• Marian Miner Cook

    A distinctive
    feature of social and
    cultural life at CMC

  • Marian Miner Cook

    A distinctive
    feature of social and
    cultural life at CMC

  • Marian Miner Cook

    A distinctive
    feature of social and
    cultural life at CMC

Unique in U.S. higher education, the Athenaeum brings today’s leading scholars and activists, innovators and entrepreneurs, politicians and poets, scientists and musicians to engage our community in an intimate and relaxed setting. A complete, current list of open events is available.

Coming Up at the Ath

Monday, September 12, 2016 - Evening Program
Race, Food and Who We Are
Eddie Huang
Next to religion, food is often the one thing immigrants can hang on to, even when language and history dissipate. Eddie Huang, for whom food was a gateway into his Chinese heritage, talks about food as politics and food as identity. 

Born in Washington D.C., Eddie Huang grew up in Orlando, Florida in an immigrant family from Taiwan. Growing up, he watched his mother cook at home and also learned techniques from chefs of different cultural backgrounds and cuisine styles working in his father’s restaurants.

Celebrated as a chef, restaurateur, food celebrity, and clothing designer, Huang is also a lawyer and writer. His memoir, Fresh Off the Boat, was reviewed by the New York Times as “... a surprisingly sophisticated memoir about race and assimilation in America ....” An ABC sitcom based on the memoir is the first Asian-American family-centric TV series in nearly 20 years.

A colorful figure, Huang is not without controversy. He speaks about appropriation of ethnic cuisines and yet has faced criticism for cultural appropriation himself, particularly of hip-hop culture. The New York Times described him January 2013 as “walking mix-tape of postmodern cultural appropriation.”

Huang’s new book, Double Cup Love: On the Trail of Family, Food, and Broken Hearts in China, was published in May 2016.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 - Evening Program
The Case for Historical Originalism
Jack Rakove
Jack Rakove’s talk challenges “originalist” interpretations of the Constitution, such as those advanced by Justices Clarence Thomas and the late Antonin Scalia, which attempt to produce the best linguistic understanding of what the original text would have meant to an informed reader at the time of ratification. Against this view, Rakove argues that originalism should take political concerns and purposes much more seriously.

Jack Rakove is the William Robertson Coe Professor of History and American Studies and professor of political science at Stanford University. His principal areas of interest include the origins of the American Revolution and Constitution, the political theories and practices of James Madison, and the role of historical knowledge in constitutional litigation.

He is the author of four books, including Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution (1996), which won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1997. In this work, Rakove argues that originalism, the practice of interpreting the Constitution by a fixed set of the original framers’ intentions, should not be the only approach to settling today's judicial questions.

Active supporters of "originalist" interpretations of the Constitution, like Justices Clarence Thomas and the late Antonin Scalia, hold that this mode of constitutional interpretation is essentially linguistic in nature. According to Rakove, the point of being an originalist is not to explain what the framers and ratifiers of the Constitution thought they were adopting, in political terms. Rather, the idea is to produce the best understanding of what the language in question would have meant to an informed reader. In his Athenaeum lecture, Rakove will challenge that point of view, and argue that the best form of originalism is one that should take political concerns and purposes much more seriously.

A graduate of Haverford College, Rakove earned his Ph.D. in 1975 from Harvard University. He taught at Colgate University from 1975 to 1980, and was a visiting professor at NYU School of Law. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1980.

Professor Rakove’s Athenaeum talk is co-sponsored by the Salvatori Center.

Photo Credit: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service


Wednesday, September 14, 2016 - Evening Program
The Starry Road to Freedom
Darius Wallace
In this one-man show, Darius Wallace portrays 14 characters who influenced Frederick Douglass, reconstructing the complexity and radiance of Douglass’s spirit, leadership, and march toward freedom. 

Memphis actor/author Phil Darius Wallace, a native of Flint Michigan, began his acting career with the Michigan Shakespeare Festival as Caliban in the Tempest. He has traveled across the United States performing as Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Langston Hughes, and Frederick Douglass as a solo performer. He is currently with the Tennessee Shakespeare Company and the Orpheum Theater in Memphis Tennessee.

His television credits include ABC's Nashville. His film credits include Nothing But The Truth. He is the voice of the documentary The Invaders, and his first Off-Broadway run with Self Made Man: The Frederick Douglass Story, received its world premiere at the ArcLight Theatre in New York.

Thursday, September 15, 2016 - Evening Program
Evolving Out Loud
Kyle Cease
Kyle Cease, Comedy Central's 2009 Comedian of the Year and winner of the Stand-Up Showdown, Cease is highly regarded for his unique ability to combine comedy and transformation. 

An inspirational speaker, Kyle Cease aims to transform audiences through his unique blend of comedy and motivation. Following his successful Comedy Central Hour special, Weirder, Blacker, Dimpler and a #1 ranking on the network's Standup Showdown, Cease began speaking at colleges, universities, summits and Fortune 500 conferences about his use of comedy to overcome life's obstacles. 

Cease speaks on ways to let go, get out of your head, end stage fright, enhance relationships, accomplish what you want, play, make money, have an impact, get into alignment with your own intention. He works on himself by speaking in public about what he is learning, as he is learning it right there. 

Monday, September 19, 2016 - Evening Program
For or Against: My Life as a Muslim in the West’s Gray Zone
Laila Lalami
Born and raised in Morocco, a place whose past and present permeate her writings, Laila Lalami is a novelist, short story writer and essayist with a unique and confident voice in the conversations about race and immigration that increasingly occupy our national attention.

Laila Lalami was born in Rabat and educated in Morocco, Great Britain, and the United States. She is the author of the novels Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award; Secret Son, which was on the Orange Prize long list, and The Moor’s Account, which won the American Book Award, the Arab American Book Award, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. It was on the Man Booker Prize long list and was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Her essays and opinion pieces have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, The Nation, the Guardian, the New York Times, and in many anthologies. A graduate of Université Mohammed-V in Rabat, she also attended University College in London, and the University of Southern California, where she earned a Ph.D. in linguistics. She is the recipient of a British Council Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and is currently a professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside.

Lalami speaks on immigration, the Middle East and North Africa, Islam, Muslim women, and Arab uprisings. She also discusses race in America, especially forgotten histories, exploration, and cross-cultural encounters.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - Evening Program
Black Masculinity in America: Context, History and Impact on Emotional Health
Yolo Robinson Akili
Yolo Akili will survey historical and cultural factors that have influenced the construction of what is currently understood to be black masculinities and potential evolution and vision.  

Yolo Akili Robinson known as (Yolo Akili) is a writer, organizer, and yoga teacher who has written extensively on emotional health and issues of gender, sexuality, and race. He has worked with black men and boys for over 10 years on issues such as violence, homophobia, and emotional health.

Akili is the author of Dear Universe: Letters of Affirmation & Empowerment for All Of Us and has written for the Huffington Post, Ebony, The Good Men Project, TheBody.com, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, and Everyday Feminism. His work has been featured on BET.com, Huffington Post Live, The Daily Princetonian, and The Feminist Wire. His most well known work is on gay men and sexism, African-Americans and emotional health, masculinity and emotional peace.

He has been awarded the Creative Leadership Award by the Feminist Women’s Health Center Atlanta, a ZAMI award, and the Unity in Community Award from Unity in Christ Fellowship Church.

Mr. Akili’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored with the OBSA.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 - Evening Program
Who suffers when a country locks up 1% of its adult population?
Peter Wagner
The United States locks up a larger share of its population than any nation. Peter Wagner will discuss the consequences and price paid by families, communities, and people who have never touched our criminal justice system.

Peter Wagner is an attorney and the executive director of the Prison Policy Initiative, based in Northampton, Massachusetts. He co-founded the Prison Policy Initiative in 2001 to spark a national discussion about the collateral effects of mass incarceration. From ending "prison gerrymandering," to taking on the exploitative prison and jail telephone industry, the Prison Policy Initiative strives to show how mass incarceration effects our entire society, not just those behind bars.

Read more about Peter Wagner and the Prison Policy Initiative

Other Events and Announcements

Monday, October 10, 2016 - 5:30pm
The Oval Office and The Fourth Estate: A Conversation on Politics and Journalism in the Nation's Capital
Brandi Hoffine '06 and Michael Shear '90

Brandi Hoffine '06 has worked in both the public and private sectors in Washington, D.C. for ten years and has expertise on political communications and strategic messaging. Since August 2014, Hoffine has served as assistant press secretary and spokesperson for the White House where she handles a range of domestic and international policy issues.

Prior to the White House, she was a domestic finance spokesperson for the United States Treasury. She also served as Senator Tim Kaine's communication's director on his successful 2012 campaign for the United States Senate in Virginia. She has also worked in communications and research at the Democratic National Committee, including serving as the deputy national press secretary for the Democratic Party, and in the private sector for Deloitte Consulting.

Originally from Sacramento, Hoffine is a 2006 graduate of Claremont McKenna College.

Michael Shear '90 is the White House correspondent for the New York Times’ Washington bureau where he has worked for the last six years. In this role, he also covered the 2012 presidential campaign. Prior to that, he was a reporter for the Washington Post, where he spent 18 years covering local communities, school districts, state politics, the 2008 presidential campaign, and the first two years of the Obama White House.

A member of the Pulitzer Prize winning team that documented the shootings at the Virginia Tech campus in 2007, Shear is a 1990 graduate of Claremont McKenna College and has a masters in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.


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.

About the Ath

View a brochure that describes how the Ath has been an integral part of the CMC experience for decades.

Weekly Menus

Events at the Ath feed not only the minds of CMC community members, but also their stomachs as well.


Past speakers describe their experiences interacting with the Claremont McKenna College community.

Video Library

Watch videos of many of the past speakers who have visited the Ath and shared their insights.