Upcoming Events: Humanities

Thu 5/5

Image - M. Gerald Schwartzbach

A Candid Window into the American Criminal Justice System

Date: Thu, May 05, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

M. Gerald Schwartzbach, Author, Leaning on the Arc

Nationally renowned criminal defense attorney M. Gerald (Gerry) Schwartzbach, best known for winning the acquittal of actor Robert Blake, has written Leaning on the Arc. Mr. Schwartzbach argues that true justice can only happen when we refuse to objectify a criminal defendant—whether it is Robert Blake, civil rights activist Stephen Bingham, transplant surgeon Hootan Roozrokh, or anyone else. Actor/writer Peter Coyote has written that Leaning on the Arc is a “fascinating book packed with great tales of injustice subverted by intelligence and passion.”

Mon 5/9

Image - Spain in Our Hearts

Spain in Our Hearts

Date: Mon, May 09, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Adam Hochschild, Author, Spain in Our Hearts

Monday Night Philosophy follows award-winning author Adam Hochschild deep into the three crucial years in the 1930s when the Spanish Civil War dominated headlines in America and around the world. Volunteers rushed to help Spain’s democratically elected government fight off an uprising by right-wing army officers heavily backed by Hitler and Mussolini. Adam Hochschild brings alive a group of men and women who lived through this painful and dramatic period: a few are familiar figures like Hemingway and Orwell; others, until now, have been completely unknown.

Fri 5/13

Image - Sanford Levinson

Rereading The Federalist in the 21st Century

Date: Fri, May 13, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Sanford Levinson, Professor of Government and the John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood Jr. Centennial Chair in Law, University of Texas-Austin; Author, An Argument Open to All: Rereading The Federalist in the 21st Century

In An Argument Open to All, renowned legal scholar Sanford Levinson takes a novel approach to what is perhaps America’s most famous political tract. Rather than concern himself with the authors as historical figures, or how The Federalist helps us understand the original intent of the framers of the Constitution, Levinson examines each essay for the political wisdom it can offer us today. In 85 short essays, each keyed to a different essay in The Federalist, he considers such questions as whether present generations can rethink their constitutional arrangements; how much effort we should exert to preserve America’s traditional culture; and whether The Federalist’s arguments even suggest the desirability of world government.

Tue 5/17

Image - Jojo Capece

Portofino Souvenir

Date: Tue, May 17, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Jojo Capece, Author, Portofino Souvenir

Jojo Capece returns to the Club to speak about Portofino Souvenir, her third novel. Set in magnificent Portofino, Italy, Jojo's latest focuses on la dolce vita, marriage Italian-style, millions and billions of laundered Euros, confiscated art and intrigue. Embedded in the novel is the true story of Countess Francesca Agusta, one of Europe's wealthiest women, whose mysterious death illuminates the truth that being one of the 1 percent can be deadly.

Thu 5/19

Image - Nancy Unger

The Unexpected Belle La Follette: Progressive Model for 2016

Date: Thu, May 19, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Nancy C. Unger, Author, Belle La Follette

This program is part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard other Foundation.

In her new book Belle La Follette: Progressive Era Reformer, Nancy C. Unger reveals some surprising truths about this radical reformer (1859-1931) denounced as “disgraceful to the white race.” La Follette fought for votes for women, peace, civil rights … and more. Come discover, through a richly illustrated presentation, the progressive activist hailed by The New York Times as "perhaps the least known, yet the most influential of all the American women who have had to do with public affairs in this country."

Mon 5/23

Image - Celtic Myths and Legends

Humanities West Book Discussion: Celtic Myths and Legends

Date: Mon, May 23, 2016
Time: 5:00 PM

Join us to discuss Celtic Myths and Legends by Peter Berresford Ellis, an enchanting collection of the sagas of gods and goddesses, fabulous beasts, strange creatures, and heroes like Cuchulain, Fingal and King Arthur, including popular myths and legends from all six Celtic cultures: Irish, Scots, Manx, Welsh, Cornish and Breton. Discussion led by Lynn Harris.

Image - The Commonwealth Club of California

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, May 23, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

On one Monday evening of every month the Humanities Forum sponsors Socrates Café at The Commonwealth Club. Each meeting is devoted to the discussion of a philosophical topic chosen at that meeting. The group's facilitator, John Nyquist, invites participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic is asked to briefly explain why she or he considers that topic interesting and important. An open discussion follows, and the meeting ends with a summary of the various perspectives participants expressed. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Wed 6/1

Image - Jan Ellison

A Small Indiscretion

Date: Wed, June 01, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Jan Ellison, Author, A Small Indiscretion

This program is part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

Jan Ellison's debut novel, A Small Indiscretion, was a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2015. A graduate of Stanford, Jan left college for a year at 19 to study French in Paris, work in an office in London, and try her hand at writing. Twenty years later, her notes from that year became the germ of her acclaimed debut. She will discuss that journey, along with the long and winding road — paved with rejection and revision — to publishing her first short story, which went on to win an O. Henry Prize.

Mon 6/13

The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence

Date: Mon, June 13, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Dacher Keltner, Professor of Psychology, UC Berkeley; Co-Director, Greater Good Science Center; Author, The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence

Monday Night Philosophy investigates a revolutionary reconsideration of power. It is taken for granted that power corrupts. This is reinforced culturally by everything from Machiavelli to contemporary politics. But enduring power only comes from empathy and giving, because power is given to us by other people.

This is the crux of the power paradox: by fundamentally misunderstanding the behaviors that helped us to gain power in the first place, we set ourselves up to fall from power. We can't retain it because we've never understood it correctly. Dr. Keltner lays out exactly—in 20 original "Power Principles"—how to retain power, why power can be a demonstrably good thing, and the terrible consequences of letting those around us languish in powerlessness.

Mon 6/20

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, June 20, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

On one Monday evening of every month the Humanities Forum sponsors Socrates Café at The Commonwealth Club. Each meeting is devoted to the discussion of a philosophical topic chosen at that meeting. The group's facilitator, John Nyquist, invites participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic is asked to briefly explain why she or he considers that topic interesting and important. An open discussion follows, and the meeting ends with a summary of the various perspectives participants expressed. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Wed 7/13

The Brazen Age

Date: Wed, July 13, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

David Reid, Author, The Brazen Age

The Brazen Age is a sweeping look at the rich culture and turbulent politics of New York City between 1945 and 1950. But David Reid also reaches back to the early 1900s to explore the city’s progressive politics, radical artistic experimentation and burgeoning bohemian culture, to the quickly growing media, movie and radio businesses in the 1920s, and to the influx of talented Europeans in the 1930s, vastly enriching the sciences and the arts. Reid also delves into the city's influence on the Dewey-Truman election, as he captures a complex and powerful moment in the post-war history of New York City.

Mon 7/18

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, July 18, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

On one Monday evening of every month the Humanities Forum sponsors Socrates Café at The Commonwealth Club. Each meeting is devoted to the discussion of a philosophical topic chosen at that meeting. The group's facilitator, John Nyquist, invites participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic is asked to briefly explain why she or he considers that topic interesting and important. An open discussion follows, and the meeting ends with a summary of the various perspectives participants expressed. Everyone is welcome to attend. 

Wed 8/10

Image - Lorraine Bannai

Enduring Conviction: Fred Korematsu and His Quest for Justice

Date: Wed, August 10, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Lorraine Bannai, Professor of Lawyering Skills and Director, Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality, Seattle University School of Law; Author, Enduring Conviction: Fred Korematsu and His Quest for Justice

The vulnerability of minority communities has always been a big problem, but it is particularly so when fear exacerbates ignorance. Not long ago, it was Japanese Americans; now it is Muslims. Professor Bannai illuminates this theme through the story of Fred Korematsu, a 22-year-old Oakland welder who refused to comply with orders that led to the incarceration of more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry during World War II. In Korematsu v. United States­, the wartime Supreme Court rejected his challenge to the government in one of its most infamous cases. More than 40 years later, Professor Bannai was part of the legal team that successfully challenged Korematsu's conviction based on proof that the government had falsified the record.

For Korematsu’s courage and for his work warning of the dangers of prejudice, President Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.

Mon 8/15

Image - Bobby Kennedy

Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon

Date: Mon, August 15, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Larry Tye, Author, Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon

This program is part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

Nobody was better, half a century ago, at thinking about the biggest solutions for the problems of his age than Bobby, whether that be race riots roiling in cities across America, and especially in California; the war raging in Vietnam; or the general issue of inequality that was dividing people along lines of class, race, gender and generation.

Those issues, of course, are a mirror of those facing the country today, when RFK's message is more resonant than ever. He predicted we'd have a black president almost to the day, when no white politician dreamed of it. He talked about how our problems made us ripe for demagogues, though he'd never met Donald P. Trump but did know George Wallace better than anyone. And he offered ways out of all of that, in compelling enough terms to win the California primary and seem poised for the presidency.

Mon 8/29

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, August 29, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

On one Monday evening of every month the Humanities Forum sponsors Socrates Café at The Commonwealth Club. Each meeting is devoted to the discussion of a philosophical topic chosen at that meeting. The group's facilitator, John Nyquist, invites participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic is asked to briefly explain why she or he considers that topic interesting and important. An open discussion follows, and the meeting ends with a summary of the various perspectives participants expressed. Everyone is welcome to attend. 

Mon 9/26

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, September 26, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

On one Monday evening of every month the Humanities Forum sponsors Socrates Café at The Commonwealth Club. Each meeting is devoted to the discussion of a philosophical topic chosen at that meeting. The group's facilitator, John Nyquist, invites participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic is asked to briefly explain why she or he considers that topic interesting and important. An open discussion follows, and the meeting ends with a summary of the various perspectives participants expressed. Everyone is welcome to attend. 

Mon 10/24

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, October 24, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

On one Monday evening of every month the Humanities Forum sponsors Socrates Café at The Commonwealth Club. Each meeting is devoted to the discussion of a philosophical topic chosen at that meeting. The group's facilitator, John Nyquist, invites participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic is asked to briefly explain why she or he considers that topic interesting and important. An open discussion follows, and the meeting ends with a summary of the various perspectives participants expressed. Everyone is welcome to attend. 

Mon 11/7

Image - Leana Wen

Public Health and Physician Activism: Lessons from Baltimore

Date: Mon, November 07, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Leana Wen, MD, Emergency Physician, Commissioner of Health for Baltimore City; TED MED Speaker; Author, When Doctors Don't Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests

The Sixth Annual Lundberg Institute lecture focuses on Dr. Wen's experiences as Baltimore's commissioner of health during times of change, as our medical institutions are under pressure from all sides. She will also draw on her personal experiences as a child immigrant, who started learning English at age 8, but by 18 had already graduated summa cum laude from college. She will explain how those experiences have influenced her interest in improving patient-physician communication.

Mon 11/21

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, November 21, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

On one Monday evening of every month the Humanities Forum sponsors Socrates Café at The Commonwealth Club. Each meeting is devoted to the discussion of a philosophical topic chosen at that meeting. The group's facilitator, John Nyquist, invites participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic is asked to briefly explain why she or he considers that topic interesting and important. An open discussion follows, and the meeting ends with a summary of the various perspectives participants expressed. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Mon 12/19

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, December 19, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

On one Monday evening of every month the Humanities Forum sponsors Socrates Café at The Commonwealth Club. Each meeting is devoted to the discussion of a philosophical topic chosen at that meeting. The group's facilitator, John Nyquist, invites participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic is asked to briefly explain why she or he considers that topic interesting and important. An open discussion follows, and the meeting ends with a summary of the various perspectives participants expressed. Everyone is welcome to attend.