Meet VCU's Authors: Carolyn Eastman, Ph.D.

February 8, 2021

carolyn eastman
Carolyn Eastman, Ph.D.

The Strange Genius of Mr. O: The World of the United States' First Forgotten Celebrity

4:00 p.m. (virtual event)
Registration link for "The Strange Genius of Mr. O"


"The Strange Genius of Mr. O" is at once the biography of a remarkable performer—a gaunt Scottish orator who appeared in a toga—and a story of the United States during the founding era. Ogilvie's career featured many of the hallmarks of celebrity we recognize from later eras: glamorous friends, eccentric clothing, scandalous religious views, narcissism and even an alarming drug habit. Yet he captivated audiences with his eloquence and inaugurated a golden age of American oratory. Examining his roller coaster career and the Americans who admired (or hated) him, this fascinating book renders a vivid portrait of the United States in the midst of invention.

book cover for the strange genius of mister o: the world of the united states first forgotten celebrity by carolyn eastman

Speaker Bio

Carolyn Eastman, Ph.D., is an associate professor of history at VCU, where she teaches courses in early American history, with special emphasis on eighteenth and nineteenth-century histories of political culture, the media and gender. Her first book, "A Nation of Speechifiers: Making an American Public after the Revolution" (University of Chicago Press, 2009), received the James Broussard Best First Book prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic and was a finalist for the Best Book Prize from the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians. She is the author of numerous articles and the recipient of many prestigious grants, most recently from the Princeton University Library, the Massachusetts Historical Society, Harvard’s Houghton Library, the Huntington Library and the John Carter Brown Library.

This event is co-sponsored by the VCU Department of History.

View the video from this event.