The Nine Lives of Benjamin Franklin with Dr. Richard Bell

The Nine Lives of Benjamin Franklin with Dr. Richard Bell


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Benjamin Franklin's genius is a puzzle. Despite having only two years of formal schooling, he would end up receiving honorary degrees from Harvard, Yale, Oxford, and St. Andrews, as well as the 18th century’s equivalent of a Nobel Prize for Physics.

Like his hero, Isaac Newton, Franklin was driven by a perpetual dissatisfaction with the world as he knew it. He optimized, tinkered, and improved. Hardly the tortured genius, he took a schoolboy's pleasure in everything he made. Experimenting was a constant source of beauty, pleasure, and amusement for him, even when things went wrong (which they did all the time).

In this Conversation historian, Richard Bell will examine many of Franklin's ideas to make life simpler, cheaper, and easier for himself and everyone else. We’ll learn how his ideas encompassed not only natural science and engineering—the kite experiments and the bifocals for which he is justly remembered—but also all sorts of public works, civic improvements, political innovation, and fresh new business ideas. We’ll discuss his experimenter's instinct, his relentless drive to build a better world one small piece at a time, even encompassed innovations in medical device design, in music, in cookery, and in ventriloquism. Participants will emerge with a much deeper understanding of this intriguing character beyond what meets the eye.

Dr. Richard Bell is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland. He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University and is the recipient of the National Endowment of the Humanities Public Scholar award. He has won more than a dozen teaching awards and has held major research fellowships at Yale, Cambridge, and the Library of Congress. He has published a number of books; his latest is "Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and their Astonishing Odyssey Home".

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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V.B.
Great seminar!
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Excellent!

Customer Reviews

Based on 2 reviews
100%
(2)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
V
V.B.
Great seminar!
B
B.
Excellent!