Wed 3.11.15 | Are Today's Children Spoiled?

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Today's chidren are overindulged, coddled, and spoiled -- lavished with praised and unearned 'A's at school, given trophies when they don't win. They get everything too easily. It's bad for parents, bad for children, and bad for society at large. But are any of these claims factually accurate? Leading education critic Alfie Kohn reflects on this prevailing -- and conservative -- depiction of young people and children, and considers why it's frequently shared by progressives and rightwingers alike.

Tues 3.10.15 | Innovation Under Neoliberalism

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If innovation is the engine that drives capitalist enterprise, what role, if any, should universities play in feeding that engine? The creativity that Christopher Newfield seeks to nurture in students doesn't match the kind coveted by neoliberal elites. He points to a number of disturbing trends in higher ed, and to differences in capitalist development between East and West.

Mon 3.09.15 | Engaging the State, Stopping Global Warming

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Does the radical left need to stop worrying and learn to love the state? Marxist writer Christian Parenti argues that, if global warming is to be halted, it will only be through activism directed at shaping government policy. He also discusses what Alexander Hamilton -- the first Treasury Secretary of the United States -- might be able to teach us about the predicament we're in. (Encore presentation.)

Wed 3.04.15 | Blacks and the Master/Slave Relation

Frank Wilderson, III, Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid South End Press, 2008

Frank Wilderson, III, Red, White & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms Duke U. Press, 2010


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Frank Wilderson, III, believes that all Blacks are slaves, by which he means that every Black person is socially dead and continuously vulnerable to gratuitous (as opposed to reasoned) violence. Wilderson puts all non-Blacks into the category of the "master," whose sense of human integrity and coherence is maintained precisely by the denigration and physical domination of Blacks.

Tues 3.03.15 | In Defense of the Neolithic

James H. S. McGregor, Back to the Garden: Nature and the Mediterranean World from Prehistory to the Present Yale University Press, 2015




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Are we, as a species, at war with nature? We might think so, given the ways that our planet has been ecologically ravaged. But has it always been that way? Have we, since at least the dawn of settled agriculture, destroyed the natural world around us? Scholar James McGregor argues that the history of our relationship -- or interrelationship -- with nature is much more complex and hopeful. He speaks in defense of the Neolithic era, when farming and the domestication of animals started in the Fertile Crescent.

Mon 3.02.15 | Oil Change

Barrett and Worden, eds., Oil Culture U. of Minnesota Press, 2014

Frederick Buell, From Apocalypse to Way of Life: Environmental Crisis in the American Century Routledge, 2003


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In an important sense, oil has made us into who we are, by transforming societies, reshaping economic regimes, and infiltrating our everyday lives. Fred Buell examines the dynamics of oil exuberance and catastrophe in the context of boom-bust cycles, mass consumerism, and other aspects of what he calls “oil-electric capitalism.”

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