Claremont Discourse Schedule - Spring 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.

Asking the auks about climate change in the Arctic

Nina Karnovsky, Assistant Professor of Biology, Pomona College
Thursday, February 1st, 4:15 PM, 2007

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.

The Politics of Race and Black American Intellectuals in the Antebellum Era

Rita Roberts, Associate Professor of History and Black Studies, Scripps College
Wednesday, February 21st, 4:15 PM, 2007

Frederic 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.

Mothers, daughters, concubines, prostitutes: Women in the Book of Genesis, How Do We Assess Them?

Tammi Schneider, Professor of Religion, CGU
Wednesday, March 7th, 4:15 PM, 2007

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.

From Toon Town Trolleys to Freeways: SoCal Transportation Myths and Reality, Past, Present and Future

Rudi Volti, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Pitzer College
Thursday, April 5th, 4:15 PM, 2007

In the popular mind, Southern California, with Los Angeles as its epicenter, is the region of the US 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 SUV's, LA 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.

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