Saturday, March 07, 2020 2:15 pm - 6:00 pm
Louis Masur / Rutgers University
Hamilton is experiencing a well-deserved revival. Often forced to take a back seat to other Founding Fathers, his vision of America as an economic powerhouse with a dynamic and aggressive government as its engine has found many followers. Hamilton helped get the Constitution ratified, helped found the Federalist Party, and served as the first Secretary of the Treasury. An orphan born in the West Indies, he was like a son to George Washington and perhaps should have been like a brother to Thomas Jefferson.
But Jefferson fought bitterly against the Federalists and his election as president ushered in the "revolution of 1800." Ironically, it would be Hamilton who helped assure Jefferson's triumph over Aaron Burr. Jefferson articulated a different vision from Hamilton's, promoting an agrarian democracy built upon geographic expansion—an "empire of liberty," he called it. In 1793, he would resign as Secretary of State to protest Hamilton's policies. In retirement, Jefferson would reflect on the differences between Federalists and Democratic-Republicans and express fear for the future of the new nation.
Louis Masur is a Distinguished Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University. He received outstanding teaching awards from Rutgers, Trinity College, and the City College of New York, and won the Clive Prize for Excellence in Teaching from Harvard University. He is the author of many books including “Lincoln’s Last Speech,” which was inspired by a talk he presented at One Day University. His essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News, and Chicago Tribune. He is an elected member of the American Antiquarian Society and serves on the Historians’ Council of the Gettysburg Foundation.
Joseph Luzzi / Bard College
What are the books that can change your life, the ones you would want to take to your proverbial "desert island?" This presentation will unveil the mysteries of Dante's Divine Comedy, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, and Joseph Heller's Catch 22. We will explore the creative processes behind these epochal works and show how they can help us understand the world today, while also developing reading skills that can release their remarkable riches.
Joseph Luzzi is a Literature and Italian Professor at Bard College, and was previously a Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received the Scaglione Prize for his teaching. He is also the author of the audio course, “The Art of Reading.” Professor Luzzi previously taught at Yale University, where he was awarded a Yale College Teaching Prize.
Alison Gash / University of Oregon
Few at the Founding could have ever imagined the Supreme Court becoming one of the most powerful policymaking institutions in the United States. Yet today, the Court has the power to sidestep public opinion, upend federal legislation, constrain state governance, and even bring down the President. Professor Alison Gash will take us back to the Court's humble beginnings, charting how the Court amassed its power. As we walk through the Court's history, meandering through landmark decisions, she will use her research on law and social policy to highlight the importance of understanding the Court not only as a legal actor but also as a significant source of policy innovation and paralysis. Through this lens, Professor Gash will demonstrate why the Court's makeup–its personalities and its relationships–can make or break American public policy.
Professor Gash will also discuss in some detail the recent hard fought confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and whether the politics of Kavanaugh's and other recent Court nominations may well end up eroding the "checking" capacity of the Court. Professor Gash will discuss the Kavanaugh nomination within the context of increasing partisan discord over Supreme Court nominations and the implications of this increased partisanship on the Court's ability to "put politics aside" when adjudicating over specific cases or upholding "the rule of law." As she will discuss, the founding fathers went to great lengths to insulate the federal judiciary from the passions of partisanship and majority will in order to preserve its power to hold politics accountable to a more durable set of principles and values. To what degree will this be damaged if Court nominations and nominees become vulnerable to the same partisan strife that characterizes the political world? If that happens, who will check politics?
Alison Gash is a political science professor and a member of the Provost’s Teaching Academy at the University of Oregon, where she has received several fellowships and grants for her teaching. She was recently awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Award. Professor Gash has also taught at Berkeley, where she received the Commendation for Excellence in Teaching two years in a row. She is the author of “Below the Radar: How Silence Can Save Civil Rights.” Her work has appeared in Newsweek, Slate, Politico, and Washington Monthly.