Marian Miner Cook
Athenaeum

A distinctive
feature of social and
cultural life at CMC

 

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Alumni and Parents:
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Thu, February 29, 2024
Lunch Program
Vernon C. Grigg III and John J. Pitney, Jr.

Join the Kravis Lab for the second installment of Civitas Sessions, a new series intended to provide timely, practical information to understand the institutions and systems that are at the center of many questions we face in modern life. In this session Vernon C Grigg III, J.D., Executive Director of the Kravis Lab, and John J. Pitney Jr., the Roy P. Crocker Professor of Politics at CMC, will "Super Tuesday" and the complexities of the American electoral system.

(Parents Dining Room - lunch served at 12:00 noon, program begins at 12:15 PM, but feel free to come a little late if you're getting out of class)

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Civitas Sessions is organized by the Kravis Lab and moderated by Executive Director Vernon C. Grigg III, JD. A lawyer by training, Grigg holds degrees from Yale Law School (J.D.), the London School of Economics (G.SC.), and the University of Michigan (BA).  Vernon comes to the Kravis Lab from his role as CEO & President of Up with People, a fifty-five-year-old international nonprofit education and arts organization. He managed a global team of 50 employees across three continents as he led the nonprofit to sustainability and health despite the challenges of the worldwide pandemic.

John J. Pitney, Jr. is Roy P. Crocker Professor of American History and Politics at Claremont McKenna College where he teaches courses on Congress, interest groups, political parties, and mass media. A leading expert on the structure and practice of American politics, Pitney is a widely published author or co-author of six books on American politics, including The Art of Political Warfare (2000), The Politics of Autism (2015) and Un-American: The Fake Patriotism of Donald J. Trump (2020). In addition to his books, Pitney has published numerous scholarly articles and short essays, and is a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines. He is routinely featured on NPR and other television and radio programs. 

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Thu, February 29, 2024
Dinner Program
Logan Skelton

Join the final concert of of the Athenaeum Concert Series, Renewal from Ashes – War, Destruction, Remembrance, Peace. in its inaugural 2023-24 season, the Athenaeum Concert Series invited five celebrated guest artists to speak about and perform music composed at times of war.

For this finale concert, "Peace," internationally acclaimed pianist Logan Skelton considers the connections between Hungarian composer Béla Bartók and American composer George Gershwin. Both lived and worked in the early part of the 20th century. They both looked to the people for artistic and musical inspiration, Bartók finding his compositional voice through the study of East European folk music, and Gershwin through assimilating American popular music of the time. Both were pianists who combined their work as composers with great skill as performers, the piano being absolutely central to their music. And like so much of the world in the early 20th century, war was an ever-present background to their lives. 

Having lived through World War I, Bartók again experienced war through the beginnings of World War II. He eventually emigrated to America in 1940, settling in New York. Gershwin was a New Yorker through and through, born and raised in the city. In many ways, Gershwin’s music represents an outpouring of energy and American optimism in the period immediately following World War I. Bartók, too, had a period of great productivity between the wars, though his final years were a profound expression of uncertainty during World War II. As such, both artists gave voice to their times. While Gershwin’s music is a kind of celebration of joy during peacetime between wars, Bartók’s music often anxiously, even desperately longs for peace.

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Logan Skelton is a much sought-after pianist, teacher and composer whose work has received international critical acclaim. Skelton has concertized widely in the United States, Europe and Asia and appeared on many national public radio and television stations, as well as on radio in China and national television in Romania. He has recorded numerous discs for Centaur, Albany, Crystal, Blue Griffin, Equilibrium, Supertrain and Naxos Records, the latter two consisting of collaborations with fellow composer-pianist William Bolcom. He has been a juror for prominent piano competitions and regularly appears in international festival settings. As a composer and arranger his work is published by Muse Press. He has creatively reimagined various piano works of Liszt, Mozart, Bartók, and contributed substantially to the upcoming Gershwin complete edition. Skelton has a special affinity for art song, having composed nearly two hundred songs, including numerous song cycles. A devoted teacher, Skelton has been repeatedly honored by the University of Michigan including the Arthur F. Thurnau professorship, among the highest honors given to faculty members at the university. Skelton’s own piano students have won awards in many national and international competitions. He has served on the faculties of Manhattan School of Music, Missouri State University, and the University of Michigan.

For part of his performance, Skelton will be joined by Athenaeum Concert Series founder and director Sheena Hui '19 on piano.

The 2023-2024 Athenaeum Concert Series is funded in part by the generous donation of Frank Hobbs ’74 and Victoria Shevlin Hobbs.

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Mon, March 4, 2024
Lunch Program
Vinay Lal

Jawaharlal Nehru was India's first and, to this day, longest-serving prime minister (1947-64). He may justly be viewed as the principal architect of modern India: independence came in the midst of enormous bloodshed and he had to shepherd a country of over 300 million people, the vast majority of whom were poor, illiterate, and little-versed in the protocols of "democracy", into becoming the lords of their own destiny. Nehru would preside over India's entry into the modern nation-state system amidst challenges that can only be described as monumental. But Nehru was much more than a nation-builder, perhaps, as is increasingly being argued, a flawed one at that; he was a thinker, writer, and statesman of admirable ecumenical disposition. By the reckoning of some, he was a world-historical figure; however, in recent years, his legacy is being torn, often merely from spite, to shreds. In this talk, historian Vinay Lal will take a critical look at Nehru, suggesting the limitations of both the liberal and Hindu revisionist views.

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Vinay Lal is a cultural critic, writer, blogger, and Professor of History at UCLA. He earned his BA and MA from Johns Hopkins in literature, philosophy, and history in 1982, and a PhD with Distinction from the University of Chicago in 1992 in South Asian studies. He is the author or editor of 21 books including nine volumes from Oxford University Press. He blogs for ABP, India’s largest media network, and at vinaylal.wordpress.com, and has an academic YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/dillichalo. He is a Fellow for 2024 at the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study, South Africa.

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Mon, March 4, 2024
Dinner Program
Shenila Khoja-Moolji

Over the course of the twentieth century, Shia Ismaili Muslim communities were repeatedly displaced. How, in the aftermath of these displacements, did they remake their communities? Professor Shenila Khoja-Moolji highlights women's critical role in this rebuilding process and breaks new ground by writing women into modern Ismaili history. Rebuilding Community tells the story of how Ismaili Muslim women who fled East Pakistan and East Africa in the 1970s recreated religious community (jamat) in North America. Drawing on oral histories, fieldwork, and memory texts, Khoja-Moolji illuminates the placemaking activities through which Ismaili women reproduce bonds of spiritual kinship: from cooking for congregants on feast days and looking after sick coreligionists to engaging in memory work through miracle stories and cookbooks. Khoja-Moolji situates these activities within the framework of ethical norms that more broadly define and sustain the Ismaili sociality. Jamat--and religious community more generally--is not a given, but an ethical relation that is maintained daily and intergenerationally through everyday acts of care. By emphasizing women's care work in producing relationality and repairing trauma, Khoja-Moolji disrupts the conventional articulation of displaced people as dependent subjects.

Read more about the speaker

Professor Shenila Khoja-Moolji is Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani Associate Professor of Muslim Societies at Georgetown University. She is an interdisciplinary scholar with research interests in the fields of Muslim studies, feminist theory, South Asia, and migration. Professor Khoja-Moolji is the author of award-winning books which include Forging the Ideal Educated Girl: The Production of Desirable Subjects in Muslim South Asia (2018) and Sovereign Attachments: Masculinity, Muslimness, and Affective Politics in Pakistan (2021). Her latest book, Rebuilding Community: Displaced Women and the Making of a Shia Ismaili Muslim Sociality, was published by Oxford University Press.

Professor Khoja-Moolji's Athenaeum lecture is sponsored by the Kutten Lectureship in Religious Studies at CMC.

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Tue, March 5, 2024
Dinner Program
Simon A. Cole

Simon Cole, author of a book on the history of fingerprint identification, critic of claims about the "infallibility" of fingerprint evidence, and now a member of two bodies charged with writing standards for the fingerprint discipline, will talk about the scientific issues raised by forensic identification techniques, the progress that has been made in addressing those issues, current efforts to develop standards to regulate their use in the criminal legal system, and whether computers really will, or should, fix everything.

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Simon A. Cole is a Professor of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine. He specializes in the historical and sociological study of the interaction between science, technology, law, and criminal justice. He received his Ph.D. in Science & Technology Studies from Cornell University, and he is the author of Suspect Identities: A History of Fingerprinting and Criminal Identification (Harvard University Press, 2001). He is a Co-Investigator in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Center for Excellence, the Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence (CSAFE), and he is Director of the National Registry of Exonerations. He is Vice Chair of the Friction Ridge Consensus Body of the American Academy of Forensic Science Standards Board, and he is a member of the Friction Ridge Subcommittee of the NIST Forensics Organization of Science Area Committees (OSAC).

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Wed, March 6, 2024
Dinner Program
Yi Shun Lai '96

The publishing industry says it wants more "diverse voices," attached to "diverse stories." But what does that mean? Can the diverse voices only write identity-based stories? Can non-white people write white characters? Is it more important to "stay in your lane" or to embrace different perspectives? Real-life literary scandals such as the controversy surrounding American Dirt, as well as recent books and films like The Other Black Girl and American Fiction have all tackled issues of voice, cultural appropriation and cancel culture in their own ways. In conjunction with the release of her most recent novel, A Suffragist's Guide to the Antarctic, CMC's Assistant Director of Fellowships Advising Yi Shun Lai '96 will discuss her own experience publishing both in her own voice and out of it--and give us an insider's look at the considerations and ramifications that come with each.

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Yi Shun Lai '96 is the author, most recently, of the young adult historical novel A Suffragist's Guide to the Antarctic (Simon & Schuster, 2024). Her memoir, Pin Ups, was published in 2020, and her debut novel, Not a Self-Help Book: The Misadventures of Marty Wu, was published in 2016. She has delivered inclusivity workshops to everyone from AAA video-game studios to international nonprofits, and also teaches in an MFA program for Creative Nonfiction. She graduated from Claremont McKenna College in 1996 and recently returned to campus as CMC's Assistant Director of Fellowships Advising. When she's not on campus or writing, she can be found teaching her intractable dog useless tricks.

Ms. Lai's talk is part of the Athenaeum's 40th Anniversary Series, which celebrates the achievements of CMC alumni from across the years and invites them to return home to Claremont.

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Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum

Claremont McKenna College
385 E. Eighth Street
Claremont, CA 91711

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