Adventures in Ideas (click the title for description)

The Once and Future King: Arthur Through the Ages
A Distinguished Scholar Seminar Featuring Ann Marie Rasmussen
September 9-10, 2011

Blue Gold: Water Resources in the World Today
September 16-17, 2011

Revolutions from the Bastille to the Arab Spring
September 24, 2011

Remaking the World in the Wake of World War I
September 30 – October 1, 2011

Carmen and the World of Opera
October 7-8, 2011

Great Enemies of Ancient Greece and Rome
October 15, 2011

The Freedom Riders and the American Civil Rights Movement
Featuring a PlayMakers Repertory Production of The Parchman Hour
Co-sponsored by the NC Civic Education Consortium
November 4-5, 2011

The Islamic Cultures of Africa
Co-sponsored by the NC Civic Education Consortium
November 11-12, 2011

The Future of Europe
Co-sponsored by the NC Civic Education Consortium
December 3, 2011

Humanities in Action (click the title for description)

The Enduring Power of Nationalism
September 14, 2011
Lloyd Kramer, Dean Smith Distinguished Term Professor and Chair of History

Against All Odds: The American Struggle for Health Care Reform
October 12, 2011
Jonathan Oberlander, Professor of Social Medicine and Health Policy and Management, and Adjunct Associate Professor of Political Science

Conspiracies in American Politics
October 19, 2011
Robert Daniels, Associate Professor of Anthropology

Poverty and the Challenge of Equality in America
October 26, 2011
Gene Nichol, Professor of Law and Director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity

Climate Change: The History, the Science, and the Controversy
November 9, 2011
Jose Rial, Professor of Geologic Sciences
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Descriptions of Fall 2011 Programs

The Once and Future King: Arthur Through the Ages

A Distinguished Scholar Seminar featuring Ann Marie Rasmussen
September 9-10, 2011

Many of us associate Camelot with the Kennedys, or we think of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table as romantic heroes. Modern perceptions of King Arthur differ greatly from the Arthur of medieval sources. Yet the story of Arthur still resonates with us today precisely because it has changed. In this seminar we explore the evolving styles of leadership represented in the multi-lingual, transnational, medieval Arthurian tradition.

Distinguished scholar Ann Marie Rasmussen will illuminate the legend’s origins; bring attention to the vast array of medieval Arthurian stories (whose epicenter is not England but France); and explore the enduring power of the Arthurian legend. The different Arthurs represented in the legend speak to the varying challenges, dilemmas, and desires presented by its changing contexts. Join us for this two-day event to learn about Arthur through the ages.

Speaker and Topics

Ann Marie Rasmussen is Professor of German at Duke University and an expert in medieval literature.

The Once and Future King

Film Screening: King Arthur (2004; dir. Antoine Fuqua)

Le Roi Artu

The Many Faces of Arthur
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Blue Gold: Water Resources and the World Today

The 2011 Friends Seminar
September 16-17, 2011

“Water, water, everywhere / Nor any drop to drink.” ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Over 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, but only 2.8% of the water here is fresh water, and an even smaller percentage is accessible to humans. How we treat our water supplies, both salt and fresh, will have a major impact on the course of the twenty-first century. This seminar will explore water resources and policies to understand the challenges we face as we learn to share, protect, and preserve the true elixir of life for humans and the natural world. We’ll consider the water wars in the Southeastern United States and out in the more arid West; we’ll look at the geological record to consider the past and future of water resources; and we’ll learn how acidic oceans make it difficult for marine organisms to build protective shells and skeletons. When water becomes a commodity, will war ensue? And who will be the losers and the winners? Join us in this, our first Friends seminar, to find out.

Topics and Speakers

How the South(east) Could Win the Water Wars, Despite Itself
Richard B. Whisnant, Professor of Public Law and Government

Fossil Water and Climate Models: What the geosciences can tell us about the present and future of water resources
Tamlin Pavelsky, Assistant Professor of Geological Sciences

Acidic Oceans: The Underwater CO2 Problem
Justin Ries, Assistant Professor of Marine Sciences

Continental Divides: Water and the Future of the American West
Char Miller, W. M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis, Pomona College

Water: Blue Gold
A panel discussion with our speakers
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Revolutions from the Bastille to the Arab Spring

September 24, 2011

Ever since the eighteenth century, modern revolutionaries have continued to challenge existing power structures to overthrow the old order and to make the world anew. In this seminar, we will discuss the legacy of the French and American Revolutions on national identities and human rights; review the unintended but wide-reaching revolution of Mikhail Gorbachev’s Perestroika and Glasnost; and explore the commonalities, particulars, and responses to 2011’s “Arab Spring.” In the panel discussion, our scholars will ask what makes, shapes, or breaks revolutions.

Topics and Speakers

Revolutions and the Emergence of Nationalism in 18th-Century America and France
Lloyd Kramer, Dean Smith Distinguished Term Professor and Chair of History

The Gorbachev Revolution:  How the Soviet Union Reformed Itself Out of Existence
Donald Raleigh, Jay Richard Judson Distinguished Professor of History

The Arab Spring: Causes and Effects
Akram Khater, Professor of History, North Carolina State University

The Revolutionary Impulse—Commonalities and Contexts
A panel discussion with our speakers
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Remaking the World in the Wake of WWI

September 30-October 1, 2011

This seminar takes a global perspective to see how the application of postwar Wilsonian idealism played out in the two decades that followed World War I. We will review the hopes, harsh realities, and fate of the new Eastern European nations; examine the foreign policy aims of the United States in Latin America; take a tour of the Middle East Mandates and the turbulent national and religious movements in the region; and discuss the postwar transformation of Japan into an aggressive imperial regime. We will come to appreciate the wake of this war as an international watershed of tremendous potential and great peril.

Topics and Speakers

The Enemy Within: Nationalism and Minority Rights in the New Eastern Europe
Chad Bryant, Associate Professor of History

The Opposite of Isolationism: The United States and Latin America between the Wars
Nancy Mitchell, Associate Professor of History, North Carolina State University

Conjuring States and Imagining Nations in the Post-War Middle East
Sarah Shields, Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Term Associate Professor of History

From the Great War to the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere: Japan and the Crisis of Modern Imperialism
David Ambaras, Associate Professor of History, North Carolina State University

The Interwar Period from a Global Perspective
A panel discussion with our speakers
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Carmen and the World of Opera

In collaboration with the North Carolina Opera
October 7-8, 2011

Carmen is one of the most performed operas in the world. In coordination with the North Carolina Opera’s upcoming production of this opera about a gypsy woman with a fiery temper, we will explore the history and context of the opera, and will examine the specific challenges of operatic singing and of bringing Carmen to the stage. Participants will enjoy the opportunity to hear pieces performed that highlight the technique and talent of the best opera singers. Attendees qualify for a discount to see the North Carolina Opera’s production of Carmen.

Topics and Speakers

Carmen: The Opera
Annegret Fauser, Professor of Music

Carmen in Context: Society and Culture in Fin-de-Siècle France
Philippe Barr, Assistant Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures

The Art of Operatic Singing
Louise Toppin, Professor of Music

Producing Carmen in the Twenty-First Century
Timothy Myers, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor for the North Carolina Opera

The World of Opera Yesterday and Today
A panel discussion with our speakers
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Great Enemies of Ancient Greece and Rome

October 15, 2011

Over the course of several centuries, Greeks and Romans greatly expanded the areas they settled and ruled, and inevitably found themselves in conflict with other peoples as determined and predatory as themselves—perhaps even more so. This wide-ranging seminar reflects upon Greek and Roman encounters with three such peoples: Persians, Carthaginians, and Germans.  Only the second group was ever overcome to the point of being permanently eliminated; the other two, despite suffering defeat and even subjection in the short-term, in the end weakened the Roman Empire severely. Long before then, Greeks and Romans had branded all three peoples as “the other,” people whose alien character, culture, and religion ostensibly rejected “civilized” values.  As a result, these enemies played a formative role in molding Greek and Roman self-identity.

Topics and Speakers

Persians: Men on Horseback
Fred Naiden, Associate Professor of History

Carthaginians: Perfidious Seafarers
Richard Talbert, William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor of History

Terror Germanicus: The Roman Invention of the Germans
James Rives, Kenan Eminent Professor of Classics

“Us and Them” in Antiquity
A panel discussion with our speakers
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The Freedom Riders and the American Civil Rights Movement

Featuring a PlayMakers Repertory Production of The Parchman Hour
Co-sponsored by the NC Civic Education Consortium
November 4-5, 2011

In collaboration with the PlayMakers production of Mike Wiley’s The Parchman Hour, this seminar will examine the Civil Rights Movement and the Freedom Riders who embarked on a mission in the spring and summer of 1961 to protest and publicize discrimination on interstate buses. They met with bitter and often angry resistance. Fifty years after the events of that summer, our faculty will place the Freedom Riders in historical perspective within the broader Civil Rights Movement. We’ll explore the Journey of Reconciliation of 1947, which traveled through Chapel Hill and encountered some violence here. We’ll see how the Freedom Riders made real the promises of democracy and learn from Mike Wiley how he came to the project of bringing justice to the stage. Inspiring, moving, and ever relevant to our own age, the story of the Freedom Riders is one you won’t want to miss.

Topics and Speakers

The Journey of Reconciliation, 1947
Reginald Hildebrand, Associate Professor of African and Afro-American Studies and History

The Freedom Riders and the Civil Rights Movement: Making Real the Promises of Democracy
Gene Nichol, Professor of Law and Director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity

Bringing Justice to the Stage
Mike Wiley, actor and playwright

Lessons Learned from the Freedom Riders
A panel discussion with our speakers
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The Islamic Cultures of Africa

With support from UNC’s African Studies Center
Co-sponsored by the NC Civic Education Consortium
November 11-12, 2011

Africa is the world’s second largest continent in both landmass and population, and yet it remains a mystery to most in the developed world. One often overlooked fact is that nearly 45% of the population of Africa practice some form of Islam. This seminar will take participants to the four corners of Africa to review the impact and significance of Islam on the continent.

We will explore mosques from North Africa (and their medieval extension across the Mediterranean) to understand the central role of place and space in Islamic Africa’s religious and intellectual culture. We will travel to West Africa to understand the role of women in the various forms of Islam practiced there, both in the past and present. We will review the history of religious coexistence in the Horn of Africa to understand how polities in Africa handle multiple faiths. Finally, we will journey southwards to understand Swahili culture and the role Islam plays in the politics and culture of Southern Africa. If you wish to know more about the variety of cultures in Africa and the complexities of Islamic culture in the world today, this seminar is a must.

Topics and Speakers

Mosques and Society in Early Islamic Iberia and North Africa
Glaire Anderson, Assistant Professor of Art History

Women and Islam in West Africa: A Brief History
Emily Burrill, Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies

Islam and Christianity in the Horn of Africa: A Millennium of Co-existence
Bereket Selassie, William E. Leuchtenburg Professor of African and Afro-American Studies and Law

The Exceptional Nature of Islamic History in Southern Africa
Kenneth Vickery, Associate Professor of History, North Carolina State University

African Islam: Commonalities and Exceptionalism
A panel discussion with our speakers
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The Future of Europe

With support from UNC’s Center for European Studies and the European Union Center for Excellence
Co-sponsored by the NC Civic Education Consortium
December 3, 2011

Europe has long been the other part of a monolithic geopolitical notion many call “The West.” Its market economies, cultural legacies, commitment to democracy, and shared sense of international responsibility have made Europe a strong partner of the United States since 1945. Recent developments, however, have fundamentally challenged what had once seemed a predetermined course of ever increasing economic and political interdependence. The future of Europe, once seemingly so secure, seems entirely unsure. This afternoon seminar will pair two of Carolina’s brightest minds, historian Konrad Jarausch and economist Stanley Black, to discuss European relations with the United States and its current fiscal crises. How much of the old partner remains? What does it mean to be European in the twenty-first century?

Topics and Speakers

Drifting Apart: Transatlantic Divides 
Konrad H. Jarausch, Lurcy Professor of European Civilization

Economic Challenges for the European Union
Stanley W. Black III, Georges Lurcy Professor of Economics Emeritus

Whither Europe?
A panel discussion with our speakers
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The Enduring Power of Nationalism

Lloyd Kramer, Dean Smith Distinguished Term Professor and Chair of History
September 14, 2011
TIME: 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.
With the onset of cultural globalization, multinational corporations, and supranational institutions, many predicted the end of the nation as the prime mover in international politics. Dr. Lloyd Kramer will review the history of nationalism and discuss why it still is a force to be reckoned with in the contemporary world.
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Against All Odds: The American Struggle for Health Care Reform

Jonathan Oberlander, Professor of Social Medicine and Health Policy and Management, and Adjunct Associate Professor of Political Science
October 12, 2011
TIME: Special Early Evening Session! 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.
Obamacare, the Ryan Plan, death panels, court cases—there’s no end to the discussion of America’s healthcare situation. Dr. Jonathan Oberlander will take us on a tour of how things are, what’s being done, and challenges we still face as we attempt to reform healthcare in America.
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Conspiracies in American Politics

Robert Daniels, Associate Professor of Anthropology
October 19, 2011
TIME: 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.
By popular demand, we bring back Dr. Robert Daniels to make the argument for conspiracy as a central component of American politics since World War II. Be prepared to review Pearl Harbor, the JFK assassination, and the World Trade Center bombing to assess whether all the questions regarding these events have been answered, and to size up the argument that a vast conspiracy underpins them all.
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Poverty and the Challenge of Equality in America

Gene Nichol, Professor of Law and Director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity
October 26, 2011
TIME: 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.
How can we reconcile America’s capitalist identity with the demands of social justice? What are the political and social ramifications of the widening gap between the rich and poor? Should equality march with liberty as an essential American virtue? Gene Nichol will provoke and stimulate as he discusses what he considers the greatest challenge to America today.
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Climate Change: The History, the Science, and the Controversy

Jose Rial, Professor of Geological Sciences
November 9, 2011
TIME: Special Early Evening Session! 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.
Come hear geologist Dr. Jose Rial discuss the state of science surrounding climate change. He will share his most recent findings in Greenland and place them in the context of the international debate on humanity’s role in Earth’s changing climate.
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