Saturday, March 10, 2018 9:30 am - 1:15 pm
Seth Lerer / University of California at San Diego
Literature has always shaped societies, built cultures, and helped readers grow. This course explores four great novels that have helped to change our modern, western world – the world of personal feeling, social experience, family belonging, and moral imagination. Charles Dickens's Great Expectations stands as the defining novel of the individual in society, struggling to become a person and a writer in the heart of a new empire. George Orwell's 1984 remains the classic of dystopia – a satire on a totalitarian past, but also a lesson for a democratic future. Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man makes us all aware of how race and region bear on our culture, while Viet Nguyen's brilliant new book, The Sympathizer, reveals just how much our world has changed, now, in response to different communities in contact and in conflict.
All of these books are stories not just of politics and people, but of writers. All of these books show the power of the literary imagination to make and remake our world. They dramatize how our modern ideas of the hero have adapted to new pressures. They make us laugh, cry, ponder, and pause. They teach that the art of reading is essential to negotiating unfamiliar landscapes in our cities and our classrooms. These books have changed, and will continue to change, the ways we think and feel. Whatever happens, books will survive. These are four of them that will live on, both to instruct and to delight us in the future.
Seth Lerer is Distinguished Professor of Literature and former Dean of Arts and Humanities at the University of California at San Diego. He has published widely on literature and language, most recently on Children’s Literature, Jewish culture, and the life of the theater. He has been awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Truman Capote Prize in Criticism. His book, “Tradition: A Feeling for the Literary Past,” appeared in 2016, and his most recent book, “Shakespeare’s Lyric Stage,” was published in 2018.
Barry Schwartz / UC Berkeley
It seems only logical that the more choice people have, the better off they are. People who don't care can ignore most options. And people who do care will be able to find just what they want. But however true this is logically, /psycho/logically it is false. Too much choice can paralyze people, lead them to make bad decisions and make them dissatisfied with even good decisions. This is especially true for people who are out to get the "best." Our task is to find ways to limit options so that people derive the benefits of choice without suffering the psychological costs.
Barry Schwartz is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Swarthmore College and Visiting Professor at the Haas School of Business, U.C. Berkeley. He has written several books about human behavior on topics like choice, wisdom, and motivation. He is also the recipient of the Class of 2016 Commencement Award.
Alison Gash / University of Oregon
Free speech is at the foundation of almost every political battle in the United States–and for good reason. It is the basis of our democracy. As Benjamin Franklin said, "Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government: When this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved." Yet, as critical as they may be to a functioning democracy, our rights to free speech are also among the most contested. From campuses to football fields, and whether to protest war, oppose elections, catalyze hate or highlight racial injustice, fights over the meaning and exercise of free speech dominate every critical political moment in American history.
This course provides an overview of the most important and contentious battles over free speech in order to highlight how deeply contested and significant free speech is in American politics. The course will look at historical and contemporary debates over free speech, examining how the founding fathers understood free speech at the time of the Constitutional convention, how courts have expanded and altered the scope and breadth of our free speech rights, and how politicians and activists have used free speech as a way of either constraining or promoting particular perspectives. The course will also explore conflicts between free speech and other Constitutional rights. Some of the most prominent free speech battles have been waged against the backdrop of white supremacy, policy brutality, and gay rights. Students will come to see how questions over the difference between free speech and hate speech–over expression or exclusion–are a major component of some of the most heated and salient civil rights struggles.
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.