Exceptions include those visiting Bookstore, Cafe, and Special Collections Appointments. More info on Blackout Dates for Community Access.
Claremont Discourse Series History
Established in 1998, the Claremont Discourse lecture series has highlighted the academic pursuits of faculty at The Claremont Colleges. Explore the history of Claremont Discourse and watch past lectures dating back to 2005.
Speaker(s): Jean Schroedel (CGU)
Dr. Jean Schroedel (CGU) discusses the relationship between voting rights and the Constitution of the United States, both historically and with respect to current events. After describing how two important Supreme Court cases, Shelby County v. Holder (2013) and Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee (2021), have undercut the powers of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, she goes on to explore how provisions in the Constitution itself may support voting rights.
In-person college classes require students, faculty, and staff to congregate together in indoor spaces creating a higher risk for possible COVID-19 infection. Small residential colleges such as the five Claremont Colleges (5Cs), where a majority of the students live on campus, present a relatively closed campus environment, curtailing students’ interactions with their greater community. However, the close knit quarters in which students live may contribute to a rise in infections that may ultimately reach other more vulnerable populations on the campuses such as faculty and staff.
In their presentation To Open or Not to Open, Dr. Christina Edholm (Scripps), Dr. Maryann Hohn (Pomona), and Dr. Ami Radunskaya (Pomona) present a model of COVID-19 spread consisting of several interconnected modified SEIR differential equations to investigate the dynamics between different populations at the 5Cs and the influence of mitigation techniques such as students adhering to health protocols and contact tracing. They also present an app which allows the user to vary model parameters, providing intuition and guidance on campus openings under a range of conditions.
In this short 15 minute video, Dr. Romeo Guzmán describes the origins and development of the public history and digital humanities project “East of East: Mapping Community Narratives in El Monte and South El Monte.”
“Elections and the Constitution” is a discussion of Congress’s constitutional powers to regulate federal elections to ensure their legitimacy, with an eye toward regulation of disputed or disrupted elections.
The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause is a limitation on government, not individual motivation. Accordingly, religion has driven much of American political history. But there is a caveat: as Tocqueville warned, any alliance between religion and a political party is bound to hurt religion.
2019 – 2020
Is the United States experiencing a “Second Gilded Age?” Today’s extreme income inequality, political instability, and real and imagined immigration crises seem on their surface similar to those of the late nineteenth century. Professor Venit-Shelton will ask what, if any, are the lessons of the (First) Gilded Age for our time?
Cooperative behaviors require precise coordination of learned movements between individuals. One extraordinary example of this is duet singing by a songbird, called the plain-tailed wren (Pheugopedius euophrys). These birds live in thick bamboo on the slopes of the Andes in Ecuador where female and male wrens alternate their vocalizations so rapidly it sounds as if a single bird is singing. Dr. Melissa Coleman, Associate Professor of Biology, Keck Science Department, will speak about her work to understand how brain circuits in each bird produce this amazing behavior. Her results suggest that female and male wrens use different brain activity patterns to produce the duet, a shared behavior.
Claremont Discourse presents a film discussion with students from Patricia Blessing’s Pomona ID1 class, Archaeology: Fact and Fiction. The conversation will be moderated by Abigail Beck, an MA student in History at CGU. We’ll be discussing The Destruction of Memory, which you can stream via Docuseek. As part of our Fall 2019 series, this event is in honor of former Pitzer historian Stuart McConnell.
The Claremont Discourse panel on Music & Political Activism brings together faculty who will speak to the intersection of music and political activism, including how music is influenced by, or a reflection of, resistance during difficult or contentious times. The Claremont Colleges Library Fall 2019 Discourse series is dedicated to Pitzer historian Stuart McConnell, who passed away at the beginning of this year.
The Claremont Discourse Constitution Day panel responds to our current political climate and offers opportunities to explore the creation, impact and engagement with the U.S. Constitution. This year’s panel shines a light on the role of the Constitution in terms of the checks and balances placed on the President of the United States, in particular the history and function of impeachment. The Claremont Colleges Library Fall 2019 Discourse series is dedicated to Pitzer historian Stuart McConnell, who passed away at the beginning of this year.
2018 – 2019
The “natural order of the state” was an early modern mania for the Ottoman Empire. In a time of profound and pervasive imperial transformation, the ideals of stability, proper order, and social harmony were integral to the legitimization of Ottoman power. And as Ottoman territory grew, so too did its network of written texts: a web of sultanic edicts, aimed at defining and supplementing imperial authority in the empire’s disparate provinces. With this book, Heather L. Ferguson (Middle East and Ottoman History, Claremont McKenna College) studies how this textual empire created a unique vision of Ottoman legal and social order, and how the Ottoman ruling elite, via sword and pen, articulated a claim to universal sovereignty that subverted internal challengers and external rivals.
Set in Buffalo, New York in the 1980s, three novella-length essays by Mary Cappello, James Morrison, and Jean Walton reflect the authors’ experiences as students of literature and life. Their stories unfold in a town once teeming with material production, where their entry into a life of intellectual inquiry and creation runs parallel to coming of age, coming out, and coming into being. Join us in conversation with James Morrison, one of the authors and professor of film and literature at Claremont McKenna College, as he discusses his newest book.
The first Claremont Discourse Constitution Day panel, held in the fall of 2005, addressed the question, “Is it possible for the Supreme Court to render an Unconstitutional Decision?”With the latest nominations to the court and recent decisions, such as on the travel ban and rights based on religious belief, the same question seems worth re-visiting in the fall of 2018. Join Claremont faculty to consider the direction the Supreme Court is heading in: Has it reached a new level of partisanship? And with no Justice to fill the middle, would it be an exaggeration to posit that this Court will be battling the Constitution itself?
2017 – 2018
In this talk, Professor Armendinger will discuss the political potential in contemporary poems that take the form of letters. Is there something political about correspondence itself, about its emphasis on relation and exchange, and what happens when poetry enters into this? What difference does it make when the addressee is a person or a group of people, alive or dead, real or fictional, human or not human? To approach these questions, Professor Armendinger will discuss the work of selected contemporary poets and reflect on his own writing practice.
Archaeological sites are characteristically imbued with a multiplicity of meanings contingent on the speciﬁcities of the society, time, space, and affordances of the representational medium through which these places are perceived. Using the ancient settlement of Sirkap as a case study, Professor Michon will try to demonstrate that thinking about theories of space and place encourages us to experiment with various representational media. This experimentation can result in alternative interpretations of archaeological records as represented in John Hubert Marshall’s Taxila: An Illustrated Account of Archaeological Excavations Carried Out at Taxila under the Orders of the Government of India between the Years 1913 and 1934.
In this panel four Asian Studies faculty members will discuss some special items from the exhibition “Text and Image: East Asian Woodblock Printed Books at The Claremont Colleges Libraries”, the research and teaching values of such resources, brief biographies of major Asian collectors, and also a brief overview of the Chinese traditional multi-color woodblock printing and its global impact.
Panelists and talk title / description: Zhiru Ng, Religious Department, Pomona College: “Buddhist Manuscripts and Stone Scriptures in the Architectural Cosmology of Leifeng Pagoda in tenth-century Hangzhou, Southeast China.” This talk will examine the architectural and cosmological implications of mass printing of Buddhist spell manuscripts and the inscribing of stone scriptures at the Leifeng Pagoda in the making of a Buddhist kingdom in tenth-century Southeast China. Feng Xiao, Department of Asia Languages and Literature: “Multicolor Printed Manuals of Chinese Painting: The Ten Bamboo Studio and the Mustard Seed Garden.” Using books from the Asian Special Collection, this presentation will introduce two magnificent Chinese painting manuals and explain the intricate multicolor printing process used on woodblocks. In addition, the global impact of the two painting manuals will be shared. Allan Barr, Department of Asia Languages and Literature, “Qing Historical Sources in the Claremont Colleges Library.” This talk will review some of the major sources for Qing history for which we are fortunate to have original Qing editions here in Claremont, such as an anthology of imperial edicts and a massive compendium of biographies, both printed in the late 19th century. The speaker will also give an example of the kind of discovery that can be made when perusing our valuable collection of Qing gazetteers. Bruce Coats, Art History Department, Scripps College: “Collectors for Claremont: Asian arts at the Claremont Colleges.” This talk will briefly introduce a few Asian art collectors and their collections which are now part of the special collections at Claremont Colleges. These extraordinary collections are regularly studied in seminars and used by students in exhibitions about East Asia.”
Today’s fast mobile media speeds up our screen life to 15-minute news cycle, and one-click slacktivism and targeted algorithmic bubblespheres disconnect us from our immediate surroundings. In this context, how do we foster a “slow media” movement with glocalized impact, that utilizes participatory media production as a conduit to spark dialogue directly with our neighbors? Hyper-local, and culturally specific productions bring surrounding urbanscapes into new focus, shifting existing relationships by challenging hegemonic corporate media sources that distort, or more often simply ignore, the stories and visibility of entire communities. In this lecture, Prof. Lamb will share example clips highlighting 15 years of collaborative media projects with local community and students.
The paradox of the digital era is that the promise to build a more informed populace has coincided with the rise of false news and the undermining of the efficacy of information itself. This presentation places the rise of false news within the broader context of the rise of digital media. It explores an emerging aesthetic of “framelessness” associated with virtual reality and contemporary forms of surveillance that contribute to the contemporary mistrust of representation. This mistrust poses a threat to the core principles of democratic deliberation and governance, contributing to the contemporary political crisis. Where we go from here depends on how we understand the underlying issue, which is not just one of polarization and fragmentation, but also a misleading way of thinking about news and information. Resuscitating representation means resisting the fantasy of total information: that we don’t know enough until we know everything.
Given the current climate in the United States, this year on Constitution Day, we must ask “Is the First Amendment Under Attack?” How should free speech, a guaranteed constitutional right, be defined? Should there be limits on what is protected? We have invited a panel of Claremont Colleges faculty to explore these complex and consequential questions.
2016 – 2017
A discussion about what happened in the 2016 presidential election, and why it happened.
Policy issues related to immigration, education, human and civil rights, the criminal justice system, labor, war, and economics are hotly debated topics of the 2016 election campaigns. The impact of policies around these issues on this country’s populace shed further light on the need for conversations on race, gender, socio-economic status, religion, and other markers of identity. As part of this Claremont Discourse series on the presidential election, this panel will address identity politics tied to the election and the impact of both campaign rhetoric and the potential outcome of the election on various communities within this country, including but not limited to Latino, African-American, Asian-American, immigrant, LGBTQ, and Muslim communities.
Co-sponsored by the Dean’s Action Committee for Diversity and Inclusivity (DACDI) at the Claremont Colleges Library.
Nearly 230 years after it was written and ratified, the meaning of the language in the United States Constitution continues to be hotly debated. In our courtrooms and our living rooms we interpret the declarations made for us by our founding Fathers and seek within them the intentions of those same men. The efforts of the American people to understand and interpret the Constitution are vividly on display or vividly hidden during our national elections. In light of the current electoral cycle and the national celebration of Constitution Day, the Claremont Colleges Library has invited a panel of Claremont faculty members to discuss how the Constitution is invoked, used, or conspicuously ignored in the service of political ends during our national elections. Our panelists will consider what effect political rhetoric that quotes, misquotes or merely mentions, or detours around the Constitution has on the behaviors and sentiments of citizens called to vote.
2015 – 2016
Scripps professor of writing, Glenn Simshaw, discusses a pattern in Shakespeare’s middle comedies in which painful scenes disrupt conventional comic progress. These moments of tragic relief stage social crises by presenting heroes (or would-be heroes) with dangerous opportunities to become separated from their most important human ties. These catastrophes give the men a chance for introspection, clarification, and growth as they move towards becoming fathers for their immediate families and their larger communities. Their confrontations with mortality occasion structural ruptures but also epiphanies that bind.
Harvey Mudd College professor of literature, Ambereen Dadabhoy, starts the speech asking these two question: Why has the work of William Shakespeare endured over 400 years? What is so special about his genius that sets him apart from not just his contemporaries but also his literary and theatrical descendants? Some would say that it is Shakespeare’s ability to hauntingly capture the essence of humanity. To buy into this construction of Shakespeare and his work is simultaneously romantic and problematic because in general the human essence that is being presented to us is white, male, and European. What are we then to make of Shakespeare’s black subjects, like Othello? This has been a problem in the critical study of race in Shakespeare because it is tied to historical frameworks that inform the construction of race. The unwillingness to explore race through anachronism, to use a modern optics in order to expose the foundations of racial thinking in Shakespeare, can be a way to erase the black presence that we find in his work. Indeed, one reason why black lives matter in Shakespeare is that Othello circulates in our cultural imaginary as a pre-text undergirding black masculinity and desire. Professor Dadabhoy will discuss how the political, cultural, and social meanings and constructions of blackness (and race) are central to Othello and to her work, which claims that black lives matter in Shakespeare because they are present, have meaning, and expose the limits of the Anglo-American cultural and political body.
Claremont Graduate University professors early modern history and literature, Lori Anne Ferrell and professor of botany, Lucinda McDade talk about the language of flowers in the works of William Shakespeare, and how it has fascinated ordinary playgoers, theatrical directors, and scientists from the seventeenth through the twenty-first century.
The term humanistic mathematics could include a broad range of topics; for its practitioners, Humanistic Mathematics means “the human face of mathematics.” Thus, the emphasis of the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, an open access journal published by The Claremont Colleges Library, is on the aesthetic, cultural, historical, literary, pedagogical, philosophical, psychological, and sociological aspects — in sum, looking at mathematics as a human endeavor. More broadly, the journal provides a forum for both academic and informal discussions about matters mathematical, publishing articles that focus mainly on the doing, teaching, and living of mathematics. It also welcomes contributions about the state of the mathematical profession (both in research and in education), underrepresented issues within the world of mathematics, mathematics across national and cultural boundaries, mathematical fiction and poetry, personal reflections that provide insight into the inner workings of the mathematical mind, and other types of writing to stimulate discussion among readers. Overall JHM is a journal where many different conversations about mathematics are welcome and encouraged. The journal’s editors, Gizem Karaali and Mark Huber, will discuss the journal and the subject of Humanistic Mathematics.
EnviroLab Asia describes itself as “a laboratory for cross disciplinary research, experiential learning, and linking knowledge and practice by engaging communities and tackling problems with influences outside of the academy.” An innovative interdisciplinary program funded by the Henry Luce Foundation, EnviroLab Asia explores intersections of the environment, culture, and society in Asia, as well as intersections between Asian Studies, Asian languages, and Environmental Analysis. The panel will discuss the formation of this research program, first steps taken, and the library’s role as a research center to further EnviroLab Asia’s mission.
Build your own Constitution: A Claremont Discourse Discussion Panel in Recognition of Constitution Day
2014 – 2015
Rita Roberts, Professor of history and author of Evangelicalism and the Politics of Reform in Northern Black Thought, 1776-1863 (Louisiana State University Press, 2010) will talk about her larger book project designed for the general public that uses public and private correspondence, mostly between African Americans, to understand African American experience in the Civil War Era. The letters challenge the persistent myth of a monolithic
Speaker(s): Carolyn Brucken (Autry National Center and CGU)
Dr. Carolyn Brucken speaks to the challenges and possibilities in curating an exhibition on the Civil War and the West. Drawing on the exhibition, scheduled to open in April 2015 at the Autry National Center, this talk explores what is lost and what is gained in the process of bringing academic histories of the Civil War and Western expansion together and in presenting these complex, often contentious, histories within the museum.
Lucinda McDade, CGU and Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens, presents on filling gaps in our knowledge of California flora.
Wendy Lower, John K. Roth Professor of History and Evan Wollen, CMC Professor of Military Science and Director, CMC ROTC at Claremont McKenna, and a panel of students from the Claremont McKenna history course “The Great War” share their experience of researching and curating the exhibition “Over There, Over Here.”
A Claremont Constitution Day panel discussion modern technology, privacy and the Bill of Rights.
2013 – 2014
Launching the Claremont Colleges Library’s annual altered book contest Re:book is this team presentation exploring the exciting and diverse world of artist’s books. These aren’t your grandmother’s books: they act out, demand to be touched and manipulated, sometimes cause frustration and incite anger or provide, joyfulness, and surprise. Director of the Ella Strong Denison Library at Scripps College, Judy Harvey Sahak, will give an overview of the genre showing examples from the notable artist’s books collection at Denison. Kitty Maryatt, Director of the Scripps College Press, will discuss the limited edition, handmade artist’s books her students in the Typography and the Book Arts class create with care and purposefulness each semester.
In her recent book, Spanish Women Travelers at Home and Abroad, 1850-1920: From Tierra del Fuego to the Land of the Midnight Sun, Jennifer Wood, Professor of Spanish at Scripps College, explored the writings of eleven Spanish women as they visited many lands and witnessed major historical events. From among these remarkable travel writers, Professor Wood discussed two for her Claremont Discourse Lecture — Royal Princess Eulalia de Borbon and journalist Sofia Casanova. In 1893, Princess Eulalia was sent on a delicate mission to Cuba, Spain’s last important American colony but already on the verge of rebellion, and subsequently represented Spain at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Two decades later, Casanova was the only Spanish woman writer of her day to visit the exotic cities and frozen landscapes of Russia. She remained in Eastern Europe to become the sole Spaniard, male or female, to report on the Great War from the Eastern Front. In her lecture, Professor Wood illuminated the adventures of these intrepid women by analyzing their narrative voices and the lenses of gender, class, and nationality that filtered their
Kyla Wazana Tompkins, Professor of English and Gender Studies at Pomona College, asks us to consider the mouth as a sensory space, one that offers insight into ideas of sex and sexuality in circulation in nineteenth-century America, and that invites new ways to think about embodiment, materiality, and race. Engaging children’s literature and early advertising culture, Tompkins discusses eating as an act that points to the mouth as not simply a passageway but a place, even a stage, where transgressive and normative desires are acted out and displayed. This talk extends the topic of Professor Tompkins’ first book, Racial Indigestion (New York University Press, 2012), which explores the links between food and visual and literary culture in the nineteenth-century United States to reveal how eating produces political subjects by justifying the social discourses that create bodily meaning.
The year 2011 marked the 10th anniversary not only of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center – arguably resulting in the beginning of the U.S. “war on terror”- but also the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Trafficking in Persons report (TIP), demarcating the re-emergence of the global “war on trafficking. The “war on terror” and the “war on trafficking,” two seemingly separate initiatives, have become interwoven in recent years and conspire to castigate Muslim majority countries as sites of depravity, difference and danger, fueling Islamophobic rhetoric about what Samuel Huntington has termed the “clash of civilizations.” Pardis Mahdavi, Professor of Anthropology at Pomona College, and author of From Trafficking to Terror will discuss the current rhetorical discourses about trafficking and terror and how they are resulting in policies and militarized
response that hurt vulnerable populations.
In order for the United States to maintain a competitive edge in science, mathematics, and engineering, we must encourage and train the next generation of scientists. Even though they are the fastest growing segment of the population, minorities remain underrepresented in the mathematical sciences. If our national priority is to grow a strong and talented science and technology workforce, then we must cultivate talent in underrepresented populations. During this discussion, the panelists — all faculty at the Claremont Colleges — will share techniques that have been effective in reaching minority populations and discuss ways that the 5 undergraduate colleges can seek to broaden participation in mathematics.
What does the American public think about issues like immigration reform or the government’s role in health care? Public opinion seems very confused if we expect people’s views to conform to standard liberal/conservative ideologies. Claudia Strauss, Professor of Anthropology at Pitzer College, and author of Making Sense of Public Opinion: American Discourses about Immigration and Social Programs (2012: Cambridge University Press) will discuss how her anthropological interviews show that people form opinions from a patchwork of conventional discourses that cross ideological lines.
The Founders had a lot to say on the importance of education and book learning to the survival of the early republic. The Constitution, however — a document just as important for what it doesn’t say as what it says — never mentions education or schooling or book learning. As so often is the case with constitutional lacunae, the omission of any mention of education in the Constitution is interpreted as a call for the states to make schooling their domain. And yet the federal government constantly involves itself in education — from funding (or the withholding of funds) to setting standards under programs such as “No Child Left Behind.” To help recognize our national celebration of Constitution Day, we’ve assembled a panel of Claremont faculty to discuss and sort out the contradictions in federal educational policies and the ways in which The Constitution does or does not
inform our national mission of education.
2012 – 2013
Memory can be said to deeply connected to our tastes in food — what we’ve liked or disliked in the past creates associations that help trigger our current eating behaviors. In what might be seen as a scientific version of the beginning of Proust’s famous memory based food trigger (just substitute french fries for madeleines), a recent study that was part of The National Institutes of Health Obesity-Related Behavioral Intervention Trials RFA program indicated that healthy dietary habits may be initiated by a cue that is linked to the eating behaviors in memory, and these cue-behavior links could be important targets for interventions that promote healthy eating. The study, coauthored by CGU’s School of Health Professor Jerry Grenard, tried to identify physical, social, and intrapersonal cues that were associated with the consumption of sweetened beverages and sweet and salty snacks by having participants use PDA devices to periodically answer brief surveys about their eating behaviors. Results indicated that having a sweet drink or unhealthy snack was associated with school, friends, loneliness, boredom, food cravings, exercise, and food cues. Professor Grenard will discuss the study and the intervention being developed to help disrupt these unhealthy cue-behavior links and create new and stronger links for healthy
How did childbirth, once commonly administered in the household by lay midwives for women, become the domain of the hospital and the state? During the early 20th century, it was common for older African-American women — Granny Midwives — to serve this function, both for rural black and white women in South Carolina and elsewhere in the American South. Professor Alicia D. Bonaparte, medical sociologist at Pitzer College, will discuss her examination of South Carolina Sanitary Codes and midwife supervisors’ notes, demonstrating how local and state laws governing midwifery practice and bags , a microcosm reflecting a larger trend throughout the country, became more restrictive over time. As a result, these restrictions diminished the presence of midwives in birthing work.
During his sabbatical in 2011-12, Professor of Literature and HMC Dean of Faculty Jeff Groves studied a rare wooden printing press, built in 1747, as a Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, MA. To obtain a practical knowledge of the press, he measured the original, drew plans, gathered materials and tools, and then built a replica in his garage. While the replica is not yet finished, Prof. Groves will share what he learned about eighteenth-century press technology through this project. The talk will include an optional visit to the Special Collections Reading Room to see the press in its current state.
More than half a billion years ago, Earth experienced a series of radical changes that permanently transformed the planet. These events, driven by evolutionary innovations, were of sufficient magnitude that geologists divide Earth’s entire 4.6 billion year history into two fundamental parts, the Precambrian and Phanerozoic Eons. The “Cambrian Explosion” of life that defines this transition is marked by the origin and rapid expansion of complex life, the shift from an entirely microbial world to one dominated by multicellular organisms, the origin of animals, and the advent of predation and complex ecosystems. Our best record of this event comes from the Burgess Shale of British Columbia and a handful of similar geologic formations that preserve extraordinary fossil assemblages. Whereas the fossil record is almost exclusively comprised of mineralized “hard parts”, primarily shells, teeth, and bones, the Burgess Shale and other deposits like it also preserve the “soft”, labile tissues of the earliest animals, including guts, gills, musculature and eyes, and provide the most valuable paleontological record of the sudden rise of the animals. Pomona Geology professor Robert Gaines will provide an introduction to the Cambrian Explosion and to his ongoing field research with international teams in British Columbia,
China, Morocco and elsewhere that have offered new insight into the causes of this long-enigmatic and singular transition in the history of life on Earth.
From a small studio in 1950’s Philadelphia, American Bandstand became the first national television program directed at teenagers.The show brought rock and roll into American living rooms, shaped the way a generation danced and dressed, and became the defining image of teenage culture for millions of viewers. At the same time, however, American Bandstand’s racially discriminatory admissions policies prompted protests from civil rights advocates and sparked a decades long controversy over how the show should be remembered.Professor Delmont’s lecture draws from his recent book, “The Nicest Kids in Town: American Bandstand, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in 1950’s Philadelphia” (University of California Press, 2012)
The U. S. manages a vast system of national forests, grasslands, parks, and refuges, landscapes that contain some of the most beautiful and resource-rich terrain in the country. Since their establishment beginning in the late 19th-century, these protected lands, and the controversies they have sparked since their creation, are the subject of Char Miller’s new book, Public Lands/Public Debates, (published by Oregon University Press, in 2012). In this lecture, Professor Miller will focus on the external attacks on and the internal debates over the Forest Service’s handling of the 193 million acres it stewards. Tracking these arguments is critical to understanding the tensions that ripple through a democratic society, Miller writes: “Watching democracy at work can be bewildering, even frustrating, but the only way individuals and organizations can sift through the often messy business of public deliberation is to deliberate…”
While the exploitation of Latino workers in many industries is well known, “pineros” Latino forest workers, toil largely in obscurity. In her book Pineros: Latino Labor and the Changing Face of Forestry published in 2012 by the University of British Columbia Press), Professor Sarathy investigates how the US federal government came to be one of the country’s largest employers of immigrant labor and documents pinero wages and working conditions in comparison to those of native-born forest laborers. Pinero exploitation, Sarathy argues, is the product of an ongoing history of institutionalized racism, fragmented policy, and intra-ethnic exploitation in the West. Overcoming this legacy depends on improving the visibility and working conditions of pineros and providing them with a stronger voice in immigration and forestry policy-making.
The Constitution aims to guarantee individual rights, yet is remarkably silent on the matter of what defines a family and which family members are entitled to particular constitutional protections. Debates over such topics as marriage, parental rights, and reproductive technologies have raised complex questions for the courts, representatives and citizens. At this panel, scholars from a range of disciplines will consider the significance and status of the family under the Constitution.
2011 – 2012
Mazisi Kunene, the revolutionary colleague of Nelson Mandela, was a major academic voice about the literature of Africa. A professor at UCLA, he was Poet Laureate of both South Africa and Africa and perhaps that continent’s greatest poet. He wrote two major epics of the Zulu world. The first celebrated EMPEROR SHAKA THE GREAT, an historical 19th century warrior who united tribes and expanded the realm of South Africa under Zulu control. Professor Wachtel, whose wide-ranging expertise and interests include the classical world, James Joyce and the connections between literature and science, will talk about Kunene’s other great epic: a poem of Zulu mythology entitled ANTHEM OF THE DECADES, which stretches from the oral tradition Kunene accessed to create the epic to a bewildering relationship to contemporary physics and cosmology.
The revolutionary 1790s were the Atlantic’s great age of mutiny. Naval seamen by the tens of thousands turned their guns on the quarterdeck, raised the red flag of mutiny, formed committees, elected delegates, and overthrew the absolute rule of captains. The mutinous Atlantic was a revolutionary movement of considerable force and sophistication, but the dominance of terra-centric, nation-focused histories of the revolutionary era have rendered it all but invisible. In this lecture, Professor Frykman will recover the history of mutiny in the British, French, and Dutch navies, and argue that together they became a genuinely Atlantic revolution in this so-called age of Atlantic revolutions.
Comics, like art, are extremely difficult to define and yet, like obscenity, everyone has their own internal definition that they instantly recognize. For better or worse, graphic novels have come of age and have been legitimized not just by the general public but by academia and have become standard college curriculum in a variety of courses. This panel, will discuss comics and their place in the university, but, also with an eye to discussing what attracts us to graphic storytelling in the first place, even after we’ve stopped reading the picture books of childhood – and exactly what that would be? That will be the over-arching theme of our panel which includes an actual comic book writer (Jonathan Lethem, who has also written a few novels); an Asian Studies scholar who teaches and does research in Manga (Lynne Miyake); a professor of Mathematics who has used Graphic Novels to teach first year students (Rachel Levy); and a Science and Asian Studies Librarian (Sean Stone) who has taught comics history and theory and is a comic book polymath. So please join us for this event, which might be mostly an excuse to have fun discussing a fun topic and imbibe a nostalgia for the past, present and future of comic book (graphic novels, manga, etc, etc…) art and history.
Fuel cells and batteries are likely to have a dominant role in the development of a sustainable global energy infrastructure. Batteries and fuel cells convert chemical energy to electrical energy through simultaneous electrochemical reactions at positive and negative electrodes. Electrochemical nanotechnology, which can exploit the properties of materials at the atomic scale, promises to be a leading contributor to the development of efficient fuel cells and batteries by providing materials tailored to particular electrochemical conversion processes. Professor Adrian Hightower, Harvey Mudd College Engineering Department, who has carried over his scientific research in nanotechnology to sustainability projects and sustainability education in California and West Africa, will discuss both the science and potential real world applications of Nanoelectrochemistry for sustainability and renewable energy.
To recognize GIS Day, Brian N. Hilton, Advanced GIS Lab Director and Warren Roberts, GIS Specialist at Honnold/Mudd Library, will discuss innovative applications of Geographic Information Systems at the Claremont Graduate University, the Claremont Colleges and for higher education in general.
Professor Lori Anne Ferrell will introduce the Honnold Library exhibit “Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible” which opens on 10 November. On tour in 40 select U.S. venues from 2011-2015, “Manifold Greatness” was designed at the Bodleian and Folger Shakespeare Libraries, is funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association, and will be on display until mid-January at Honnold Library. Co-curated by Ferrell, Carrie Marsh, head of Honnold Special Collections, and a trans-disciplinary team of CGU graduate students, “Manifold Greatness” has special affinities to Claremont Graduate University, drawing upon its Humanities and Religion faculty’s expertise, its programs in archival and museum studies, and its Library’s rare book holdings.
Things look pretty bad here: Budget crises, failing schools, bulging prisons, polluted skies, collapsing real estate, painful unemployment – the list goes on and on. How did the once Golden State get into such trouble? Historian and filmmaker Victor Silverman has some answers from his newly released book co-authored with CGU graduate Laurie Glover, California: On the Road History (Interlink Publishing).
No matter where voters are on the political spectrum, few would disagree that the Tea Party has greatly influenced electoral politics and debate on how our country is governed. In turn, members of this evolving movement cite no influence and authority greater than the Founders and how their intentions are expressed via the vessels of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. To emphasize this influence, House Republican adherents of the Tea Party read the Constitution out loud on the Floor of the Capitol on January 11th of this year. Tea Partiers have also promoted awareness of their views by distributing the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and by promoting Constitution Day. This year, in what has become an annual tradition at Honnold/Mudd Library, Claremont Constitutional Discourse will recognize Constitution Day with a panel, powered by a diverse group of four professors and one student with various scholarly specialties and political points of view, who will come together in the relative political quiet of the Founders Room* to discuss the Tea Party’s use of the much debated age-old theme of Founders’ intent.
2010 – 2011
Under the supervision of Professor Rachel Levy, undergraduate students from the Dynamic Networks for Aquatic Robots (DYNAR) research group at Harvey Mudd have designed and tested algorithms for coordination and control of small remote control submarines. In a large aquarium they have implemented a three-dimensional algorithm for tracking the submarines with web cameras. Results from physical experiments in the tank are compared to simulations of a mathematical model describing the motion of the submarines as they search for a target. Professor Levy will present her work and some real world applications. This work is conducted in collaboration with Allon Percus (CGU) and Andrea Bertozzi (UCLA). It is funded by CGU and the Office of Naval Research
As founder of the great Parisian bookstore, Shakespeare and Company–and as friend and promoter of such authors as James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein–Sylvia Beach was central to the revolution of literary modernism. It was she who first published Joyce’s Ulysses. Professor Walsh, editor of The Letters of Sylvia Beach (published in 2010 by Columbia University Press), will discuss Beach’s life and career as the proprietor of Shakespeare and Company between 1919 and the Second World War. She will read from Beach’s letters and discuss Beach’s relationships with Joyce, Stein, Hemingway, and others, as well as doing a brief visual presentation of images from Beach’s life in expatriate Paris.
The story of public education in Los Angeles is one of institutional decline and hollowing out mixed with daily heroism and self-sacrifice on the part of teachers and administrators who try to make an old institution do things it was not designed to do. In a lecture based on his books, Learning from L.A.: Institutional Change in American Public Education, and The Transformation of Great American School Districts, Professor Charles Kerchner will chronicle how a school district that was called “the best in the West” came to be publicly regarded as “failing,” even though by many criteria it isn’t. His lecture will also detail how the politics of Los Angeles just might work to transform public education here and elsewhere.
Once the purview of science fiction, machines that “think” for themselves are now so common that we no longer even give them a second thought. But machines that “act” for themselves are much less common – and less capable. This difficulty comes largely in sensing how the robot gathers data about its surroundings. To date, robot sensors have offered a trade-off between expense and complexity. Direct scans of an environment are expensive, but easy to interpret. On the other hand, a camera’s images are almost free, but they are much more challenging to put to use. Zachary Dodds, Professor of Computer Science at Harvey Mudd College, whose specialty is vision and artificial intelligence, will look at some of the current challenges in visual sensing for robots. In addition, he’ll talk about recent progress in visual sensing and other areas of robotics that has made “Robots for all!” start to seem more plausible for the near future.
On September 17, 1787, the Constitution was approved by the Constitutional Convention and submitted to the people of the States for their deliberation and decision (through specially elected ratifying conventions). That other, earlier document of our country’s founding – the Declaration of Independence – has long had its own day on July 4th (even though Congress did not declare Independence Day a paid federal holiday until 1938). Not until the then octogenarian Senator from West Virginia, Robert C. Byrd, tacked on Constitution Day as an amendment to the Omnibus Spending Bill of 2004 that the document that is the basis of the structure of our government and laws was given its own day. This year Honnold/Mudd Library will recognize Constitution Day and pay tribute to the fighting spirit of Senator Byrd (the longest serving member of Congress) with a panel discussion of what the War Powers clause says and how it has been used – or not used- to precipitate, prevent, or protest U.S. milita.
2009 – 2010
Religion has been invoked by political parties and presidential candidates to unite, divide, and mobilize the American people. Prof. Gaston Espinosa will examine the tightropes walked by candidates seeking to balance the separation of church and state and yet win the White House on Election Day. This presentation will explore a number of questions about religion and the 2008 Election, such as: What impact did Obama’s spiritual journey, Muslim heritage, and Black church experience have on his campaign? How and why did Obama, a liberal Protestant with a strong secular orientation, harness the power of religious rhetoric and conversion in his outreach to the American people? How did Catholics, Evangelicals, mainline Protestants, Jews, seculars, women, Blacks, Asian Americans, and Latinos vote for Obama? Why? What long-term trends may his election signal for the future of American religion and politics?
When we think of South Africa, we often think of the recent past, charged with the history of Apartheid. But South Africa is also one of the world’s most important countries because of the natural resources it has provided to fuel the global economy. The history of globalization in this part of the world is over five centuries old, and the impacts both on the pre-colonial populations and the natural environment, including the fragile and spectacular Cape Floristic Province, have been significant. Professor Hazlett, who holds the first Stephen M. Pauley Chair in Environmental Analysis at Pomona College, will take us on a tour through South Africa, examining its environmental situation in the context of the region’s history and development, with a brief look at the forecast for its climatic future as well.
Humans are social creatures who depend on human interaction. We need to recognize that objects in the world are human and we need to know what these humans are doing. Relative to most other objects, two humans are a lot alike. Most people have the same body parts that move in the same way. Professor Catherine Reed, a cognitive neuroscientist at CMC’s Department of Psychology, argues that these correspondences between our bodies and other people’s lead to visual processing efficiencies that allow us to recognize more quickly the postures and actions of others. Further, people who do not develop these processing efficiencies may have social deficits such as those observed in autism.
Many people assume that a society without a strong faith in God would be hell on earth: full of chaos and immorality. Many people also assume that religion is a universal phenomenon because it addresses two essential human needs: the need for answers concerning the ultimate meaning of life and the need for comfort in the face of death. Pitzer Sociology Professor Phil Zuckerman’s research on Denmark and Sweden – two of the least religious countries in the world – challenges these assumptions. His research on societies where religion is weak and marginal raises some interesting questions about the role of religion in the modern world. His book, “Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment”, was published by NYU in 2008.
If we look at the history of history, we can trace an evolution as it shifted, over a period of centuries, from the chronicles of wars and kings to look more realistically at other players and eventually toward all levels and members of society, all classes, minorities and both genders. In the mid to late twentieth century, German scholars developed Alltagsgeschichte, which is the study of everyday life. In a sense, it was the closest thing to a time machine, with the scholar using contemporary accounts to put him or herself back in a time to answer important historical questions. Historians of German history used Alltagsgeschichte to look, for example, at what it was like to live in the totalitarian society under Nazism. Samuel Yamashita, Henry E. Sheffield Professor of History and Asian Studies at Pomona College, is using wartime diaries and correspondence and postwar memoirs to create a picture of the lives of ordinary Japanese during World War II. He is also asking, were they culpable? Were they victims, as so many have argued? Or were they complicit in the execution of an aggressive and devastating war?
It is perhaps more the Declaration of Independence than the Constitution that set the wheels in motion to make a country of truly free human beings, with the earlier document’s stipulation that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It took the Constitution – following a terrible war fought on our own soil and a long struggle by women to gain the vote – longer to meet at least the spirit of the ideal of equality set forth by second paragraph of the Declaration. Nevertheless, the Constitution proved itself flexible enough by allowing for evolution by amendment – early on with the Bill of Rights; later for the abolishment of slavery and the guarantee of a vote not barred by race or color or previous condition of servitude; and finally, granting the vote not barred by a person’s gender. To celebrate this political evolution and to recognize Constitution Day this year, the library has assembled a panel of faculty to discuss the historic election and early months in office of our first African-American president.
2008 – 2009
A Jewish child, hidden by a Catholic family for several years, decides later in life to interview 18 women, both Jewish and non-Jewish, who fought in many different ways against the German Occupation in France. That Jewish child grew up to be Monique Saigal, Professor of Romance Languages at Pomona College. In her book, Héroïnes françaises, 1940-1945 : Courage, force et ingéniosité (published in 2008 by Editions du Rocher), recounts how her gradual awakening to her Jewish roots led to her own explorations of women in the French resistance. Who were they? What did they do? Why? In this lecture, Professor Saigal will discuss the personal motivations of political courage. She will also show some excerpts from the DVD made of the interviews with her subjects.
From the 1920s – a decade marked by racism and nativism – through World War II, hundreds of thousands of Americans took part in a vibrant campaign to overcome racial, ethnic, and religious prejudices. They celebrated the “cultural gifts” that immigrant and minority groups brought to society, learning that ethnic identity could be compatible with American ideals. In her book, Americans All: The Cultural Gifts Movement, published by Harvard University Press in 2008, Diana Selig tells the neglected story of the cultural gifts movement, which flourished between the world wars. Countering racist trends and the melting-pot theory of Americanization, the movement championed the idea of diversity long before it became a buzzword. Yet the power of Cultural Gifts was ultimately limited by a failure to grasp the deep social and economic roots of prejudice. In the year of our first African American President – who is himself the very product of a diverse cultural background – the debates over difference and unity remain at the heart of American society. Professor Selig will talk about the history of the Cultural Gifts Movement and the successes and challenges that make it so relevant today.
For seven months in 1899-1900, the U.S. Fish Commission Steamer Albatross explored the South Pacific Islands, collecting mineral nodules and documenting the coral reefs and atolls of the region. The participants of the journey also took photographs; some of these now reside in five elaborately composed albums at the Phillips Library, Salem, Massachusetts. The albums juxtapose landscapes, portraits of the crew, and documentary shots of scientific specimens with images of nude Pacific Island women. This lecture will focus on the nude photographs in the albums, arguing that the images were shaped by popular photography, ethnographic photography, and the American imperial vision of the Pacific Islands.
Richard and Claudia Bushman discuss transformations in Mormon studies. Claudia Bushman talks about radical women’s Mormon history and shares an account of women’s silk making. She says there was a huge flowering of new church institutions and that there was a Latter-day Saints (LDS) welfare operation during the Great Depression. She goes on to share the early history of the Mormons in California. Richard Bushman discusses Mormon history book studies and says that there was a fairly conventional Mormon history that supported the Mormons as men and women of virtue, and one that was against Mormonism. He talks about the various opinions of Joseph Smith and the works of Brigham H. Roberts and Fawn McKay Brodie. Bushman goes on to discuss the growing sympathy in religion from the academic community during the 1950s, the new Mormon history that admits Mormon errors, and process studies.
Jazz had its earliest scholars, historians, and musicologists outside the academy — fans who knew their favorite music not only to be a personal enjoyment and pastime, but a serious art worthy of scholarship. This world wide community of enthusiasts assembled early fanzines, sent out dispatches on performances, and painstakingly wrote the first discographies. And although they might not have fit comfortably in modernist circles or elite notions of European classicism, the early jazz musicians themselves — Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins, Bix Beiderbecke, Lester Young, and Billie Holiday among them — knew very well they were creating a new form of art. Acceptance by the academy grew as street popularity waned and complexity and artistic awareness waxed — sometimes the paradoxical fate of art. What is the proper place and purpose of jazz in higher education? How does one study and hold up an art form and at the same time preserve creativity’s protean liveliness? In honor of Ron Teeples, the late CMC economics professor who had a love of the music and an indefatigable dedication to spreading its gospel, we’ve invited three musicians/music educators and two cultural critics from The Claremont Colleges scene to explain and discuss their approaches to a higher education of jazz.
The US Economy is hitting home — not only “the home” that may have been lost to foreclosure in the last year, but the metaphoric home of our daily lives. The traditional assurances of pundits about the long term behavior of the markets are no longer convincing as Americans worry about the viability of their retirement and begin to invoke the year 1929. With the espoused ideals of the free market having failed housing and credit, there has been a turn back to government, a turn that might be ironically described as socialism to save capitalism. Eric Hughson, professor at CMC, along with his research partners, CMC Professor Marc D. Weidenmier and HMC Professor Asaf Bernstein, have looked at the founding of the Federal Reserve as a historical experiment to provide some insight into whether a lender-of-last-resort can stabilize financial markets. What they discovered might surprise: the introduction of a lender-of-last-resort, in the period following the Aldrich-Vreeland Act of 1908 and the Federal Reserve Act of 1914, dramatically reduced financial market volatility in the United States. Professor Hughson will discuss the historical lessons in the context of today’s market volatility.
Shi Zhiru (also known as Zhiru Ng) discusses her thoughts on the topics of art, religion and politics in modern Taiwan.
Susan McWilliams (Politics, Pomona), Jean Schroedel (Politics and Policy, CGU), Diana Selig (History, CMC), Catherine Allgor (History, CMC), Cecelia Conrad (Dean of Faculty, Scripps) present their thoughts on how women fit into the framework of the constitution
2007 – 2008
What do an extra large ground-based astronomical observatory-in-the-making, a patent, a bottle of exquisite Burgundy wine, and a Harvey Mudd student have in common? As she reflects on the role anthropology can play in a science and engineering environment, Professor Marianne de Laet will connect these four objects of her own scholarly research and explore how her research and teaching have been informed and transformed by her curious constituency: engineers and scientists in-the-making; “subjects” and “objects” of her work. In a somewhat broader context, she will discuss Claremont’s unique Intercollegiate Program in STS.
Poet and translator Robert Mezey, an Emeritus Professor of English at Pomona College, reads his poems and translations of poems and offers his thoughts on contemporary poets, free verse, and the teaching and condition of poetry in America today.
In 2005 Bob Henderson of the Puente Hills Landfill Native Habitat Preservation Authority contacted the CGU History department to offer funding for a study of the history of the land that became the Puente Hills preserve. Seven students who took part in the project discuss their research into the geology and environment of the preserve, the history of the Tongva who lived there, the region’s colonization by the Spanish and Americans, and the grass roots activism that led to the acquisition of the preserve. The students discuss the difficulties faced in their search for primary and secondary documents, taking oral histories, and writing about living persons.
Whittaker Chambers was a major figure in the intellectual development of the American right in the post-war period. During his tenure at Time Magazine during the Cold War, he championed a fervent anti-communist viewpoint, identifying an existential threat to freedom from the Soviet Union and China, that became a defining trait of the American political right. One consequence of the fear of communists was a purge of homosexuals in government service as security risks. Robert Dawidoff, professor of history at CGU, discusses Chamber’s passage from a communist party member to FBI informant, the role his homosexuality played in his life, the accusations against Alger Hiss, and Chamber’s memoir “Witness.”
Why do fewer females play computer and video games, take computer science courses, major in computer science, seek out computing careers, and end up in senior positions? Maria Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd College, discusses gender issues in computing and what faculty can do to encourage and contribute to the success of all students, especially women.
One raw interpretation of the mass media has us drowning in messages and information, much of it designed to get us to do what the forces at the top want us to do, whether to buy unnecessary and wasteful products or simply to sit down and heel. While hard to refute, this interpretation offers little hope for politics of understanding of — and resistance to — what might be seen as an engulfing torrent of subatomic particles that changes character in accord with the ways in which it is observed. In his talk, Professor Henry Krips, trained as a quantum physicist and the author of The Metaphysics of Quantum Theory (1987, Oxford University Press) and Fetish: An Erotics of Culture (1999, Cornell), will look at the New Politics suggested by a disparate group of cultural theorists, including Theodore Adorno, Saul Alinsky and Slavoj Zizek. These theorists shift the emphasis from a utopian, project-oriented politics of resistance within the public sphere, to a politics that displaces the site of struggle to acts of what Zizek calls “overconformity,” which bring to the surface the moments of negativity inherent to the mass media themselves. In this context, Professor Krips will weigh the possibilities of a radical political role played by mass media.
Robert Frost became the first American poet to read a poem at a Presidential inauguration. But instead of reading the poem he had written for the event, circumstances led him to say a poem he had written many years earlier, “The Gift Outright.” Many have interpreted the poem and the particular version he read on that day as a simple statement of American manifest destiny. Derek Walcott, an otherwise appreciative reader of Frost, gives a succinct summary of these interpretations: “This was the calm reassurance of American destiny that provoked Tonto’s response to the Lone Ranger. No slavery, no colonization of Native Americans, a process of dispossession and then possession, but nothing about the dispossession of others that this destiny demanded.” Professor Robert Faggen, author of Robert Frost and the Challenge of Darwin (1997, University of Michigan Press) and editor of the much-lauded and revelatory Notebooks of Robert Frost (2006, Harvard University Press) will explore how the occasion of the Kennedy inauguration and the subtlety of Frost’s work obscures the historical origins and ambiguities of the poem which are coming to light for the first time.
Leonard Levy (1923-2006) was perhaps the most respected constitutional historian of his time — respected even by many of those who chafed at his interpretations. With over 40 books to his name, he left his profound mark nationally, as well as in Claremont, where he was Professor of Humanities and Chairman of the Faculty in History at the Claremont Graduate School from 1971 to 1990. Most famous among the books he published are Origins of the Fifth Amendment (which garnered the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1969), The Establishment Clause: Religion and the First Amendment (1986), Original Intent and the Framers’ Constitution (1988), and, as editor-in-chief, the magisterial Encyclopedia of the American Constitution (1986). Displaying both a scholarly honesty and a life-long commitment to thinking about constitutional problems, he substantially revised the tenor of his arguments in his 1960 book Legacy of Suppression, reissuing it in 1985 as Emergence of a Free Press. Levy most famously wrote that the “framers had a genius for studied imprecision.” In honor of Levy’s spirit of probing and open inquiry, and as one of the events the Libraries are sponsoring in celebration of Constitution Day, this panel (which includes two panelists who were colleagues of Levy) will discuss how to teach the Constitution and instill the idea that the Constitution is a life-long teacher, a document with volumes to say about history and the present day.
2006 – 2007
In the popular mind, Southern California, with Los Angeles as its epicenter, is the region of the U.S. most associated with the automobile, both its joys and its discontents. From the Beach Boys paean to “fun, fun, fun until her daddy takes the T-Bird away” to smog and freeways choked with gas guzzling SUVs, L.A. and its surrounds have been the very embodiment of car culture, a model for the rest of the country to either emulate or avoid. And yet Southern California originally had a thriving public transportation system of trolleys and trains, whose imprint can still be seen in the general urban/suburban shape of the region. According to legend, a giant cartel of General Motors, Firestone Tire and Rubber, and Standard Oil worked to destroy the system (a legend simplified and retold in the novel and movie Who Killed Roger Rabbit?). In his talk, Rudi Volti, Professor of Sociology
Emeritus at Pitzer College and author of Cars and Culture: The Life Story of a Technology (Westport , Connecticut : Greenwood , 2004) will discuss the truths and falsehoods behind the Southland’s love and hate for – and dependence on – cars and freeways, as well as recent efforts to make Southern California less automobile-dependent.
Eve or Lot’s wife, Sarah or Hagar, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel – many of the women characters in the book of Genesis are used as archetypes for women until this day. Yet how well do these images, disseminated about these women from everything from the New Testament to modern movies, reflect what the Hebrew Bible portrays? In this talk, Professor Schneider, a scholar of ancient near east language, religion and literature, and author of Sarah: Mother of Nations (published in 2004 by Continuum) will review many of the major female characters from the Book of Genesis using a method she has named “verbing the character” where each character is evaluated based upon their description, places where they appear as the subject of a verb, and where they are the object either of a verb or a prepositional phrase. This method reveals some very different characters from what the average person met in Sunday School.
Frederick Douglass said that “a little learning, indeed, may be a dangerous thing, but the want of learning is a calamity to any people.” He may have said this because he knew, as a member of a people in shackles, that the activities of the mind are the required prerequisite to bringing about social change. Fighting oppression with eloquence – at once weapon and proof of active minds, African American activist – intellectuals living in the period before the Civil War confronted enormous challenges. They, along with white abolitionists, succeeded in placing the question of the morality of slavery on the national agenda but at the same time faced the solidification of biological racism in the national discourse that justified not only the enslavement of people of African descent but also racial discrimination in public and private life. In this lecture, based on her forthcoming book, A New Vision, A New People: Evangelicalism and the Politics of Reform in Antebellum Northern Black Thought, Professor Roberts will explore the activists’ understanding and solution to antebellum American racism through the writings and speeches of men and women determined to end racism and slavery simultaneously.
The controversy over global warming and climate change is often argued using measurements of ice core samples and ocean levels. What can we learn by “interviewing” living creatures? Every summer millions of seabirds called little auks (also known by the scientific species name, Alle alle) migrate to the High Arctic to raise their chicks. There they feed on tiny crustaceans that are abundant in Arctic waters. Each summer, Professor Nina Karnovsky, Assistant Professor of Biology at Pomona College, follows these birds, taking her students with her. Professor Karnovsky will talk about how she and her students measure the twin benchmarks of feeding and breeding of little auks in a rapidly changing environment.
In the 1980s, the term “postmodernism” was adopted by literary critics to designate what the reigning generation of artists and theorists, figures like Pynchon, Cage, Warhol, and Barthes, had in common. Postmodernists shared an interest in presenting words, sounds, or images for their own sake. They questioned the ability of art, or even language in general, to refer to anything beyond itself, adopting for themselves a fundamental detachment or post-metaphysical cool. Where modernism sought profundity, originality, and ontological grounding, postmodernism was an art of exhilarating superficiality, unmoored borrowing, and an enjoyable lightness of being. The arrival of postmodernism has often been treated as an epoch-making event in the history of Western culture. John Farrell finds these claims overblown. In his lecture, he will present some ambitious theories of what postmodernism meant and counter them with observations of his own.
From the start of The Troubles in 1969 to the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998, Northern Ireland was the site of a violent conflict fought out between the British State, the Irish Republican Movement, and Loyalist Paramilitary Forces. Essentially a struggle over political and cultural identity and legitimacy, the war left over three thousand dead and tens of thousands injured in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and Britain. Tony Crowley, author of Wars of Words: The Politics of Language in Ireland 1537-2004 (Oxford, 2005, winner of the ACIS Durkan Prize) will follow the development of an aesthetic aspect of this history, showing how the political murals – which began to appear at the end of the 1970s – became an important means of self-representation, self-reflection, and dialogue for the various warring parties. The presentation will include discussion of digital images of the murals (an incipient project of the Claremont Colleges Digital Library) as a way of exploring how the paintings served not simply to express political viewpoints but to create physical and conceptual spaces.
Blogs have in the last couple of years loomed large in the Western imagination, but the ideas about blogs that have circulated both through the mainstream media and through academia have been extremely limited in scope. In the popular imagination, there is a distinction between “blogs” which are assumed on some level to be doing public work, whether political, technical, academic, or journalistic, and “online diaries” which are primarily personal, if not exactly private. These personal blogs are too often dismissed as the narcissistic rantings of teenage girls and other hysterics, a nonsensical – and, not incidentally, hyper-feminine – form of “oversharing.” Such a dismissal, however, overlooks the important work that such personal blogs are doing in the construction of an emergent literary form. In fact, Western literary history can shed some important light on
the current state of personal blogging, with the English novel rooted in the domestic practices and personal writing of middle-class eighteenth-century women. New technologies are providing for new forms of self-presentation.
The rise of motion pictures during the 1910s and 1920s was a critical component of an emerging consumer culture in the United States that coincided with its broader transformation from a rural to an urban society. Because of this conjuncture, silent movies depicting agrarian life were instrumental in establishing new understandings of the countryside for a modern, urban nation. These films resonated with city audiences, particularly those who had been raised on the farm, as well as with rural and small-town moviegoers, and they performed important cultural work by helping to reconcile both groups to vexing social changes. Besides providing comfort in a time of transition, however, rural films also helped facilitate the new order by subverting traditional understandings of agrarian life and distancing it from its previous position at the core of American culture. Hal Barron, a noted rural historian and author of several books in the field, recently gave this talk as his Presidential Address for the Agricultural History Society.
2005 – 2006
Innovative stenography systems of the 1830s used the variable thickness of line that was so important in the cursive handwriting of the time to signify differences in phonemes. These systems and their descendants became the dominant shorthand systems in England, America, and Central and Eastern Europe for the rest of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, even as stenography moved from being an intellectual hobby to being a professional tool of secretaries and court reporters. Music and stenography both involve the writing of sound, and stenographical systems (especially since 1830) put the phonemes of speech into “scales” that vaguely recall musical scales. Alfred Cramer, Associate Professor of Music at Pomona College, a scholar interested in the analogies among spoken language, music, and writing, will compare two ways of “writing sound” and the way “writing sound”
can also be reversed into “the sound of writing” an interpretation lending historical substance to Richard Wagner’s quote that he heard “penstrokes” behind music.
In 1822, James Madison asserted that “a popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce, or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” In this lecture, librarians Mary Martin and Sheri Irvin discuss the history and philosophy behind government depository libraries and public access to government documents. In 1822, James Madison asserted that “a popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce, or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” In this lecture, librarians Mary Martin and Sheri Irvin discuss the history and philosophy behind government depository libraries and public access to government documents.
Why did the framers reject the Anti-Federalists reliance on religion and civic virtue, instead of creating a government built very much, architectonically as it were, on structure as a way of perpetuating and protecting federalism? In this lecture, Rossum explores the framers’ reliance on constitutional structure to protect liberty and how the grand structure of federalism eroded as a viable constitutional principle. Why did the framers reject the Anti-Federalists reliance on religion and civic virtue, instead of creating a government built very much, architectonically as it were, on structure as a way of perpetuating and protecting federalism? In this lecture, Rossum explores the framers’ reliance on constitutional structure to protect liberty and how the grand structure of federalism eroded as a viable constitutional principle.
2004 – 2005
Philosopher Paul Churchland, currently nearing the end of his second decade in resistance at the University of California, San Diego, has long been what is often quite rare: a cutting-edge academic philosopher. He as been at the vanguard (alongside his wife, Patricia Churchland) of “Neurophilosophy” the attempt to draw philosophical lessons from the burgeoning neural sciences. He has advocated taking a “neurocomputational perspective” on long-standing problems in epistemology, the philosophy of science, metaphysics (in particular, the mind-body problem), and even ethics. For many decades now, he has been the foremost proponent of the philosophical position known as “Eliminative Materialism” the thesis that our commonsense psychological understanding of ourselves could be, and further very likely is, radically mistaken; that our naive concepts, of such things as “beliefs” and “desires” ought to be relegated to the dustbin of science history, alongside phlogiston and the geocentric solar system. Instead, he proposes replacing them with new concepts drawn from computational neuroscience. Professor Brian Keeley, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Pitzer College, will show how Churchland’s “new” and “radical” ideas grew quite naturally out of the more “traditional” philosophers who influenced him. What is new in Churchland is, in fact, not the individual theses that make up his worldview, but rather his unique way of combining and relating these ideas to one another. This lecture will draw upon a paper in the forthcoming book, Paul Churchland, which Professor Keeley is editing for the Contemporary Philosophy in Focus series from Cambridge University Press.
Literary scholars are familiar with the “Death of the Author” which Roland Barthes announced in 1968. But what happens when authors become undead and walk the earth in the surrogate body of the law? Taking the Estate of James Joyce as an illustrative case, Paul Saint-Amour, Associate Professor of English at Pomona College and the author of The Copywrights: Intellectual Property and the Literary Imagination (Cornell University Press: 2003), will explore the complex ramifications of lengthening post-mortem copyright terms in the U.S. and E.U. How does such copyright maximalism endow literary estates with powers of private censorship? How does it pit literary heirs against scholars, adaptors, and publishers in a graveside struggle over the legal corpus of the deceased author? How did copyright law, historically, become elevated to its present role of patrolling the border between the living and the dead? How would Joyce himself – a great parodist and magpie of fragments of the work of others – have fared on the altar of copyright? And what other aesthetic and ethical problems in contemporary intellectual property congregate at the author’s tomb?
Mood is the filter through which we see the world. As such, it consistently accompanies us throughout our lives, sometimes with a consistent inconsistency. Working with undergraduates, Stacey Wood, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Scripps College, can’t help but marvel at their energy and zest for life. When they are happy, the sun is shining, lectures are fascinating, and all is right with the world; however, there is inevitably a time in the semester when a change in mood becomes apparent. Events such as a poor midterm grade or difficulty with a relationship mark an end to the sunshine, energy, and interest in fascinating lectures. In comparing herself with her students, Professor Wood felt that her own life seemed quite dull, with fewer days of elation and, thankfully, fewer days of despair. Research from her laboratory and that of others suggests that this observation of differences between students and their professors may be biologically based on age. There are changes in the way that the brain processes emotional information as we age. Older adults demonstrate less reactivity to emotional information, in general, and specifically are much less reactive to negative information than younger adults. Both the older and the younger are invited to bring their lunch – and their moods – to this noon lecture.
How do groups of people engage themselves with a “central and center-ing” text? What does this engagement tell us about how the people express themselves? How do dominant groups interpret this engagement? Seen in the refracting mirror of contemporary scholarly discourse, what does conventional interpretation of the engagement say about those dominant groups doing the interpretation? These questions can perhaps be most fruitfully asked of that very central text, the Bible. Building upon his long time work on the question of African-American engagement with Christian Scripture, Vincent Wimbush, Professor of Religion at Claremont Graduate University – and a scholar of Early Christian Asceticism and ideologies and forms of renunciation of the world – is currently exploring how the historical and psychological implications of a relationship between a people and a text reflect the general tensions implicit in “expressive culture.” In particular, he is interested in the dual nature of African-American religious tradition: the need at once to “rip” or resist the “symbolic order” of the master narrative (a narrative that protects the artificial “otherness” imposed by the powerful on African-Americans) and the need to weave meaning from the parts of the ripped veil to sustain self-empowerment and healing. Interested in the phenomenological and political uses of scriptures in societies and cultures, Professor Wimbush will also look at the challenges to interpretation brought to the fore by such historical and literary figures as DuBois and Morrison.