Saturday, March 16, 2019 9:30 am - 1:15 pm
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.
Jeremi Suri / University of Texas
The American presidency is the most powerful political office in the world. Surprisingly, most contemporary presidents have found themselves severely constrained in their ability to pursue their chosen agendas for domestic and foreign policy change. This lecture will explain why, focusing on the nature of government bureaucracy, the range of American challenges and commitments, and the development of the modern media.
We will begin with the founding vision of the U.S. presidency and the actions of its first occupant, George Washington. Then, we’ll examine the presidencies of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and the most recent office-holders. We will focus on how the power of the presidency has changed over time and what that has meant for American society. The lecture will close with reflections for how we can improve presidential leadership in future years.
Jeremi Suri holds the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a professor in the University’s Department of History and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Professor Suri is the author and editor of nine books on contemporary politics and foreign policy, most recently: “The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America’s Office.” His research and teaching have received numerous prizes. In 2007 Smithsonian Magazine named him one of America’s “Top Young Innovators” in the Arts and Sciences. In 2018 Suri received the President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Texas, and the Pro Bene Meritis Award for Public Contributions to the Liberal Arts.