“'What Was An Author?' Right from the opening words of these Tempest Essays, we see the great Molly Nesbit at work undoing and radically repositioning the time codes for the artist. She creates a living archive of critical debates, politics and philosophies. She paints a vivid picture of the many junctions between people, objects, quasi-objects and non-objects throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. This is a true protest against forgetting as well as a toolbox for contemporary art criticism. Call it a guidebook to the labyrinth of reality.” —Hans Ulrich Obrist
Ellen Condiffe Lagemann, Levy Institute Research Professor at Bard College and Distinguished Fellow in the Bard Prison Initiative, discusses her book Liberating Minds: The Case for College in Prison(New Press, 2017) in the next installment of our series on The Role of the Liberal Arts in Contemporary Society. “An excellent new book that makes a compelling case. Lagemann’s is a reasoned, knowledgeable, and compassionate voice for higher education as a means to achieve the goal of prison as a place for rehabilitation.” — Vartan Gregorian, president, Carnegie Corporation of New York 35:32 minutes Listen
"Widely known for her iconic “soak-stain” canvases, acclaimed artist Helen Frankenthaler (1928–2011) was an equally inventive printmaker who took risks in a medium not frequently explored by abstract expressionists. Fluid Expressions: The Prints of Helen Frankenthaler, from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation highlights Frankenthaler’s often-overlooked, yet highly original print production. The exhibition will be making its only northeast stop at Vassar College’s Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center October 6-December 10, 2017. This exhibition is free and open to the public."
October 4, 2017. Vassar College President Elizabeth H. Bradley talks about the book she co-authored with Lauren A. Taylor entitled, The American Health Care Paradox: Why Spending More is Getting Us Less, published by Public Affairs Press in 2013. "In The American Health Care Paradox, Bradley and Taylor illuminate how narrow definitions of 'health care,' archaic divisions in the distribution of health and social services, and our allergy to government programs combine to create needless suffering in individual lives, even as health care spending continues to soar. They show us how and why the US health care 'system' developed as it did; examine the constraints on, and possibilities for, reform; and profile inspiring new initiatives from around the world." 36:23 minutes Listen
"Those Wonderful Women in their Flying Machines hones in on World War II to recount the story of the over 1,000 women pilots who flew in the military as part of the Women's Air Force Service Pilots (WASP). Over 25,000 women applied and 1,800 were selected to train at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. From 1942 to '44, these pilots flew over 60 million miles in every type of plane the airforce had, and 38 women lost their lives in service. Here, in biography style, the niece of one of these pilots recreates the amazing story of what she calls 'one of the best-kept secrets of World War II.'"
Architectural historian Nicholas Adams, Mary Conover Mellon Professor of Art at Vassar College, talks about the exhibition he conceived and helped to curate at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library entitled Building Buffalo: Buildings from Books, Books from Buildings: Books on Architecture and Landscape from the Rare Book Collection of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, on view until March 31, 2018.
We continue our series on the value of the liberal arts in contemporary society with a conversation with Robert O. McClintock, John L. and Sue Ann Weinberg Professor Emeritus in the Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Education at Teacher's College, Columbia University in the City of New York, about his monograph, Formative Justice: To Make of Oneself What One Can and Should Become. Text of Formative Justice (pdf). 44:28 minutes. Listen
Louis Rose, Executive Director of the Sigmund Freud Archive at the Library of Congress and Professor of History in the Departments of History and Political Science at Otterbein University talks about his new book, Psychology, Art, and Antifascism: Ernst Kris, E. H. Gombrich,, and the Politics of Caricature (Yale 2016), as well as the Sigmund Freud Papers and their newly announced digital archive. “In 1934, Viennese art historian and psychoanalyst Ernst Kris invited his mentee E. H. Gombrich to collaborate on a project that had implications for psychology and neuroscience, and foreshadowed their contributions to the Allied war effort. Their subject: caricature and its use and abuse in propaganda. Their collaboration was a seminal early effort to integrate science, the humanities, and political awareness. In this fascinating biographical and intellectual study, Louis Rose explores the content of Kris and Gombrich’s project and its legacy."
"When you are ready to admit that you need help remembering names and faces, this book is the place to start. Using playful methods based on how our minds generate information, Sverdloff shows us how we can get our brains back in gear." —Timothy Young, The Yale Review
Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor and Director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and a MacArthur Fellowship recipient, will contribute to our series on the role of liberal arts education in contemporary society by discussing her recent work on language and politics: Education and Equality (Chicago University Press, 2016) and Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality (Norton, 2014).
"Featured on the front page of the New York Times, Our Declaration is already regarded as a seminal work that reinterprets the promise of American democracy through our founding text. Combining a personal account of teaching the Declaration with a vivid evocation of the colonial world between 1774 and 1777, Allen, a political philosopher renowned for her work on justice and citizenship reveals our nation's founding text to be an animating force that not only changed the world more than two-hundred years ago, but also still can. Challenging conventional wisdom, she boldly makes the case that the Declaration is a document as much about political equality as about individual liberty. Beautifully illustrated throughout, Our Declaration is an “uncommonly elegant, incisive, and often poetic primer on America's cardinal text” -- David M. Kennedy.
“Education and Equality mounts a powerful philosophical argument for putting ‘participatory readiness’ for civic and political life at the center of American education. Developing a rich, pragmatic account of the purposes of schooling, Allen shows the poverty of reductionist notions of education as preparation for work and global economic competition alone. To achieve the political equality that is indispensable for democratic governance, a humanist education for all is required. A must read for all concerned about the future of American education and American democracy.” -- Leo Casey, executive director, Albert Shanker Institute
Patricia Phagan, Philip and Lynn Strauss Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center and Peter van Alfen, Margaret Thompson Curator of Ancient Greek Coins at the American Numismatic Society in New York, discuss their exhibition: The Art of Devastation: Medals and Posters of the Great War, on view at the Loeb Center January 27 - April 9, 2017. 39:41 minutes. Listen
Top: Millay in the outdoor pool at Steepletop, c. 1928 (from footage courtesy of Michael Cook)
February 8, 2017.
Holly Peppe, scholar, editor, and literary executor for the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, discusses Millay's life, her work, the new edition of Millay's Selected Poems (Yale, 2016), and the exhibition "Treasures from Steepletop" on view in the Main Library, Art Library, and Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center from January 22 through June 11, 2017, in celebration of the centennial of Millay's graduation from Vassar College.
"Yale University Press’s edition of the Selected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay, superbly edited by Timothy Jackson, and with a brilliant introduction by Millay scholar Holly Peppe, constitutes a significant addition both to our understanding of Twentieth-Century American Poetry as well as to a fuller, more complex and balanced portrait of who the extraordinary poet Edna St. Vincent Millay was and—more importantly—is to readers searching for a more accurate picture of what made Modern Poetry modern. If she has been too often overlooked in the last half century and more, this edition will undoubtedly help restore Millay’s brilliant, witty, and tragic feminine voice to her rightful place among the company of Hart Crane, Frost, Williams, Pound, Eliot and Stevens."— Paul Mariani, Boston College
Minnesota writer and librarian Maureen Millea Smith, talks about her book of short stories, The Enigma of Iris Murphy (Livingson, 2016).
“Astonishing and original, these stories draw us into the singular world of Omaha public defender Iris Murphy and the interconnected relationships she shares with family, lovers and friends. Characters from all phases of her life serve as disparate lenses through which Iris and her fearless, compassionate vision is revealed. Iris is a force of love and sacrifice, guiding those around her to transform and redeem their lives. Maureen Millea Smith gives us an unforgettable character who forever changes her corner of the world." -- Marianne Herrman, Signaling for Rescue.
“In her collection of linked stories, The Enigma of Iris Murphy, winner of the Tartt First Fiction Award, Edina author Maureen Millea Smith unpacks the enigma that is Iris by delving into the lives and the psyches of her friends, family members and lovers. The title story, for example, introduces us to Iris's confidant Paul Simmons, a gay recovering alcoholic ‘shoved out of the closet' by his ex-wife, newly in love with a man from his investment club. 'Life would have been far easier for him if he had married and divorced Iris Murphy,' he reflects over dinner, although he is not blind to her more irritating qualities. (‘It is the Irish in Iris that tends to make her a good girl martyr,' he observes, both annoyed and impressed.)" -- Rachel Sugar, Minneapolis Star Tribune 57:56 minutes. Listen
December 21, 2016. Richard E. Wilson, Mary Conover Mellon Professor of Music, retiring this month after 50 years of teaching at Vassar College, talks aout music, education, his career and his life at Vassar. "Wilson is a Professor of Music on the Mary Conover Mellon Chair. In addition to his 50 years of teaching at the college, Wilson is the composer of over one hundred works in many genres. His opera, Aethelred the Unready, was staged in 2011 in Symphony Space, New York City. He was a recent recipient of the Roger Sessions Memorial Bogliasco Fellowship as well as an Academy Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has previously received the Hinrichsen Award, the Stoeger Prize, the Cleveland Arts Prize, the Burge/Eastman Prize, a Frank Huntington Beebe Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He joined the Vassar Faculty in 1966; he has served as Composer-in-Residence with the American Symphony Orchestra since 1992." 50:18 minutes. Listen
December 14, 2016. Michael Witmore (VC '89), Shakespeare scholar and Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library, talks about the Folger's mission, history, and public programs, and about Shakespeare as an educational force in American life on the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. 38:53 minutes Listen
Gretchen Goldman, Research Director for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, talks about the role of science in public policy, including issues ranging from scientific integrity in government decision-making to political interference in science-based standards on hydraulic facturing, climate change, sugar, and chemicals. Dr. Goldman holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in environmental engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a B.S. in atmospheric science from Cornell University. She has authored pieces for Science, The New York Times, NPR, The Boston Globe, Reuters, Politico, and Bloomberg. 44:57 minutes. Listen Union of Concerned Scientists website: http://www.ucsusa.org/ UCS Science Network (for scientists): http://www.ucsusa.org/science-network UCS on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unionofconcernedscientists
Stella Beratlis, Modesto California's Poet Laureate and managing librarian at Tracy Library of the Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library, talks about poetry and librarianship, and reads from and discusses her new book of poems Alkalai Sink, (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2015).
Art historian, editor, and publisher Gloria Kury (VC '65) talks about art history, literature, education, and the fabrication of the Renaissance in the 19th century and her book When Giorgione Died: A Rebuildungsroman in Two Volumes (Periscope, 2016).
"A memory book with a fierce verve for piercing the false enchantments of memory, its dangerous nostalgias, its zombies and composite monsters, its necrophilia and kitsch. Exuberantly in love with art, Gloria Kury works to disentangle the blind-paths of connoisseurship and historical scholarship, what so often gets forgotten there - and what hides in plain sight. A brilliant story teller herself, she trusts other storytellers - Shakespeare, Henry James, Edith Wharton, William Gaddis, Cindy Sherman among others - to lay bear the strangeness of things, even as she invites the wild-eyed prophets, the crystal gazers, the code breakers, the hypnotists, the psychics, the psychologists, the parapsychologists, the time travelers, the explorers of the fourth dimension to say their part. Seeded within this complex slide show is a sharp, cohesive, often comic and sometimes chilling meditation on how any life is lived and remembered, how smoke gets in your eyes." -- Kenneth Gross, author of The Dream of the Moving Statue and Puppet: An Essay on Uncanny Life
Anton Refregier. 1837, Printing the California Star. Color sketch for the Rincon Annex Murals on the History of San Francisco. Gift of Philip and Lynn Strauss, FLLAC 2015.23.1.1
November 2, 2016.
Patricia Phagan, Philip and Lynn Strauss Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, talks about her exhibition: Celebrating Heroes: American Mural Studies of the 1930s and 1940s from the Susan and Steven Hirsch Collection on view September 2 - December 18, 2016.
"Blueprint for Counter Education is one of the defining (but neglected) works of radical pedagogy of the Vietnam War era. Originally published in 1970 and integrated into the design of the Critical Studies curriculum at CalArts, the book was accompanied by large graphic posters that could serve as a portable learning environment for a new process-based model of education, and a bibliography and checklist that map patterns and relationships between radical thought and artistic practices—from the avant-gardes to postmodernism—with Marcuse and McLuhan serving as points of anchorage."
Internationally acclaimed graphic artist Barbara Beisinghoff will talk about her artist's books and etchings, installations and public commissions, her residency at Vassar College during September and October of this year, and her exhibition, "When Light Touches Paper," on view in the Vassar College Art Library and the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center September 19 - October 14, 2016. 46:15 minutes. Listen
Martha C. Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, discusses her book Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice, just published by Oxford University Press.
"Written with her usual mix of grace, precision, passion, and breathtaking scope, Nussbaum probes two seemingly polar emotions underlying our notions of justice-anger and forgiveness. She finds them part of the same vindictive drama, and each problematic. Her call is to move beyond them to become 'strange sorts of people, part Stoic and part creatures of love.' The book offers an important and timely challenge, a most worthwhile and enlightening read for those interested in philosophy, psychology, law, politics, religion-or simply living in today's world." -- C. Daniel Batson, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of Kansas 45:14 minutes. Listen
"What Quiet has done for introversion, To Live in the World as Ourselves does for the entire scheme of Jung's typology. Extraversion, introversion, thinking, feeling, intuition, and sensation, and the ongoing dynamics of psychological experience they represent, are all made clear in an accessible style that goes to the heart of Jung's pioneering concepts." - Jung Journal: Culture & Psyche
May 11, 2016. SEASON FINALE: Composer and sound sculptor Joseph Bertolozzi (VC '81) and photographer Franc Palaia talk about Bertolozzi's percussion compositions employing structures such as the Eiffel Tower and the Mid-Hudson Bridge as instruments. "Tower Music is a 21st-century homage to the Eiffel Tower, to the Exposition Universelle of 1889 and to Paris itself. Joseph Bertolozzi presents us with an acoustic version of a deck of old photographs, movie posters, and postcards related to Paris and the Tower. Once again, as in Bridge Music (2008), the composer uses the substance and structure of an engineering marvel to create a unique sense of place. This sound creation can only be realized through the resonances of the Eiffel Tower itself. It is intrinsically of the Eiffel Tower." -- Andrew Tomasello.
Mary-Kay Lombino, Emily Hargroves Fisher 1957 and Richard B. Fisher Curator of Collections at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, discusses the exhibition on view April 29 - August 21, 2016: "Touch the Sky: Art and Astronomy." Astronomy can be traced back to antiquity with its origins in religious and mythological beliefs; its study has been closely linked to artistic endeavors since the Renaissance. Touch the Sky is a multi-media exhibition of images of the moon, sun, planets, and stars made by artists since the nineteenth century. Artistic observation of the skies was advanced by the dawn of photography in 1839, when Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre attempted to capture an image of the moon, and in 1865 when Lewis Rutherfurd, inventor of the first telescope designed for astrophotography, made top-quality spectroscopic images of the moon. Since then, artists’ enthusiasm for recording and interpreting the grandeur and mystery of the cosmos has not waned. The exhibition includes work by nineteen artists, including Vija Celmins, Chris McCaw, Sharon Harper, David Malin, Mungo Thomson, Lisa Oppenheim, and Nancy Graves. 44:12 minutes. Listen
Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial, Riverside Park, New York by Penelope Jencks
April 27, 2016.
For our last discussion of the season in our series on the value of liberal arts education in contemporary society, historian Maxine McClintock, emeritus teacher at Trinity School in New York, talks about her book Letters of Recommendation (Collaboratory for Liberal Learning, 2014) and the role of the liberal arts in secondary education.
"This is a remarkable and rewarding book. In the best tradition of John Dewey's vision of education as a journey that makes for more fully formed, flourishing human beings as well as a more informed citizenry, Maxine McClintock has constructed an intricate and compelling account not just of the fictional student Emilia's winding "senior year odyssey" toward college (and beyond) but also of the mentor-mentee educative process by which both share insights, learn, and develop through intellectual exchanges. The erudition here is striking and subtle. William James, Randolph Bourne, Dewey, Thomas Jefferson, and scores of other major thinkers appear and serve to propel the narrative as well as the analysis, provoking much bigger questions and concerns than simply: where should Emilia go to school? This is a book that interrogates the proper and best role of intellectuals and educators in society. It ponders the city "as educator." It critiques and embraces the drawbacks as well as the opportunities provided by Emilia's elite private school. It investigates the history of ideas and the "purposes of a liberal arts education" in a democracy. And it challenges readers to consider how self-awareness is and might be enabled via education as the book probes how and why this is not happening more in the U.S. At the core of this book, then, lies the so-called "education crisis" and the "crisis of the humanities" as integral to the "dysfunctional meritocracy" endemic to the contemporary educational landscape." -- Christopher M. Nichols.
Eileen Leonard, Professor of Sociology at Vassar College, talks about her book Crime, Inequality, and Power published in 2015 by Routledge. ‘In Crime, Inequality and Power, Leonard offers a powerful critique of our current system of justice and the underlying socially constructed biases that continue to focus upon specific types of criminal behavior, while minimizing others. Central to her thesis is that "…power and persistent inequality in America has more to do with our understanding of crime and our punishment of it, rather than the harm that behavior inflicts". Crime, Inequality and Power is an important addition to the discipline of criminology and an essential read for students, policymakers and scholars interested in this complex topic.’
-- David Polizzi, Associate Professor, Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, Indiana State University,
"Anyone who loves used and rare books has stories to tell about discovering gems in unlikely places. These tales become badges of honor for bibliophiles and no-one has more stories of literary discoveries than booksellers."
Mita Choudhury, Professor of History at Vassar College, discusses her book The Wanton Jesuit and the Wayward Saint: A Tale of Sex, Religion and Politics in Eighteenth-Century France, published by Pennsylvania University Press in 2015.
“Students of eighteenth-century France have long been aware of the importance of the Cadière affair. Fortunately, the case has now found its historian. Mita Choudhury, a leading expert on the politics of theological conflict in Old Regime France, has given us a rich account of the scandalous provincial encounter in the early 1730s that resounded all the way to the halls of Versailles and the Sorbonne.”—Jeffrey S. Ravel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology 52:54 minutes. Listen
Irving Ramsey Wiles, American, 1861-1948, Girl Writing, oil on canvas.. Gift of Ruth Scherm, VC class of 1945
March 2, 2016.
James Mundy (VC'74), Anne Hendricks Bass Director of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, talks about the Exhibit "American Stories 1800-1950" on view at the Center January 29 - April 17, 2016.
"The founding strength of the art museum at Vassar College in 1864 was its American paintings. That collection has grown greatly over the years with the result that a number of the works by major American painters are seldom seen. This exhibition will explore some of the American riches found in storage and will feature key works of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries housed in the Art Center's vault. Among the artists featured are John Singleton Copley, Benjamin West, Sanford Gifford, George Inness, William Merritt Chase, Maxfield Parrish, Arthur B. Davies, Robert Henri, Ernest Lawson, Arthur Dove, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Ben Shahn."