James Baldwin Lecture

The annual James Baldwin Lecture series was launched March 29, 2006 with the inaugural lecture presented by Kwame Anthony Appiah, the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy and the University Center for Human Values.

This series aims to celebrate the work of Princeton faculty and to provide an occasion for the intellectual community to reflect on the issue of race and American democracy. The lectures also honor the work of the late essayist James Baldwin, one of America’s most powerful cultural critics.

The Dramatist’s Call to Action: Realizing the Provocative Prescience of James Baldwin and María Irene Fornés

María Irene Fornés (b. 1930, Havana, Cuba) is among the most influential American theater-makers of the twentieth century. A defining force within the off-off-Broadway movement of the 1960s and 1970s (and nine-time Obie Award winner), Fornés — as playwright, director, designer and teacher — became a guiding presence for emerging theater artists of the 1980s and 1990s, especially those invested in staging feminist, queer and latinx aesthetics and experiences. Fornés’ experiments in theatrical form and her transformative teaching techniques continue to challenge and inspire new generations of theater-makers today. Even so, the living legacy of María Irene Fornés remains remarkably under-acknowledged among contemporary theater artists, students and scholars. Currently 87 years old, Fornés resides on the upper West Side of Manhattan. Due to late stage Alzheimer’s disease, she is no longer writing or teaching.

Elaine Pagels presents Art, Music, and Politics in the Book of Revelation
Perhaps best known as the author of "The Gnostic Gospels", "The Origin of Satan", and "Adam, Eve and the Serpent", she has published widely on Gnosticism and early Christianity, and continues to pursue research interests in late antiquity. Her most recent books include "Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas" (was on the New York Times best-seller list) and "Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity", co-authored with Karen King of Harvard. Her latest book entitled "Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Boo"k of Revelation", was published in March 2012. Revelations"  explores the New Testament Book of Revelation and other Jewish, Christian, and Pagan books of Revelation written around the same time.
Paul Lanky presents A Musical Conversation About Race

Music is a form of social intercourse and the metaphor of a musical conversation leads to an interesting set of questions. At its heart is the notion of reference: the way one piece of music may refer to another piece, group of pieces, style or genre. This entails a broad spectrum of possibility, from explicit quotation at one end to subtle influence at the other. And there is a second spectrum that might be said to measure the extent to which a work succeeds or fails to absorb and internalize its references. Does the reference become an integrated part of the fabric? Or does it remain an appendage?

Shirley Tilghman presents The Meaning of Race in the Post-Genome Era
Just as there are deep differences of opinion about whether the election of President Obama ushered in a new post-racial era in the United States, there is disagreement among scientists as to whether the publication of the first draft sequence of the human genome in 2001 constituted a turning point in biology that is worthy of being called a new era. Without taking a stand on that particular question, I would like to explore with you whether the sequencing of the human genome, and the many studies that have followed in its wake to collect sequence information from humans across the globe, have provided any new insight into the meaning of race.
Anthony Grafton presents Race in the Renaissance?
In this lecture, Professor Grafton looks at what has traditionally been seen as the first modern western culture — that of Western Europe in the Renaissance — through the prism of race. He examines the thought and practices of European artists, scholars, and officials, as they encountered people who were not European or Christian, both in Europe and around the world; tried to understand where they came from and who they were; and drew practical consequences, which were often — but not always — harsh and tragic from their assumptions about the origins and nature of the peoples of the world (who included, they thought, everything from monsters and beings condemned by their nature to servitude to non-Christians of great wisdom and virtue). The lecture pays special attention to Christian views of the Jews, strangers who lived in large numbers inside Europe, but also examines European responses to many other groups.
Bonnie Bassier presents So you want to be a Doctor: Diversity and Scientific Research
My mentor -- a white male -- taught me bacteriology, genetic methods, and how to think like a scientist. This training led to the work of my lab which is to show that bacteria, primitive single-celled organisms, communicate with chemical languages that allow them to synchronize their behavior and thereby act as enormous multi-cellular organisms. This process, called quorum sensing, enables bacteria to successfully infect and cause disease in humans. My lab group is now developing strategies to interfere with quorum sensing that may yield novel antibiotics. The members of my lab: undergraduates, graduate students, and post-docs; are the young experimental and idea engines that drive scientific progress.  In this Baldwin Lecture, I will share my group’s research on quorum sensing, some ideas about mentoring and role models, and how, in my role as Graduate Director, I have focused on the challenge of racial disparity in biological science education at Princeton. There is good news.
Kwame Anthony Appiah presents The Cosmopolitanism of W.E.B. Du Bois
The annual James Baldwin Lecture series was launched March 29, 2006 with the inaugural lecture presented by Kwame Anthony Appiah, the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy and the University Center for Human Values. The talk, titled "The Cosmopolitanism of W.E.B. Du Bois," took place at 4:30 p.m. in 1 Robertson Hall. This new series aims to celebrate the work of Princeton faculty and to provide an occasion for the intellectual community to reflect on the issue of race and American democracy. The lectures also honor the work of the late essayist James Baldwin, one of America's most powerful cultural critics.

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