2014 Rostrum Events

ROSTRUM:
THE LANGUAGE AND THINKING
EVENT SERIES
AT BARD COLLEGE, AUGUST 2014


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Roger Berkowitz
ROGER BERKOWITZ
Academic Director, Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities, Associate Professor of Politics, Philosophy, and Human Rights, Bard College

The Singularity and the Human Condition

The Singularity is a word signifying the coming moment when human beings evolve into a higher form of life by merging with the technologies we create. If you believe futurists like Ray Kurzweil, the time of the Singularity is near. But even if you doubt that humans and machines will merge, it is a fact that machines are increasingly taking on tasks and making judgments that were once the province of humans. From drones in war to computer trading on Wall Street and from Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to the computerization of medicine, machines are replacing humans not just on assembly lines but in quintessentially human activities. Robots are even caring for elderly patients and creating art—quintessentially human activities. The question we need to ask is: what will it mean to be human in an increasingly inhuman age? This is a question Hannah Arendt addressed directly over 50 years ago in her book The Human Condition. This talk explores Arendt’s understanding of the question and the outline of her response. Wednesday, August 20, 2014


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Leon Botstein
THE AMERICAN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, conducted by LEON BOTSTEIN
President of Bard College and Leon Levy Professor in the Arts and Humanities

Late Ambitions

An open rehearsal of Psalm 92, D953 by Franz Schubert and Rendering by Luciano Berio. Friday, August 15, 2014


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Paul Cadden-Zimansky
PAUL CADDEN-ZIMANSKY
Assistant Professor of Physics, Bard College

Einstein at the Center of the Universe: On the Specifics of General Theories

The first decades of the 20th century witnessed Albert Einstein working to extend to the utmost the centuries old principle of relativity, a principle which strives to eliminate any privileged perspective from our explanations concerning the motions of physical objects. In this talk, I’ll describe the specific sacrifices of human intuition Einstein made in the service of this principle, and address the question of whether he succeeded in formulating a truly general theory of motion. Thursday, August 21, 2014


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Bard Conservatory
BARD CONSERVATORY

Franz Schubert’s Octet

An open rehearsal and discussion. An hour in length, this is a chamber music epic….Archduke Rudolph’s chief steward had requested it to be ‘exactly like Beethoven’s Septet’, an intimidating order which inspired the choice of instrumentation (with added second violin), and six-movement structure. Both revive the art of the divertimento, but Schubert’s feast of song and dance has an undeniably Romantic quality. Thursday, August 14, 2014


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John Cronin
JOHN CRONIN
Senior Fellow for Environmental Affairs, Pace Academy, New York

The Imagined Environment

Every great accomplishment begins with an act of the imagination, and then an act of courage to see it through. Thinkers as diverse as Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dr. Richard Feynman encourage us to dream large and boldly. But do we have the courage to imagine a different environmental future or are we defined by the very things we protest? Monday, August 18, 2014

Co-sponsored by Bard’s Sustainability Council.


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Tomatoes
JOHN-PAUL SLIVA, of Bard Farm
PAUL MARIENTHAL, Dean for Social Action & Director of the Trustee Leader Scholar (TLS) Program, Bard College
KEN GREENE, of the Hudson Valley Seed Library
NORMAN GREIG, of Greig Farm in Red Hook, NY

Local Food Matters

A discussion among farmers about their own experience farming in the contemporary world, and specifically in the Hudson Valley, and their reflections on land, food, agricultural policy, and sustainability. Friday, August 22, 2014


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Joseph Luzzi
JOSEPH LUZZI
Associate Professor of Italian and Director of the Italian Studies Program, Bard College

Freedom and Constraint in Antonioni: Blow-Up between Text and Image

My talk will focus on how Michelangelo Antonioni explores our dialectic between “freedom and constraint” in his film Blow-Up, especially in its creative tension between the social and sexual revolution of the 1960s and the desire for “truth” and “evidence” in a world increasingly beholden to illusion and escapism. Considering both Antonioni’s film and the short story that inspired it, Julio Cortázar’s “The Devil’s Spittle,” we will discuss how Antonioni meditates on art’s capacity to reveal truth about lived experience in a way that more empirical modes of investigation fail to do, especially in the film’s portrayal of the transition from photographic still to cinematic narrative. Overall, our conversation will consider what I take to be an often overlooked aspect of Antonioni’s films: their sense of humanism and sharp sociopolitical analysis, hidden as it were in the incredible beauty of his rarefied aesthetic forms. Friday, August 22, 2014


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Dawn Lundy Martin
DAWN LUNDY MARTIN
Poet, Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Pittsburgh

The Value of Forgetting and the Architecture of Desire

This speculative lecture in four acts investigates the relationship between “race” and innovative poetics or aesthetics. What, it asks, can a poetics that values/enacts fracture, fissure, and a complication of the lyric “I” contribute to a contemporary understanding of the experiences of raced bodies in the social sphere? Using artist Kara Walker’s controversial works, Claudia Rankine’s hybrid writings, and M. Nourbese Philip’s ZONG!, this talk problematizes the assumed neutrality of whiteness and foregrounds the potential power of fractured subjectivities. What does it mean to know our “selves”? Is there a way to take the remains of a fractured subjectivity—the post-traumatic body, black bodies unjustly beaten or killed by police, other disposable bodies—and build forward toward an imagined future? Thursday, August 21, 2014

Co-sponsored by the Difference and Media Project.


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Sean McMeekin
SEAN McMEEKIN
Professor of History, Koç University, Istanbul (and incoming Professor of History, Bard College)

The War of 1914: An Avoidable Catastrophe

This lecture is on the outbreak of the First World War, why it did not have to happen as it did, and the consequences of the fact that it did break out. Sean McMeekin is the author of five books, including The Berlin-Baghdad Express. The Ottoman Empire and Germany’s Bid for World Power, The Russian Origins of the First World War, and most recently, July 1914: Countdown to War. Tuesday, August 12, 2014


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Walter Russell Mead
WALTER RUSSELL MEAD
James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College and Editor-at-Large of The American Interest magazine

American Power and the New World Disorder
Thursday, August 14, 2014


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Greg Moynahan
GREG MOYNAHAN
Associate Professor of History, and Director of the Science, Technology, and Society program

History, Science, and Freedom in Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions

A consideration of how the category of “history” relates to western ideas of freedom, and how Kuhn’s application of “history” to “nature” represents a late development in this relationship. Tuesday, August 14, 2014


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Lynne Tillman and Amy Sillman
AMY SILLMAN and LYNNE TILLMAN

A conversation about composition in painting and writing. Amy Sillman’s exhibition “One Lump or Two” is currently showing at the Hessel Museum/CCS. Lynne Tillman is the author of many books, including most recently the collection of short stories Someday This Will Be Funny and the collection of essays What Would Lynne Tillman Do?. She has written extensively on contemporary art. Tuesday, August 19, 2014


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Peter Wallace
PETER WALLACE
Director, writer, sculptor, and former Chair of the Theater Program at Eugene Lang College of The New School University

Action, Pretence and Geography: How we create meaning in performance

A performance-based workshop using texts from the Language and Thinking anthology. Wednesday, August 13, 2014, and Friday, August 22, 2014