• Student at the Athenaeum

    Marian Miner Cook

    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

Monday, February 25, 2019 - Evening Program
Readings and Reflections: An Evening with Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates
Award winning writer, essayist, poet, and novelist Joyce Carol Oates will read from her works, including her newest works, and share personal reflections.

Joyce Carol Oates has penned bestselling novels, critically acclaimed collections of short fiction, as well as essays, plays, poetry, a memoir, "A Widow's Story", and an unlikely bestseller, "On Boxing." Her remarkable literary industry—which includes work as an editor and anthologist—spans forms, themes, topics, and genres. Writing in The Nation, critic Henry Louis Gates Jr. said, "A future archeologist equipped only with her oeuvre could easily piece together the whole of postwar America." In 2010, reflecting the widespread esteem in which her work is held, President Barack Obama awarded Oates the National Humanities Medal.

Best known for her fiction, Oates' novels include "them", which won the National Book Award; "Blonde", a bold reimagining of the inner life of Marilyn Monroe; "The Falls", which won the France's Prix Femina; "The Gravedigger’s Daughter" and "Little Bird of Heaven", each set in upstate New York; and "We Were the Mulvaneys", which follows the disintegration of an American family and which became a bestseller after being selected by Oprah's Book Club. In 2019 she will release a novel, "My Life as a Rat" (Ecco Press, June 4, 2019), and a children’s book "The New Kitten" (HarperCollins, June 25, 2019).

Since 1963, forty of Oates’s books have been included on the New York Times list of notable books of the year. Among her many honors are two O. Henry Prizes and two Bram Stoker Awards, the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, World Fantasy Award, and M. L. Rosenthal Award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters. In 2009, Oates was given the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Book Critics Circle. In 2012, she was awarded both the Mailer Prize for Lifetime Achievement and the PEN Center USA Award for Lifetime Achievement. In March 2014 she was awarded the Poets & Writers Distinguished Lifetime Award, and in 2017 the Bilbao BBK Ja! Prize.

Oates is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and since 1978, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Ms. Oates’ will deliver the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies' 2019 Quinones Lecture.

Photo credit: Dustin Cohen

This event is full. If you would like to be put on a waiting list, please contact the Athenaeum.
Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - Lunch Program
Love, Death, Infidelity, Friendship, Aging, Greed, and the Workings of Fate
Henri Cole
Henri Cole, the Josephine Olp Weeks Professor of Literature at Claremont McKenna College, will read from his poetic works.

Henri Cole, professor of literature at Claremont McKenna College, was born in Fukuoka, Japan. He has published nine collections of poetry, including MIDDLE EARTH, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. He has received many awards for his work, including the Jackson Prize, the Kingsley Tufts Award, the Rome Prize, the Berlin Prize, the Lenore Marshall Award, and the Medal in Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Cole was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in May 2017. Cole's most recent collection is NOTHING TO DECLARE, and a memoir, ORPHIC PARIS, was published by New York Review Books last spring.  

Professor Cole's Athenaeum presentation and reading celebrates his installation as Josephine Olp Weeks Professor of Literature at CMC.

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - Evening Program
The Volume of Small Voices: How Consumers Forced Agriculture to Change Antibiotic Use
Maryn McKenna
In the early 1950s, farmers began adding small doses of antibiotics to the diets of livestock. The drugs caused animals to put on weight more quickly and protected them against diseases, laying the foundation for modern intensive meat production. But they also fostered the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria that has become a profound human health threat. Maryn McKenna, independent journalist specializing in public health, global health, and food policy, will recount how reversing that mistake not only took decades of research and policy maneuvering, but the power of consumer coalitions to force the meat industry to change its practices.

Maryn McKenna is an independent journalist and author who specializes in public health, global health and food policy. She is a Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University and the author of the 2017 bestseller “Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats” (National Geographic Books, Sept. 2017), which received the 2018 Science in Society Award, making her a two-time winner of that accolade.  Big Chicken was named a Best Book of 2017 by Amazon, Science News, Smithsonian Magazine, Civil Eats, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Toronto Globe and Mail; an Essential Science Read by WIRED; and a 2018 Book All Georgians Should Read. Her 2015 TED Talk, "What do we do when antibiotics don't work anymore?", has been viewed more than 1.6 million times and translated into 33 languages.

McKenna has reported from epidemics and disasters, and farms and food production sites, on most of the continents, including a field hospital in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, a Thai village erased by the Indian Ocean tsunami, a bird-testing unit on the front lines of West Nile virus, an Arctic graveyard of the victims of the 1918 flu, an AIDS treatment center in Yunnan, a polio-eradication team in India, breweries in France, a “Matrix for chickens” in the Netherlands, and Midwestern farms devastated by the 2015 epidemic of avian flu.

She received the 2014 Leadership Award from the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics and the 2013 Byron H. Waksman Award for Excellence in the Public Communication of Life Sciences. Her piece for Modern Farmer on the beyond-organic farm White Oak Pastures received a first-place award from the Association of Food Journalists, and her essay for the Food and Environment Reporting Network, "Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future," was a finalist for a James Beard Foundation Media Award and has been republished in Russian, Norwegian and French. She also shared the 2015 AH Boerma Award from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as one of the writers for National Geographic’s food-writing site The Plate, part of the magazine’s year-long Future of Food project.

She is one of the stars of the 2014 documentary Resistance, has presented at the United Nations, U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control about the need to curb antibiotic misuse in medicine and agriculture, and is a frequent public speaker and radio, podcast and television guest. She is also the Journalism Advisor to the Logan Science Journalism Program at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, a member of the program committee for the 2019 World Conference of Science Journalists in Lausanne, and a five-term member of the board of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

Her earlier books are Superbug (Free Press/Simon & Schuster 2010), on the international epidemic of drug-resistant staph in hospitals, families and farms, which won the 2013 June Roth Memorial Book Award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the 2011 Science in Society Award given by the National Association of Science Writers; and Beating Back the Devil: On the Front Lines with the Disease Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service(Free Press/S&S 2004), the first history of the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service, for which she embedded with the corps for a year. BEATING BACK THE DEVIL was named one of the Top Science Books of 2004 by Amazon.com and an Outstanding Academic Title by the American Library Association.

As a newspaper reporter, she worked for 10 years at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she was the only US journalist assigned to full-time coverage of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She reported from the Indian Ocean tsunami and from Hurricane Katrina, as well as from Southeast Asia, India, Africa and the Arctic, and embedded with CDC teams on Capitol Hill during the 2001 anthrax attacks and with a World Health Organization polio-eradication team in India.

Previously, she worked for the Boston Herald, where stories she co-wrote on illnesses among veterans of the first Persian Gulf War led to the first Congressional hearings on Gulf War Syndrome, and at the Cincinnati Enquirer, where her stories on the association between local cancer clusters and contamination escaping a federal nuclear weapons plant contributed to a successful nuclear-harm lawsuit by residents. She was also previously a staff member at the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy of the University of Minnesota.

In 2013-14, she was the inaugural Project Fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at MIT. She also has been an Ochberg Fellow of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia University; a Media Fellow with the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation; and a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan. She has also served short fellowships at Harvard Medical School and the Casey Journalism Center on Children and Families at the University of Maryland. In 2006, she was an inaugural Health Journalism Fellow of the East-West Center in Honolulu and subsequently taught other journalists in its programs in Asia. She has been a journalist in residence at the University of Florida, University of Wisconsin, and Texas A&M University, adjunct faculty at the University of Georgia, and faculty at the Santa Fe Science Writing Seminar. In 2018, she was a Poynter Journalism Fellow at Yale.

She is a cum laude graduate of Georgetown University, has a master’s degree with highest honors from Northwestern University, and is the recipient of numerous journalism awards.

Photo credit: David Tulis

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - Evening Program
The Cultivation of Compassionate Reasoning as a New Approach to Conflict Resolution, Genocide Prevention, and Human Rights Training
Marc Gopin
Compassionate reasoning offers a new approach to address the cognitive and emotive foundations for progress in conflict management, genocide prevention, and the evolution of human rights. Using illustrative experiences in contemporary Syria, Marc Gopin, director at George Mason University’s Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution will discuss the roles of religious people, especially women, and the demonstrated importance of cognitive and emotive approaches to alliance building and recovery  He will explain why some cutting-edge work in neuroscience and cognitive psychology can be helpful in intervention, in coping with major catastrophes, and with life inside police states; he will also explore relevance to current challenges of destructive conflict in the United States.

Marc Gopin is the James H. Laue Professor at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University and founder and director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution (CRDC). Gopin has trained thousands of people worldwide in conflict resolution strategies for complex conflicts, and has consulted on conflicts inside major companies, as well as between adversaries in destructive conflicts domestically and globally. He has published seven books, and has appeared on global media outlets, such as CNN and the Jim Lehrer News Hour, and has published in the International Herald Tribune among others. His book “Healing the Heart of Conflict: Eight Crucial Steps to Making Peace with Yourself and with Others,” has become the basis of conflict resolution training in several countries.

A frequent speaker at universities, corporations, and other institutions, he was the recipient of the 2008 Andrew Thomas Peacebuilder Award from the New York State Dispute Resolution Association (NYSDRA), and his book, “Holy War, Holy Peace,” was cited as one of four noteworthy books of 2002 chosen by the Christian Science Monitor.

Gopin received his Ph.D. in ethics from Brandeis University in 1993.

Professor Gopin’s Athenaeum lecture is co-sponsored by the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights at CMC.


Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Thursday, February 28, 2019 - Evening Program
A New Cold War? China-US Friction in a New Era
Jamil Anderlini
Sino-US relations have fundamentally changed under Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump. Jamil Anderlini, The Financial Times’ Asia editor, will explore where things are headed and what it all means for Asia and the world.

Jamil Anderlini was appointed the Financial Times’ (FT) Asia editor in 2015.  He oversees the FT’s coverage of the Asia region from Afghanistan to Antarctica, including China, India, Indonesia, and Japan.

In addition to directing the work of regional correspondents and overseeing the editing and commissioning team in Hong Kong, Anderlini is an award-winning journalist. He is fluent in spoken and written Mandarin Chinese. After a decade and a half working as an editor and journalist in China, he has cultivated a deep knowledge of the political and economic situation in that country. He regularly contributes commentary for other media, including CNN, BBC, CNBC, ABC and Al-Jazeera.

Anderlini joined the FT in 2007 and worked as Beijing correspondent and deputy Beijing bureau chief before he was named Beijing bureau chief in 2011, with overall responsible for FT’s China coverage. He has won numerous reporting prizes, both individually and as part of FT teams.

In 2010, he was named Journalist of the Year at the Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) Editorial Excellence Awards and won the Best Digital Award at the Amnesty International Media Awards. Other prizes include a UK Foreign Press Association Award in 2008, several individual SOPA awards, including best feature of the year 2017, and the inaugural Jones-Mauthner Award in 2012, which recognizes outstanding reporting of international affairs by a young reporter at the Financial Times. In 2013, he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and short-listed for both Foreign Reporter of the Year at the Press Awards in the UK and also the Orwell Prize, the UK's most prestigious prize for political writing.

Anderlini was awarded a certificate of completion for the Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century Programme, April 2016, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government Executive Education. In November 2018, he was invited to Yale University as a Poynter Fellow and Cowles Visitor to participate in public conversations with professors and Yale president Peter Salovey. He is a member of the advisory board for the Edward R Murrow Center for a Digital World at Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Prior to joining the FT, he was Beijing business correspondent for the South China Morning Post for two years. Before that, he was chief editor of the China Economic Review.

He is the author of the e-book “The Bo Xilai Scandal”, published by Penguin and Financial Times in 2012.

Mr. Anderlini's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies at CMC.

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Thursday, February 28, 2019 - Evening Program
Dalit Question and Politics in the 2000s
Sudha Pai
With a reorientation from the desire for social justice to economic aspiration, two rapid shifts are visible in the political preferences of Dalits in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Attracted by promises of development and cultural inclusion, the Dalits—previously referred to more generally as “Untouchables”—were drawn away from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) towards the dominant and nationalist BJP in the 2014 elections. But since 2015, violent protests by Dalits across India against rising atrocities point to disillusionment with the BJP. Sudha Pai, a political science scholar and researcher, will address these changing equations which indicate fragmentation between Ambedkarite and Hindutvawadi Dalits with consequences for the “Dalit Question” and the 2019 Indian elections.

Sudha Pai taught political science at the Centre for Political Studies and served as rector from 2011 to 2015 at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Currently, she is president of PRAMAN (Policy Research and Management Network) a research institute that undertakes research on areas such as health, agriculture, foreign policy, and education for the government, NGOs, and in collaboration with university departments. She is also a visiting fellow at the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi. She was a national fellow, Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi in 2016 to 2017 and senior fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library Teen Murti, New Delhi from 2006 to 2009 where she wrote “Developmental State and the Dalit Question in Madhya Pradesh: Congress Response” (Routledge, 2010).

Pai was awarded the faculty research fellowship, Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute Canada, in 1996. She has been a member of many projects including SIDA and UNIRISD. Based on her extensive research on Uttar Pradesh, she has also served on the governing body of the Govind Vallabh Pant Institute, Allahabad, and the Giri Institute of Development Studies, Lucknow.

Pai joined the Centre for Political Studies in 1980 as assistant professor where she taught courses and guided research in the field of Indian politics, public policy and comparative politics. Her graduation and post-graduation was from the University of Delhi and her M/Phil and Ph.D. from the Centre for Political Studies. She was assistant professor from 1972 to 1975 at Gargi College for Women, Delhi University.

Her books include “Dalit Assertion and the Unfinished Democratic Revolution: The BSP in Uttar Pradesh” (Sage 2002); “Indian Parliament: A Critical Appraisal” (ed. with Avinash Kumar, Orient Blackswan, 2014, 2016); “Handbook on Politics in the Indian States Regions, Political Parties and Economic Reforms” (ed. Oxford University Press, 2013, 2015); “Revisiting 1956 B.R. Ambedkar and States Reorganization” (co-authored, Orient Blackswan, 2014, 2015) and more recently “Everyday Communalism: Riots in Contemporary Uttar Pradesh” (Oxford University Press, 2018). She is also a regular contributor to thewire.in and other media.

Pai has been selected to receive the South Asian Studies Association's (SASA) 2019 Exemplar Award for Academic Achievement and will be speaking at the SASA's spring conference to be held at CMC in early March 2019.

Professor Pai’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies at CMC.

(Parents Dining Room)

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Monday, March 04, 2019 - Lunch Program
Creating Transgender Art: Reflections of a Trans Woman Writer
Meredith Russo
Partially inspired by her experiences as a trans woman, Meredith Russo's debut novel, If I Was Your Girl, won the Stonewall Award in 2016. It has been described as "a universal story about feeling different and a love story that everyone will root for," and it also won honors for the Walter Dean Myers Diversity Award and the Lambda Literary Award. Russo will speak to her experience as a trans writer, a trans woman, and as a distinct minority in the book business industry.

Meredith Russo is a novelist and public speaker from Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she was born and where she received a degree in creative writing and women’s studies from the University of Tennessee. Her award-winning debut novel, If I Was Your Girl, released in 2016 and won the Stonewall Award, as well as honors for the Walter Dean Myers Diversity Award and the Lambda Literary Award.

Russo is a contributor for the New York Times, Radical Hope, (Don’t) Call Me Crazy, and Meet Cute. She also publishes one short story, one novel chapter, and small multimedia side projects every month on Patreon. Her second novel, Birthday, is forthcoming. She has thousands of followers on social media, where she frequently speaks about politics, gender, writing, and publishing. She is one of only a few prominent transgender women speaking to transgender issues and creating transgender art.

Since Russo’s debut release, she has spoken on panels, in interviews, and as a solo presenter domestically and abroad. She was interviewed at Denmark’s Bogforum and has spoken for Highbridge Green School in the Bronx, Middleton High School in Wisconsin, and the Philadelphia Free Library’s author series. Her panel appearances include the Bay Area Book Festival, the American Librarian Association’s summer convention two years in a row, and the Southern Festival of Books. 

Ms. Russo's Athenaeum talk is co-sponsored by the Center for Writing and Public Discourse and the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies, both at CMC.

Photo Credit: Anthony Travis

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Monday, March 04, 2019 - Evening Program
Who's the Fairest of Them All? The Truth About Opportunity, Taxes, and Wealth in America
Stephen Moore
Stephen Moore, economic policy analyst at CNN and economic advisor to candidate Donald Trump, will explore what it means for our economic system and our economic results to be "fair." Does it mean that everyone has a fair shot? Does it mean that everyone gets the same amount? Does it mean the government can assert the authority to forcibly take from the successful and give to the poor? Is government supposed to be Robin Hood determining who gets what? Or should the market decide that?

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Stephen Moore served as a senior economic advisor to candidate Donald Trump, with a focus on tax reform, regulatory reform, and energy policy. In addition to his current role at 32 Advisors, Moore is a heritage visiting senior fellow and a senior economic analyst at CNN; he has more than thirty years of experience as an economist and thinker on the impact of government on business.

Moore previously wrote on the economy and public policy for The Wall Street Journal and was a member of its editorial board. During his career, Moore has served as a senior economist at the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, and as a senior economics fellow at the Cato Institute, where he published dozens of studies on federal and state fiscal policy. He advised the National Economic Commission in 1987 and served as a research director for President Reagan's Commission on Privatization.

Monday, March 04, 2019 - Evening Program
Poetry Reading and Reflections with Carl Phillips
Carl Phillips
Poet and author Carl Phillips, professor of English and of African and Afro-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, will read some of his award-winning poetry and share personal reflections.

Carl Phillips is the author of 14 books of poetry, most recently “Wild Is the Wind” (FSG, 2018), and “Reconnaissance” (FSG, 2015), winner of the PEN USA Award and the Lambda Literary Award. He is also the author of two books of prose: “The Art of Daring: Risk, Restlessness, Imagination” (Graywolf, 2014) and “Coin of the Realm: Essays on the Life and Art of Poetry” (Graywolf, 2004), and he is the translator of Sophocles’ Philoctetes (Oxford, 2004).

A four-time finalist for the National Book Award, his honors include the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry, the Kingsley Tufts Award, the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Library of Congress, and the Academy of American Poets. He teaches at Washington University in St. Louis.

Professor Phillips Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies in collaboration with the poetry colloquium of the department of literature.

(Parents Dining)

Tuesday, March 05, 2019 - Evening Program
Finding the Good: Reclaiming and Reframing Rwanda
Carl Wilkens
The only American to remain in Kigali, Rwanda, throughout the 1994 genocide, Carl Wilkens ventured out each day into streets crackling with mortars and gunfire and worked his way through roadblocks of angry, bloodstained soldiers and civilians armed with machetes and assault rifles in order to bring food, water and medicine to groups of orphans trapped around the city. Working with Rwandan colleagues, they helped save the lives of hundreds. His harrowing yet hopeful journey weaves together stories of tremendous risk and fierce compassion in the midst of senseless slaughter and promotes how to “enter the world of the Other.”

Carl Wilkens's storytelling does not stop with Rwanda’s tragic history, but moves forward to the powerful and inspiring recovery process. Among the many lessons he shares from his experience is the transformative belief that we don’t have to be defined by what we lost or our worst choices. We can be defined by what we do with what remains—what we do next after terrible choices and how to “enter the world of the Other.”

In 2011, Wilkens completed a book detailing those days titled “I’m Not Leaving.” A 40-minute documentary by the same title has since been released. Each year he returns to Rwanda with students and educators to see for themselves how people are working together to rebuild their country and rebuild trust.

Through his not-for-profit, World Outside my Shoes, Wilkens facilitates meaningful conversations under the broad umbrella of learning to live together and to inspire and equip people to stand up against genocide, racism, and intolerance.

Mr. Wilkens’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights at CMC.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019 - Evening Program
How Muslims Discovered America
Travis Zadeh
Historically, Muslim geographers described and mapped the world not only to render it known, but also to marvel at its unknowability. Starting in the early 16th century, accounts and maps drawn from Iberian materials on the Americas began to occasion notable shifts in Islamic geographical writing and cartography. Importantly, the language of discovery also came to play a role in triumphalist Christian discourses on Muslim inferiority and insularity. Beginning in the early 20th century, an array of Muslim scholars, politicians, and religious authorities started to claim that Muslim seafarers preceded Columbus in the discovery of America. Travis Zadeh, associate professor of religious studies at Yale University, explores the various motivations guiding revisionist history in light of modern debates over the nature, significance, and scope of Islamic geography and the place of Muslims in the development of science and the course of world history.

Travis Zadeh is a scholar of Islamic intellectual and cultural history. His areas of interest include frontiers and early conversion, Qur’anic studies, eschatology, mythology, mysticism, pilgrimage and sacred geography, encyclopedism, cosmography, classical Arabic and Persian literary traditions, material and visual cultures, Islamic studies in the digital humanities, vernacularity and language politics, comparative theories of language and translation, secularism, colonialism, Islamic reform, science, magic, miracles, and philosophies of the marvelous.

Zadeh’s research has examined the role of translation in the formative stages of Islamic history, particularly in the areas of geographical writings on the wonders of the world and scriptural hermeneutics concerning the transcendental nature of the Qur’an. His first monograph, "Mapping Frontiers across Medieval Islam: Geography, Translation and the ‘Abbasid Empire" (I.B. Tauris, 2011), explores the diverse uses of translation, scriptural exegesis, and administrative geography in the projection of imperial power. His second book, "The Vernacular Qur’an: Translation and the Rise of Persian Exegesis" (Oxford University Press, Qur’anic Studies Series – Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2012), examines early juridical and theological debates on the translatability of the Qur’an, the rise of vernacular cultures, the development of Persian exegetical literature, and translations of the Qur’an.

Zadeh is currently researching several topics, including astonishment and wonder before and after the age of reform, material and visual cultures in Islamic studies, knowledge networks spanning frontiers across Central and South Asia, and the intersections between sacred geography, history, and scripture. He is particularly interested in the problem of the marvelous, broadly construed, over the course of Islamic history. This topic forms the basis for his book project, "Marvelous Geographies: Religion and Science in Islamic Thought" (under contract with Harvard University Press). He is also undertaking a book project on the early history, formation, and memory of Mecca, with specific attention to the repeated destruction of the sanctuary complex at the end of the seventh century and the ensuing implications for ritual practice and political authority. Both books draw on archival research conducted with the support of an Andrew Mellon New Directions Fellowship (2013–16).

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

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Thursday, March 07, 2019 - Evening Program
Constructing Freedom of Speech: Lessons from the Unwritten Constitution
George Thomas
Is a law that makes it illegal to engage in speech that “defames” the government or brings it into “disrepute” unconstitutional? In 1798, when the Sedition Act was passed, the answer was not obvious. Seven years earlier in 1791, when the First Amendment was added to the Constitution, there had been no discussion of what “the freedom of speech” meant. The Sedition Act of 1798 forced the new republic to confront the nature and meaning of freedom of speech under the Constitution. George Thomas, Wohlford Professor of American Political Institutions and director of the Salvatori Center at Claremont McKenna College, asserts that understanding one of our first great constitutional conflicts illuminates contemporary debates about constitutional interpretation and the importance of constitutional engagement by citizens.

George Thomas is the Wohlford Professor of American Political Institutions at Claremont McKenna College and director of the Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World. He came to CMC from Williams College in 2007. He is the author of “The Founders and the Idea of a National University: Constituting the American Mind” (Cambridge University Press, 2015), “The Madisonian Constitution” (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), and co-author of the two volume “American Constitutional Law: Essays, Cases, and Comparative Notes” (West Academic, 2018), as well of numerous scholarly articles.

Thomas’s works have appeared in popular journals such as National Affairs, The American Interest, and the Washington Post. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Huntington Library, and is the recipient of the Alexander George Award from the American Political Science Association. He is currently completing a book titled “The (Un)Written Constitution” on which his Athenaeum talk is based.

Professor Thomas’s Athenaeum presentation celebrates his installation ceremony as the Wohlford Professor of American Political Institutions at CMC.



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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.