3:30–4:30 P.M.

William Nickell

William Nickell is a cultural historian focused on the study of Russia from the 1840s to the 1940s. His award-winning book, The Death of Tolstoy: Russia on the Eve, Astapovo Station, 1910, examines the events around Tolstoy’s death, which became Russia’s first media spectacle, as a means of measuring Russian values and politics between the revolutions of 1905 and 1917. His current course on “Media and Power in the Age of Putin and Trump” brings many of these same concerns to the present.

Present Tense: An Iconology of Time

The question, “What is time?” always turns out to be unanswerable. A better question might be: “How do we picture time?” This presentation examines the ancient figures of Kronos (clock time), Aion (cyclical time), and Kairos (the moment), applying them to the present, specifically to the notion of an epoch or turning point in history. What is the affective temporality of our moment? Or, more plainly, why is the epoch of Donald Trump so often described in the language of mental disorders?

Wine and the Origins of Drunkenness

The ancient Middle East was the home of many kingdoms and cultures. While these kingdoms differed in language, literature, clothing, and buildings, they all were steeped in wine and beer. This session starts with the paleolithic origins of drunkenness, moves on to the controlled production of fermented beverages in 6th millennium BC Georgia, explores the spread of wine and words for wine through the Middle East, and ends in 1st millennium BC Anatolia with the archaeological discovery of mixed beer-wine.

**This presentation is almost full.**

Writer and Citizen

In times of political contestation teeming with misinformation and fraught with charges of fake news, when the very notion of truth seems to be up for grabs, it is compelling to seek out writers whose work addresses politics, yet exceeds the constraints of journalism and the halls of public policymaking.

Understanding Medicine in Medieval England

In the period just prior to medicine’s modernity—before the rise of Renaissance anatomy, the centralized regulation of medical practice, or the consolidation of scientific empiricism—England was the scene of a remarkable upsurge in medical writing. Thousands of medical texts were produced, perhaps surprisingly, for readers outside of universities. What was medical learning like for this readership? How did they negotiate the conflicting claims of material causation, divine power, and their own agency and control?

The Roving Eye of Early Modern Travelers

As complex systems with multiple institutional, civic, and religious topographies, early modern cities presented the foreigner with a beguiling series of mysteries. What tools, therefore, were available for gaining some kind of understanding of a foreign society that would allow travelers to connect their experience to home? This session explores the ways in which Italian travelers in the Renaissance built mental maps of cities by moving around and through them, using architectural description as a mode of penetrating the barriers that separated cultures.

Art in the 21st Century

It could be argued that the most compelling visual art is no longer defined primarily by particular media (painting, sculpture, photography, video), or by particular subject matter (portraiture, landscape, still life, devotional image), or by particular strategies of representation (Cubism, Surrealism, Pop Art, Appropriation). Instead, it might be most accurate to say that the crucial art of the 21st century imagines everything to be its medium, subject matter, and means of realization. We consider what this development means for artists and art viewers.

Modern Arab Women Writers

The modern Arabic novel is said to have originated with the work of women writing at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. Since then, and increasingly since the middle of the last century, a diverse group of women have made significant contributions to modern Arabic literature. This presenter looks briefly at the lives and concerns of some of these writers, as well as samples passages from a few of them, in translation, for a first-hand experience of their work.

What Good Is Public Philosophy?

Wikipedia, online magazines and newspapers, social media, and the podcast have, in a short time, rapidly increased the level of intellectual engagement the public wants and expects. More than ever, those outside academia want to know what is happening in it—and, unsurprisingly, many of us on the inside are moved to cater to that desire. Is that always a good thing? What are the perils and pitfalls of being a “public intellectual”—both for the intellectual herself and for the public she serves? And what is the distinctive good that public philosophy, in particular, can achieve?

The Fall of Communism, 30 Years On

In 1989 the reforms initiated under Mikhail Gorbachev reached a climax as, one by one, members of the Soviet bloc broke off their former relations with the USSR. Two years later, the Soviet Union would itself crumble. This session takes a systematic look at how Russia today compares to the Soviet Union of 1989. The presenter compares measurable factors, such as income distribution, economic development, and life expectancy, alongside more complicated metrics like the environment, freedom of expression, cultural life, politics, and the building of civil society.