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    Marian Miner Cook

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Welcome to The Athenaeum

COVID-19 Update:

Dear Friends,

Athenaeum programming during spring 2021 will stay online and generally feature two evening Ath events per week. Like the fall, events will begin at 5 pm PST. The 2020-21 Ath Fellows will introduce the program; speakers will make comments and/or be in engaged in a moderated conversation. There will be about 15 minutes for question and answer before the program concludes at 6 pm.

We hope you stay connected and follow us on our Instagram and at Facebook.

See you soon, stay safe and healthy.

Warm regards,

Priya Junnar

Monday, April 19, 2021 - Evening Program
Surviving the Forgotten Genocide: An Armenian Memoir by John Minassian
Roderic Camp, Wendy Lower, Jeremy Anderson ‘19, Anoush Baghdassarian '18, Larissa Peltola '18, Rebecca Shane '19 & Kirsti Zitar '97
Starting in 1895 with the Turkish destruction of more than one million Armenian men, women, and children, the twentieth century has been named the century of genocide. The Armenian memoirist, John Minassian (1895-1991), lived through this tragedy as a teenager, witnessing the murder of his own kin, concealing his identity as an orphan and laborer in Syria, and eventually immigrating to the United States. Encouraged by his family and Armenian community to share and preserve his story, Minassian, who is also the grandfather of CMC Professor Rod Camp, first recorded and published his memoir in 1986. A panel of CMC alumni, students, and faculty who researched and annotated this memoir for its 2nd edition publication in 2020, will share selected passages from the book and relate them to their lives today. 

"Surviving the Forgotten Genocide: An Armenian Memoir" by John Minassian offers a rare and poignant testimony of a survivor of the Armenian genocide. The twentieth century was an era of genocide, which started with the Turkish destruction of more than one million Armenian men, women, and children—a modern process of erasure that began in 1895 and exploded under the cover of the First World War. John Minassian lived through this as a young man, witnessing the murder of his kin, concealing his identity as an orphan and laborer in Syria, and eventually immigrating to the United States to start his life anew. A rare testimony of a survivor of the Armenian genocide, one of just a handful of accounts in English, Minassian’s memoir is breathtaking in its vivid portraits of Armenian life and culture and poignant in its sensitive recollections of the many people who harmed and helped him. As well as a searing testimony, his memoir documents the wartime policies and behavior of Ottoman officials and their collaborators; the roles played by foreign armies and American missionaries; and the ultimate collapse of the empire. The author’s journey, and his powerful story of perseverance, despair, and survival, will resonate with readers today. 

This event commemorates the Annual Mgrublian Lecture on Armenian Studies and is co-sponsored by the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights, with special acknowledgement of the Minassian and Camp families for sharing their own personal history with us and our students, and now with the world. 


Wednesday, April 21, 2021 - Evening Program
Native American Life Beyond Wounded Knee
David Treuer
David Treuer is the author of "The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee," a sweeping history and counter-narrative of Native American life from the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre to the present. Treuer grew up Ojibwe on a reservation in Minnesota, trained as an anthropologist, and has spent his career researching Native lives, both past and present. In his work, both written and oral, Treuer explores the intense struggles to preserve Native identity and tells an essential, intimate story of a resilient people in a transformative era. Professor Treuer will deliver the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies' 2021 Lerner Lecture on Hinge Moments in History. Photo credit: Jean-Luc Bertini

Anthropologist and author David Treuer struggled with popular depictions of Native American history (including the bestselling Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee), many of which seemed to conclude that his culture was a relic of the past.  Having grown up on an Ojibwe reservation, Treuer knew that Native American history did not end with a battle in 1890. In both fiction and nonfiction, Treuer has spent his career dissecting narratives around Native American life, and reveals the unprecedented resourcefulness and reinvention it took to preserve Native languages, traditions, families.

In The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee, a shortlist nominee for the 2019 National Book Award in Nonfiction, Treuer combines history, reportage, and memoir to tell the sweeping story of the tribes’ distinctive cultures from their first contact with settlers, exploring how each era spawned new modes of survival. From devastating land seizures to forced assimilation and conscription, Treuer traces how each generation developed their own form of resistance and renewal. His previous works include four novels—Prudence, The Translation of Dr. Apelles, The Hiawatha, and Little—and Rez Life, a complex and subtle examination reservation life. In his talks, Treuer presents a counter-narrative to Native American history—one that tells an essential story of resiliency, survival, and strength in the face of catastrophic odds.

Treuer’s essays and stories have appeared in Granta, Harper’s, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Esquire, Slate, and The Washington Post, among others. In addition to his works of fiction and nonfiction, he is the author of a book of criticism, Native American Fiction: A User’s Manual. Treuer is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, two Minnesota Book Awards, and fellowships from the NEH, Bush Foundation, and Guggenheim Foundation. The Translation of Dr. Apelles was named a Best Book of the Year by the Washington Post, Time Out, and City Pages. Treuer is a graduate of Princeton University and earned a Ph.D. in anthropology. He divides his time between his home on the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota and Los Angeles, where he teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Southern California.

Professor Treuer will deliver the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies' 2021 Lerner Lecture on Hinge Moments in History.

Photo credit: Jean-Luc Bertini

(Text adapted from Penguin Random House Speakers' Bureau.)

Thursday, April 22, 2021 - Evening Program
Beyond Fordlândia: An Environmental Account of Henry Ford’s Adventure in the Amazon
Written, directed and produced by Marcos Colón, Beyond Fordlândia (2018, 75 min) presents an environmental account of Henry Ford’s Amazon experience decades after its failure. The story addressed by the film begins in 1927, when the Ford Motor Company attempted to establish rubber plantations on the Tapajós River, a primary tributary of the Amazon. This film addresses the recent transition from failed rubber to successful soybean cultivation for export, and its implication for land usage, leading to such questions as: What are the lessons to be learned from today’s ecological experimentation and in particular from the Fordlândia experience? How did Ford’s attempt to convert the lush, naturally abundant Brazilian landscape into industrial-scale agriculture foreshadow today’s destruction of the rainforest? What will be the impact of soybean monoculture for the future of the Amazon Rainforest?

Marcos Colón received his Ph.D. in Spanish and Portuguese Cultural Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2019. His research focuses on Brazilian literary and cultural studies, with a particular emphasis on representations of the Amazon in twentieth- and twenty-first-century Brazilian literature and film. He is currently working on a book- project based on his experiences filming the Amazon. He has produced and directed two documentary films that represent diverse perspectives on humanity’s complex relations with the natural world: Beyond Fordlândia: An Environmental Account of Henry Ford’s Adventure in the Amazon, 2018 and Zo’é, based on his experiences with the Zo’é tribe, an Amazonian indigenous community that has had little to no contact with the outside world (2018). He is particularly interested in examining a variety of perspectives on the post-rubber era in the Amazon. Colón’s scholarship uses the post-rubber era as a springboard for re-envisioning the region in a “relational” way, challenging hegemonic representations of the tropics in literature and culture. He is the editor and creator of Amazonia Latitude, a digital environmental magazine.

(NOTE: We strongly suggest that you consider viewing the movie, Beyond Fordlandia, before the Ath event. Though this is not required, it will help to generate a meaningful and productive conversation with director Marcos Colón.)

Dr. Colón's Athenaeum presentation and the screening of the movie are organized in commemoration of Earth Day. 

Monday, April 26, 2021 - Evening Program
The Problem of Conflicting Goals: A Philosophical Approach
Valerie Tiberius
Conflicts among our goals are a major impediment to living a good life. Conflicts frustrate competing goals and they also cause us to wonder if we’re on the wrong path. Valerie Tiberius, the Paul W. Frenzel Chair in Liberal Arts and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota, will present a constructive way of thinking about goal conflicts and how to resolve them.

Valerie Tiberius is the Paul W. Frenzel Chair in Liberal Arts and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota. Her work explores the ways in which philosophy and psychology can both contribute to the study of well-being and virtue. She is the author of “The Reflective Life: Living Wisely With Our Limits,” “Moral Psychology: A Contemporary Introduction”, and “Well-Being as Value Fulfillment: How We Can Help Others to Live Well”

With a focus on happiness from the philosophical perspective, Professor Tiberius's Athenaeum talk is part of a 3-part series on Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Happiness co-sponsored by the Berger Institute at CMC.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021 -
Happiness and Economics
Fengyu Wu
In the past few decades, economists have been increasingly interested in studying happiness or subjective well-being measures, and policy makers have also started to use these measures to design and evaluate policies. Fengyu Wu, economist and research associate in the Eudaimonia Institute at Wake Forest University, will introduce the economics of happiness, a growing field in economics, and discuss the measures and determinants of happiness from the perspective of economics.

Fengyu Wu is a research associate at the Eudaimonia Institute at Wake Forest University. She holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Southern California and a B.S. in economics from the Singapore Management University. Her research centers on the economics of happiness, health economics, development economics, and political economy. She studies the determinants of subjective well-being in populations around the world, in particular, the effects of both economic and social conditions, including among others: income, consumption, interpersonal comparisons, supportive relationships, and social capital. She also investigates the factors that influence individuals’ socioeconomic attitudes and political preferences, with special attention on identifying and explaining differences between men and women.

Wu has been teaching student seminars on the social science of happiness at Wake Forest University. She is one of the founding members of the China Happiness Report, and she also contributed to the World Happiness Report 2021.

With a focus on happiness from the economic perspective, Dr. Wu's Athenaeum talk is part of a 3-part series on Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Happiness co-sponsored by the Berger Institute at CMC.


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