Upcoming Events: Humanities

Thu 9/4

Image - The West Without Water

The West Without Water

Date: Thu, September 04, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Exploring the climate of the American West throughout history.

B. Lynn Ingram, Professor, Earth & Planetary Science and Geography, UC Berkeley; Co-author, The West Without Water
Frances Malamud-Roam, Senior Environmental Planner and Biologist, Caltrans; Co-author, The West Without Water
 
The West Without Water documents the tumultuous climate of the American West over 20 millennia, with tales of past droughts and deluges and predictions about the impacts of future climate change on water resources. Its authors ask the central questions of what is “normal” for the West, and whether the relatively benign climate of the past century will continue into the future. Their answers are derived by merging climate and paleoclimate research from a wide variety of sources.

Mon 9/8

Image - What Is It to Redeem Your Past? Some Lessons from Nietzsche and Kundera

What Is It to Redeem Your Past? Some Lessons from Nietzsche and Kundera

Date: Mon, September 08, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Straight from Stanford's The Art of Living course.

Lanier Anderson, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Stanford University

Monday Night Philosophy focuses on the ancient issues raised by the human ability to remember our pasts. Should it exert a heavy burden upon the present, or light the way to a better future? Though neither extreme is commonly indulged, redeeming ourselves from our apparently unredeemable pasts does get a lot of cultural attention. Straight from Stanford's The Art of Living course, hear Professor Anderson's views on Friedrich Nietzsche's and Milan Kundera's insights into one version of redemption.

Tue 9/9

Image - The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan

The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan

Date: Tue, September 09, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Creating the Reagan Revolution

Rick Perlstein, Author, The Invisible Bridge

The Invisible Bridge is a dazzling portrait of America on the verge of a nervous breakdown in the tumultuous 1970s. In the wake of Watergate, Nixon's resignation, congressional investigations of CIA assassinations and the chaotic end to the Vietnam War, Americans began thinking about their nation in a new way, as just one nation among many, no more providential than any other. But Ronald Reagan never got the message. Instead, he was reconstituting the conservative political culture we know now. Perlstein recalls that in America's bicentennial year, that temporary vision of patriotism rooted in a sense of American limits was quickly derailed by the rise of the smiling politician from Hollywood.

Thu 9/25

Image - Daring: My Passages

Daring: My Passages

Date: Thu, September 25, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM
An iconic guide for women and men seeking to have it all.
Gail Sheehy, Literary Journalist; Author, Daring: My Passages
 
Hear Gail Sheehy, author of the classic New York Times bestseller Passages, discuss her unguarded memoir, a thrilling tour of her trials and triumphs as a groundbreaking “girl” journalist starting in the 1960s, her growth into an iconic guide for women and men seeking to have it all and one of the premier political profilers of modern times.

Wed 10/1

Image - Humanities West Book Discussion
This event is Rescheduled

Humanities West Book Discussion - Livy's The Dawn of the Roman Empire, Books 31-40

Date: Wed, October 01, 2014
Time: 5:30 PM
Rome's emergence as an imperial nation and tempestuous involvement with Greece.

The Roman commander T.Q. Flamininus proclaimed the freedom of Greece at the Isthmian games near Corinth in 196 BC. Half a century later, Greece was annexed as a province by the Romans, who burned the ancient city of Corinth to the ground. Join us to discuss Books 31 to 40 of Livy's history, which charts Rome's emergence as an imperial nation and the Romans' tempestuous involvement with Greece, Macedonia and the near East. Lynn Harris will lead the discussion.

Mon 10/6

Image - The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meanin

The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning

Date: Mon, October 06, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM

Marcelo Gleiser, Author, The Island of Knowledge; Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Dartmouth College

To be human is to want to know, but what we are able to observe is only a tiny portion of what’s “out there.” Brazilian theoretical physicist Marcelo Gleiser traces our search for answers to the most fundamental questions of our existence and reaches a provocative conclusion: science, the main tool we use to find answers, is fundamentally limited. Our tools of exploration limit the precision of our perceptions, and the nature of physical reality (the speed of light, the uncertainty principle, the impossibility of seeing beyond the cosmic horizon, the incompleteness theorem) just adds to our own limitations as an intelligent species. These limitations, though, constitute neither a deterrent to progress nor a surrender to religion. Rather, they free us to question the meaning and nature of the universe while affirming the central role of life and ourselves in it.

Thu 10/9

Go to Humanities West Book Discussion - Livy's The Dawn of the Roman Empire, Books 31-40

Humanities West Book Discussion - Livy's The Dawn of the Roman Empire, Books 31-40

Date: Thu, October 09, 2014
Time: 5:30 PM
Rome's emergence as an imperial nation and tempestuous involvement with Greece.

The Roman commander T.Q. Flamininus proclaimed the freedom of Greece at the Isthmian games near Corinth in 196 BC. Half a century later, Greece was annexed as a province by the Romans, who burned the ancient city of Corinth to the ground. Join us to discuss Books 31 to 40 of Livy's history, which charts Rome's emergence as an imperial nation and the Romans' tempestuous involvement with Greece, Macedonia and the near East. Lynn Harris will lead the discussion.

Mon 10/13

Dryden Liddle

Emperor Augustus: A Force for Civilization

Date: Mon, October 13, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
The man who made empire from republican disarray

Dryden Liddle, Ph.D.

Monday Night Philosophy remembers Emperor Augustus, who died 2,000 years ago on August 19, 14 A.D. This gifted and successful politician seized power ruthlessly and was declared the savior of the Roman Republic even as he was abolishing it. He ruled as an autocrat but maintained the fiction that he was no more than the Republic’s First Citizen. His 40-year reign was Rome’s Golden Age, when a new imperial government inspired institutions to be established, and art, architecture and literature to flourish, creating a prosperous civilization that lasted for centuries.

Wed 10/15

Go to Socrates Café

Socrates Café

Date: Wed, October 15, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
A 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.

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.

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.

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 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.