Spoken Word

“In the Tolstoy State Museum in Moscow, there are 1,754 letters from Americans ... A ‘Bradford’ wrote in 1890, just after The Kreutzer Sonata was published, to Tolstoy in St. Petersburg, Russia. Of course Tolstoy was not in St. Petersburg, but letters that were addressed to Tolstoy anywhere in Russia got to him. He was that famous.”

Robert Whittaker, professor of Russian at Lehman College 1

“If you put a single chimpanzee in a room with a computer, in a week that single chimpanzee could write a health care reform bill that would do better than the existing health care system. There’s no way policy makers could actually make things work worse than what we have now.”

Mark Schlesinger, SLC Health Advocacy Program faculty member 2

“White people have to own up, admit you have a race. The first step is admitting you’re white.”

Damali Ayo, comedian and author of How to Rent a Negro 3

“History is in some ways a very creative act, because you have limited evidence—you just can’t know everything. Everybody can tell a slightly different story even if they have the same evidence.”

Judy Wu, author of Dr. Mom Chung of the Fair-Haired Bastards: The Life of a Wartime Celebrity 4

“Extinction is an unusual form of death because while most death adds a spoke to the wheel of life, extinction carries a peculiar finality, an end of lineages, a preclusion of futures. As the poet Gary Snyder put it, ‘death is one thing. An end to birth is something else.’”

Carl Safina, scientist, author, and founder of the Blue Ocean Institute 5

“In the two decades following World War II, Jewish American writing—with the focus on Bellow, Malamud, Roth—was mainstream, due to the equivalence drawn between the Jew as a figure of alienation in an era of universal alienation, the Jew as everyman. But with the advent of multiculturalism, Jewish American culture has been receding, moving back toward the margins that it occupied when the ‘melting pot’ reigned supreme.”

Hana Wirth-Nesher, director of the Goldreich Institute for Yiddish Language, Literature, and Culture at Tel Aviv University 6

  1. “Writing to Leo Tolstoy: Letters from Americans, 1880s to 1910,” November 11, 2009. Sponsored by the Merle Rosenblatt Goldman Fund to Support International Inquiry.
  2. “The Devil Is In the Details: Current Health Care Reform Proposals,” October 26, 2009. Part of the Health, Science, and Society Health Care Reform series.
  3. “I Can Fix It: Ten Easy Steps to Improving Race Relations,” September 17, 2009. View the other nine steps at fixracism.com. Sponsored by the offices of Diversity and Campus Engagement, Dean of Studies, and Community Partnerships.
  4. “Dr. Mom Chung of the Fair-Haired Bastards: The Life of a Wartime Celebrity,” October 22, 2009. Wu discussed Margaret Jessie Chung (1889-1959), the first American-born, Chinese, female physician. Part of the Women’s History lecture series.
  5. “In the Same Net; Biodiversity, Ethics, and the Human Spirit,” Annual Science Lecture, November 18, 2009. Blue Ocean Institute is the only conservation organization that uses science, art, and literature to inspire a closer bond with nature, especially the sea.
  6. “The Yiddish Atlantic: Transnational Jewish American Literature,” November 2, 2009. Sponsored by the Jewish Studies Programming Fund.

+ Watch the complete talks by Wu, Schlesinger, and Safina.