WESeminars are among Wesleyan’s most popular and well–attended educational programs. Interactive and inspiring, they provide opportunities to revisit the classroom and experience firsthand the academic excellence that is the essence of Wesleyan, with presentations by scholars, pundits, and other experts in their fields. Read more »
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- Reunion and Commencement, 2010
- Homecoming/Family Weekend, 2009
- Reunion and Commencement, 2009
- Homecoming/Family Weekend, 2008
- Reunion and Commencement, 2008
- Homecoming/Family Weekend, 2007
- Reunion and Commencement, 2007
Reunion and Commencement, 2010 (May 20–23)
WESeminar: Fiscal Deficits and Financial Angst in the 21st Century: Legacy of the Great Recession
Richard Miller, Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, Emeritus
During the past decade house prices rose, peaked, then fell. The housing bubble was stoked by an accommodating Fed, lax lending standards, and an inventive Wall Street. When the music stopped, many financial firms were still dancing. Foreclosures, bankruptcies, and unemployment inflicted financial and personal pain. Government reaction to the Great Recession included corporate rescues, shotgun marriages, TARP payments, multiple stimuli, mortgage loan mods, subsidies for house buyers, and extensions of unemployment relief. The financial burden on the U. S. Treasury (you and me) promises to be enormous, without factoring in Social Security’s slide into annual deficits and the costs of the increased medical care entitlement. Is the current recession different? Will the federal deficits and debt become unsustainable? Will the Treasury lose its Triple-A rating? Is the democratic political system threatened by our capitalistic economic system? Join our panelists to peer into the future, darkly.
WESeminar: The Unasked Questions in Healthcare Reform
Mark Zitter ’80
Healthcare reform has dominated the news for more than a year. Yet all the discussion has shed little light on the fundamental causes of the problem — factors that the new law doesn’t address. Politicians aren’t talking about many of the most important issues because the public is reluctant to ask the hard questions about who should sacrifice what, and about what healthcare really is — or should be. In this session, panelists may not come up with all the answers, but they will raise the difficult questions that get at the root causes of America’s healthcare crisis.
WESeminar: An Hour with Film Industry Insider Toby Emmerich
Toby Emmerich ’85
Join film executive and screenwriter Toby Emmerich for a no-holds-barred conversation about his work and how his Wesleyan education helped prepare him for an exciting career in the film business. He’ll share the twists and turns of a career that has resulted in the production of over 50 films including: Wedding Crashers, The Notebook, Hairspray, Sex and The City, and Valentine’s Day.
WESeminar: The Challenge of Microbes: How Are We in Danger?
Jay A. Levy, ’60, MD, ’96 HON
The 20th century witnessed a plethora of new and re-emerging infectious disease agents with major public health consequences. The discovery of antibiotics and other antimicrobials for controlling bacteria, fungi and parasites brought optimism to the medical field, but then disappointment when the targeted microbes came back with resistance to these medications. While vaccines have been extremely successful in preventing a number of viral and bacterial diseases, the world faces two major public health threats: drug-resistant bacteria that are no longer susceptible to current antibiotics and HIV, the viral cause of AIDS which continues to spread through the world infecting close to 8,000 people a day, and for which there is not yet an effective vaccine. How these microorganisms have emerged, how they affect human populations globally and how they are being addressed in the absence of effective therapies are current over-arching questions. Join our experts in infectious diseases and microbiology, as they describe the dangers of disease-causing microbes in our lifetime and how science addresses this challenge.
WESeminar: Lenin’s Brother: A Tale of Two Families
The hanging of Alexander Ulyanov, Lenin’s older brother, pushed Vladimir onto the path of revolution. The eldest son in a relatively privileged family, Alexander appeared to be following in his father’s footsteps. The family had no inkling that he had joined a terrorist conspiracy at the end of 1886, only months after he’d won a gold medal for his junior thesis. The regime hanged Alexander and four other members of the plot in May 1887. The arrest, trial, and hanging dramatically changed the family’s situation and produced a crisis in Alexander’s younger brother, Vladimir. Join professor Pomper for a discussion of his new book, which probes the psychodynamics of the terrorist group, Alexander Ulyanov’s choice of terrorism, Lenin’s reaction to the shock of his brother’s secret, and how it affected the October Revolution.
WESeminar: Shining Hope: Building A School For Girls In Kenya’s Kibera Slum
Kennedy Odede ’12, Jessica Posner ’09 and Leah Lucid ’10
Wesleyan student Kennedy Odede ’12 grew up in the slums of Kenya and saw firsthand the abuse and general mistreatment of school-aged girls in his community. In 2007, Odede met Wesleyan student Jessica Posner ’09, who was studying abroad in the country. Together they decided to start an NGO that would combat the lack of women’s education in the slum, where many young girls are forced to become sex workers. After Odede was accepted to Wesleyan to pursue his own dreams of a college education, he and Posner applied for a grant to build a school for girls in Kibera and received a $10,000 award. Working with community members, Odede and Posner constructed the Kibera School for Girls, the first and only tuition-free school for girls in the slum. The school was completed in ten weeks and currently offers 105 girls in grades K through six a high-quality formal education and daily nourishment. Join us to learn more about the Kibera School for Girls and to hear about plans to build the innovative Johanna Justin-Jinich Memorial Clinic, adjacent to the Kibera School, to combat the extreme health crisis in the country and honor Johanna’s legacy.
WESeminar: Watching Brains Think: Brain Imaging, Face Recognition, Emotions, and Deception
Hugh R. Wilson ’65
Thinking is hard work and brain cells require more energy than any other individual cells in the human body. Because of this energy requirement, blood flow increases in areas of the brain where cells are most active. Brain scanners detect these changes in a completely safe manner from outside the head, so they can be used with healthy human volunteers to determine which brain areas are active during many different mental tasks, thus enabling us to answer a wide range of questions: How do we recognize faces? Why are some people face-blind even though they have normal vision? Can we detect psychopaths by watching their brain activity? Can we determine when a person is lying? Can someone read your mind by watching your brain activity? Join us for a discussion of these questions and the ethical issues raised by brain imaging.
Homecoming/Family Weekend, 2009 (November 6–8)
Those Special Times Puzzles That Make You Chuckle
Ed Stein ’60
Most clues in crosswords are straightforward or factual. Fewer clues are tricky, involving wordplay or puns. Then there are the special crosswords with a uniqueness all their own – providing “aha!” moments when you work out their clever clues. Enjoy the challenge and the chuckles that go with them as we solve together in this 12th WESeminar on crossword puzzles.
WESeminar: Celebration of Wesleyan Writing: A Reading and Conversation with Amy Bloom
Amy Bloom ’75
Amy Bloom’s latest novel, Away, an epic story about a Russian immigrant, was a New York Times best-seller. Her other books include the story collections Come To Me and A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You and the nonfiction book, Normal. A finalist for the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award, she received a National Magazine Award for fiction, and her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Granta, Best American Short Stories, and in many anthologies in the US and abroad.
Finding Pete: Rediscovering the Brother I Lost in Vietnam
Peter Morse Hunting ’63 was the first Wesleyan graduate to be killed in the Vietnam War. He and his youngest sister Jill were products of a family that valued service. At Wesleyan, Pete found the intellectual framework for his values and the preparation for his next step in life. As a civilian volunteer in Vietnam, he wrote vivid letters about digging wells, building windmills, and drinking rice wine with the neighbors. He analyzed the U.S. military presence as it shifted from advisory role to combat force, the misdirection of foreign aid, the plight of refugees, and the shifting currents of attitudes among Vietnamese. Pete’s life inspired Jill to work for peace, but first she had to come to terms with his death. Join her as she discusses her quest to explore the mystery of Pete’s death and how it resulted in a book 44 years later.
Paper Love: Inside the Holocaust Archives
Sarah Wildman ’96
Last summer, Sarah Wildman was one of the first journalists granted access to the 60 million pages of unexamined archival material in Bad Arolsen, Germany – material that had been closed to scholars, journalists and the public for over a half a century. A year before she arrived in Germany, Wildman discovered letters and telegrams from family members, friends, and a lost girlfriend – all written to her grandfather who fled Nazi occupied Vienna in the fall of 1938. In her talk, Wildman will detail the hopes scholars and survivor families have had for the Bad Arolsen archives, the controversy over the archives’ long-delayed opening, and her own search for clues to her family in the letters she found, learning about those left behind.
WESeminar: Public Opinion and the Obama Administration's Foreign Policy: The View from Home and Abroad
Douglas C. Foyle
Public opinion at home and abroad welcomed Barack Obama’s presidency as an opportunity to change the direction of American foreign policy. Now in office nine months, how has domestic and international opinion responded to the Obama administration’s handling of foreign policy? What do the administration’s early actions portend for the future? Professor Foyle presents an early look at how well President Obama has met public hopes around the globe.
WESeminar: Where on Earth are We Going? Water in a Changing Climate: The Role of the National Forests in the Water Infrastructure
Frank H. McCormick
Freshwater is vital to all living organisms. Humans use water for drinking, irrigating crops, watering livestock, in industry and as a medium to dilute, assimilate and remove wastes. Over the last 50 years, we have degraded rivers and lakes through excessive water abstraction, pollution and by over-harvesting aquatic organisms. River flow has been impeded by dams, and floodplains have been converted for agriculture and urban areas. The human population has doubled to nearly 7 billion and, per capita water availability has declined on all continents. During this period, global climate change has further impacted water resources. Join Professor Osborne for a look at ways climate change and global warming have altered river and lake function and the water resources on which humans rely.
WESeminar: Celebration Of Wesleyan Writing
Hanna Ingber Win ’03
Join this award-winning multi-media journalist for a talk about global news coverage and internet reporting. Hanna Ingber Win is World Editor of the Huffington Post.
How Do We Talk About Israel and/or When Does the Personal Become Political?
Adam Abel ’98, Rob Abel ’65, “Mike” Abel P ’93, Leila “Katie” Buck ’98, Donna Nevel P’99 and, Lev Plaves ’10
This presentation brings together six individuals from the Wesleyan community whose views about the Middle East have been shaped by personal, often pivotal, experiences as American Jews and Americans of Lebanese and Palestinian descent. Four of the six are married to each other and their individual journeys are unique. What brings them together is a shared desire to promote open and honest dialogue, which, all too often, is lacking in discussions about Israel and its neighbors. The program will feature an introductory reading from In the Crossing, a play by Leila Buck that tackles some of the same challenging questions that inform this discussion. One half-hour will be reserved for audience comments. This program was organized by Nina Felshin, curator of the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery and adjunct lecturer in art history.
Reunion and Commencement, 2009 (May 21–24)
Hope’s Boy: An Hour with Author Andrew Bridge
Andrew Bridge ’84
Andrew Bridge entered Wesleyan after spending 11 years in the Los Angeles County foster care system. From here, he proceeded to become a Fulbright Scholar and a Harvard Law School graduate. Bridge will discuss how his childhood and Wesleyan prepared him for a life devoted to bettering the lives of our most vulnerable children.
Demystifying College Admissions: Prominent Observers from Three Generations Provide Their Perspective
Jacques Steinberg, Edward Fiske ’59, Jordan Goldman ’04
Join a legend in the world of traditional college guide books, an entrepreneurial alumnus who believes there’s a better way for prospective students to identify their top school choices, and a savvy education journalist who’s been watching the college search, application, and admission process for years.
Healthcare Reform in the New Administration: What Will Change?
Monica Noether ’74, Robert Patricelli ’61, P’88, P’90, Dana Gelb Safran ’84
Substantial healthcare reform is a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s policy agenda. What form it will take is a matter of heated debate raising questions about the mix of public and private funding and control, coverage for the uninsured, and the measurement and provision of information about quality of care. Join us for a lively discussion about the issues and alternative proposals to address them.
Journalism Today: Katha Pollitt
Anne Greene, Katha Pollitt P ’09
Join us for a reading and conversation featuring one of the nation’s most distinguished and versatile journalists.
Telling Stories: The Lives of an Attorney and Novelist Intersect
Richard Kendall ’74
Meet a prominent Los Angeles attorney and a best-selling author for a lively conversation about storytelling in legal advocacy and as a novelist. Richard Kendall has had a distinguished career in government service and leading law firms, where he has represented major media and financial-services companies, environmental pro bono groups, and foreign governments, including China. He has twice argued in the US Supreme Court and in foreign courts from France to Japan, and tried dozens of cases before juries. When Kendall was representing the Chinese government, his wife Lisa See began writing thrillers based on an American lawyer’s adventures in China. Her novels have explored lost stories about women from China, requiring extensive research and travel to remote parts of the country. Join them as they discuss how their careers have unfolded and intersected over the past 29 years, and all that they’ve learned about telling stories.
Sebastian Junger: On the Frontlines of History
Jeanine D. Basinger, Sebastian Junger ’84
Whether he’s recounting the loss of the Gloucester fishing boat off Nova Scotia in an unprecedented storm or reporting on some of the most dangerous regions of the world, Seb Junger “is fascinated with extreme situations and people at the edges of things.” Join him for a review of the work he’s done on the frontlines of history.
From Bench to Bedside: The Role of Basic Research in the Conquest of Human Disease
Laurence Kedes ’59
In 1958 Larry Kedes wanted to become a journalist. But Wesleyan Press Editor and well-known author William Manchester advised him that his Argus writings were better suited for the New Yorker than for a newspaper. Like many students, Kedes took this as career-ending criticism and decided to go to Stanford Medical School. While in medical school, he was bitten by the research bug and he has never recovered. Research stints at the National Institutes of Health, MIT and elsewhere followed. A natural curiosity about the close biological relationships of all living things led him to study the molecular mechanisms of how genes regulate bodily functions in organisms as diverse as marine invertebrates, worms, mice and man.
After 19 years as Professor at Stanford Medical School, Kedes joined the University of Southern California to establish an Institute for Genetic Medicine. There, his studies of skeletal and heart muscle developed new insights for the treatment of human disease. His leadership in promoting the $10 million Archon X-PRIZE in Genomics provides an exciting new chapter in nontraditional ways to create breakthroughs in science and technology. Join Larry Kedes as he recounts some of the highlights of his research career and gives a long overdue thanks to the late William Manchester.
Don’t Look Down: A Life in the Theater
Jeanine D. Basinger, Jeffrey Richards ’69, Thomas Kail ’99
Spend an hour with Jeffrey Richards and Thomas Kail as they speak frankly about producing and directing, and what it means to try and make it in the world of New York theater. Not for the faint of heart.
The Future of Energy: United States Domestic and Foreign Policy Perspectives
Ladeene Freimuth ’89, Lisa Frantzis ’79, Robert Pratt ’69
Join our energy experts for their thoughts about the current energy situation in America; the role of clean, alternative energy technologies, and the position of the U.S. in the world with respect to energy.
“Between Milk and Yogurt”: Book Publishing Today
Pamela Dorman ’79, Molly Barton ’00, Valerie Borchardt ’84, Lisa Kaufman ’80, Carolyn Parkhurst ’92, Geri Thoma, Susan Weinberg ’80
Writer and humorist Calvin Trillin has said that the shelf life of the average book today is “somewhere between milk and yogurt.” What does an aspiring writer need to know to get his manuscript read by an agent or editor? What is the future of the book as object? Join our panel of agents, editors, and writers for their perspectives on book publishing today.
Homecoming/Family Weekend, 2008 (October 17–19)
Presidential Campaign 2008: Policy Rhetoric Meets Policy Substance
Douglas C. Foyle, Elvin T. Lim, and Melanye Price
These are historic times in American politics, but even as change is in the air, an old dilemma persists. Scholars, pundits, and even presidents sometimes lament that election campaigns are poorly structured to select the best individuals to govern once the campaign has ended. To what extent has the 2008 campaign illuminated the substantive policy differences between Democratic candidate Senator Barak Obama and Republican candidate Senator John McCain? Which of the two candidates has found the right words to woo enough voters to carry him into the White House? How has the rhetoric of the campaign enhanced or hindered the subsequent task of governing? How has outgoing President George W. Bush had to adjust his policy in the context of the election campaign to succeed him? Join our panelists for a lively discussion of the challenge of campaigning and governing in the 2008 presidential election.
Download Douglas Foyle’s presentation slides (.PPT file)
Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right From Wrong
Wendell Wallach ’68
Computers already initiate millions of financial transactions, control electrical power grids, and drive trains. Robots mounted with machine guns have been deployed in Iraq and soon service robots will be taking care of the elderly in their homes. In order to insure the safety of increasing autonomous systems, it will be necessary to begin programming them with moral decision–making abilities. Do we want computers making moral decisions? Whose morality or what morality should be implemented in artificial intelligence? How can we make ethics computable? The emerging field of machine morality examines the challenge of building artificial moral agents, probing deeply into the nature of human decision making and ethics. Join one of the founders of this new field for an open discussion of the challenges in developing machines with human–like capabilities including consciousness, emotional intelligence, and the ability to reflect on the consequences of choices and actions.
Meltdown on Wall Street
Vanessa Burgess ’77, Timothy Clew ’93, Seth Bergstein ’78, and Professor Richard Miller
The recent mortgage excesses have evolved into a widespread financial crisis as delinquent and underwater home mortgages, many subprime, infected the financial institutions on Wall Street. The stock market has tanked and the threat of a recession looms, and these financial conditions have spread abroad. Congress, the Treasury, and the Federal Reserve have fashioned an experimental and expensive bailout to renew liquidity and confidence in the financial markets. Many question whether these drastic measures will help? Join our panelists for an open conversation about why our economy has been on a downward spiral and what it will take to turn things around.
Where On Earth Are We Going: The Many Psychologies of Global Warming Given The Hard Realities We Face
William Blakemore ’65
The unprecedented nature, scale and gravity of the accelerating climate crisis is producing a wide range of psychological responses. This involves various types of denial, as well as diverse effective engagement and cognitive confusion. There is a fascinating array of “psychologies” – psychologically volatile responses in relation to global climate change that can be found in governments, intelligence agencies, scientific organizations, political analyses, and even within newly emerging psychology paradigms, such as regulation theory. Importantly, there are some surprising signs of adaptive mastery to “Future traumas” that provide realistic hope as humans gear up to deal with global warming.
On Writing Thrillers: Michael Palmer and Lee Child
Lee Child, a.k.a. James Grant P ’02, and Michael Palmer ’64, P ’88, MD
Michael Palmer and Lee Child did not set out to be writers. Palmer was a physician who specialized in internal medicine and Child had had a 20–year career in television production in England. But, at the age of nearly 40, each of them decided to try their hands at writing and now, between the two of them, they have 25 bestsellers and have made their mark as key figures in the thrillers genre. Join them as they share all on writing thrillers.
Stone and Stone
Adam Stone ’05 and Todd Stone ’05
Who are these guys with the dark blue blazers and a shtick that’s a touch like the Smothers Brothers? Meet the Stone twins, Adam and Todd, who perform a comedy act called Stone and Stone, which they created during their sophomore year at Wesleyan. Since graduating in 2005, they have brought their act to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and to New York City, where they perform regularly. They have played at comedy clubs including Carolines, Gotham Comedy Club, and the Laugh Factory. Recently, they were featured on a national Verizon commercial, and they appear on this season’s NBC’s show Last Comic Standing. Join them for a live performance, followed by Q & A with the audience.
Going Back To Cuba: An Anthropologist Reflects On The Meaning Of Home
Ruth Behar ’77
Join cultural anthropologist Ruth Behar as she shares the moving story of her journey back to Cuba to search for the Jews who make their home there today. As a child of five, she was caught up in the mass Jewish exodus from Cuba to the United States after Fidel Castro came to power in 1959. Told by her family not to look back, she couldn’t resist the urge to reclaim her lost home. Anthropology offered her a passport to return and tell of bittersweet encounters with Jews she met throughout the island, and ultimately to reflect on the meaning of home in an age when the soul is global.
Reunion & Commencement, 2008 (May 22–25)
An Hour With Blue Man Group Co–Founder Chris Wink
Chris Wink ’84
Chris Wink and friends Matt Goldman and Phil Stanton were working in the late 1980s as Manhattan caterers when they began playing with the Blue Man concept by performing on the streets and in bars as three bald and blue characters. These performances led to a date at La MaMa’s Experimental Theater Club and a New York Times review calling them “a deliriously antic blend of music, painting, and clowning.” A commission for a full–length show followed, along with prestigious awards for excellence in off–Broadway theatre, and concert dates that would take them around the world.
Non–Stop News and Information: Golden Era or Age of Decline?
Dina Kaplan ’93, Barbara Roessner ’75, John Rose ’78, and Paul Janensch P ’93
Much has been said about the fate of print journalism and traditional broadcast news in an age of blogs and fast–moving Web reports. Corporate owners of media outlets are struggling to maintain revenues and relevance, in part by joining a revolution in 24–hour delivery. Underneath questions about the changing role of media is a deeper issue: What’s happening to the quality of information available to readers and viewers? Is the gradual demise of large, multi–topic metropolitan news staffs—which filter and present the news—an inevitable result? Is the rise of a million new voices crowding out thoughtful analysis? Join our panelists for a lively discussion about the changing face of news and information, which is shifting politics, business, and culture.
The Greening of South Bronx
Majora Carter ’88
“Green collar jobs” are something politicians are talking about in 2008, but Majora Carter has been pioneering green–collar job training and placement for years, in one of the most unlikely places—the South Bronx. Long infamous for the decay, crime, and political powerlessness that resulted in one of the country’s worst environmental justice dilemmas, the South Bronx is now a model for revitalization. Join this nationally recognized environmental grassroots advocate for a conversation about the link between poverty and the dirty energy economy, and find out how a city in decline can become a leader in forging a cleaner and greener economy.
The Economy: Up, Down, Sideways, or All of the Above
Lael Brainard ’83, Thomas Kannam, Jonathan Spector ’78, and John Lipsky ’68, P ’08
The health of the economy—in the U.S. and around the world—has recently taken center stage as unusual events have rocked the global financial system. Are we in a recession or are we simply observing the effects that declining confidence has on actual economic performance, and vice versa? What are the implications for the “man in the street”—should s/he be worried, calm or indifferent? Our distinguished team of economists will present their views and solicit audience comments. And, in typical Wesleyan fashion, they expect absolutely no agreement to emerge, but believe everyone will leave with a good sense of the issues and challenges.
Homecoming/Family Weekend, 2007 (November 2–4)
Building Bridges Between University and Community
Dr. Sonia BasSheva Mañjon and Janis Astor del Valle
“Social justice, equity and diversity.” It’s like a mantra at the Center for Art & Public Life at California College of the Arts in the progressive environment of the San Francisco Bay Area. Those values are buried deep in all the lessons CCA students are learning about art’s place in the public arena. Wesleyan students are also learning important lessons about public service and the value of community–based arts programs through a variety of service–learning projects. They have been working with many community organizations, including the Green Street Arts Center, whose mission holds “transforming lives through the arts” at its core. But just exactly how do we teach students, faculty, administration, donors, and the community to value the role of art in society? Join our presenters for a frank discussion about the successes and challenges of fusing art education with civic engagement.
Pork Chop Hill: How Movies Prepare Us to Choose War
Professor Richard Slotkin
Since the end of World War II, the United States has fought several “wars of choice,” including the present war in Iraq. Join this preeminent cultural critic and historian for a look at the ways in which movies create and use a national “war myth” to prepare us to accept certain kinds of war as necessary and good. He will focus on Pork Chop Hill, a film made in 1959, which uses a Korean War incident (1950–53) to develop an argument for fighting Asian Communism. Two years later, these same arguments would persuade Americans to support a war in Vietnam.
Lessons From Guantanamo Bay
Stephen Oleskey ’64 and Anna Cayton–Holland ’00
Beginning in January 2002, following the events of 9/11, the United States government began to send men it had seized all over the World to a new high security prison at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, on the southwest coast of Cuba. Almost six years later, the words “Guantanamo Bay” conjure up for some a place where iguanas are protected by federal law but prisoners (called “detainees”) have few rights. For others, it is still a place where “the worst of the worst” seized in the “War on Terror” should be held indefinitely, without the customary rights extended to prisoners of war. The confinement of these men and circumstances of their seizure have spawned a national and even international debate about torture, the habeas corpus rights of noncitizens held on a military base outside the United States in “war time,” and what measures may be politically and legally justified to assure our national security. Join two attorneys who are representing men imprisoned at Guantanamo since 2002 without charges or trial. Find out what drew them to the defense of these men held in this remote location, and what implications they see for our country from this far–from–resolved Guantanamo experience.
On Sacha Baron Cohen and Sarah Silverman: Third–Wave Jewish Satirists
Professor Bernard Timberg P’08
Sacha Baron Cohen, Larry David, Jon Stewart, Adam Sandler, and Sarah Silverman are five of the new Jewish comics who have taken Jewish humor into mainstream popular culture with a fresh spin. They follow a first generation of Jewish humorists who were immersed in Yiddishkeit (Jackie Mason) and a second generation that moved away from Jewish traditions and themes while maintaining a strong Jewish sensibility (Woody Allen). Sacha Baron Cohen and Sarah Silverman come from families that gave them good Jewish backgrounds (Sarah Silverman's sister is a rabbi). Both go up to the borders of good taste and then crash through them. What else do these third–wave Jewish satirists have in common? Come to a showing of clips from their work and a lively discussion by film and television scholar Bernard Timberg.
Stories and Lessons From the Climate Wars
Professor Gary Yohe
Nobel Peace Prize co–recipient, Gary Yohe, lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Synthesis Report intersperses stories of his experiences with lessons derived from the latest science. The stories illuminate turf wars across scientific disciplines and idiosyncratic behaviors of certain countries during the governmental approval process. The lessons relate observed and anticipated global impacts of climate change, including impacts likely to be experienced in New England, to ongoing policy discussions on global, national, and regional levels.
Reunion & Commencement, 2007 (May 24–27)
The Relaxation Response: How to Counteract the Harmful Effects of Stress
Herbert Benson ’57, P’89, MD
After completing studies at Wesleyan 50 years ago, Herbert Benson attended Harvard Medical School and became a cardiologist. In his 35–plus year career he has dedicated himself to the understanding of stress, and is considered one of the world’s leading authorities on stress and the mind’s influence on physical health. Join him as he addresses the importance and prevalence of stress related disorders in our society today and the weaknesses of treating them with pharmaceuticals and surgery.
Crisis to Coma: An Hour With Medical Thriller Writer Robin Cook
Robin Cook ’62, MD
Robin Cook grew up in Queens believing he would become an archaeologist, but quickly decided that all the best buried treasures had already been found. It was the era of Ben Casey, James Kildaire, and Marcus Welby and he decided instead that he would make his mark by becoming a caring doctor. As a tireless young intern, he dabbled with writing and published his first novel Year of the Intern, which he considered boring and not the tension–filled format “people would want to read.” Coma followed five years later and he was onto something. Readers were gripped by the riveting story of the black market for human organs (the movie was released in 1978)—and the medical thriller was born. Over the years, Dr. Cook has built stories around everything from stem cells to egg donation, food poisoning, bioterrorism, managed care, and the competitive nature of medicine. Meet the writer who created this new genre of spine–tingling medical thrillers and find out why he feels he has affected the medical lives of more people through his writing than he ever did while in practice.
Inside the Mind of Jules Feiffer
Jules Feiffer P’07
Jules Feiffer has spent a lifetime chronicling the anxieties of contemporary man as well as the hypocrisies of presidents and other politicians. His work has brought him an Oscar for best animated short–subject (Munro), a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning, best screenplay at the Venice Film Festival for I Want to Go Home, and most recently, the 56th Writers Guild of America Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as the National Cartoonists Society Lifetime Achievement Award. A man who was &quo;desperate to be a cartoonist,&quo; Feiffer produced a weekly comic strip called Feiffer, featuring presidents and other uniquely neurotic characters. He is the first cartoonist to be invited to appear regularly on the Op–Ed page of The New York Times. Since ending his syndicated comic strip in 2000, Feiffer has increased his activity in other areas, including playwrighting, teaching, and writing and illustrating children's books. Join us for a conversation with this versatile artist and an exploration of his creative legacy.
For more information about WESeminars, contact Gail Briggs, Associate Director of Alumni Programs at firstname.lastname@example.org or (860) 685–3979.