Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 07:30 pm | Humanities
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Text Destruction in the Bible and the Ancient World

Historian Nathaniel Levtow will explore the politically charged phenomenon of text destruction in the ancient world, from the beginnings of writing to the formation of the Bible. He will present archaeological and literary evidence of the variety of ways in which war memorials, law codes, magic spells, loan documents, international treaties, inscribed statues, and other text-artifacts were strategically burned, smashed, cut, buried, submerged, eaten, abducted, erased, and rewritten in West Asian and Mediterranean antiquity. This evidence reveals the deep connections between religion, politics, images, and rewriting at the dawn of literacy, and illuminates why the public, physical violation of texts remains a preferred mode of attack against representations of political power and cultural identity throughout the world today.

Thursday, April 16, 2015, 07:30 pm | Humanities
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Gender, War, and Memory: Women and the Military during and after World War II

During World War II, women’s military service became increasingly important for all war powers: the German Wehrmacht deployed more than 500,000 female auxiliaries; Britain, approximately 600,000; the US, 350,000; and in the Soviet Union, 800,000, over half on the front lines. Historian Karen Hagemann explores the various ways by which women were mobilized for the military in the mid-twentieth century, compare their contested perception in the contemporary public -- and, curiously, their suppressed place in collective postwar memories.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015, 07:30 pm | Social Sciences

Thank You for Being Late: A Strategy for Surviving in A Fast World

Thomas L. Friedman thinks that something big just happened. The world is not just more connected and flat, as he’s famously written, it has also become “really fast.” This, he says, is because the three biggest forces shaping the world today -- the market, Moore’s Law, and Mother Nature -- have forced us into a phase of rapid acceleration: the market via the expansion and speed of globalization and the rise in global debt levels; Moore’s Law via the steady, exponential acceleration of computers and software, vastly increasing the generation and dissemination of information, products, and services; and Mother Nature via the dramatic rise of carbon content in the atmosphere, driving climate change and the simultaneous rise in both population and biodiversity extinction. Our world and our lives are being shaped more than ever by these three changes: digital, geo-economical, and ecological. How, Friedman asks, will civilizations best adapt to these changes and cushion their worst effects?

Saturday, April 25, 2015, 08:00 pm | Arts and Culture

Port Bou

Port Bou is an opera by Elliott Sharp about the final moments of philosopher Walter Benjamin’s life. It features bass/baritone Nicholas Isherwood, accordionist William Schimmel, pianist Jenny Lin, and pre-recorded electro-acoustic backgrounds by Sharp. Video projections by Janene Higgins provide the set and staging, as well as subtext and commentary. From his studies of Benjamin's texts and letters, Sharp has created a dramatic interpretation of Benjamin's internal reality on his last day.

Location: Konzerthaus Berlin, Gendarmenmarkt, 10117 Berlin

Tickets (15€): http://www.konzerthaus.de/programm/port-bou/3376; or by phone: + 49 ( 3)0 20 30 9 2101
 

Thursday, April 30, 2015, 07:30 pm | Humanities
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Towards a Comparison of Vilnius and Tallinn "City Texts"

Tomas Venclova contends that the Baltic capitals of Tallinn and Vilnius, despite their many apparent similarities, have generated creative works of a very different nature. These works are collectively examined as “city texts” and can be reduced, Venclova claims, to the underlying opposition between historical and mythic paradigms: Vilnius as the “city of myth” and Tallinn as the “city of history.”

Tuesday, May 05, 2015, 07:30 pm | Economics
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Whither the World Economy? The Promises and Perils of Monetary Policy

In October 2008, the G7 finance ministers and central bank governors met in Washington to respond to the market mayhem that followed the failure of Lehman Brothers. Their short statement (“We’ll do whatever it takes”) was followed by action to recapitalize the banking system on both sides of the Atlantic. The banking crisis ended in the second quarter of 2009, but the global economic crisis, of course, did not. So why, after the biggest monetary stimulus the world has ever seen, and six years after the end of the banking crisis, has the world economic recovery been so slow? Sharp downturns normally lead to sharp recoveries.

Mervyn King’s lecture will discuss the role of monetary policy – whether through interest rates or quantitative easing (QE) – which is most effective in a Keynesian down turn when spending falls because people lose confidence in the level of future aggregate demand, so they too cut back. But after a certain point, monetary policy confronts diminishing returns. During the crisis, King called this the paradox of policy: doing in the short run the absolute opposite of what we knew we had to do in the long run to rebalance our economies. Now, he asks, what will policymakers do? And what should they do to move to a new equilibrium?