Marian Miner Cook

A distinctive
feature of social and
cultural life at CMC

February, 2020

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


Monday, February 03, 2020 - Evening Program
What Turns Us Violent? Sacred Emergencies
Michael Jerryson

As long as there have been recorded histories, humanity has engaged in violence. In this macabre mosaic that pits human against human, religion becomes a reoccurring justifier. While religion has been a force for generosity, empathy, and social justice, it also demonstrates a dark side. Particular structures of thought dominate the ways in which we understand and ethicize situations and which transform the ways in which we understand the world and our ethical obligations. Using contemporary examples such as ISIS and Burmese Buddhist extremists, among others, Dr. Michael Jerryson, professor of religious studies at Youngstown State University, will trace these cognitive patterns across religious traditions to explain contemporary violence both within the U.S. and abroad.

Michael Jerryson, professor of religious studies in the department of philosophy and religious studies at Youngstown State University, looks at the intersections between identity and violence and the ways in which we associate religious identities with peace and violence.

He earned his B.A in Western Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. After volunteering for the Peace Corps in Mongolia, Jerryson returned to the University of Wisconsin, Madison and acquired his M.A in Languages and Cultures of Asia with a focus on the socio-political history of Mongolian Buddhism.

He furthered his interest in religion at the University of California, Santa Barbara, earning a Ph.D. in Religious Studies with a Global Studies emphasis.

Professor Jerryson's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Kutten Lectureship in Religious Studies at CMC.

(Parents Dining Room)


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 Presidents' Leadership Fund and the Center for Writing and Public Discourse at CMC.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020 - Evening Program
Honor and Integrity: A Life in Public Service
John Brennan

John O. Brennan, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, will offer reflections on his more than 33 years of public service working for six U.S. Presidents. He will talk about the challenges, opportunities, and ethical dilemmas he encountered while dealing with complex national security issues involving terrorism, covert action, counterintelligence, relationships with foreign intelligence services, and cybersecurity.  

*NOTE* This is a special “Ath on the Road” Res Publica event and will be held off campus in Orange County. Roundtrip transportation will be provided. Buses with wifi will begin boarding at 3:30 pm and will depart campus at approximately 4 pm; return to campus is expected by 9 pm. 

A leading expert in national security, intelligence, and counter-terrorism, John O. Brennan served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”) from March 2013 to January 2017. As director, he was responsible for intelligence collection, analysis, covert action, counterintelligence, and liaison relationships with foreign intelligence services.

Brennan began his 25-year tenure at the CIA in 1980. Fluent in Arabic, Brennan specialized in Middle Eastern affairs and counterterrorism. Over the years, he served in multiple capacities, including as the agency’s intelligence briefer to President Clinton, CIA station chief in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, chief of staff to then-director George Tenet, and deputy executive director. In 2003, he led a multi-agency effort to establish what would become the National Counterterrorism Center and served as its founding director. After retiring from the CIA in 2005, Brennan worked in the private sector for three years.

Brennan returned to public service in 2009 and served as assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. In this capacity, he advised President Obama on counterterrorism strategy and helped coordinate the U.S. government’s approach to homeland security, counterterrorism, cyberattacks, natural disasters, and pandemics.

Brennan graduated from Fordham University in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. In his junior year, he studied abroad at the American University in Cairo concentrating on Arabic language studies. He subsequently attended the University of Texas at Austin where he received a master’s degree in government with a concentration in Middle Eastern studies in 1980.

Brennan currently is a Distinguished Fellow at the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School, a Distinguished Scholar at the University of Texas at Austin, a senior intelligence and national security analyst for NBC and MSNBC, and a consultant/advisor to a variety of private sector companies.

Mr. Brennan will deliver the Spring 2020 Lecture for the Res Publica Society Speaker Series.

*NOTE* This is a special “Ath on the Road” Res Publica event and will be held off campus in Orange County. Roundtrip transportation will be provided. Buses with wifi will begin boarding at 3:30 pm and will depart campus at approximately 4 pm; return to campus is expected by 9 pm. 

Food for Thought: Podcast with John Brennan

Thursday, February 06, 2020 - Evening Program
Urgence(s) d’écrire – The Urgency to Write
Yanick Lahens

Yanick Lahens, a prominent Haitian writer, is a celebrated author of novels, short stories, and essays for which she has received major literary prizes and international recognition, including the very prestigious Prix Femina, one of France's major literary prizes. The inaugural chair of The Francophone Worlds at the Collège de France, Yanick will speak to Haiti’s rich literary tradition and Haitian exceptionalism, which developed as a result of the Haitian revolution of 1791-1804 and was born out of the successful revolt of enslaved Africans against French colonial rule. Since that historical event, Lahens believes, Haitian writers have felt a sense of urgency to write. She will also examine diverse modes of expression and the place of French and Creole in Haitian writing.   

Yanick Lahens was born in Haiti. She completed her primary education there prior to leaving for France where she completed university studies in Modern Literature. She returned to Haiti in 1977. She taught literature at the State University of Haiti and participated in the National Pedagogical Institute’s quest to implement educational reforms which contributed, among other things, to the teaching of Kreyol in the early years of primary school. She hosted a cultural program “Entre nous” on Radio Haiti Inter and published her first articles on Haitian literature and society.

Subsequently, she became a member of the editorial board of the Haitian-Caribbean magazine Critical Pathways, which represented an important moment of reflection in Haiti and the Caribbean. She left university education in 1995 and, after being a member of the cabinet of the Minister of Culture Raoul Peck, she joined the direction of the Slave Route Project which is interested in the issue of slavery through arts and sciences until the project ended in Haiti in 2000. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the International Congress of Francophone Studies and is currently a member of the editorial board of the French-Haitian magazine Conjunction. She recently joined the Board of Trustees of Quisqueya University.

She founded with other writers, the Association of Haitian writers in 1998, and continues to lead seminars on literature.

In 2008 she set up a foundation that supervises youth in social awareness activities. It provides support to associations working to promote reading, set up libraries and organizes cultural events.

In 1990,  she published an essay Entre l'ancrage et la fuite,  the Haitian writer at Editions Deschamps; In 1994 the collection of short stories, Aunt Resia and the gods at L’Harmattan; the collection of short stories The little Corruption in 1999 with Memory Editions; in 2000, the novel In the house of the father with The Plumed Serpent; in 2005 the collection of short stories, The madness came with the rain at the National Presses; in 2008 The color of dawn with Sabine Wespieser and also Faille in 2010, Guillaume and Nathalie in 2013, Moonbath in 2014 and Douces déroutes in 2018.

In the father's house received the Literature Prize in 2009 at the Leipzig Book Fair; The Color of Dawn, the 2008 Millepages Prize, and also the 2009 RFO Prize, the 2009 Richelieu de la Francophonie Prize, the Reader's Prize of the Vincennes city as part of the America Festival in 2010; Guillaume and Nathalie won the ADELF award in 2013, the 2013 Carbet Award for High School students; and, in 2014 Moonbath received the Femina prize.

Her works have been translated into English, Brazilian, Catalan, Japanese, German, Polish and Italian. Translations are in progress in Norwegian and Spanish.

Yanick Lahens has received, among other honors, recognitions from: the women's organization Kay Fanm for her civic involvement in 2007; from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Organization of La Francophonie in Haiti; by the Haitian Studies Association for the whole of her work; by the cultural association ARAKA.

She was the first woman guest of honor at the Book Fair of Books in Haiti in 2009 and was appointed an officer of France's Arts and Letters in 2009.

Yanick Lahens held the first annual chair in Francophone Worlds at the Collège de France during the year 2018-2019. 


Monday, February 10, 2020 - Lunch Program
The Future of Work
Stacie Yee '99, Arjun Lall '07, and Faye Sahai '90

The “Future of Work” event is a panel discussion that brings together leaders across sectors to discuss the ever-evolving workplace. With the growing adoption of advanced technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence), as well as the increased emphasis on a fluid, de-centralized workforce, the nature of the workplace, workforce, and perhaps even the nature of work itself will be changing significantly in the near future. Arjun Lall ’07, Faye Sahai ’90, and Stacie Yee ’99 will explore these topics in a moderated panel discussion, and share their thoughts on the future of work. This panel discussion is a production of the 20/20 in 2020 theme for the CMC research institutes, and is made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Berger Institute and the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship.


The “Future of Work” event is a panel discussion that brings together leaders across sectors to discuss the ever-evolving workplace. With the growing adoption of advanced technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence), as well as the increased emphasis on a fluid, de-centralized workforce, the nature of the workplace, workforce, and perhaps even the nature of work itself will be changing significantly in the near future. Arjun Lall ’07, Faye Sahai ’90, and Stacie Yee ’99 will explore these topics in a moderated panel discussion, and share their thoughts on the future of work. This panel discussion is a production of the 20/20 in 2020 theme for the CMC research institutes, and is made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Berger Institute and the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship.


Monday, February 10, 2020 - Evening Program
How and Why Public Schools are (Still) Divided by Race
Nikole Hannah-Jones

Nikole Hannah-Jones, a New York Times investigative journalist, MacArthur Award recipient, and lead-writer for The 1619 Project, has written extensively on the history of racism, school re-segregation, and the disarray of hundreds of desegregation orders. Her deeply personal account—which became the basis of a New York Times feature piece—of her own experience as a parent in New York City's public school system shows that school segregation is not an isolated phenomenon but rather a defining factor of most cities across the country.

Nikole Hannah-Jones is an award-winning investigative reporter who covers civil rights and racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine. Hannah-Jones got hooked on journalism when she joined her high school newspaper and began writing about students, who just like her, were bused across town as part of a voluntary school desegregation program.

Prior to joining the Times, Hannah-Jones worked as an investigative reporter at ProPublica in New York City, where she spent three years chronicling the way official policy created and maintains segration in housing and schools. Before that, she reported for the largest daily newspaper in the Pacific Northwest, The Oregonian, in Portland, Oregon, where she covered numerous beats, including demographics, the census, and county government. She started her journalism career covering the majority-black Durham Public Schools for The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina.

A 2017 MacArthur Award recipient for her work in “reshaping national conversations around education reform,” Hannah-Jones received her B.A. from Notre Dame and an M.A. from the University of North Carolina.

Ms. Hannah-Jones will deliver the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies' 2020 Golo Mann Lecture.  

Photo credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Food for Thought: Podcast with Nikole Hannah-Jones

Tuesday, February 11, 2020 - Lunch Program
Challenged Grounds
Minsuk Cho

The recent challenges confronted by Minsuk Cho and his practice Mass Studies arrive through the many external forces and urban ecologies at play – mainly that of culture and nature. Whether it be within the political, environmental, or social context of the city, its history and future, independent and symbiotic approaches and the crossing of stimuli become the impetus of the various architectural approaches for a series of projects currently in progress. The diverse ‘grounds’ being examined range in scale, use, and context.

Minsuk Cho founded the Seoul-based firm Mass Studies in 2003. He has been committed to the discourse of architecture through socio-cultural and urban research, and mostly built works, which have been recognized globally. Representative works include the Pixel House, Missing Matrix, Bundle Matrix, Shanghai Expo 2010: Korea Pavilion, Daum Space.1, Tea Stone/Innisfree, Southcape, Dome-ino, the Daejeon University Student Dormitory. Current in-progress projects include the new Seoul Cinematheque (Montage 4:5), the Danginri Cultural Space (Danginri Podium and Promenade), and the Yang-dong District Main Street (Sowol Forest) and the recently selected design for the Yeonhui Public Housing Complex. Active beyond his practice, he co-curated the 2011 Gwangju Design Biennale, and was the commissioner and co-curator of the Korean Pavilion for the 14th International Architecture Exhibition - la Biennale di Venezia, which was awarded the Gold Lion for Best National Participation. In late 2014, PLATEAU Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, held their first ever architecture exhibition, highlighting his works in a solo exhibition titled "Before/After: Mass Studies Does Architecture." Cho is an active lecturer and speaker at symposiums worldwide.

Mr. Cho's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Hive of the 5Cs and EnviroLab Asia.

Photo credit: Nina Ahn

Tuesday, February 11, 2020 - Evening Program
The False Promise of Single Payer Health Care
Sally Pipes

Sally C. Pipes, president, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute, will discuss the dire long-term repercussions of the single payer health care system, or “Medicare for All,” advocated by Bernie Sanders and others. With the U.S. government as the sole provider of healthcare, all private coverage banned, and healthcare extended to illegal immigrants, costs would quickly outpace funding, and similarly to Canada and Britain, lead to long wait periods, paucity of medical professionals, and rationing of medical care. Pipes instead will present a market-based alternative to Medicare for All where all Americans have access to affordable care.  

Sally C. Pipes is president, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute, a San Francisco-based think tank founded in 1979. Prior to becoming president of PRI in 1991, she was assistant director of the Fraser Institute, based in Vancouver, Canada.

An expert on health care and health care reform, she has been featured in multiple national media outlets and publications. A regular commentator on the shortcomings of Medicare For All, Pipes writes a bi-weekly health care column for and for the Washington Examiner’s blog “Beltway Confidential.” In 2018 alone, she published over 300 health care op-eds, many of which were reprinted and retweeted.

Pipes’ views on health care also appeared in a special report of the world’s 30 leading health care experts published by entitled, “Solutions: Health Care” and in Steve Forbes’ latest book How Capitalism Can Save Us. A seasoned and gifted debater, Pipes been invited to many high-level discussions and debates about healthcare reform where she eloquently argues against single payer type of systems.

Pipes served as one of Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s four health care advisors in his bid for the Republican nomination for president in 2008. She was featured in Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko” and has participated in prominent public forums, testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Oversight Committee, the Senate HELP Committee, and in the California, Maine, and Oregon legislatures.

Author of several books on health care, Encounter Books will publish her next book False Premise, False Promise: The Disastrous Reality of Medicare for All in early 2020. Pipes serves on multiple boards, including BRI, a Federalist Society-type organization for medical students across America, which she founded in 2008.

Recipient of an honorary Ph.D. from Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy in 2018, she also received the Roe Award at the 2004 annual meeting of State Policy Network. The award is a tribute to an individual in the state public policy movement who has a passion for liberty, a willingness to work for it, and noteworthy achievement in turning dreams into realities. Human Events named her one of the Top 10 Women in the Conservative Movement in America, among other national accolades.

Pipes, a former Canadian, became an American citizen in 2006 and is a member of the Mont Pelerin Society, an international society of economists.

Ms. Pipes's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored with funding from the Open Academy at CMC.

View Video: YouTube with Sally Pipes

Wednesday, February 12, 2020 - Evening Program
Reading and Reflections: An Evening with Dwayne Betts
Dwayne Betts

Incarcerated at the age of 16 and sentenced to nine years in a maximum-security prison, Reginald "Dwayne" Betts transformed himself into a critically acclaimed writer, poet, and graduate of Yale Law School. Reading his work and reflecting on his journey, Betts will talk about his experience, detailing his trek from incarceration to Yale Law School and the role that grit, perseverance, and literature played in his success.

A widely-requested speaker, Reginald "Dwayne" Betts has given lectures on topics ranging from mass incarceration to contemporary poetry and the intersection of literature and advocacy. Betts has given commencement speeches at Quinnipiac University and Warren Wilson College and has lectured widely at universities and conferences, including Harvard Law School, Yale Law School, the University of Maryland, the Beyond the Bench conference, and a wide range of organizations across the country.

His work in public defense, his years of advocacy, and Betts’s own experiences as a teenager in maximum security prisons uniquely position him to speak to the failures of the current criminal justice system and present encouraging ideas for change. That work prompted President Barack Obama to appoint Betts to the Coordinating Council of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and more recently for Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut to appoint him to the Criminal Justice Commission, the state body responsible for hiring prosecutors in Connecticut.

Named a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow and a 2018 NEA Fellow, Betts poetry has been long praised. His writing has generated national attention and earned him a Soros Justice Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, a Ruth Lily Fellowship, an NAACP Image Award, and New America Fellowship. Betts has been featured in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and the Washington Post, as well as being interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air, The Travis Smiley Show and several other national shows. He holds a B.A. from the University of Maryland; an M.F.A. from Warren Wilson College, where he was a Holden Fellow; and, a J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was awarded the Israel H. Perez Prize for best student note or comment appearing in the Yale Law Journal. He is a Ph. D. in Law candidate at Yale and as a Liman Fellow, he spent a year representing clients in the New Haven Public Defender’s Office.

Mr. Betts’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Center for Writing and Public Discourse and the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies, both at CMC. The program is also a part of the series highlighting the Justice Education Initiative at The Claremont Colleges.

Photo credit: Mamadi Doumbouya

Food for Thought: Podcast with R. Dwayne Betts


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