Claremont Discourse Schedule - Spring 2006

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.

In the Fields of Oil: Tribes, Empire, and the Development of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, 1901-1911

Arash Khazeni, Assistant Professor of History, Claremont McKenna College.
Wednesday, February 15th, 4:15 p.m.

In 1908, a British company with the exclusive rights to develop petroleum resources in Iran made the first commercial discovery of oil in the Middle East at Maidan-i Naftun ("The Field of Oil"). The exploration for oil and the subsequent development of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company transformed environment and society in the tribal hinterland of Iran. In the oil fields, the company encountered the pastoral nomadic Bakhtiyari tribes, for whom oil marked the arrival of the modern world. Losing access to pastures and becoming workers in the oil fields, the Bakhtiyari tribes were disciplined and settled in the process. By the First World War, when the British Empire had attained a majority share of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, some claimed that the science of oil had made "the tribesmen tame." Based on company records and ethnographic sources, Professor Arash Khazeni's talk will explore the politics of oil and an important moment in early twentieth century globalism through the intersection of history and anthropology.

Material Melody, Immaterial Writing: Music and Stenography in Mid-19th Century Germany

Alfred Cramer, Associate Professor of Music, Pomona College.
Wednesday, March 1st, 4:15 p.m.

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.

Looking at the Sunny Side of Life: Emotion and How It Affects Our Thinking Across the Lifespan

Stacey Wood, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Scripps College.
Wednesday, April 5th, 12:00 noon

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 lunches - and their moods - to this noon lecture.

The Truman Commission and the History of Access to American Higher Education

Linda Perkins, Associate University Professor and Director of Applied Women's Studies, Claremont Graduate University.
Thursday, April 27th, 4:00 p.m (time previously announced as 4:15 p.m.)

In 1947, nearly sixty years ago, President Harry Truman commissioned a report on American Higher Education. The study, entitled Higher Education for Democracy: The Report of the President's Commission on Higher Education, and referred to as the Truman Commission Report, recommended massive expansion of access to college. To achieve this goal, the report called for an end to racial and religious discrimination, the introduction of generous financial aid programs for needy students, the creation of a network of community colleges, federal aid to the states for higher education, and new curricula to appeal to a broad range of American youth. While much of the Commission's agenda has been accomplished, particularly in the areas of racial and religious diversity, recent data indicate that intellectually gifted, low income students are significantly underrepresented in highly selective institutions of higher education. As a result, numerous elite colleges and universities have instituted special financial aid programs for truly low-income students. Linda Perkins, Associate Professor and Director of Applied Women's Studies at Claremont Graduate University, an historian of education with appointments in the departments of Educational Studies, History, and Applied Women's Studies, will discuss the history of access to higher education after the Truman Commission as well as discuss current challenges to the tenets of this report.

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