Lecture Videos

lectures - Logo of the Dr. Howard Miller Lecture Series: a wreath of laurel leaves surrounds a book

In-person programming at the Study includes lectures on various subjects. In 2019 the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum staff and board of trustees renamed the Adult Lecture Series. Our lecture series will now be known as the Dr. Howard Miller Lecture Series.

We changed the name to honor Dr. Miller’s tremendous contributions to the Study Preservation Society and the museum. He also contributed to Ben-Hur scholarship. As a result, Dr. Miller has benefited the entire Crawfordsville community.

Dr. Howard Miller

A dynamic speaker and award-winning educator, Dr. Miller is a leading scholar on Ben-Hur and Lew Wallace’s life. A native Texan, he taught at the University of Texas at Austin for forty years, retiring in 2011. During his time at UT Austin, he founded the university’s department of Religious Studies.

Dr. Miller has been involved with the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum since 2000 and is a regular Title Sponsor for the museum’s annual TASTE of Montgomery County fundraiser.

Civil War Lectures

Gail Stephens on the Lincoln Assassination Conspiracy – Gail Stephens – Lew Wallace was a member of the military tribunal who tried the Lincoln assassination conspirators. Stephens discusses the nation’s reaction to the assassination, comparing it to post-9/11 sentiment in the modern era. She explains the charges against the conspirators. Her lecture also delves into military commissions–how they operated and why a commission tried the conspirators.

Gail Stephens on the Battle of Shiloh – In this short video, Gail Stephens gives an explanation of the Battle of Shiloh and Lew Wallace’s role.


Ben-Hur Lectures


The 1925 Ben-Hur: Epic End to an Era – Dr. Howard Miller – The 1925 Ben-Hur cinematic adaptation marked the end of two eras. MGM’s colossal production epitomized and culminated the tradition of spectacular silent epics. Additionally, the film came at the end of almost six decades in which Wallace’s “Tale of the Christ” was never far from the center of American religious life and popular culture.

A Woman’s Ben-Hur: June Mathis – Dr. Thomas Slater of Indiana University of Pennsylvania speaks about June Mathis and her involvement with the 1925 silent film of Ben-Hur. Dr. Slater also discusses June Mathis’ life and glass-ceiling-breaking career in Hollywood.

The 1959 Ben-Hur: A New Tradition Begins – Dr. Howard Miller – MGM’s 1959 Ben-Hur has been called “the most honored film of all time.” The winner of an unprecedented eleven Academy Awards, director William Wyler’s epic won virtually every international “best picture” award, was seen by millions around the globe, and earned MGM tens of millions of dollars.

The 2016 Ben-Hur – Dr. Howard Miller discusses the 2016 remake and a flurry of Ben-Hur related material during the Indiana bicentennial


Religious Conversion in Ben-Hur – Dr. Howard Miller – Wallace’s “Tale of the Christ” contains several accounts of religious conversion, including the conversion of Judah Ben-Hur.

“The Sacred Circus”: Ben-Hur on the Stage and the Rails – Dr. Howard Miller joined us from Austin, Texas, this week to deliver a presentation on the traveling Ben-Hur stage play developed by Klaw and Erlanger.

Redeeming Messala: Ben-Hur Beyond the 1959 Epic – Dr. Howard Miller focusses on the ways in which many of the adaptations attempt to forgive and redeem Messala, with results that would have no doubt astounded the General.

Growing Up With Ben-Hur: Carol Wallace – Lew Wallace’s great-great-granddaughter talks about her new literary adaptation of Ben-Hur.

A World in Motion: Travelers and Tourists in Ben-Hur – Many of the characters in Ben-Hur go on journeys. Dr. Howard Miller discusses these travels in light of the German bildungsroman, or coming-of-age story, and sheds new light on a fascinating aspect of the novel.


Other Topics

Dating and Preserving Historic Photos – Learn to interpret, date, and protect family photographs from Joan Hostetler.

Lew Wallace’s Career as a Criminal Lawyer – Dr. Jamey Norton – This lecture covers Lew Wallace’s criminal lawyer days. Dr. Norton discusses two murder trials in particular–trials that must have fascinated Lew Wallace. He also touches on the trials of the Lincoln Conspirators and Captain Henry Wirz.

Victorian Travelers and Tourists – In this lecture, Dr. Miller discusses how travel and tourism were central to the success of the literary work of both Lew and Susan Wallace. He talks about the Wallaces’ national and international trips. He also touches on the ways travel influenced their writings and contributed to their celebrity.

Indiana Poet Laureate Shari Wagner – Shari Wagner shares poems inspired by Indiana history.