About the Stephen Crane Lecture Series

The Stephen Crane Lecture Series has a long tradition at The Pennington School. It commemorates the author of The Red Badge of Courage, who was a student at Pennington in the 1880s and whose father was headmaster of the School from 1849 to 1858. The series invites prominent authors, artists, or public figures to speak or perform on the campus.

Recent Lecture Guests


Haider Hamza
Iraqi war photojournalist and peace activist

Geshe Pema Dorjee
Humanitarian, scholar, and teacher (lama) of Tibetan Buddhism

Matika Wilbur
Swinomish/Tulalip photographer and social documentarian


Dr. Prabhjot Singh
Director, Arnhold Institute for Global Health

Arun Gandhi
Grandson of Mohandas K. “Mahatma” Gandhi

Dr. Kevin Bales
Scholar/activist on contemporary slavery

Dr. Daniel R. Porterfield
President of Franklin and Marshall College


Philip Schultz
Pulitzer Prize-winning author and educator

David Hale
U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace

Rudy Boschwitz 47
Former U.S. Senator, emissary who negotiated Operation Solomon

Dikembe Mutombo
Philanthropist, former NBA star

Martin Doblmeier
Filmmaker; screening of The Power of Forgiveness

Paul Winter Consort
Performance, with Pennington Chorus, of Missa Gaia

James M. McPherson
Pulitzer-Prize-winning Civil War historian

Jean-David Levitte
Ambassador of France to the United States

James McBride
Author, The Color of Water; composer; and saxophonist

Herman Boone
Noted football coach portrayed in Remember the Titans

Stephen Crane Lecture Series

2016–17 Speakers

October 4, 2016

Loung Ung: One of seven children of a high-ranking government official, Loung Ung lived a privileged life in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh until the age of five. Then, in April 1975, Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army stormed into the city, forcing Ung’s family to flee and, eventually, to disperse. Loung was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans, her siblings were sent to labor camps, and those who survived the horrors would not be reunited until the Khmer Rouge was destroyed. Harrowing yet hopeful, Loung’s story is an unforgettable account of a family shaken and shattered, yet sustained by courage and love in the face of unspeakable brutality. Ung is the author of First They Killed My Father, soon to be released as a film directed by Angelina Jolie Pitt.

October 25, 2016

Martha Southgate is the author of four novels. Her newest, The Taste of Salt, was published in September 2011 and was named one of the best novels of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle and the Boston Globe. She has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. Her essay “Writers Like Me,” published in The New York Times Book Review, appears in the anthology Best African-American Essays 2009. Previous nonfiction articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, O, Entertainment Weekly, and Essence. Her most recent publication is “Rise Up,” an essay about the impact of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Hamilton, published in The American Scholar. She is at work on a new novel.

November 14, 2016

Niall McCann was born in Victoria, Canada into a family of adventurers and grew up in Shrewsbury, in England’s most rural county: Shropshire. McCann studied Zoology at the University of Bristol, and recently completed his Ph.D. at Cardiff University, studying Baird’s tapir, the largest mammal in the Neotropics and one of the most threatened species in all of the Americas. McCann has dedicated his life to seeking out adventure in the natural world, either in combination with his zoological studies, or on stand-alone adventures. A fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, McCann is actively involved with ongoing conservation projects in Honduras, Nepal, and Guyana, and is the host of the award-winning wildlife adventure series, “Biggest and Baddest,” with Animal Planet Canada and Nat Geo Wild.He has spent well over two years on expeditions on six continents.

January 31, 2017

Mark Doty is the author of nine books of poetry, including Deep Lane (April 2015), Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, which won the 2008 National Book Award, andMy Alexandria, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the T.S. Eliot Prize in the UK. He is also the author of three memoirs: the New York Times-bestselling Dog Years, Firebird, and Heaven’s Coast, as well as a book about craft and criticism, The Art of Description: World Into Word. Doty has received two NEA fellowships, Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships, a Lila Wallace/Readers Digest Award, and the Witter Byner Prize.

February 2017

Nyle Fort is a minister, organizer, and scholar. He received a B.A. in English from Morehouse College, a Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and is currently working on his Ph.D. in Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University. Fort has worked in the fields of education, criminal justice, and youth development, and as an activist committed to global transformative justice, he brings his national experience and international lens to his local work. Fort travelled to Ferguson, Missouri to help build the Movement for Black Lives. Upon his return home, he created 7 Last Words: Strange Fruit Speaks, a liturgy commemorating the last words of black people killed by police and vigilantes. He also established Newark Books and Breakfast, a monthly program providing free books and breakfast to local youth and families. Fort has travelled to Amsterdam as part of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation’s multinational effort to connect freedom struggles and challenge racialized violence, and he was invited to join 300 grassroots leaders from around the globe to participate in the Vatican’s III World Meeting of Popular Movements, a joint initiative of the Pope Francis and Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Fort is a frequent speaker at academic, cultural, and religious institutions and has spoken at Harvard University, University of Amsterdam, the Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz Center, and the historic Riverside Church. His writings have been featured in several academic presses including Harvard Journalof African American Public Policy and Socialismand Democracy as well as in various media outlets including The Guardian, TheHuffington Post, The Root, and more.

April 11, 2017

Carson Kressley is an Emmy Award–winning TV personality, style expert, fashion designer, and New York Times–bestselling author. Since his television debut as the fashion savant on Bravo’s Queer Eye, he has hosted OWN Network’s Carson-Nation and ABC’s True Beauty, competed on reality shows such as Big Brother Australia and the 13th season of Dancing with the Stars, and served as a judge on a wide range of shows, including Food Network’s Celebrity Cupcake Wars. In early 2017, Kressley will be competing on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice, to raise money for his charity, the True Colors Fund. An ardent philanthropic supporter of many causes, Kressley uses his celebrity to advance concerns such as the Human Rights Campaign, The Trevor Project, and AIDS WALK. He serves as a trustee on many boards, including those of The American Saddlebred Museum and Philadelphia University.


Most Crane lectures are required events for all students, with limited seating available to the general public. To reserve seating, please email events@pennington.org. Your reservation is not confirmed until you receive a reply email so indicating.

For information or suggestions about the Crane lectures, please email Director of Speaker Programming Amelia Becker at abecker@pennington.org