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Welfare, war, marriage among
topics in fall lecture series at Illinois
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. —
Poverty and social justice will be the featured topic for three prominent
journalists – Jason DeParle, Leon Dash and Nicholas Lemann –
in talks this fall sponsored by the Center
for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Other topics on the CAS schedule for early fall, to be addressed by
a wide range of speakers: the war in Iraq, marriage and gays, how artists
deal with war, the science of stem-cell research, the Indian software
industry, Tennessee Williams, the structure of social networks, global
food, and the zoot suit riots of the 1940s.
The lectures, except where noted, are part of the CAS MillerComm series,
begun in 1973 and supported with funds from the George A. Miller Endowment
and several co-sponsoring campus units. The MillerComm lectures provide
a forum for discourse on topics spanning the university’s many
All CAS talks are free and open to the public.
The first lecture of the fall semester will take place Aug. 29 and is
titled “Social Networks and Social Dynamics in a Small World.”
The speaker will be Duncan Watts, professor of sociology at Columbia
University and author of “Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected
Age” (2003). Watts will discuss the history of the idea that each
person can be connected to everyone else through only six degrees of
separation, and how the structure of social networks affects everything
from job searches to cultural fads. His MillerComm lecture, also part
of the CAS Initiative on “The Age of Networks,” begins at
4 p.m. on the third floor of the Levis
Faculty Center, 919 W. Illinois St., Urbana.
Subsequent lectures scheduled through September and October:
• Sept. 8, “The Global Food Court: Fast Food, Slow Food, Imperial
Food,” by John Feffer, independent journalist and author. Feffer
will trace the impact of global power on food courts, from the Crystal
Place in London in 1851 to the mysterious bourbon chicken that can be
found today in almost every food court in the U.S. His talk, part of
the CAS Initiative on Globalization, begins at 4 p.m. on the third floor
of the Levis Faculty Center.
• Sept. 12, “A Shot at the American Dream,” by Jason DeParle,
senior writer at the New York Times and author of “American Dream:
Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation’s Desire to End Welfare”
(2004). DeParle will discuss the complex unfolding of policy changes
in the 1990s that led to ending “welfare as we know it,”
and the resulting consequences for poor Americans. His MillerComm talk,
also part of the School of Social Work’s 60th anniversary, begins
at 4 p.m. on the third floor of the Levis Faculty Center.
• Sept. 14, “The Indian Software Industry: Managing Change
and Growth in the Knowledge Economy,” by N.R. Narayana Murthy,
chairman of the board and chief mentor for Infosys Technologies Limited.
Murthy will talk about how Indian firms have come to the forefront of
software services, and what further opportunities and challenges they
face in a rapidly changing world. His lecture, the Arnold O. Beckman
Lecture in Science and Innovation, begins at 4 p.m. in Foellinger Auditorium,
709 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana.
• Sept. 14, “Painting Out of Conflict: Velázquez,
the Dutch and Painting in the Time of War,” by Svetlana Alpers,
professor emerita of art history at the University of California, Berkeley.
Alpers will examine how artists have dealt with war, looking at striking
instances when attention to the medium of art offered an alternative
to strife. Her MillerComm talk, also the Phillipp Fehl Annual Lecture,
begins at 5:30 p.m. in Room 62 of the Krannert
Art Museum, 500 E. Peabody Drive, Champaign.
• Sept. 22, “After Iraq: U.S. Diplomacy and the Crisis of
International Legitimacy,” by John Brady Kiesling, a former career
diplomat who publicly resigned from the U.S. State Department prior
to the war in Iraq.
Kiesling will discuss strategies for repairing America's damaged international
legitimacy and influence in the wake of Iraq and the declared global
war on terror. His lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. on the third floor of
the Levis Faculty Center.
• Oct. 6, “Marriage as a Human Rights Battlefield,”
by Evan Wolfson, executive director of the Freedom to Marry Project
and adjunct professor of law at Columbia University. Wolfson will explore
marriage and its history, for gays and heterosexuals, and how he believes
the current fight over the issue is being used to start a backlash aimed
not just at gays and lesbians but also at all nontraditional families.
His talk begins at 7:30 p.m. on the third floor of the Levis Faculty
• Oct. 7, “Tennessee Williams: Radical of the Heart,”
by Christopher Bigsby, professor of American studies and director of
the Arthur Miller Center, University of East Anglia, England. Bigsby
will trace the growth of the young political writer Tom Williams, beginning
with his days in 1930s Depression-era St. Louis, into the dramatic playwright
Tennessee Williams, author of “The Glass Menagerie” and
“A Streetcar Named Desire.” His lecture begins at 2 p.m.
in the Studio Theatre in the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts,
500 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana.
• Oct. 11, “Journalism and the Underclass,” by Leon Dash,
a CAS professor of journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Dash, a former reporter for the Washington Post, will talk about social
exclusion, urban poverty and life for those in the underclass, a subset
of the poor distinguished by their involvement in petty crime and criminal
recidivism. His talk, the CAS Annual Lecture, begins at 7:30 p.m. in
the Tryon Festival Theatre in the Krannert
Center for the Performing Arts.
• Oct. 17, “Embryonic Stem Cell Research: A Scientific Overview,”
by James Thomson, professor of anatomy, obstetrics, and gynecology at
the University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison. Thomson, who developed
the embryonic stem cell procedure, will discuss the science involved,
as well as its ethical, legal and political aspects, in the U.S. and
abroad. His talk begins at 7:30 p.m. in Foellinger
• Oct. 25, “Zoot Suit Riots Revisited: Meditations on the Politics
of Style,” by Kathy Peiss, the Roy F. and Jennette P. Nichols
Chair of American History, University of Pennsylvania, and a George
A. Miller Endowment Visiting Professor at Illinois. Peiss will look
back at the cultural and political symbolism of the zoot suit, an oversized
suit popular with young men in the 1940s, and its infamous role in a
1943 Los Angeles riot between white servicemen and Mexican-American
“zooters.” Her lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. on the third
floor of the Levis Faculty Center.
• Oct. 27, “Journalism and Social Justice,” by Nicholas Lemann,
dean and Henry R. Luce Professor, Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia
University. Lemann will discuss the role that journalists have played
in uncovering and describing social conditions, and ask whether a journalism
of social justice can survive in the current media environment, and
what direction it might take. His talk begins at 7:30 p.m. in Room 100
Hall, 810 S. Wright St., Urbana.
Lemann’s lecture is being given in conjunction with the donation
of Leon Dash’s papers to the University Archives. Dash won a Pulitzer
Prize in 1995 for his Washington Post series “Rose Lee: Poverty
and Survival in Washington,” and now holds a Swanlund Chair at
Illinois. A ceremony marking the occasion will be held at 6 p.m., prior
to Lemann’s talk, in the Marshall Gallery of the University
Library, 1402 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana.
For additional information, or to confirm scheduling details prior to
a lecture, check the events links on the CAS
Details on CAS lectures scheduled for later this fall will appear in
a forthcoming news release.