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Assembly Series

Programs for Fall 2014

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"Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights"
7:00 p.m., Sept. 8, Graham Chapel
Yoshino is the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at New York University where he specializes in constitutional law, civil rights law, and law and literature. Prior to this appointment, he taught law at Yale and Harvard universities. The Rhodes Scholar received his undergraduate degree from Harvard and his law degree from Yale. In Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights, Yoshino gives his readers plenty to consider about the act of "covering," why it's done and how it harms people's individuality. Part autobiography and part legal discourse, Covering includes much of Yoshino's personal journey as a gay Asian American, and is his impassioned plea to understand what people lose when they sacrifice aspects of their true nature to fit in. In addition to Covering, he has published A Thousand Times More Fair, which uses Shakespearean stories to illustrate contemporary problems of justice. More information

"The Importance and Ethics of National Intelligence"
5:00 p.m., Sept. 16, Steinberg Hall Auditorium
During his 30-year tenure as the CIA's acting director of operations (now called the National Clandestine Service) Jack Devine served as America's top spymaster for eight presidents. He was at the helm of every major covert initiative: Charlie Wilson's war in Afghanistan, Allende's fall in Chile, Iran-Contra, and the list goes on. In addition to serving as a memoir, his book, Good Hunting: An American Spymaster's Story, is a warning about what Devine sees as the degradation of our nation's ability to spy, and the misuse of citizens' private information. A book signing will follow. More information
Elliot Stein Lecture in Ethics
Co-sponsored by: Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government and Public Policy in Arts & Sciences; WU Political Review

"From Brown to Ferguson: The Unfinished Business of Civil Rights"
12:00 p.m., Sept. 17, Anheuser-Busch Hall, Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom
In her 2014 New York University convocation address, Sherrilyn Ifill noted the year's significance: the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, and the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v the Board of Education. "Brown," she said, "was the most important constitutional moment of the 20th century…for it outlawed segregation in education and in so doing articulated the full and equal citizenship of black people." As a legal scholar and president/director-general of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Ifill will illuminate the legacy of the Brown v Board decision and discuss how this relates to the still-present socio-economic issues underpinning African-Americans' anger and frustration that have surfaced in Ferguson, Mo. More information

"The University and the Combinations of Heart and Mind"
5:00 p.m., Sept. 29, Umrath Hall Lounge
In Roderick Ferguson's 2012 book, The Reorder of Things: The University and its Pedagogies of Minority Difference, he argues that the rise of interdisciplinary studies on college campuses in the 1960s and 1970s – originally designed to give voice to minority culture – ended up being co-opted and institutionalized by established power. He certainly is in a position to analyze the legacy of these liberationist social movements, as the distinguished critical race and gender theorist's career has been inside these academic entities. More information

"Love in the Time of Identity Wars: Anatomy of Short Lives"
12:00 p.m., Sept. 30, Anheuser-Busch Hall, Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom
The great granddaughter of a slave and a white southern lawyer, scholar and author Patricia Williams has dedicated her career to applying literary and critical legal theory to matters of race and social justice. Her column in The Nation, "Diary of a Mad Law Professor," features such topics as affirmative action, gender and professionalism, and the forensic uses of DNA. In her autobiographical essay, "The Alchemy of Race and Rights," the Columbia University law professor uses the metaphor of alchemical transformation to indicate how we might find ourselves as communal agents of racial justice. A book signing will follow. More information
This presentation is the first of three Williams will deliver as the Interdisciplinary Project in the Humanities Lecture Series speaker, and is part of the Law School's Public Interest Law & Policy Speaker Series.
Co-sponsored by: Center for Humanities in Arts & Sciences; Law, Identity and Culture Initiative, Black Law Students Association, and Women's Law Caucus in the School of Law; and the Office of the Provost, Vice Chancellor for Diversity

"Demystifying the Science of Drug Addiction: Neuroscience, Self-discovery, Race and U.S. Drug Policy"
11:00 a.m., Oct. 10, Anheuser-Busch Hall, Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom
"As a politician, you can use 'crack cocaine' as a code word and say you're going after it, but you're actually going after people we don't really like in our society." That statement from neuroscientist Carl Hart explains in part why we've been lied to about drugs. Instead of relying on hard data and facts, government drug policies are being driven by media sensationalism and by politicians who want to score easy points with their constituents. In his book High Price, Hart argues for separating the myths from the reality to ensure that the focus moves from scaring people away from drugs to informing people about them. Despite criticism for his claims, Hart, the first tenured African-American professor of sciences at Columbia University, stands by his research, believing that society is simply afraid to accept it. A book signing will follow. More information
Chancellor's Fellows Lecture

"Fires, Fuel and the Fate of 3 Billion"
5:00 p.m., Oct. 13, Anheuser-Busch Hall, Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom
Three billion people in the developing world use biomass combustion in stoves to cook their meals and heat their homes. The cruel irony is that the stove that keeps them fed and warm is also killing them. In fact, four million people die each year from the dense, black soot released by biomass combustion. What's more, the practice harms the community's ecosystem. This presentation by Brown School professor Gautam Yadama and award-winning photographer Mark Katzman will highlight the challenges created by the widespread dependency on this deadly practice. A book signing will follow. More information
Co-sponsored by: McDonnell Scholars Academy; International & Graduate Programs, Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute, International Law Society and Law & Social Work Society in the School of Law

"Why Liberals Win: America's Culture Wars from the Election of 1800 to Same-Sex Marriage"
7:30 p.m., Oct. 23, Knight Hall, Emerson Auditorium
Only 12 percent of those who took Stephen Prothero's Religious Literacy Quiz were able to name the first five books of the Hebrew Bible or the Christian Old Testament. Though the Boston University professor of religion describes himself as "religiously confused," he is an advocate for including Bible literacy and world religion courses in public school curricula. In his book, The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation, Prothero asserts that religion lies at the heart of our American identity and, unless we become religiously literate, it will continue to divide us as a nation. A book signing will follow.
Danforth Distinguished Lecture/ Danforth Center on Religion & Politics

"Talking About Race in 19th-century American Science: Louis Agassiz and His Contemporaries"
4:00 p.m., Oct. 27, Rebstock Hall, Room 210
One hundred and fifty years ago, the charismatic, brilliant and controversial Swiss immigrant Louis Agassiz came to America, became the most famous scientist of the time, and established the foundation for modern American science. He also was a white supremacist who vehemently disagreed with Darwin's theory of evolution. Irmscher's biography doesn't shy away from the scientist's dark side, but rather paints a full picture of a man who was extraordinarily prolific and influential in so many scientific fields, yet blinded by his own prejudices.
Thomas Hall Lecture in the History of Science

"The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind and Brain from Vienna 1900 to the Present"
5:00 p.m., Oct. 28, Graham Chapel
After a half-century of studying the neurons of sea snails and mice, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2000, Eric Kandel turned his intellectual curiosity to the field of neuroaesthetics. He wished to answer the question, "How are internal representations of a face, a scene, a melody, or an experience encoded in the brain?" The result is The Age of Insight, a fascinating account that combines the science of neurochemical cognitive circuitry with a portrait of fin de siècle Vienna, when artistic representations were being transformed by the emerging theories of the unconscious from, among others, Sigmund Freud and William James. A book signing will follow.
Arthur Holly Compton Science Lecture

"Through Soviet Jewish Eyes: Photography, War and the Holocaust"
5:00 p.m., Nov. 4, Wilson Hall, Room 214
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung called David Shneer a "path breaking" scholar, who uses photography as a new way of considering issues of Russian Jewish history, Yiddish culture, the diaspora, and the Holocaust. His critically acclaimed book, Through Soviet Jewish Eyes: Photography, War, and the Holocaust: Jewish Cultures of the World, examines the Holocaust through the perspectives of wartime photographers assigned by the Stalinist regime to record the visual story of Nazi atrocities. A co-founder of Jewish Mosaic, the first national Jewish LGBT organization, Shneer also studies the relationship between Jews and sexuality.
Holocaust Memorial Lecture

"As a Woman I Have No Country, as a Woman My Country is the World of Architecture"
6:30 p.m., Nov. 7, Steinberg Hall Auditorium
The internationally distinguished architect, Nasrine Seraji, will deliver the keynote address for the School of Architecture's symposium on "Women in Architecture: 1974-2014." The Iranian-born founding partner of the Paris-based firm, Atelier Seraj, embraces the notion of architecture as both a cultural debate and a practice, and her work ranges from urban and institutional buildings to small houses and installations. Two of her housing projects in France were nominated for the prestigious Mies Van der Rohe Prize.
Coral Courts Lecture

"An Evening with Curtis Sittenfeld"
6:00 p.m., Nov. 12, Simon Hall, May Auditorium
"I'm wary of books about boarding school," she once said in The New York Times, but Curtis Sittenfeld's first novel, Prep, outclassed every boarding school book that came before it. Both commercially and critically successful, Prep offers a scathing behind-the-scenes look at an elite Massachusetts boarding school seen through the eyes of someone who doesn't fit in. Sittenfeld's subsequent novels: The Man of My Dreams, a coming of age story; and American Wife, a tale based loosely on the life of former First Lady Laura Bush, also were best sellers. The New England transplant is now firmly rooted in St. Louis, which plays a role in her most recent novel, Sisterland.
Neureuther Library Lecture/University Libraries

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