Thinking Together explores popular learning in the United States during the long nineteenth century through case studies of a broad multiplicity of lyceum speakers. Maintaining the particularity of each case, the volume vividly illustrates how distinct racial, ethnic, gender, and religious groups and individuals not only educated themselves but also constructed a sense of belonging while forging spiritual and political communities.”

“A highly original collection that introduces readers not only to diversity in subjects and approaches but also to the commonalities in aspiration and pleasure. Contributors do justice to both in essays ranging from a lyceum in Liberia to meetings of soldiers imprisoned during the Civil War to immigrants on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.”

“In an era when we desperately need new ideas for reviving public deliberation, this interdisciplinary collection reminds us of a time when creative activists experimented with new ways to advance learning and promote moral and intellectual enlightenment. Extending beyond the lyceum movement, the volume recalls forums that empowered people excluded from formal education not only to speak, listen, and learn, but also to ‘think together’ about the crucial political and social issues of the day.”

“This collection calls attention to nineteenth-century contexts where unconventional modes of education were employed and exposes readers to alternative ways of thinking together, presented from multiple disciplinary perspectives. By looking at groups and individuals in a variety of settings, including lecturers, platform entertainers, journalists, and religious leaders, Thinking Together offers new ways to understand how we learn from one another.”

“Lecture platforms such as the lyceum were the true ‘social media’ of the nineteenth century, forging communities in pursuit of common understanding, insight, and wisdom. Ray and Stob have collected studies showing that the cultural practices of platform culture were robust even in the face of social disruption and among marginalized as well as mainstream populations. Each essay displays exemplary scholarship; together they illumine a vital but often neglected dimension of nineteenth-century public culture.”