• Students at the Athenaeum

    Marian Miner Cook

    A distinctive
    feature of social and
    cultural life at CMC

Welcome to The Athenaeum

Welcome to Athenaeum and the spring 2020 speaker program.

Unique in American higher education, the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum (the “Ath”) is a signature program of Claremont McKenna College. Four nights a week during the school year, the Ath brings scholars, public figures, thought leaders, artists, and innovators to engage with the CMC and Claremont College community in the Eggert Dining Room. In addition, the Ath also hosts lunch speakers, roundtables, and smaller presentations in its two auxiliary dining rooms.

For decades, the Ath has hosted a spectrum of luminaries with expertise and insight on a wide range of topics, both historical and contemporary. In the Ath’s intimate yet stimulating setting, students, faculty, staff, and other community members gather to hear the speaker, pose questions, and also to build community and exchange ideas over a shared meal.

At the core of the Ath is a longstanding commitment to student growth and learning. Central to the Ath are its two student Fellows, selected annually to host, introduce, and moderate discussion with the featured speaker. Priority is given to students in attendance during the question-and-answer session following every presentation. Moreover, speakers often take extra time to visit a class, meet with student interest groups, or give an interview to the student press and podcast team.

You may register online for open events.

We look forward to seeing you at the Ath.

Priya Junnar

Monday, January 27, 2020 - Evening Program
Constitutionalizing Black Inequality
Devon Carbado
Brown v. Board of Education is one of the most celebrated cases in United States constitutional history. In the popular imagination, the case marks a dichotomy between a “then”—a moment in which the Supreme Court constitutionalized Black inequality—and a “now”—a moment in which that inequality is no longer constitutionally sanctioned. In this Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Lecture, Devon Carbado, professor of law at UCLA’s School of Law, will disrupt this dichotomy. With specificity, he will highlight some ways in which the Supreme Court continues to constitutionalize Black inequality and argue that Black lives still do not matter in the domain of constitutionally legitimate forms of state violence.

Devon W. Carbado is the Honorable Harry Pregerson Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law where he teaches constitutional criminal procedure, constitutional law, critical race theory, and criminal adjudication. He also formerly served as UCLA’s associate vice chancellor of BruinX for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

Carbado has won numerous teaching awards, including being elected Professor of the Year by the UCLA School of Law classes of 2000 and 2006; he received the Law School's Rutter Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2003 and the University's Distinguished Teaching Award, the Eby Award for the Art of Teaching in 2007. In 2005, Carbado was an inaugural recipient of the Fletcher Foundation Fellowship, which is awarded to scholars whose work furthers the goals of Brown v. Board of Education. In 2018, he was named an inaugural recipient of the Atlantic Philanthropies Fellowship for Racial Equity.

Carbado writes in the areas of employment discrimination, criminal procedure, implicit bias, constitutional law, and critical race theory. His scholarship appears in law reviews at UCLA, Berkeley, Harvard, Michigan, Cornell, and Yale, among others. He is the author of "Acting White? Rethinking Race in “Post-Racial” America" (Oxford University Press) (with Mitu Gulati) and the editor of several volumes, including "Race Law Stories" (Foundation Press) (with Rachel Moran), "The Long Walk to Freedom: Runaway Slave Narratives" (Beacon Press) (with Donald Weise), and "Time on Two Crosses: The Collective Writings of Bayard Rustin" (Cleis Press) (with Donald Weise). He is currently working on a series of articles on affirmative action and a book on race, law, and police violence.A board member of the African American Policy Forum, Carbado was the Shikes Fellow in Civil Liberties and Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School in 2012.

Carbado graduated from Harvard Law School in 1994. At Harvard, he was editor-in-chief of the Harvard Black Letter Law Journal, a member of the Board of Student Advisors, and winner of the Northeast Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition. Carbado joined the UCLA School of Law faculty in 1997. He served as vice dean for faculty and research 2006-07 and again in 2009-10. 

Professor Carbado will deliver the 2020 Martin Luther King, Jr., Commemorative Lecture.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020 - Evening Program
The #MeToo Movement: The Legacy of Black Women's Testimonials
Allyson Hobbs
Allyson Hobbs, director of African and African American Studies at Stanford and an associate professor of history at Stanford University, will explore themes from her upcoming book on the history of Black women's testimonials in the wake of the the #MeToo movement.

Allyson Hobbs is the director of African and African American Studies at Stanford and an associate professor of history at Stanford University where she teaches American identity, African American history, African American women’s history, and twentieth-century American history and culture. She has won numerous teaching awards, including the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize, the Graves Award in the Humanities, and the St. Clair Drake Teaching Award. She was honored by the Silicon Valley branch of the NAACP with a Freedom Fighter Award. She served as a juror for the Pulitzer Prize in History in 2017. 

She is also a contributing writer for The New Yorker and a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, The Root.com, The Guardian, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. 

Hobbs’s first book, "A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life," published by Harvard University Press in 2014, examines the phenomenon of racial passing in the United States from the late eighteenth century to the present. It won the Organization of American Historians’ Frederick Jackson Turner Prize for best first book in American history and the Lawrence Levine Prize for best book in American cultural history, among other accolades.

She is now at work on two books—one a history of Black women’s testimonials of sexual violence in the wake of #MeToo, expanding upon her article for The New Yorker, "One Year of #MeToo: The Legacy of Black Women’s Testimonies"; and "Far From Sanctuary: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights," which explores the violence, humiliation, and indignities that Black motorists experienced on the road during the pre-Civil Rights era, at a time when the open road in an automobile symbolized the American dream. 

Hobbs graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and earned her Ph.D. with distinction from the University of Chicago. She has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research, and the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity at Stanford.

Professor Hobbs’s Athenaeum talk is co-sponsored by the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies at CMC.

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Wednesday, January 29, 2020 - Evening Program
Living Machines: How the Next Tech Revolution Will Change Our Lives
Susan Hockfield
A century ago, discoveries in physics came together with engineering to produce an array of revolutionizing new technologies which changed the world and the human experience. Today, says Susan Hockfield, former president of MIT and world-renowned neuroscientist, we are on the cusp of a new convergence where discoveries in biology are converging with engineering to produce an array of almost inconceivable next-generation technologies with the potential to be as paradigm shifting as the twentieth century’s wonders: Virus-built batteries. Protein-based water filters. Mind-reading bionic limbs. Cancer-detecting nanoparticles. Computer-engineered crops. Together they highlight the promise of the technology revolution of the twenty-first century which might just enable us to overcome our greatest humanitarian, medical, and environmental challenges.

A neuroscientist by training, Susan Hockfield is the first woman to lead MIT and is the author of the "The Age of Living Machines," which speaks to the technological-biological revolution known as “convergence.” In the 20th century, technologies such as aircraft, the telephone, and the Internet changed our world—to the point where life today is inconceivable without them. In the 21st century, Hockfield says, radical new “convergence” technologies will play a similar role to reshape every facet of our world. “Living Machines,” like virus-built batteries, big-data designed food crops, mind-reading bionic limbs, and countless other inventions are only a few of the practical developments she discusses. With an eye towards how they will affect various industries, from energy, to manufacturing, to health care, to agriculture, to virtually anything, Hockfield provides a first glance into the shape of the world to come.

Hockfield’s ground-breaking career has spanned America’s most prestigious schools. At Yale, she was professor of neurobiology; she subsequently served as the dean of Yale’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and then as Yale’s provost before moving on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She served as MIT's 16th president from December 2004 through June 2012, the first woman and the first life scientist to lead the institute.

Hockfield has also held the Marie Curie Visiting Professorship at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She has served as a U.S. Science Envoy to Turkey with the U.S. Department of State, and served as the inaugural co-chair of the White House-led Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, a task force of government, industry, and academic leaders. Currently, she is a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and professor of neuroscience at MIT.

President Hockfield’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the President’s Leadership Fund.

Thursday, January 30, 2020 - Evening Program
How to Think About The Development of Democracy Today
Sheri Berman
It is hard to be an optimist about democracy today. Indeed, many believe that democracy is in crisis, if not inevitable decline, and that "illiberal" democracies like Hungary or some form of authoritarianism, as exists in Russia or China, is the wave of the future. Sheri Berman, professor of political science at Barnard College, Columbia University, asserts that assessing the current state of democracy requires looking beyond our immediate situation and thinking carefully about how democracy has historically developed. By reviewing democracy's backstory, particularly in Europe, Berman will pull out some lessons to better understand what is going on in the world today.

Sheri Berman is professor of political science at Barnard College, Columbia University. Her research interests include the development of democracy and dictatorship, European politics, populism, and fascism, and the history of the left. She is author of books on European social democracy and the fate of democracy during the interwar years, social democracy and fascism in 19th and 20th century Europe. Her latest book is "Democracy and Dictatorship in Europe: From the Ancien Régime to the Present Day."  In addition to scholarly work on these and other subjects, she has published in a wide variety of non-scholarly publications including the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, VOX, The Guardian and Dissent.  

Professor Berman’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies and the Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World, both at CMC.

Friday, January 31, 2020 - Lunch Program
Green Careers Conference Keynote
Hudson Moore '06
Hudson Moore ‘06, global director of metal procurement & sustainability at Anheuser-Busch InBev, will talk about the global brewer's ambitious 2025 global sustainability pillars: Smart Agriculture, Water Stewardship, Circular Packaging, Climate Action.

Hudson Moore ‘06 is global director of metal procurement & sustainability at Anheuser-Busch InBev, a leading global brewer with a portfolio of over 500 beer brands, including Budweiser, Michelob ULTRA, and Stella Artois. In 2018, AB InBev launched its ambitious 2025 global sustainability pillars: Smart Agriculture, Water Stewardship, Circular Packaging, Climate Action.

A 2006 graduate of Claremont McKenna College where he studied history, Hudson grew up in San Diego. His interest in the global beer industry began at CMC when he joined the Ben Franklin Society, CMC’s home brewing club. After starting his career in financial services, Hudson earned his MBA at Duke University and joined Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2012. In his eight years with the company, he has held various roles in sustainable sourcing and sales strategy, located in the U.S. and Belgium. In his current role, Hudson and his team are responsible for developing and executing the global sustainable sourcing strategy for aluminum cansheet, with a focus on achieving key 2025 sustainability targets of 70% recycled content in cans and 25% carbon footprint reduction.

Mr. Hudson’s Athenaeum presentation is the keynote address for the 2020 Green Careers Conference sponsored by the Roberts Environmental Center. 

Monday, February 03, 2020 - Evening Program
Poetry Reading, Reflections, and Conversation: An Evening with Robert Hass and Brenda Hillman
Robert Hass and Brenda Hillman
Celebrated poets Robert Hass and Brenda Hillman will read their works and share their personal reflections.  

Robert Hass is a poet of great eloquence, clarity, and force, whose work is rooted in the landscapes of his native Northern California. In his tenure as United States Poet Laureate, Robert Hass spent two years battling American illiteracy, armed with the mantra, “imagination makes communities.” He crisscrossed the country speaking at Rotary Club meetings, raising money to organize conferences such as “Watershed,” which brought together noted novelists, poets, and storytellers to talk about writing, nature, and community. When he is talking about poetry itself, Hass is both spontaneous and original, offering poetic insights that cannot be found in any textbook.

A prolific poet, Hass’s books of poetry include “The Apple Trees at Olema,” and “Time and Materials.” Awarded the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, twice the National Book Critics’ Circle Award (in 1984 and 1997), the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Yale Series of Younger Poets in 1973, and the 2014 Wallace Stevens Award, Robert Hass is a professor of English at UC Berkeley.

(Excerpted from The University of Arizona’s Poetry Center’s website.)

One of contemporary American poetry’s most eclectic and formally innovative writers, Brenda Hillman is known for poems that draw on elements of found texts and document, personal meditation, observation, and literary theory. Often described as “sensuous” and “luminescent,” Hillman’s poetry investigates and pushes at the possibilities of form and voice, while remaining grounded in topics such as geology, the environment, politics, family, and spirituality. In an interview with Sarah Rosenthal, Hillman described her own understanding of form: “It is the artist’s job to make form. Not even to make it, but to allow it. Allow form. And all artists have a different relationship to it, and a different philosophy of it … I think that when you are trying to open up a territory—in this case I was working with a desire to open the lyric—you have to be greedy, in that you want more than you can do. And you’re always bound to fail.” Praising Hillman’s deft handling of form and subject, Marjorie Welish wrote, “Each poem … creates its own experimental configuration, within which the phrase swerves and discombobulates sense, as several registers of subject complicate the sampling of experiences and also as the experimental format throws the lyric into symbolic disarray one moment and naturalist scrutiny the next. And even more: she writes as if the lyric poem had a political calling.”

Born in 1951 in Tucson, Arizona, Hillman earned degrees at Pomona College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. The author of over 10 books of poetry, she has received numerous awards for her work including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Academy of American Poets, the Poetry Society of America, as well as a Pushcart Prize and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award. Her collection Bright Existence (1993) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and Loose Sugar (1997) a finalist for the National Book Critic’s Circle Award. She co-translated Ashur Etwebi’s Poems from Above the Hill (2011), Jeongrye Choi’s Instances (2011), and Ana Cristina Cesar’s At Your Feet (2018); and edited or coedited several volumes, including The Pocket Emily Dickinson (2009). A professor of creative writing, she holds the Olivia Filippi Chair in Poetry at St. Mary’s College, in Moraga, California. (Excerpted from the Poetry Foundation website.)

Photo credits: Hass photo—Shoey Sindel; Hillman photo: University of Arizona Poetry Center


Meal reservations for this event are not yet available.
Tuesday, February 04, 2020 - Evening Program
The Work of Viet Thanh Nguyen: Refugee Stories & American Greatness
Viet Thanh Nguyen
In a conversational format, Viet Than Nguyen, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book, "The Sympathizer," will explore questions of immigration, identity, love, family, and the American dream.

Viet Than Nguyen and his family came to the United States as refugees during the Vietnam War in 1975. As he grew up in America, he began to notice that most movies and books about the war focused on Americans while the Vietnamese remained silenced. Inspired by this lack of representation, he began to write about the war from a Vietnamese perspective, globally reimagining what we thought we knew about the conflict. The New York Times says that his novel, "The Sympathizer," which won the Pulitzer Prize among other awards, “fills a void…giving voice to the previously voiceless while it compels the rest of us to look at the events of forty years ago in a new light.”

Nguyen’s book "Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War" was a finalist for the National Book Award. Author Ari Kelman praises Nothing Ever Dies saying it, “provides the fullest and best explanation of how the Vietnam War has become so deeply inscribed into national memory.” His collection of short stories, "The Refugees," explores questions of immigration, identity, love, and family. In 2018, Nguyen called on 17 fellow refugee writers from across the globe to shed light on their experiences, and the result is "The Displaced," a powerful dispatch from the individual lives behind current headlines, with proceeds to support the International Rescue Committee.

Nguyen was the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant. The MacArthur foundation noted that his work “not only offers insight into the experiences of refugees past and present, but also poses profound questions about how we might more accurately and conscientiously portray victims and adversaries of other wars.”

Nguyen is a University Professor, Aerol Arnold Chair of English, and Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity, and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California. He also works as a cultural critic-at-large for The Los Angeles Times.

Professor Nguyen’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Center for Writing and Public Discourse at CMC.

Meal reservations for this event are not yet available.

Follow the Athenaeum


Unless otherwise noted, lunch begins at 11:45 a.m.; speaker presentations begin at 12:15 p.m.
Evening receptions begin at 5:30 p.m.; dinner is served at 6 p.m.; speaker presentations begin at 6:45 p.m.

The Athenaeum facilitates dynamic interactions and dialogue that underscore
the essence of a liberal arts education.