A Day of Genius with the Detroit Free Press

Saturday, June 06, 2020 10:00 am - 4:00 pm


10:00 am - 11:20 am
The Remarkable Genius of Einstein

Matthew Stanley / New York University

Einstein’s name is synonymous with genius. His wild-haired, thoughtful-eyed face has become an icon of modern science. His ideas changed the way we see the universe, the meaning of truth, and the very limits of human knowledge. This course will examine how Einstein’s youthful philosophical questioning led to a revolution in science. We will discuss his creation of special and general relativity, and particularly how these epochal theories emerged from his seemingly simple questions about how we experience the world. His preference for easily-visualizable thought experiments means we will be able to engage deeply with the science with very little mathematics. Einstein also pioneered quantum mechanics, only to reject its strange consequences and eventually devote his life to overturning it through a unified field theory.

Einstein’s elevation to worldwide fame was closely tied to political and social developments such as World War I, Zionism, and the rise of the Nazis. As he became an incarnation of genius, people sought out his views on everything from world peace to the nature of God – and his opinions often had surprising links to his scientific work. The picture of Einstein we end up with is a figure somehow both revolutionary and deeply traditional, emblematic of the modern age and also profoundly uncomfortable with it.

Matthew Stanley / New York University

Matthew Stanley teaches the history and philosophy of science at NYU. He holds degrees in astronomy, religion, physics, and the history of science and is interested in the connections between science and the wider culture. He is the author of “Practical Mystic: Religion, Science, and A. S. Eddington” which examines how scientists reconcile their religious beliefs and professional lives. He has held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study, the British Academy, and the Max Planck Institute. Professor Stanley was awarded a 2014-2015 Gallatin Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

11:40 am - 1:00 pm
Rediscovering the Genius of Picasso

Nicole Woods / Notre Dame

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was considered the most prolific visual artist in his lifetime. In creating some of the most iconic paintings of the 20th century, Picasso's grip on the cultural consciousness of Western civilization has attributed to the mythic nature of Picasso the man – to which the artist himself contributed. As a consequence, the actual works of art seems to recede into the background, and we lose sense of why Picasso was an artistic prodigy and one of the most influential painters in the history of art.

In rediscovering Picasso's artistic virtuosity, this talk will focus on the evolution of his art in the years 1905-1937. Looking closely at Cubism – the revolutionary artistic style that he helped develop at the dawn of the twentieth century, foreshadowing the birth of abstract art – we will examine Picasso's signature style by considering the works themselves (including his masterpiece Guernica) to better appreciate his stunning achievements.

Nicole Woods / Notre Dame

Nicole Woods is an art historian at the University of Notre Dame. Woods’s research focuses on the historical and neo-avant-gardes, performance and conceptual art, gender studies, critical race theory, and the history of photography. She has also taught at the University of California, Irvine and Loyola Marymount University.

2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
The Political Genius of Franklin D. Roosevelt

Jeffrey Engel / Southern Methodist University

He was our longest-serving president and also our best. Washington set precedents. Lincoln preserved the union. But only Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to the nation’s highest office four times. Only Roosevelt faced an economic crisis so severe it remains our benchmark today for calamity. Only Roosevelt saw a world on the brink of tyranny, knowing that his leadership was all that stood between isolationism and war, yet simultaneously a new democratic age versus an age of totalitarian darkness. So well-known to subsequent generations, he is easily recalled just by his initials, FDR. He kept secrets: secret love affairs, secret dealings with allies, and the biggest secret of all hidden in plain sight, the paralysis that kept him largely wheel-chair bound. The solutions he made public nonetheless forged the country, and in large part the world, we live in today.

He is the father of the modern welfare state, the progenitor of our modern unrivaled military, and more than any other, creator of the international rules of the road in place since 1945. For his generation and for many yet to come, he defined how Americans understood their place in the world, their government’s role in their lives, and the very nature of freedom itself. Our longest-serving president, he was also our finest, ultimately saving American democracy from depression, defeat, and disillusionment.

Was Franklin D. Roosevelt a Political Genius?

How do domestic policy and foreign policy collide? What impact does presidential policy have in international order and fascism? The lecture will investigate the transformational presidency of Franklin Roosevelt.

How did this scion of America’s elite inspire hope in millions of suffering citizens during the Great Depression? How did he re-design the purposes and expectations of American government through the New Deal? Join us to explore his ideas, leadership style, and legacies for contemporary American domestic and foreign policy.

For more lectures about US History and the Presidents check out Jeffery Engel’s lectures in our video librarySign up for One Day University Membership today for unlimited access to hundreds of talks and online lectures.

Jeffrey Engel / Southern Methodist University

Jeffrey Engel is the founding director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. He has taught at Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, Haverford College, and taught history and public policy at Texas A&M University. He has authored/edited eight books on American foreign policy, most recently, “When the World Seemed New: George H. Bush and the Surprisingly Peaceful End of the Cold War.”