Upcoming Events: Humanities

Thu 10/23

Image - The Return of George Washington

The Return of George Washington

Date: Thu, October 23, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM

Edward Larson, Author, The Return of George Washington; Professor of History, Pepperdine University

Did George Washington retire to Mount Vernon after winning the Revolutionary War? Did he stay out of politics until he was drafted to become the first president? Edward Larson argues that, during his so-called "lost period," George Washington remained the indispensable person behind the movement toward a stronger union based on a constitution. Come hear how this founding father quietly worked behind the scenes to lay a secure foundation for our long-lived democracy.

Tue 11/4

Image - Founders' Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln (MLF)

Founders' Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln

Date: Tue, November 04, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM
Lincoln's life as a struggle to carry on the work of the Founding Fathers.

Richard Brookhiser, Historian

Abraham Lincoln turned to Washington, Paine and Jefferson for knowledge, guidance, inspiration and purpose. He brought their vision to bear on the Civil War and the question of slavery. In Founders' Son, celebrated historian Richard Brookhiser presents Lincoln's life as a struggle to carry on the work of the Founding Fathers. From Lincoln’s humble origins in Kentucky to his assassination in D.C., Brookhiser shows us every side of the man: laborer, lawyer, congressman, president; storyteller, wit, lover of ribald jokes; depressive, poet, friend and visionary.

Wed 11/5

Go to Humanities West Book Discussion - A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus's Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich

Humanities West Book Discussion - A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus's Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich

Date: Wed, November 05, 2014
Time: 5:30 PM
A lucid account of the abuse of history.

Join us to discuss Harvard classics professor Christopher Krebs' lucid account of the abuse of history. Germania, written in 98 C.E. by the Roman official Tacitus, was lost for centuries but resurfaced around 1500. It launched a primitivist myth of ancient Germans as freedom-loving warriors, uncultured but honorable, in contrast with decadent Romans. In fact, Tacitus probably never visited Germany. He wrote for a Roman audience that shared his romantic view of northern barbarians. But enthusiastic German readers from Luther to Himmler ignored Tacitus's disparaging comments and misread passages to confirm their prejudices. Krebs warns against this irresistible human yearning to find written proof of one's ideology. Lynn Harris will lead the discussion.

Fri 11/7

Image - The Crusades of Cesar Chavez

The Crusades of Cesar Chavez

Date: Fri, November 07, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM

Miriam Pawel, Author, The Crusades of Cesar Chavez

On November 9, 1984, at the invitation of then-President Shirley Temple Black, Cesar Chavez gave a memorable lecture at the Club. To celebrate its 30th anniversary, Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Miriam Pawel will describe the details of the complex life of Chavez, one of the great iconic leaders of the 20th century, one of the most celebrated Latinos in U.S. history and one of the most effective labor organizers California has ever seen. Now that Chavez is once again the focus of public attention, a balanced view of his contributions and his difficulties is all the more valuable.

Mon 11/10

Image - Umpire or Empire? The History and Future of American Leadership

Umpire or Empire? The History and Future of American Leadership

Date: Mon, November 10, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Monday Night Philosophy

Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, Dwight Stanford Professor of American Foreign Relations, San Diego State University; National Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Monday Night Philosophy dives into the history of U.S. foreign policy. Most historians believe the U.S. is an empire; the past two presidents and most of the public disagree. What does it matter? Hoffman offers a challenging new interpretation of America's past with important implications for the way forward.

Wed 11/19

Image - Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2: The Difficulty of Speaking the Tr

Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2: The Difficulty of Speaking the Truth

Date: Wed, November 19, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM

Harriet Elinor Smith, Editor

Mark Twain wanted to write a completely candid autobiography, without "shirkings of the truth," so he decided to speak from the grave 100 years after his death. The Mark Twain Papers Project at the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley has fulfilled that desire. Editor Smith will discuss Twain's numerous observations about the difficulty of speaking the truth, and the strategies he adopted to remove his inhibitions, illustrating her talk with passages he suppressed during his lifetime. Come hear Mark Twain's "whole, frank mind" highlighted by his characteristic blend of humor and ire.

Go to Socrates Café

Socrates Café

Date: Wed, November 19, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Discussion of philosophical issues

The Humanities Forum brings Socrates Café to The Commonwealth Club. It will be held every third Wednesday evening for the discussion of philosophical issues. At each monthly meeting the group's facilitator, Bob Enteen, will invite participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic will briefly explain why she or he considers the subject interesting and important. An open discussion will follow, ending with a summary. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Mon 12/8

Image - Grapes of Wrath at 75: Retracing the Joads’ Journey

Grapes of Wrath at 75: Retracing the Joads’ Journey

Date: Mon, December 08, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Exploring the central themes of struggle and hope.

P.J. Palmer, Filmmaker; Videographer
Octavio Solis, Playwright; Director
Patricia Wakida, Writer; Linoleum Block-Print Artist

Monday Night Philosophy celebrates the 75th Anniversary of the publication of John Steinbeck’s seminal novel, The Grapes of Wrath. Its central themes of struggle and hope are still relevant today.

Hear the three artists who were commissioned by The National Steinbeck Center in Salinas to retrace the Joad family’s journey from Oklahoma to California, and to gather stories from people they met along their route. Together they created a living portrait of everyday Americans facing the same challenges as the Joads – poverty, joblessness, environmental change – and responding with strength and resilience.

Wed 12/17

Go to Socrates Café

Socrates Café

Date: Wed, December 17, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Discussion of philosophical issues.

The Humanities Forum brings Socrates Café to The Commonwealth Club. It will be held every third Wednesday evening for the discussion of philosophical issues. At each monthly meeting the group's facilitator, Bob Enteen, will invite participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic will briefly explain why she or he considers the subject interesting and important. An open discussion will follow, ending with a summary. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Mon 1/12

Image - Machtinger on Mercy in Mozart's Menuetto-Allegretto

Machtinger on Mercy in Mozart's Menuetto-Allegretto

Date: Mon, January 12, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Steven Machtinger, Attorney & Violinist

Steven Machtinger, Attorney; Violist, San Joaquin River School of Music; Independent Mozart Scholar

Monday Night Philosophy returns to the exploration of the philosophical concepts that are encoded into Mozart's chamber music. In this lecture-performance, we will hear how Mozart, through the use of symbolic motifs, touches on themes of judgment and mercy in the Menuetto-Allegretto movement of his String Quintet in G minor, K. 516.

Wed 1/21

Go to Socrates Café

Socrates Café

Date: Wed, January 21, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Discussion of philosophical issues.

The Humanities Forum brings Socrates Café to The Commonwealth Club. It will be held every third Wednesday evening for the discussion of philosophical issues. At each monthly meeting the group's facilitator, Bob Enteen, will invite participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic will briefly explain why she or he considers the subject interesting and important. An open discussion will follow, ending with a summary. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Wed 1/28

Go to Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death

Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death

Date: Wed, January 28, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Katy Butler, Author

Katy Butler, Author, Knocking on Heaven's Door

When does death cease to be a curse and start to become a blessing? Where is the line between saving a life and prolonging a dying? When is the right time to say to a doctor, “Let my loved one go”? Science writer and essayist Katy Butler explores these questions through a blend of investigative reporting and memoir. When doctors refused to disable her aged, very ill father’s pacemaker, sentencing him to a protracted and agonizing death, Butler set out to understand why. Her quest had barely begun when her mother faced her own illness, refused open-heart surgery, and instead met death head-on. This story is the fruit of her family’s journey.

 

Wed 2/4

Go to Humanities West Book Discussion: Two Lives of Charlemagne, by Einhard and the Monk of St. Gall (MLF)

Humanities West Book Discussion: Two Lives of Charlemagne, by Einhard and the Monk of St. Gall (MLF)

Date: Wed, February 04, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM
The Holy Roman emperor and “father of Europe.”

Join us to discuss the life of Charlemagne, the Holy Roman emperor and “father of Europe.” One biography we’ll look at is by Einhard, who joined the royal court in 791 to serve as an epic poet, mathematician and architect. His work is believed to be the most accurate portrayal of Charlemagne and the finest biography of its time. This edition also contains the highly anecdotal "life" of Charlemagne, penned by the Monk of Saint Gall, whose accuracy is scorned but whose witty tales keep popping up in modern biographies. Lynn Harris will lead the discussion.

Wed 2/18

Go to Socrates Café

Socrates Café

Date: Wed, February 18, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Discussion of philosophical issues.

The Humanities Forum brings Socrates Café to The Commonwealth Club. It will be held every third Wednesday evening for the discussion of philosophical issues. At each monthly meeting the group's facilitator, Bob Enteen, will invite participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic will briefly explain why she or he considers the subject interesting and important. An open discussion will follow, ending with a summary. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Wed 3/4

Go to Humanities West Book Discussion - The Song of Roland

Humanities West Book Discussion - The Song of Roland

Date: Wed, March 04, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM
A Classical epic that glorifies the heroism of Charlemagne.

Join us to discuss The Song of Roland, the anonymous classical epic that glorifies the heroism of Charlemagne in the 778 battle between the Franks and the Moors. Lynn Harris will lead the discussion.

Mon 3/9

Image - Minimizing Fear

Minimizing Fear

Date: Mon, March 09, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM

George Hammond, Author, Rational Idealism and Conversations With Socrates

Monday Night Philosophy understands that we have explained life to ourselves in ways that have scared us silly for so long that it has become an engrained habit. Ironically, it's a habit we rather enjoy because fear often keeps us more alert than we'd otherwise be. But there are other ways to remain intellectually alert to the nuances of life that are not so debilitating. So tonight we'll sort through those fears with the goal of understanding how unlikely it is that these fears are justified, eliminating those that are highly irrational, and minimizing those that are merely ridiculous.

Mon 3/16

Image - The Amazons

The Amazons

Date: Mon, March 16, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Were these ancient warrior women fact or fiction?

Adrienne Mayor, Research Scholar, Classics and History and Philosophy of Science, Stanford University

Amazons – fierce warrior women dwelling on the fringes of the known world – were the mythic archenemies of the ancient Greeks. Heracles and Achilles dueled Amazon queens, and Cyrus of Persia, Alexander the Great and Pompey each tangled with them. But who were these bold barbarian archers on horseback? Were Amazons real? Mayor's is the first comprehensive account of warrior women in myth and history across the ancient world, including new archaeological discoveries of battle-scarred female skeletons buried with their weapons. Mayor argues that a timeless search for a balance between the sexes explains the allure of the Amazons and reminds us that there were as many Amazon love stories as there were war stories.

Wed 3/18

Go to Socrates Café

Socrates Café

Date: Wed, March 18, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Discussion of philosophical issues.

The Humanities Forum brings Socrates Café to The Commonwealth Club. It will be held every third Wednesday evening for the discussion of philosophical issues. At each monthly meeting the group's facilitator, Bob Enteen, will invite participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic will briefly explain why she or he considers the subject interesting and important. An open discussion will follow, ending with a summary. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Tue 7/14

Go to San Francisco's Jewel City

San Francisco's Jewel City

Date: Tue, July 14, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM

Laura Ackley, Architectural Historian; Author, San Francisco's Jewel City

San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition opened its doors to much acclaim a century ago. The fantastic goings-on in each of the 11 neoclassical palaces that transformed the Presidio found their way into many of the pages of the Commonwealth Club’s reports during that summer of 1915. The exposition, which attracted such renowned American figures as Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Edison, served as a poignant symbol for both San Francisco’s resurgence from the catastrophic 1906 earthquake and its irrepressible spirit of innovation that continues through today. Come celebrate this remarkable centennial with Laura Ackley, the author of San Francisco's Jewel City, which details the history of one of the most elaborate fairs ever held in our city.