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Thomas Harriot scholar to deliver Voyages of Discovery lecture

GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Mar. 23, 2009)   —   Stephen Clucas, professor in the School of English and Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London, will present the final lecture in the 2008-09 Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences’ Voyages of Discovery Lecture Series at East Carolina University.

Clucas will present the Thomas Harriot Lecture, discussing “Thomas Harriot: New Worlds of an Elizabethan Scientist,” at 7 p.m. April 2, in the Science and Technology Building, Room C-307. Tickets are not needed for this lecture, which is free and open to the public.

“We are honored to have Professor Stephen Clucas with us to describe Harriot's many scientific contributions to the western world,” said Larry Tise, ECU professor of history. “As one of the world's foremost Harriot scholars, Dr. Clucas will help us further understand this colorful, brilliant, but little known figure at the core of the Elizabethan Renaissance who was the first scientist to set foot on the shores of what is now North Carolina, and whose name is now attached to ECU's College of Arts and Sciences.”

The Thomas Harriot Lecture is the sixth lecture in the Voyages of Discovery Lecture Series, made possible through contributions from the Dean’s Advancement Council of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, the East Carolina Alumni Association and additional friends and supporters of the college.

In his lecture, Clucas will describe the new worlds of science and research that began in England during the reign of Elizabeth I. He will describe how Elizabethans, inspired by Sir Walter Raleigh and Thomas Harriot, laid the groundwork for an English colonial empire.

Clucas has been teaching at Birkbeck since 1991 and has served as vice-chairman of the Thomas Harriot Seminar, a biennial seminar held at the University of Durham, UK, devoted to the life and times of Elizabethan scientist and mathematician Thomas Harriot, since 1990. He is co-editor of the journal Intellectual History Review, and he is a member of the Council of the International Society for Intellectual History.

In conjunction with this year’s Thomas Harriot lecture, Tise is hosting a conference from April 1 – 4 in commemoration of the 400th year since Thomas Harriot pioneered the use of the telescope, producing some of the first astronomical charts and drawings.

The conference will consist of workshops on map-making and archaeological excavations, as well as a variety of public lectures by two dozen researchers and historians presenting new findings on the initial explorations and settlements of the Outer Banks of North Carolina and the charting of both coastal waters and nighttime skies.

Event highlights follow:

Wednesday, April 1, “The Space Race of 1609 – Galileo, Thomas Harriot and the Invention of the Telescope,” will include various presentations from 2 – 8 p.m. at the Morehead Planetarium on the campus of the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

On Thursday, April 2, conference topics will include “Navigating American Waters: Harriot Absorbing the Knowledge of Sailing Men,” from 11 a.m. – noon at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh; “Illuminating a New World: John White, Thomas Harriot and the Creation of the First Images of North Carolina,” from 3 – 5 p.m. in the Jenkins and Science and Technology Buildings on the ECU campus; and “Measuring New Worlds: Thomas Harriot and the Expansion of Scientific Knowledge,” at 7 p.m. in the ECU Science and Technology Building.

Friday, April 3, “Thomas Harriot Fully Considered: A Quadricentennial Evaluation,” will include sessions lasting from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. in ECU’s Joyner Library.

Saturday, April 4, topics will include “Exploring America: Traces of Thomas Harriot on Roanoke Island,” from 10 a.m. – noon at the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site in Manteo; and “Encountering Harriot: Native American Views on Hungry, Discourteous and Violent English Intruders,” from 2 – 5 p.m. at the Roanoke Island Festival Park Auditorium in Manteo.

For a complete roster of the Thomas Harriot Quadricentennial Conference program, and event times and locations, go to


Contact: John Tucker | 252-328-1028