CORVALLIS, Ore. – The second lecture in the 2008-09 American Culture and Politics speaker series at Oregon State University will be held on Monday, April 27, and offers a catchy title: “What Beavers, Ducks, Bart Simpson and Leroy Vinnegar Have in Common, or How to Make a State Encyclopedia of Oregon.”

The free public lecture will be given by William L. Lang of Portland State University beginning at 4 p.m. in Memorial Union Room 208 (the La Raza Room).

Lang, an editor-in-chief of the Oregon Encyclopedia of History and Culture, will explore the question of how a group of Oregon scholars and writers go about creating an Oregon encyclopedia. If they invoke the ambition of Denis Diderot, editor of a noted 18th-century encyclopedia, do they really intend to include everything and everyone Oregon? And what would that mean?

Between the ambition and publication is an intellectual obstacle course, where the first question is: What’s in and what’s out? The story of this process is almost as interesting as the material that will be included in the Oregon encyclopedia.

Lang is a professor of history at PSU and one of three editors-in-chief of the Oregon Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Born in Portland and educated at Willamette University, Washington State University, and University of Delaware, Lang is author or editor of six books on Northwest history, most recently “Two Centuries of Lewis & Clark” (2004) and “Great River of the West” (1999).

This American Culture & Politics speaker series is sponsored by the Horning Endowment in the Humanities at OSU. For more information, contact the History Department at 541-737-8560 or visit

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Elissa Curcio,