• Student at the Athenaeum

    Marian Miner Cook
    Athenaeum

    A distinctive
    feature of social and
    cultural life at CMC

Welcome to The Athenaeum

Welcome to Athenaeum and the spring 2019 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.

We look forward to seeing you at the Ath.

Priya Junnar
Director

Monday, March 25, 2019 - Evening Program
Self-Portrait in Black and White
Thomas Chatterton Williams
A reckoning with the way we choose to see and define ourselves, Thomas Williams’ forthcoming book “Self- Portrait in Black and White” is the story of one American family’s multi-generational transformation from what is called black to what is assumed to be white. A writer and national fellow at the New America, Williams will discuss how he spent his whole life believing the all-American dictum that a single drop of “black blood” makes a person black. This was so fundamental to his self-conception that he never rigorously reflected on its spurious foundations—but the shock of his experience as the black father of two extremely white-looking children in Paris has led him to question these long-held beliefs; it’s not that he believes that he is no longer black or that his daughter is white, but believes that these categories cannot adequately capture his family or anyone else for that matter.

Thomas Chatterton Williams is the author of “Losing My Cool” and a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's and the London Review of Books. He is a 2019 New America Fellow and the recipient of a Berlin Prize. 

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Tuesday, March 26, 2019 - Evening Program
Early Sikh Art: The Symbiosis of Painting and Poetry
Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh
Nikky Singh, professor of religious studies at Colby College, will explore how early Sikh art 1) illuminates the Sikh sacred text, 2) amplifies Sikh theological precepts, and 3) expresses an existential mode of being Here and Now.  

Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh is the head of the department of religious studies at Colby College, and holds the Crawford Family Professor Chair. Her interests focus on Asian religions, feminist issues, and sacred art and poetry.

Singh has published extensively in the field of Sikh studies. A prolific writer, her books include “Of Sacred and Secular Desire: An Anthology of Lyrical Writings from the Punjab,” “Sikhism: An Introduction,” and “Cosmic Symphony,” among many others. She has authored almost 100 articles and book chapters and given more than 250 lectures nationally and internationally. She has been featured on television and radio in America, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, India, and Bangladesh. She has served on the editorial board of several journals including the History of Religions, the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and Sikh Formations.

Singh came to America to attend a girls’ prep school in Virginia, got her B.A. from Wellesley College, M.A. from University of Pennsylvania, and Ph.D. from Temple University.

Professor Singh’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Sikh Studies Fund.

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Wednesday, March 27, 2019 - Evening Program
Hailing César Film Screening and Talk with Eduardo Chávez: Exploring Cesar Chávez's Legacy
Eduardo Chávez
Eduardo Chavez, grandson of legendary civil rights activist César Chávez, screens his film "Hailing César," in which he takes a journey to understand the legacy of his grandfather and what it means today. The film addresses themes of labor rights, Latino empowerment, activism and social justice. 

Scion of two revolutionary families, Eduardo Chávez  is the grandson of both the legendary civil rights activist Cesar Chávez (on his father’s side) and the Cuban revolutionary Max Lesnik (on his mother’s side). Chávez  attended Loyola Marymount University on a golf scholarship and played professional golf following college. He is currently a working actor in Los Angeles. His goal is to bring depth to the portrayal of Latino characters in film, television and other media.  He is the co-founder of Latindia Studios.

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Wednesday, March 27, 2019 - Lunch Program
Why Has Title IX Become So Controversial?
R. Shep Melnick
The original purpose of Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments was to eliminate institutional barriers to educational opportunity for women and girls.  As the doors of opportunity swung open, female students rushed through, outperforming their male counterparts at nearly all educational levels. Yet today Title IX rules—especially those on sexual harassment and transgender rights—are more controversial than ever. That is because federal regulation under Title IX has morphed into a far more ambitious effort to counteract gender stereotypes held by all of us—students, faculty, and the public at large. Shep Melnick, professor of American Politics at Boston College, will describe how this change took place and why it has often produced perverse results.

R. Shep Melnick is the Tip O’Neill Professor of American Politics at Boston College and co-chair of the Harvard Program on Constitutional Government.  He is the author most recently of “The Transformation of Title IX:  Regulating Gender Equality in Education” (Brookings, 2018). His research has focused on the intersection of law, politics, and public policy. His previous books includes “Regulation and the Courts:  The Case of the Clean Air Act” (Brookings, 1983) and “Between the Lines:  Interpreting Welfare Rights” (Brookings, 1994), which won the 2012 “Lasting Contribution” award from the American Political Science Association’s Law and Courts section. Before joining the political science department at Boston College, Melnick taught at Brandeis and Harvard. He has served as president of the New England Political Science Association and as an elected member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. He received both is BA and Ph.D. from Harvard.

Professor Melnick will deliver the Salvatori Center's Lofgren Lecture on American Constitutionalism. 

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Thursday, March 28, 2019 - Lunch Program
Water Rights for Ecuadorian Farmers
Rachel Conrad PZ '13
Rachel Conrad PZ ’13 and Napier Prize awardee will talk about her work with and on behalf of farmers in Ecuador’s Dolcepampa valley whose water supply was threatened by the construction of a new hydro-electric dam. Her careful work documented the river’s water flow and the amount of water needed to maintain the essential farming economy of the region.This information was crucial to insuring that the dam operators would continue to guarantee sufficient water for the farms.

Rachel Conrad PZ '13, Fulbright Scholar (2013-14) and recipient of the Napier Award for Creative Leadership in 2013, worked with farmers in Ecuador in the Dulcepamba watershed whose water rights are threatened by plans for a large hydro-electric power dam. Her research and documentary film helped to provide voice to the concerns of farmers in 72 area communities. Conrad returned to Ecuador to continue collaboration on a socio-environmental analysis of the watershed with Accíon Ecologicas in Quito. Her work informed the development of a sustainable water management plan that serves not only the growing needs for electrical power in Ecuador, but also the farmers whose lives depend on the watershed.

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Thursday, March 28, 2019 -
Are Initial Coin Offerings Here to Stay?
David Yermack
David Yermack, Albert Fingerhut Professor of Finance and Business Transformation and chairman of the finance department at New York University’s Stern School of Business, will  describe the growth of initial coin offerings (ICOs), a new channel of entrepreneurial finance that has grown rapidly to become a competitor of venture capital as a source of startup finance and will explore the origins of ICOs, look at original research into their success factors, and examine the evolving regulatory problems that ICOs have created.

David Yermack is the Albert Fingerhut Professor of Finance and Business Transformation and chairman of the finance department at New York University’s Stern School of Business, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1994.  He is also an adjunct professor of law at the NYU School of Law, director of the NYU Pollack Center for Law and Business, and a research associate of the NBER Law and Economics program. 

In 2014 Yermack began teaching a full semester course at NYU on digital currency and blockchains with Geoffrey Miller, professor of law at NYU. The course was the first in the world on this topic taught at a major research university, and now draws more than 200 students annually.

Yermack has presented his FinTech research at numerous international universities and regulatory bodies including the United Nations, Bank for International Settlements, OECD, U.S. Treasury, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank, and the U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.

Professor Yermack’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), the Lowe Institute of Political Economy, and Financial Economics Institute (FEI), all at CMC.

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Monday, April 01, 2019 - Evening Program
Poetry Reading and Reflections with Kay Ryan
Kay Ryan
United States Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winning poet Kay Ryan will read some of her award-winning poetry and share personal reflections.

Kay Ryan is a United States Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winning poet. Her collections of poetry include most recently the 2011 Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Best Of It, New and Selected Poems” (Grove Press, 2010); "The Niagara River" (2005); "Say Uncle" (2000); "Elephant Rocks" (1996); and "Flamingo Watching" (1994). Her most recent book of poems, “Erratic Facts”, was published by Grove Press in October 2015.

About her work, J.D. McClatchy has said: “Her poems are compact, exhilarating, strange affairs, like Erik Satie miniatures or Joseph Cornell boxes. She is an anomaly in today’s literary culture: as intense and elliptical as Dickinson, as buoyant and rueful as Frost.”

Ryan’s awards include a MacArthur “Genius” Award; The National Humanities Medal awarded by President Obama in 2012; the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an Ingram Merrill Award. In 2017 she was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters and in 2006 was elected a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets in 2006. In 2008, she was appointed the Library of Congress’s sixteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.

Ms. Ryan’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies in collaboration with the poetry colloquium of the department of literature.

Photo credit: Christina Koci Hernandez

Monday, April 01, 2019 - Special Program
Dinner Theater: Nooses Off
Written by Don Zolidis; performed by Under the Lights
An amateur theater company's whodunit hurtles towards opening night—but the real mystery is whether the cast and crew can get this disaster to curtain call. It won't be easy when the costume designer is bent on revenge, the actors are wrapped up in a revolving door of showmances, one suitcase plays the role of nine, and the playwright won't admit that "And Then There Were None" might owe a little something to Agatha Christie. The best seat in the house is backstage on opening night in this full-throttled homage to Michael Frayn's classic comedy.

Directed by Max Fine '21 and assistant directed by Nandini Mittal ’22, the cast includes Henry Minervini '19, Namrata Dev ’19, Timothy Song '19, Jake Hudson-Humphrey '19, Jahnavi Kocha CMC'19, Brian Luna ’19, Bryan Williams '21, Claudia Taylor '21, Mimi Thompson '21, Shanil Verjee '21, Salomé Lefort '21, Abelino Fernandez Leger '22, Matthew Hines '22, Katherine Mayer SCR'19 and McKayla Cox SCR'21.

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Tuesday, April 02, 2019 - Special Program
Dinner Theater: Nooses Off
Written by Don Zolidis; performed by Under the Lights
An amateur theater company's whodunit hurtles towards opening night—but the real mystery is whether the cast and crew can get this disaster to curtain call. It won't be easy when the costume designer is bent on revenge, the actors are wrapped up in a revolving door of showmances, one suitcase plays the role of nine, and the playwright won't admit that "And Then There Were None" might owe a little something to Agatha Christie. The best seat in the house is backstage on opening night in this full-throttled homage to Michael Frayn's classic comedy.

Directed by Max Fine '21 and assistant directed by Nandini Mittal ’22, the cast includes Henry Minervini '19, Namrata Dev ’19, Timothy Song '19, Jake Hudson-Humphrey '19, Jahnavi Kocha CMC'19, Brian Luna ’19, Bryan Williams '21, Claudia Taylor '21, Mimi Thompson '21, Shanil Verjee '21, Salomé Lefort '21, Abelino Fernandez Leger '22, Matthew Hines '22, Katherine Mayer SCR'19 and McKayla Cox SCR'21.

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Wednesday, April 03, 2019 - Special Program
Dinner Theater: Nooses Off
Written by Don Zolidis; performed by Under the Lights
An amateur theater company's whodunit hurtles towards opening night—but the real mystery is whether the cast and crew can get this disaster to curtain call. It won't be easy when the costume designer is bent on revenge, the actors are wrapped up in a revolving door of showmances, one suitcase plays the role of nine, and the playwright won't admit that "And Then There Were None" might owe a little something to Agatha Christie. The best seat in the house is backstage on opening night in this full-throttled homage to Michael Frayn's classic comedy.

Directed by Max Fine '21 and assistant directed by Nandini Mittal ’22, the cast includes Henry Minervini '19, Namrata Dev ’19, Timothy Song '19, Jake Hudson-Humphrey '19, Jahnavi Kocha CMC'19, Brian Luna ’19, Bryan Williams '21, Claudia Taylor '21, Mimi Thompson '21, Shanil Verjee '21, Salomé Lefort '21, Abelino Fernandez Leger '22, Matthew Hines '22, Katherine Mayer SCR'19 and McKayla Cox SCR'21.

 

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Thursday, April 04, 2019 - Evening Program
A War Against Poor People: Dirty War, Narcotics and the Cold War Roots of Mexico's Contemporary Drug Violence
Alexander Aviña
Alexander Aviña, associate professor of history at Arizona State University, will trace the origins of Mexico's contemporary drug violence—more than 250,000 people killed since 2006—to the use of state violence and terror against rebellious communities and insurgent groups during the 1970s. This '70s “Dirty War” spawned a network of political and military officials that, having eliminated revolutionary challenges to the Mexican state, proved key in the formation of a booming drug industry by the 1980s and 90s.

Alexander Aviña is an associate professor of Latin American history in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at Arizona State University. He previously taught at Florida State University. His book, "Specters of Revolution: Peasant Guerrillas in the Cold War Mexican Countryside" (Oxford University Press, 2014), was awarded the Maria Elena Martínez Book Prize in Mexican History for 2015 by the Conference on Latin American History. He has also published articles in the Journal of Iberian and Latin American Research and the NACLA Report on the Americas.  

His current research project explores the links between the political economy of narcotics, drug wars, and state violence in 1960s and '70s Mexico.

Monday, April 08, 2019 - Evening Program
The Road to Gender Justice in the Era of Resistance
Fatima Goss Graves
How can the movement for gender justice build for the long haul during a period of resistance? Fatima Goss Graves, long-time civil and gender rights activist and president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, will explore how – even in the midst of defending core rights – we can use smart advocacy to achieve law, policy, and culture change. Whether it’s working on fueling workplace diversity, ending sexual harassment, or securing new funding for child care, she will discuss the myriad of ways in which to build the future we want and deserve.

Fatima Goss Graves, who has served in numerous roles at National Women’s Law Center (“NWLC”) for more than a decade, has spent her career fighting to advance opportunities for women and girls. She has a distinguished track record working across a broad set of issues central to women’s lives, including income security, health and reproductive rights, education access, and workplace fairness. Goss Graves is among the co-founders of the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund.

Prior to becoming president, Goss Graves served as the Center’s senior Vice president for program, where she led the organization’s broad program agenda to advance progress and eliminate barriers in employment, education, health and reproductive rights and lift women and families out of poverty. Prior to that, as the Center’s vice president for education and employment, she led the Center’s anti-discrimination initiatives, including work to promote equal pay, combat harassment and sexual assault at work and at school, and advance equal access to education programs, with a particular focus on outcomes for women and girls of color.

Goss Graves has authored many articles, including “A Victory for Women’s Health Advocates” National Law Journal (2016) and “We Must Deal with K-12 Sexual Assault”, National Law Journal (2015), and reports, including “Unlocking Opportunity for African American Girls: A Call to Action for Educational Equity” (2014), “Reality Check: Seventeen Million Reasons Low-Wage Workers Need Strong Protections from Harassment” (2014), and “50 Years and Counting: The Unfinished Business of Achieving Fair Pay” (2013).

 

Goss Graves received her B.A. from UCLA in 1998 and her J.D. from Yale Law School in 2001. She began her career as a litigator at the law firm of Mayer Brown LLP after clerking for the Honorable Diane P. Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. She currently serves as an advisor on the American Law Institute Project on Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct on Campus and was on the EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace and a Ford Foundation Public Voices Fellow.

She is widely recognized for her effectiveness in the complex public policy arena at both the state and federal levels, regularly testifies before Congress and federal agencies, and is a frequent speaker at conferences and other public education forums. Goss Graves appears often in print and on air as a legal expert on issues core to women’s lives, including in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, AP, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, CNN, MSNBC, and NPR.

Meal reservations for this event are not yet available.

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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.