Sunday, February 17, 2019 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.
Alan Pomerantz / UC Berkeley School of Law
Throughout its history, the Supreme Court has been asked to address and rectify state and individual acts that discriminate against or prefer individuals based on their inherent characteristics such as race and sex (male vs female) – and their religious beliefs. The Court has clearly stated that discrimination based on race and sex are inconsistent with the Constitution's mandate of equal protection, and the government can neither abridge a person's "free" exercise of religion (the First Amendment's "Free Exercise Clause"), or prefer one religion over another (the First Amendment's "Establishment Clause"). In 2015 the Court held that state prohibitions on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional.
Recently, several well organized groups have challenged the Courts "same sex marriage" decision, and many governmental mandates as violating constitutionally protected individual rights of free exercise of religion, and freedom of speech. In 2014, a "religious freedom" argument was successfully made before the Court by a corporation refusing to purchase health insurance for its female employees that cover certain methods of birth control (Hobby Lobby Stores), and in the 2018 term a religious freedom and compelled speech arguments were advanced by a cake-maker refusing to make a cake for a same sex marriage (Masterpiece Cake), a born female identified as male high school student barred from using the boys' bathroom (Gavin Grimm), and various organizations challenging President Trump's "travel ban" as violating the religious clauses. Justice Kennedy has often been the "swing vote" on several of these decisions, being a strong proponent of both individual religious freedom and individual sexual preference. He is retiring. This presentation will address the conflict of several well established constitutionally protected rights – religion, speech and equal protection – and the likely outcome of future decisions.
Alan Pomerantz is a professor at U.C. Berkley, as well as a senior counsel at the international law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP and has been a national leader in the legal profession for many years. Chambers Global has recognized Mr. Pomerantz as one of the “World’s Leading Lawyers.” He is also consistently recognized by the International Financial Law Review’s Guide to the World’s Leading Lawyers. In 2015, he received the Fulbright Award for Global Citizenship from One To World for his representation of the interests of the Fulbright vision of international understanding.
Stephanie Yuhl / College of the Holy Cross
From the kiss in Times Square to “Rosie the Riveter” to “Saving Private Ryan,” Americans tend to cherish their memories of WWII as “the best war ever.” Yet the Vietnam War remains controversial and brings up an entirely different set of images – from anti-war protests to Agent Orange to the film, “Born on the Fourth of July.” What helps explain these radically different understandings of two wars only twenty years apart? Of course, things get even more interesting when we take into consideration the historical memories of the other nations involved in these conflicts.
In this course, we will examine how different societies remember these wars and what those memories might tell us about national hopes and values, about generational change, and even about decisions regarding the military. Animating this presentation is the notion that history is different from the past – it is the often contested way that the past is remembered in the present.
For more lectures about American history by Professor Stephanie Yuhl check out our American History lectures. Sign up for One Day University Membership today for unlimited access to hundreds of talks and online lectures.
Stephanie Yuhl is a Professor of History at the College of the Holy Cross. She is a recipient of the Fletcher M. Green and Charles W. Ramsdell Award for the best article published in the Journal of Southern History, as well as the Inaugural Burns Career Teaching Medal for Outstanding Teaching. Professor Yuhl is also an Associate at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in the Critical Conservation Program, and an expert in twentieth-century US cultural and social history, with specialities in historical memory, social movements, gender, and Southern history. She is the author of the award-winning book, “A Golden Haze of Memory: The Making of Historic Charleston.”