• 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 fall 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.

You may register online for open events.

We look forward to seeing you at the Ath.

Priya Junnar
Director

Monday, November 18, 2019 - Evening Program
"Be Water": Hong Kong's protests and Beijing's response
James Kynge
It is as if the two big weather systems that animate global politics have clashed over Hong Kong, posits James Kynge, global China editor at the Financial Times. The confrontation between aspirations for greater democracy in Hong Kong and Beijing's authoritarian response is generating fundamental questions: Can Beijing permit greater freedoms in Hong Kong or is a crackdown by security forces inevitable? If China toughens its response, what could that mean for Beijing's relationship with the west and its attempts to woo Taiwan?

James Kynge is global China editor at the Financial Times, based in Hong Kong. He writes about China's growing global footprint in business, finance and politics. He spent more than 25 years reporting from mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as other countries in Asia. 

His bestselling 2009 book, China Shakes the World, forecast that China and the US-led west would be unable to co-exist because of fundamental differences in their political and economic systems and that confrontation was inevitable. 

The recipient of several awards for his work, Kynge recently won the Wincott Foundation's top prize for journalism.

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

This event is full. If you would like to be put on a waiting list, please contact the Athenaeum.
Tuesday, November 19, 2019 - Evening Program
The Levant Express: The Arab Uprisings, Human Rights and the Future of the Middle East
Micheline Ishay
Many were filled with hopes during the Arab uprisings, but now look upon the region with despair. Against the current, Micheline Ishay, Distinguished Professor of International Studies and Human Rights at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, reveals the potential of subterranean human rights forces and charts realistic and progressive pathways for a region beset by political repression, economic distress, sectarian conflict, a refugee crisis, and violence against women.

Micheline Ishay is a political scientist known for her work in political theory, international relations, human rights, foreign policy, and the Middle East. She is Distinguished Professor of International Studies and Human Rights at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, where she serves as director of the International Human Rights Program. She is an affiliate faculty member with the Center for Middle East Studies, was executive director of the Center on Rights Development, and in 2008 was named University of Denver Distinguished Scholar.​

Ishay received a Ph.D. in political science and international studies from Rutgers University. She was a fellow at the Center for Critical Culture and Contemporary Analysis, Rutgers University; assistant professor at Hobart and William Smith College; senior fellow at the Center for Democracy Collaborative, University of Maryland (2004); Lady Davis Visiting Professor, Hebrew University (2006); and visiting professor, Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (2010-2013). She was resident fellow at the Bellagio Center, Rockefeller Foundation, Italy, Fall 2015. 

Often interviewed in the international press, Ishay frequently contributes to international forums in Europe and the Middle East and lectures on international issues in the U.S. Her books, The History of Human Rights and The Human Rights Reader have been translated into multiple languages. Her latest book, The Levant Express: The Arab Uprisings, Human Rights, and the Future of the Middle East, was released in August 2019 by Yale University Press. From 2010 to 2013, Ishay worked in the Gulf region from a unique vantage point, as female American scholar in human rights including teaching the first human rights courses in the Arab world just before and throughout the tumultuous events starting in late 2010.

Professor Ishlay’s Athenaeum talk is sponsored by the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights at Claremont McKenna College and the Siam Family Foundation.

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Wednesday, November 20, 2019 - Evening Program
Why Early Modern History Matters: Tracking the Terminology of "Difference" in Past Lives and Present Perspectives
Heather Ferguson
In a world dominated by escalating environmental, social, and political crises, Heather Ferguson, associate professor of history at CMC, believes that the discipline of history serves as a mechanism that introduces a “pause” in potentially volatile debates. Studying the past requires caution, an awareness of difference across geographies, experiential frames, and chronologies, and the time to construct an argument based on contextual analysis. She will illustrate how studying an early modern empire, shaped by the Ottoman dynasty and lasting for almost 600 years, yields new frameworks for analyzing how categories of difference are meticulously constructed through a convergence of institutional structures and everyday practice which, centuries later, help us "see" the definitions that shape our own contemporary experiences.

Heather Ferguson is an associate professor of Ottoman and Middle Eastern History at Claremont McKenna College. She received an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas-Austin and a Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley. She joined the faculty at CMC in 2011 after completing a two-year postdoctoral position at Stanford University with the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies and History Departments.

Ferguson is an American Council of Learned Societies Fellow, 2014-2015, for her book project entitled The Proper Order of Things: Language, Power and Law in Ottoman Administrative Discourses published by Stanford University Press in June 2018. Currently she is working on a second monograph that explores Sovereign Valedictions: “Last Acts” in Ottoman and Habsburg Courts supported by an NEH Summer Research Stipend. Her research focuses broadly on comparative early modern empires, documentary genres and discourses of power, linkages between archives and state governance, as well as on legal and urban transformations around the Mediterranean. She serves as editor of the Review of Middle East Studies, associate editor for the International Journal of Islamic Architecture and was an inaugural member of the Claremont Faculty Leadership Program.

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Thursday, November 21, 2019 - Evening Program
The Other Rama: Matricide and Genocide in the Mythology of Parashurama
Brian Collins
Brian Collins, Drs. Ram and Sushila Gawande Chair in Indian Religion and Philosophy at Ohio University, will discuss the reception history of the myth cycle of Parashurama, or "Rama with the Axe," an incarnation of the Hindu high god Vishnu best known for decapitating his mother and killing twenty-one generations of warriors to avenge his father's death.

Brian Collins is department chair and associate professor of Classics and World Religions at Ohio University. His publications include The Head Beneath the Altar: Hindu Mythology and the Critique of Sacrifice (Michigan State University Press, 2014), The Other Rāma: Matricide and Genocide in the Mythology of Paraśurāma (Forthcoming from SUNY), and the co-edited volume Bollywood Horrors: Religion, Violence and Cinematic Fears in India (forthcoming from Bloomsbury Academic).

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

(Parents Dining Room)

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Thursday, November 21, 2019 - Evening Program
Theatre in the Round: CHECK PLEASE
Under the Lights
Dating can be hard. Especially when your date happens to be a raging kleptomaniac, or your grandmother's bridge partner, or a mime. Check Please follows a series of blind dinner dates that couldn't get any worse—until they do. Could there possibly be a light at the end of the tunnel? Based on a play by Jonathan Rand, CMC's Under the Lights will perform this one-act play in the round.

Directed by Brian Luna '20, the cast includes Diya Courty-Stephens '23 as Pearl & Louis, Sadie Fisher '20 as Melanie, Matthew Hines '22 -as Brandon & Mark, Max Jackman '23 as Tod, Hannah Lak SC '23 as Linda & Mimi, Drew Liptrot PC '22 as Guy, Nandini Mittal '22 as Mary & Sophie, and Alessia Zanobini '23 as Girl. The tech crew includes Amari Huang '23, Grace Soleil Lyde SC' 23.

This special production will be performed on two consecutive nights. Seating is limited to 90 people, in the round, around the stage. 

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Friday, November 22, 2019 - Lunch Program
Can Russian-American Relations Be Fixed? Lessons from History
Ivan Kurilla
The accusation that Russia seeks to undermine American democracy has captured a lot of attention lately. But according to Ivan Kurilla, professor of international relations at European University in St. Petersburg and author of the book “Frenemies”, this story is not new. There are many examples in the history of this bilateral relationship that reflect a mutual distrust and the suspicion of interference and disrespect of each others values and interests. “Frenemies” for decades, Kurilla will demonstrate how both countries are constantly reinventing images of each other, and mainly using them to fight their domestic battles and to advance a specific political agenda at home.  

Ivan Kurilla, Doctor of Sciences, is professor of international relations at European University in St. Petersburg. Kurilla’s major research area is the history of U.S. – Russian relations; he has also conducted research on the problems in the use of history, historical memory, historical politics, and role of historians in contemporary Russia.

Kurilla has authored five books including most recently History: Past in the Present (EU Press, 2017) and Frenemies: History of Opinions, Fantasies, Contacts, Mutual (Mis)understanding between Russia and the USA (NLO, 2018). He has also published numerous articles in leading Russian and international journals, including Journal of American History, Nationalities Papers, Demokratizatsiya, Journal of the Cold War Studies, and Problems of Post-Communism. 

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

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Friday, November 22, 2019 - Evening Program
Theatre in the Round: CHECK PLEASE
Under the Lights
Dating can be hard. Especially when your date happens to be a raging kleptomaniac, or your grandmother's bridge partner, or a mime. Check Please follows a series of blind dinner dates that couldn't get any worse—until they do. Could there possibly be a light at the end of the tunnel? Based on a play by Jonathan Rand, CMC's Under the Lights will perform this one-act play in the round. 

Directed by Brian Luna '20, the cast includes Diya Courty-Stephens '23 as Pearl & Louis, Sadie Fisher '20 as Melanie, Matthew Hines '22 -as Brandon & Mark, Max Jackman '23 as Tod, Hannah Lak SC '23 as Linda & Mimi, Drew Liptrot PC '22 as Guy, Nandini Mittal '22 as Mary & Sophie, and Alessia Zanobini '23 as Girl. The tech crew includes Amari Huang '23, Grace Soleil Lyde SC' 23.

This special production will be performed on two consecutive nights. Seating is limited to 90 people, in the round, around the stage. 

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges
Monday, December 02, 2019 - Evening Program
Poetry Reading and Reflections with Forrest Gander
Forrest Gander
Forrest Gander, poet and writer, will read some of his works and share personal reflections.

Forrest Gander is a writer, translator, and editor of several anthologies of writing from Spain and Mexico. Be With, Gander’s most recent collection, won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and was long-listed for the 2018 National Book Award. His 2011 poetry collection Core Samples from the World was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. His other books include two novels, As A Friend and The Trace; the poetry collections Be WithEye Against Eye, Torn Awake, Science & Steepleflower; and the essay collection Faithful Existence: Reading, Memory & Transcendence. Gander’s essays have appeared in The Nation, The Boston Review, and the New York Times Book Review. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim, Howard, United States Artists, and Whiting Foundations.

(Parents Dining Room)

Thursday, December 12, 2019 - Evening Program
Holiday Concert 2019
Claremont Treble Singers; Charles W. Kamm, conductor
The Claremont Treble Singers will perform "A Ceremony of Carols" in which 20th century British composer Benjamin Britten sets medieval and renaissance carols for harp and choir. The Claremont Treble Singers, an ensemble of the Joint Music Program of Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, and Scripps College, is a high-voiced ensemble of about 20 students.  It is led by conductor Charles W. Kamm, associate professor of music at Scripps College and director of choirs for the Joint Music Program.  Harpist Laura Griffin-Casey accompanies the choir.

The Claremont Treble Singers will perform "A Ceremony of Carols" in which 20th century British composer Benjamin Britten sets medieval and renaissance carols for harp and choir. The Claremont Treble Singers, an ensemble of the Joint Music Program of Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, and Scripps College, is a high-voiced ensemble of about 20 students.  It is led by conductor Charles W. Kamm, associate professor of music at Scripps College and director of choirs for the Joint Music Program.  Harpist Laura Griffin-Casey accompanies the choir.

Preceding the concert will be a short performance by elementary school aged children from local schools in partnership with CMC club Music Mania.

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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.