Penn Medicine, and the Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Pennsylvania Hospital.

Free. RSVP: Call 215-925-2688 or email

Lorene Cary, Ladysitting: My Year with Nana at the End of Her Century

Thursday, May 9, 3:00 PM

Ladysitting is a piece of the larger history of African American migration, and makes sure that a black woman’s death adds meaning to her life. It is an elegy to a people, a community, and a family. It is also a long-form meditation, amidst our roiling American conversation on health care, about how we as a society help or undercut more than 50 million Americans who are taking care of dying or disabled loved ones in their homes. Also, how can we use the end-of-life mash-up of fear, resentment, and forgiveness, truth and lies and memory as we use the other great challenges of our lives to learn how to love.

Lorene Cary’s new memoir Ladysitting: My Year with Nana at the End of Her Century is available in May 2019 in hardback and audiobook, read by the author. Her other books include her first memoir, Black Ice, and novels: The Price of a Child, chosen as the first One Book One Philadelphia offering; and If Sons, Then Heirs. Cary has taught creative writing at UPenn for 20 years; she founded to focus on children’s wholeness and #VoteThatJawn to support youth voting; and, in 1998, the black arts organization, Art Sanctuary.

Free. RSVP: Call 215-925-2688 or email

Steven Weitzman, The Book of Job, God on Trial

Monday, May 13, 3:00 PM

Whoever wrote the book of Job did something so daring that it feels blasphemous to this day--he put God on trial. What was the charge? That the "Judge of all the earth," as God is referred to in Genesis, is himself unjust, that he conspires in allowing bad things to happen to good people. In this talk, we will explore Job's indictment of God--and God's efforts to defend himself—and will ask whether God is guilty as charged or not. Along the way, we will consider other biblical and post-biblical attempts to understand why God allows evil and suffering in the universe that is supposed to be fundamentally good.

Steven Weitzman is the Abraham M. Ellis Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages and Literatures and Ella Darivoff Director of the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His books include Solomon: The Lure of Wisdom, a part of Yale's Jewish Lives series; The Jews: a History, with John Efron and Matthias Lehmann (3rd edition, 2019); and The Origin of the Jews: the Quest for Roots in a Rootless Age, recipient of a National Jewish Book Award.

Free. RSVP: Call 215-925-2688 or email

Maureen Corrigan, National Public Radio book critic, “Who Do You Think You Are? A Critic Responds”

Monday, May 20, 3:30 PM

Everybody’s a critic these days. The democratic possibilities of Yelp, Goodreads, and thousands of other online sites have all-but-toppled the reign of traditional “gatekeepers” of culture. (Think: Sheridan Whiteside from The Man Who Came To Dinner.) Or have they? Longtime Fresh Air book critic, Maureen Corrigan, offers a spirited and self-serving defense of the enduring need for an educated opinion. She’ll also talk about her own circuitous path to becoming a professional book critic and give us a glimpse into how books get chosen for review on Fresh Air.

Maureen Corrigan is the book critic on the NPR radio program Fresh Air and writes for the "Book World" section of The Washington Post. In 2014, she wrote So We Read On, a book on the origins and power of "The Great Gatsby." In 2005, she published a literary memoir, Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books. Corrigan was awarded the 2018 Nona Balakian Award for Excellence in Reviewing by the National Book Critics Circle, and the 1999 Edgar Award for Criticism by The Mystery Writers of America.

Free. RSVP: Call 215-925-2688 or email  

Photo by Nina Subin

The Athenaeum Literary Award: Madeline Miller, Circe

Thursday, May 23, 5:30 PM

In Homer’s Odyssey, Circe is a witch who turns Odysseus’ men into pigs. She’s long been remembered as a villain, but in Homer her portrait is much more nuanced than that. Madeline Miller talks about Circe’s long literary history, and what inspired her own interpretation of Western Literature’s first witch. Miller will also touch on other famous characters who make an appearance in her novels, including Odysseus and Penelope.

Madeline Miller earned her BA and MA in Classics from Brown University, and has been teaching and tutoring Latin, Greek, and Shakespeare for nearly twenty years. Her novels The Song of Achilles and Circe were both New York Times Bestsellers, and she won the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction. Her works have been translated into over 25 languages.

Free. RSVP: Call 215-925-2688 or email

This event has received generous support from The Charles Wharton Stork Lecture Fund

Ted Maust, "The Evolution of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society"

Thursday, June 6, 6:00 PM

One of Philadelphia’s most venerable institutions, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society began in 1827 as a gentleman’s society to share information about gardening and to exchange plants. Almost two hundred years later, PHS plays a key role in the fabric of the city and in a regional identity shaped by a tradition of horticulture. Researcher Ted Maust discusses the evolution of PHS from a private gentleman’s club to an organization pursuing community development through the practice of horticulture and greening, as well as how from its inception in 1829, the Philadelphia Flower Show has become established as one of the most enduring and beloved institutions in our region.

Preceding the lecture, guests are invited at 5:00 pm to a historical marker dedication at 717 Chestnut Street, commemorating the first Philadelphia Flower Show. 

Free. RSVP: Call 215-925-2688 or email

Anna Pitoniak, Necessary People

Friday, June 7, 3:00 PM

Stella is beautiful, privileged, and reckless. Her best friend, Violet is hardworking, laser-focused, and always there to clean up the mess that Stella leaves in her wake. Necessary People is a novel about the intersections of ambition, privilege, and the high price of wanting it all. As their careers and fates become deeply intertwined, Stella and Violet plunge toward a dangerous and violent ending that may destroy them both. This novel takes on issues of class, the thin line between friendship and jealousy, and the anxieties that lurk beneath the surface of everyday life.

Anna Pitoniak grew up in British Columbia and now lives in New York City. She worked for many years in book publishing, most recently as a Senior Editor at Random House. Her first novel, The Futures, received strong reviews in Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, The Village Voice, and other publications.

Free. RSVP: Call 215-925-2688 or email

Peter Conn, Executive Director, The Athenaeum of Philadelphia,
"The Athenaeum of Philadelphia and the History of Libraries"

Wednesday, June 12, 3:00 PM

Writing is widely regarded as one of the two or three most important of all human inventions. Writing made possible a profound transformation, an escape from societies in which knowledge had to be shared in face to face encounters, and history consisted of individual memories passed down orally from one generation to the next. It is not too risky to speculate that without writing – which probably emerged unglamorously as an aid to keeping track of jugs of wine and bales of wool – humans might still be living in scattered agricultural communities.

In a surprisingly short time after the emergence of writing, several literate societies made their next leap forward by inventing libraries. By centralizing manuscripts (and later, books) in specially designated places, the accumulation, transmission, and expansion of knowledge was increased by orders of magnitude. While most of us probably tend to take libraries for granted, they should be considered another transformational invention. Libraries have a long and eventful history, reaching back over four thousand years. In the course of that history, libraries have been organized in all sorts of different ways, to serve all sort of different purposes.

After a brief review of some of those libraries, Peter Conn will describe the development of libraries in Philadelphia, with special attention to the Athenaeum, founded in 1814. He will conclude with some questions about the future of libraries in the age of the Internet.

Peter Conn retired from the University of Pennsylvania as Vartan Gregorian Professor of English and Professor of Education. His many publications include Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Biography, which was named a "New York Times Notable Book.” Conn's most recent book is Adoption: A Brief Social and Cultural History. A John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, Conn also received several awards for distinguished teaching. Since 1993, Conn has served as visiting professor at the University of Nanjing, in the People's Republic of China. In 2011, and again in 2013, sponsored by the Ford Foundation, Conn lectured in West China on topics in American studies.

Free. RSVP: Call 215-925-2688 or email

Accepted Credit Cards