Claremont Discourse Schedule - Fall 2007

Claremont Discourse is a faculty lecture series sponsored by The Claremont Colleges Library

All lectures will be held in the Founders Room of Honnold/Mudd Library. Discussion will follow each lecture, and refreshments will be provided.

Constitutional Discourse: Teaching the Constitution, the Constitution as Teacher
A Panel Discussion in Honor of Leonard Levy

Robert Dawidoff (CGU Professor of History), Leo Flynn (Pomona Professor of Politics), Charles Lofgren (CMC Professor of History and Politics), Jean Schroedel (CGU Professor of Politics), Andrew Busch (CMC Professor of Politics), and Ken Miller (CMC Professor of Politics), moderator
Thursday, September 20th, 4:15 p.m

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 is 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.

What’s Wrong With How We Read “The Gift Outright”?

Robert Faggen, Barton Evans and H. Andrea Neves Professor of Literature, Claremont McKenna College
Wednesday, October 10th, 4:15 p.m.

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.

New Politics - Mass Media

Henry Krips, Professor of Cultural Studies, Claremont Graduate University
Thursday, November 15th, 4:15 p.m.

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. This interpretation, although critical of the status quo,offers little hope for deploying the mass media as a tool for political reform. 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.

Gender and Computing

Maria Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd College
Thursday, November 29th, 4:15 p.m.

The computer is the quotidian, ubiquitous machine that defines our age. We depend on computers for almost everything; even other machines are dependent on computers: televisions, telescopes, cell phones, ipods, and automobiles. More than depending on computers, however, we depend on the people who know how to fix, develop and feed these machines the arcane and complex codes by which they operate. Computer scientists and technicians hold the lynchpin place in our society and economy. It is, therefore, more than a little disheartening to know that so many fewer women are represented among the ranks of the Computerati than men. Why? What cultural or educational pressures might be preventing young women from entering and benefiting this field? President Maria Klawe, by training a mathematician and by career a computer scientist, will discuss the history, reasons for, and possible ways to change this major gender imbalance.

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