"Necessary Trouble: Growing Up At Mid-century" with Drew Gilpin Faust & Shirley Tilghman

Oct 12, 2023, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
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Event Description

Join us for a conversation between two presidents emerita of Harvard and Princeton respectively about Drew Gilpin’s new memoir of coming of age in a conservative Southern family in postwar America.

This event is free but ticketed. To reserve tickets, click here. Note: if you end up not needing your tickets, please! return them on Eventbrite so someone else can attend. It’s easy! Here’s how.

To grow up in the 1950s was to enter a world of polarized national alliances, nuclear threat, and destabilized social hierarchies. Two world wars and the depression that connected them had unleashed a torrent of expectations and dissatisfactions—not only in global affairs but in American society and Americans’ lives.

A privileged white girl in conservative, segregated Virginia was expected to adopt a willful blindness to the inequities of race and the constraints of gender. For Drew Gilpin, the acceptance of both female subordination and racial hierarchy proved intolerable and galvanizing. Urged to become “well adjusted” and to fill the role of a poised young lady that her upbringing imposed, she found resistance was necessary for her survival. During the 1960s, through her love of learning and her active engagement in the civil rights, student, and antiwar movements, Drew forged a path of her own—one that would eventually lead her to become a historian of the very conflicts that were instrumental in shaping the world she grew up in.

Culminating in the upheavals of 1968, Necessary Trouble captures a time of rapid change and fierce reaction in one young woman’s life, tracing the transformations and aftershocks that we continue to grapple with today. 

Drew Gilpin Faust is a University Professor of History at Harvard University. She was Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study from 2001 to 2007 and served as Harvard’s president from 2007 to 2018. Faust is the author of several books, including This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, winner of the Bancroft Prize and a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize; and Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil WarShirley Tilghman served as President of Princeton University from 2001 to 2013 and is a Professor of Molecular Biology and Public Affairs at Princeton. In 2002, Discover Magazine recognized her as one of the 50 most important women in science.

Co-presented by Labyrinth Books and the Princeton Public Library and co-sponsored by Princeton University’s Humanities Council, Gender and Sexuality Studies, History, and African American Studies Departments, and by SPIA in NJ.

  • Labyrinth Books
  • Princeton Public Library
  • Princeton University's Humanities Council
  • Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • Department of African American Studies
  • Department of History
  • SPIA in NJ
Event Type
Book Talk
Event Category
AAS Co-Sponsored Event


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Any individual, including visitors to campus, who requires accommodation should contact Dionne Worthy ([email protected]) at least one week in advance of the event.