Saturday, April 21, 2018 9:30 am - 1:15 pm
Robert Watson / Lynn University
It is an understatement to say that Americans are frustrated with our two-party system and the dysfunction that seems to define our politics in recent years. Polls reveal that the public has an unfavorable view of the two major parties, many Americans consider themselves to be "independents," and the Congress is wildly unpopular. At the same time, the parties and Congress seem to be unable to come together to effectively address either the structural challenges of the political system or the issues facing the nation, and studies reveal that the gap between Democratic and Republican voters is growing. Despite all this, the major parties seem to be here to stay, as third or minor parties still struggle to field electable candidates for most any office. What is going on? Are these new trends in American politics? And how did it get so bad?
This lecture analyzes the development of the political parties and the nation's historical experiences with political dysfunction, then offers thoughts on the causes and consequences of the partisan gridlock and dysfunction, and closes with ideas for reform.
Robert Watson is the Distinguished Professor of American History at Lynn University. A frequent media commentator, he has been interviewed by CNN, MSNBC, “Time,” “USA Today,” “The New York Times,” and the BBC and others, and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Book TV,” “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” He has received multiple Professor of the Year awards at Lynn and other universities, and published 40 books on topics in history and politics. His book “America’s First Crisis” won the book of the year award in history at the Independent Publishers’ awards and his book “The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn” won the Commodore Barry Book Award.
Jeffrey Engel / Southern Methodist University
The Cold War's end was supposed to bring about a new era of East-West cooperation, integrating Russia for perhaps the first time as an equal player in European and Atlantic affairs. Democracy was emerging, along with free markets. The end of old history appeared in sight, replaced by the new. We were poised to share "one common European home," the Soviet Union's Mikhail Gorbachev pledged. And we shall all have peace. "Eastern Europe is free," George H.W. Bush proclaimed as 1991 came to an end. "This is a victory for democracy and freedom. Every American can take pride in this victory."
Well, the promised post-Cold War peace did not endure. The West's triumph brought the average citizen in the former Soviet Union a shorter life-span, a lower standard of living, and a long list of new grudges. As Boris Yeltsin gave way to Vladimir Putin by the 20th century’s end, the stage was set for what some are now terming a new Cold War, replete with hacking, election influence, annexations, and new East-West tensions. Moscow once more appears Washington's adversary, though that is a view seldom voiced in the White House. How did we get from the Cold wars end to its apparent renewal? This lecture tells that tale.
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.”
Tina Rivers Ryan / Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo), Formerly Columbia University
A leader of the High Renaissance of the early sixteenth century, Michelangelo Buonarroti was legendary even in his own time for his inventiveness as an artist: Giorgio Vasari, the godfather of art history, wrote that he had been endowed by God with "universal ability in every art and every profession…to the end that the world might choose him and admire him as its highest exemplar in the life, works, saintliness of character, and every action of human creatures, and that he might be acclaimed by us as a being rather divine than human."
In this talk, we will trace the arc of Michelangelo's storied life, from his upbringing by the powerful Medici family, to his glory days as architect and artist to the Popes, and his spiritual re-awakening late in life. Along the way, we will look closely at his paintings and sculptures, including the Sistine Chapel ceiling, the Last Judgment, the Pietà, and the David, in order to understand the importance of his unique artistic vision. Through his works, we will come to better understand the man behind the legend–a passionate artist and competitive rival to the likes of Raphael and Bramante–whose outstanding achievements and temperament gave rise to the modern notion of the artistic "genius.”
An art historian by training, Dr. Tina Rivers Ryan is currently Assistant Curator of contemporary art at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. She holds a BA from Harvard, three Master’s Degrees, and a PhD from Columbia, and has taught classes on art at institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, the Pratt Institute, and Columbia, where she was one of the top-ranked instructors of the introduction to art history, “Art Humanities: Masterpieces of Western Art.” A regular critic for Artforum, her writing has also appeared in periodicals such as Art in America and Art Journal, and in catalogs published by museums including The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Walker Art Center. As a public speaker and scholar, Dr. Ryan has delivered lectures on topics ranging from Michelangelo to Warhol in more than 50 cities internationally.