April 7–22, 2021 | Artificial intelligence has infiltrated our daily lives—in the ways we conduct business, govern, provide healthcare and security, and communicate. The large-scale cultural and societal implications of these changes—and the ethical questions they raise—pose a serious challenge as we embrace a future increasingly shaped by the implementation of AI technology. In Our Image included a series of virtual events—presentations, conversations, webinars, film screenings, and an art exhibition—highlighting perspectives from leading humanists, scientists, engineers, artists, writers, and software company executives collectively advancing inquiry into key emerging questions.
What are the reasonable boundaries and expectations that students should expect from their mentors? And what obligations are owed to those who share their knowledge and experience? Looking at traditions from the ancient world to the modern era, these three scholars will discuss the nature of mentorship in different cultural contexts and how the concept of mentorship continues to resonate in contemporary classrooms.
Catherine M. Cole reveals how the voices and visions of artists in South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo can help us see what otherwise evades perception from the injustices produced by apartheid and colonialism. Examining works by contemporary performing artists Brett Bailey, Faustin Linyekula, Gregory Maqoma, and others, Cole demonstrates how the arts are “helping to conjure, anticipate, and dream a world that is otherwise.”
Offering an expansive vision of what the United States should be, John McGowan combines the thinking of philosophers like John Dewey and William James with the ethos of comedy to imagine what American life could be like if we more fully embraced values such as love, forgiveness, and generosity that are too often left out of our political discourse.
Laura F. Edwards’s compelling book considers the sweeping transformation of American law produced in the wake of the Civil War. Through her analysis of constitutional amendments, Supreme Court decisions, and legal claims espoused by everyone from national politicians to everyday citizens, Edwards demonstrates how the notion of rights became so integral in post-Civil War America, especially in the lives of African Americans, women, and organized laborers.
Joy Connolly argues in her most recent book, The Life of Roman Republicanism that “Cicero, Sallust, and Horace inspire fresh thinking about central concerns of contemporary political thought and action” including the role conflict plays in the political community, the conditions needed to promote an equal and just society, citizens’ interdependence on one another for senses of selfhood, and the uses and dangers of self-sovereignty and fantasy.
February 3–24, 2021 | For centuries, the importance of civility to the health of republics has been widely recognized. Peaceful resolution of conflicts, open debate, and the nurturing of an engaged citizenry are essential to maintaining governments in which power is held by the people. Yet, civility remains elusive. The scholars in this series help us think about ways of encouraging, preserving, and restoring civility—through political and creative expression, in the courts, on the page, and on the screen—from the classical period to the modern era.
Reckoning with the centuries-long toll of treating African Americans as less than their fellow citizens is a challenging task, requiring us to consider not only what has been extracted from and denied the mistreated but the costs borne by all of us. Though these three scholars focus on different periods and places in this country's history with quite different sources, approaches, and questions, their work illuminates the myriad ways that racism and systemic injustice affect us all.
Virtual Book Club: The War Before the War: Fugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America’s Soul from the Revolution to the Civil War
By awakening northerners to the true nature of slavery, and by enraging southerners who demanded the return of their human "property," fugitive slaves forced the nation to confront the truth about itself, and led inexorably to civil war. Andrew Delbanco's masterful examination of the fugitive slave story illuminates what brought us to war with ourselves and the terrible legacies of slavery that are with us still.
Join us as we take a series of virtual audio journeys through the intellectual woods with cohosts Robert Newman, Tania Munz, and Matthew Booker, as they survey some of the compelling topics being studied by historians and philosophers, scholars of literature, art, and other fields who come to the Center from all over the world.