The Dean of Thin Air

The Dean of Thin Air

(PBS, 1983) Docudrama

Whitehall, 2016
Whitehall, Middletown. (July 23, 2016).

This hour-long production from WSBE-TV tells the story of the life and work of philosopher George Berkeley. Berkeley, who lived in Newport (now Middletown), Rhode Island, from January 1729 to September 1731, developed the theory that the physical world exists only in our perception of it. During his brief stay in Rhode Island, he bought a farm, built a house (Whitehall, which is still standing), and wrote the bulk of Alciphron, a defense of Christianity against free-thinking.

According to Dean writer and associate producer Frank Muhly, "The Dean is set in the early part of the eighteenth century and scenes take place in Ireland, England, and the colonies. We used the following Rhode Island locations for the piece: Smith's Castle in North Kingstown for scenes in England and Ireland; Casey Farm in Saunderstown for Ireland; The Elms in Newport for London; Whitehall, Berkeley's house in Middletown, as itself."

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