UW News

November 12, 2009

Egypt and Western civilization is topic of lecture

Donald Reid, professor emeritus at Georgia State University and affiliate faculty in the UW’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, will give a lecture titled Contested Heritage: Ancient Egypt and the Paradigm of Western Civilization, at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16 in 120 Communications.

Reid is the author of Whose Pharaohs? Archaeology, Museums, and Egyptian National Identity from Napoleon to World War I (2002), Cairo University and the Making of Modern Egypt (1990), and other works on Egypt and the modern Middle East.

He describes the background of his lecture this way: In Edwin Blashfield’s painting Evolution of Civilization in the dome of the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress (inaugurated in 1897), figures representing ancient Egypt and modern America sit side by side — the presumed beginning and culmination of civilization’s progress. Reading around the dome, the intervening figures round out an early version of the intellectual construct that became canonized in American universities and colleges between the two world wars as the Western Civilization course. Focusing primarily on Egypt, the lecture considers the strengths and weaknesses of the Western Civilization paradigm, with particular attention to Western imperialism and Egyptian nationalism over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The lecture is sponsored by The UW Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization and the American Research Center in Egypt’s Northwest Chapter. It is free and open to the public.