October 28, 2013

Vol. 29 , No. 04   

Lunch with a Leader: Yes I Can! Short Stories of Creative Problem Solving
LUNCHEON 11:30 a.m.; PROGRAM 12:00 p.m.

Kevin Tan led an International Finance Corporation (a member of the World Bank Group) project team to facilitate the development of a risk management department for China’s National Council for Social Security Fund in 2004. The resulting project report was the first such report submitted to China’s State Council by the Social Security Fund, and the Fund adopted 72 out of 78 explicit recommendations. This success led to another IFC-funded project (also led by Kevin and completed in 2006) to facilitate the investment infrastructure for overseas investments for the Fund.

In 2005, Kevin became the first Chief Representative of The Northern Trust Company in China, where he remained until January 2009. Since then, Kevin has been Outsourced Chief Investment Officer for various pension plans varying in size from $45 million to over $1 billion. After 26-years in Corporate America, including 5 years on Wall Street, Kevin decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Economics focusing on market efficiency. Previously, Kevin earned an MBA from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from Claremont McKenna College.

Self-described as a “full-time Dad and part-time Senior Vice President,” Kevin will present examples of creative solutions, including getting an elusive job interview, successful sales in China and balancing work/life priorities.

The Crooked Mirror: A Memoir of Polish-Jewish Reconciliation

An estimated eighty percent of American Jews are of Polish decent. Most Jewish Poles who immigrated to the United States remember their homeland as a place of murderous anti-Semitism. Stories of fleeing violent hatred and persecution are passed down through many Jewish-American families, and to this day Poland is not regarded as a tolerant or welcoming country for Jews. In The Crooked Mirror: A Memoir of Polish-Jewish Reconciliation (2013), author Louise Steinman challenges assumptions about modern Polish anti-Semitism.

For centuries prior to World War II, Poland had been an epicenter of European Jewish life. Not only was Poland’s Jewish population nearly extinguished during the Holocaust, but in the subsequent decades of communist rule it was taboo to discuss any of the country’s rich Jewish history. It wasn’t until recently that Poles and Jews began to honestly examine their entwined history. In her memoir, Steinman returns to a small Polish town where her family lived for generations, and becomes a witness and participant in Poland’s reawakening to its Jewish past. This important book captures the blossoming of a vital new era of Polish-Jewish reconciliation.

Steinman is a writer and literary curator, and her work often deals with memory, history, and reconciliation. In 2002 she wrote the acclaimed memoir The Souvenir: A Daughter Discovers Her Father’s War, and illuminates how war changed one generation and shaped another. Her first book, The Knowing Body: The Artist As Storyteller in Contemporary Performance (1995), is a critically acclaimed study of the performing arts. Her articles and essays have appeared in prominent national publications such as The New York Times and Washington Post.

The Athenaeum series “Jewish Renewal in Poland” is jointly sponsored by Hillel of the Claremont Colleges. The final event of this series will be the Ger Mandolin Orchestra on Tuesday, November 12th.

Man Versus Corpse

Zadie Smith is a prolific essayist, novelist, and short story writer. Born to an English father and a Jamaican mother in London in 1975, Smith graduated with a degree in English literature from Cambridge in 1997. Just three years later she published first novel, White Teeth (2000), to a monumental amount of praise from critical and public sources.

White Teeth tells the story of three ethnically diverse families living in contemporary London. The book won a variety of awards and prizes, including but not limited to: the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize, and two BT Ethnic and Multicultural Media Awards. White Teeth has been translated into over twenty languages and was adapted as a television series for Channel 4 in the fall of 2002.

Zadie Smith's second novel, The Autograph Man, published in 2002, is a story of loss, obsession and the nature of celebrity. The novel won the 2003 Jewish Quarterly Literary Prize for Fiction. Her third novel, On Beauty, was published in 2005, and won the 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction. She also wrote a nonfiction book in 2006 about writing entitled Fail Better. Her book of essays, Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays, came out in 2009.

In her latest novel, NW (2012), Smith writes on four locals living in northwest London as they struggle to navigate the city and create adult lives outside of the council estate of their childhood. NW was named as one of the New York Times ‘10 Best Books of 2012.’ According to NPR, the book offers a “nuanced, disturbing exploration of the boundaries, some porous, some impenetrable, between people living cheek by jowl in urban centers where the widening gap between haves and have-nots has created chasms into which we're all in danger of falling."

Zadie Smith is currently a tenured professor of Creative Writing at New York University and her visit to CMC is sponsored by the Athenaeum and the Gould Center of Humanistic Studies.

What We Learn From Literature

Undoubtedly one of the leading philosophers of art at work today, Gregory Currie is currently a professor of philosophy at the University of York, following previous appointments in New Zealand, Australia, and elsewhere in the UK. His published work covers a wide range of topics in aesthetics - fiction, art, cinema, narratives – as well as issues in philosophy of mind and cognition. His books include An Ontology of Art (1989), The Nature of Fiction (2008), Recreative Minds: Imagination in Philosophy and Psychology (2003) (co-written with Ian Ravenscroft), Arts and Minds (2005), and most recently Narratives and Narrators: A Philosophy of Stories (2012). Educated at the London School of Economics and the University of California, Berkeley, Currie is Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, and has held fellowships at Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford and the Australian National University. He also serves as an editor for the journal Mind and Language.

Currently at work on a project on “Literature as an Object of Knowledge,” Currie published a piece in The New York Times in June expressing skepticism about whether engagement with great works of literature can make us morally better people. As he there argued, there is surprisingly little evidence to support the commonly held view that literature is a ‘force for good,’ i.e., that it can enhance our moral sensitivity. Moreover, Currie rejects arguments that great literature can turn us into moral experts by showing that such arguments rely on a mistaken notion of expertise. His talk at the Athenaeum, entitled “What we learn from literature,” will pick up on these themes.

Boston and Beyond: Homeland Security and the Hometown
LUNCHEON 11:30 a.m.; PROGRAM 12:00 p.m.

The Boston Marathon bombings of last April brought renewed attention to the issue of terrorism within the United States. While federal authorities played an important role in breaking the case, state and local police were also crucial. As the former Governor of Pennsylvania and the first Secretary of the federal Department of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge is uniquely qualified to discuss the role of state and local governments in fighting terrorism. Governor Ridge will survey the relationship between them and the federal government, how that relationship has developed, and where it is headed.

Following the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, Tom Ridge became the first Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and, on January 24, 2003, became the first Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, serving until February 2005. The creation of the country’s 15th Cabinet Department marked the largest reorganization of government since the Truman administration and another call to service for the former soldier, congressman and governor of Pennsylvania. During his DHS tenure, Secretary Ridge worked with more than 180,000-plus employees from a combined 22 agencies to create an agency that facilitated the flow of people and goods, instituted layered security at air, land and seaports, developed a unified national response and recovery plan, protected critical infrastructure, integrated new technology and improved information sharing worldwide. Mr. Ridge previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives for six terms from 1983 to 1995, and was twice elected Governor of Pennsylvania, serving as the state’s 43rd governor from 1995 to 2001. Governor Ridge's aggressive technology strategy helped fuel the state's advances in economic development, education, health care and the environment.

Secretary Ridge is currently president and CEO of Ridge Global, an international security and risk management advisory firm, headquartered in Washington, DC. In March of this year, Secretary Ridge co-founded, with former White House cyber czar Howard Schmidt, the strategic advisory firm, Ridge Schmidt Cyber, an executive services firm that helps leaders in business and government navigate the increasing demands of cybersecurity.

An engaging and dynamic speaker, Secretary Ridge regularly addresses audiences on a range of issues, including international business, security and leadership. Additionally, he serves on the boards of the Institute for Defense Analyses, the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, and other private and public entities. He is currently chairman of SSTI’s Board of Trustees, the National Organization on Disability and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s National Security Task Force, and along with Gen. Tommy Franks (Ret.), serves as national co-chairman of the Flight 93 National Memorial Fundraising Campaign. Secretary Ridge earned a scholarship to Harvard, graduating with honors in 1967.After his first year at Penn State University’s Dickinson School of Law, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he served as an infantry staff sergeant in Vietnam, earning the Bronze Star for Valor, the Combat Infantry Badge and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. After returning to Pennsylvania and to Dickinson, he earned his law degree.

Secretary Tom Ridge’s Athenaeum lecture is sponsored by the Rose Institute of State and Local Government.

Moby-Dick and the Mythology of Oil

In the novel Moby-Dick (1851), Herman Melville captured the American whaling industry at its peak. In Moby-Dick and the Mythology of Oil: An Admonition for the Petroleum Age (2013), author Robert Wagner draws illuminating parallels between Melville’s classic novel and the modern pursuit of petroleum resources. Wagner finds important lessons in Moby-Dick for the American economy and American ideals of environmental stewardship. His interpretation of Melville gives Moby-Dick new relevance in today’s world.

Before receiving his Ph.D. in Mythological Studies from the Pacifica Graduate Institute in 2008, Robert Wagner spent his career as a commercial and investment banker to the oil and gas industries. He worked primarily in Texas, but focused on the Middle East during the conflict ridden periods of the early 1970’s. Through his work, Wagner became an expert virtually all aspects of the oil industry. He received an MBA in Finance from the Stern School of NYU in 1971.

Photo Exhibit Showcasing the Silent Strength of Liu Xia
LUNCHEON 11:30 a.m.; PROGRAM 12:00 p.m.

Liu Xia is one of the most prominent contemporary Chinese artists, but her work is censured throughout her native country. Since January 2011 she has been isolated under house arrest in Beijing in response to her husband, Liu Xiaobo, winning the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. On November 1st, the Athenaeum will open The Silent Strength of Liu Xia, an exhibition of some of her latest photography. The original prints for this exhibition needed to be smuggled out of China in order to be showcased. In these 26 photographs, Liu Xia uses plastic dolls to create unsettling and uncanny images that represent the pain and suffering of the Chinese people. Andrew Nathan, Professor of Political Science at Colombia University, writes that these “strangely disturbing and moving photographs reveal profound truths about today’s China, not only in their content and style, but also in the history of their creation, suppression, and now, their exhibition abroad.” Prior to its censorship, Liu Xiu’s paintings, photography, and poetry were renowned in China for decades.

Guy Sorman is the Exhibition Curator for these photographs, and is one of France’s leading public intellectuals. He is the author of Economics Does Not Lie: A Defense of the Free Market in a Time of Crisis (2009), and served as an economic advisor to the French prime minister. Later in his career, he was appointed as a global advisor to Korean President Lee Myung Bak.

How Chinese Immigrants Became Model Minorities: Intellectuals, Refugees, and Immigration Selection, 1908-1962

In her Athenaeum talk Madeline Hsu will explore contemporary discussions of immigration controls and reforms through analyzing the dramatic transformation of Chinese immigrants in American society. Before World War II, Chinese immigrants were regarded as a dangerous “yellow peril” and were targeted by the first enforced immigration restrictions passed by Congress. However alongside these restrictions, Chinese students retained rights of entry. This practical selection policy that admitted immigrants based on educational and economic criteria repositioned the Chinese as model immigrants.

Madeline Y. Hsu is Director of the Center for Asian American Studies and Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin. She wrote Dreaming of Gold, Dreaming of Home: Transnationalism and Migration Between the United States and South China, 1882-1943 (Stanford University Press, 2000) which received the 2002 Association for Asian American Studies History Book Award. She is editor of Chinese American Transnational Politics (University of Illinois University Press, 2010) and co-editor with Sucheng Chan of Chinese Americans and the Politics of Culture (Temple University Press, 2008). Her current research project, tentatively titled “Strategic Migrations: Immigration Selection and How the Yellow Peril Became a Model Minority, 1872-1966,” explores intersections between American foreign policy goals, immigration laws and practices, and shifting racial ideologies through the migration of Chinese intellectuals.

The Small, Still Voice of the Past: How Memory Studies Changed Historical Truth in China, and Beyond

Vera Schwarcz is an acclaimed historian and poet whose work combines poetry and history to explore and understand the past. Her latest book, Ancestral Intelligence, depicts the cultural landscape of contemporary China. By comparing classic and modern Chinese poetry, Schwarcz shows a degradation of culture and humanity in Chinese history. It focuses on the work of mid 20th Century dissident poet Chen Yinke, and provides a biographical, historical, linguistic, and poetic interpretation of his work. Yibing Huang, poet and professor of Chinese at Connecticut College, says that Vera Schwarcz “Proves that a poet and a historian are one and the same: both must work against the flow of time and revive buried voices.” Schwarcz has made the quest for remembrance a central theme in all of her works, and by combining history and poetry she offers unique and meaningful scholarly interpretations on this subject.

Vera Schwarz pursued degrees in East Asian studies and history at Vassar, Yale, and Stanford, and was a member of the first group of exchange scholars to be sent to China in the spring of 1979. Her work has been nominated for the National Jewish Book Award, and she is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. Schwarz is the Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies and director of the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies at Wesleyan University.

The Warsaw Ghetto Rebellion: A New Look
LUNCHEON 11:30 a.m.; PROGRAM 12:00 p.m.

In this lunchtime lecture, Professor Bauer will be provide new insights into the history of the largest armed rebellion of Jews that occurred during the Holocaust. In the wake of the mass deportations of some 300,000 Jews from the Warsaw ghetto in 1942, underground Jewish resistance movements formed. They secured arms while calling for the remnant population to resist going to the trains that would take them to their deaths. On April 19, 1943, special German SS and police forces entered Warsaw to crush the rebellion and liquidate the ghetto. Some 750 armed Jewish men and women fought back. The Jewish Fighting Organization (in Polish, the Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa, ZOB) led this effort, but recent research in Israel and Poland has started to identify other disparate groups that participated in uprising. Professor Bauer will provide a closer look at these individual groups and their month-long struggle with the Germans.

Yehuda Bauer is Professor Emeritus of History and Holocaust Studies at the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Academic Advisor to Yad Vashem. He was born in Prague in 1926 and emigrated to Israel in 1939. He completed his doctorate at Hebrew University with a thesis on the British Mandate of Palestine. Fluent in Czech, Slovak, German, Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, and Polish, Professor Bauer has written more than 40 books on the Holocaust covering themes such as antisemitism, rescue, resistance, American Jewish responses, survivor testimony, and the early history of Israel. Among his numerous publications are: American Jewry and the Holocaust: The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, 1939-1945, Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1981; Jews for Sale?: Nazi-Jewish Negotiations, New Haven: Yale University Press, October 1994, and Rethinking the Holocaust, New Haven, Yale University, 2001.

In 1998, Bauer was awarded the Israel Prize, the highest civilian award in Israel and in 2001 he was elected a member of the Israeli Academy of Science. Bauer has served as advisor to the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research, and as senior advisor to the Swedish Government on the International Forum on Genocide Prevention.

What is College For? A Defense of the Liberal Arts

On Capitol Hill on June 19, 2013, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Commission on Humanities and Social Sciences led by 53 distinguished members presented a report entitled “The Heart of the Matter.” This report intends to advance a dialogue on the importance of the humanities to the future of the country. The report is wide-ranging and unfolds in five sections by describing the value of the humanities in K-12 Education; Two- and Four-Year Colleges; Research; Cultural Institutions and Lifelong Learning; and International Security and Competitiveness. At the heart of “The Heart of the Matter” is an earnest attempt to provide answers to a basic question: what is the value of a liberal arts education? William Deresiewicz, an essayist and author who writes about contemporary culture and society, will seek to answer this question in his talk at the Athenaeum.

William Deresiewicz is a contributing writer for The Nation and a contributing editor for The New Republic and The American Scholar, for which he writes the weekly All Points blog on culture and society. In 2011, Deresiewicz published of A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me about Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Bill Deresiewicz was an English professor at Yale from 1998-2008, where he taught courses in modern British fiction, the Great Books, Indian fiction, and writing. As an academic, he published Jane Austen and the Romantic Poets in 2004 and numerous articles on George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and Joseph Conrad. He received his Ph.D. and undergraduate education from Columbia University.

Deresiewicz has also received acclaim for his essays and reviews. He was nominated for National Magazine Awards in 2008, 2009, and 2011 and the National Book Critics Circle’s Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing in 2010, 2011, and 2012. David Brooks gave one of his essays a “Sydney” award for magazine writing in 2010. His work, which has been translated into 14 languages, has been anthologized in Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011, The Digital Divide: Writings For and Against Facebook, YouTube, Texting, and the Age of Social Networking (2011), and about 19 college readers.

His essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, Slate, Bookforum, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and The London Review of Books. His current book project is Excellent Sheep: Thinking for Yourself, Inventing Your Life, and Other Things the Ivy League Won't Teach You, which will be published in 2014 from Simon & Schuster.

It is a pleasure to have William Deresiewicz take part in the 2013-2014 William F. Podlich Distinguished Visitors Program. This program was generously endowed by CMC alumnus and trustee William F. Podlich '66, whose aim is to enrich the college intellectually by bringing preeminent figures in scholarship, business, and public affairs to campus for extended visits.

Hannah Arendt and the Fearsome-Word-and-Thought-Defying Banality of Evil

Roger Berkowitz is Academic Director of the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities and Associate Professor of Politics, Human Rights, and Philosophy at Bard College. His research focuses foremost on questions of justice and jurisprudence, the history and philosophy of science, the relationship of politics and aesthetics, and on the philosophies of Heidegger, Nietzsche, Kant, Plato, Aristotle, and Arendt. In addition to numerous articles, essays, and reviews, he has authored the book The Gift of Science: Leibniz and the Modern Legal Tradition (2005), an account of how the rise of science has led to the divorce of law and justice. He has edited a special issue of Law, Culture, and the Humanities on the theme of “Revenge and Justice” (2005) and is the co-editor of Thinking in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt on Ethics and Politics (2009) and The Intellectual Origins of the Global Financial Crisis (2012).

Professor Berkowitz regularly blogs at www.vernunft.org, has recently reviewed the film Hannah Arendt in The Paris Review and has commented on the debates initiated in the film in an op-ed piece for The New York Times titled “Misreading Eichmann in Jerusalem” (July 2013).

He received his B.A. from Amherst College, his J.D. from Boalt Hall School of Law, and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Roger Berkowitz’s talk is sponsored by the Center for Human Rights Leadership at Claremont McKenna College.

Social Economics and Finance
LUNCHEON 12:00 p.m.; PROGRAM 12:30 p.m.

David Hirshleifer is Merage Chair and Professor of Finance at the Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine; he was previously on the faculties of Ohio State University, University of Michigan, and UCLA, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Since July 2011 he has served as the Executive Editor of a top academic journal, the Review of Financial Studies. He has also served as director of the American Finance Association and the Western Finance Association, and as associate editor of several other finance, economics, and strategy journals.

Hirshleifer has published more than 50 papers, several of which have won research awards, including the Smith Breeden Award for outstanding paper in the Journal of Finance. He helped develop the field of behavioral finance, with an emphasis on the psychological basis for market under - and overreactions, and has also worked in the areas of corporate finance and investments. Some of his recent research has been on psychology in firms and markets, social transmission of investment ideas and behavior, and the effect of emotions on stock prices. He research also covers such topics as risk management, determinants of futures prices, social interactions and markets, fads and fashions in economic decisions, and how psychological bias affects political and regulatory decisions.

The study of social interactions is the greatest remaining underexplored continent in economics and finance. Some basic steps forward have been the empirical documentation that people are influenced by the behavior of others in their investment decisions, and theoretical modeling of herding/cascading and how information and behaviors spread along social networks. A crucial new direction is to explore the transmission biases that cause some ideas to spread at the expense of others, and thereby to affect economic decisions. This leads to such questions as: What are the characteristics that help an idea win in the competition for investor attention? How do transmission biases affect savings and risk-taking? How do religion and moral attitudes affect financial decision-making? What causes certain speculative investments, such as a hot tech-IPO, spread through the population like wildfire, and for interest to cool? What causes more general financial ideologies such as value versus growth investing, to evolve and spread? What causes long-run shifts in the popularity of different money management vehicles, such as mutual funds, ETFs, and hedge funds? Modeling the social transmission of investing ideas promises to address such questions, and to explain a number of stylized facts about investor behavior and security prices. Furthermore, lags in social transmission promise to provide a microfoundation for understanding fluctuations in investor sentiment, and market bubbles and crashes. Social finance therefore promises to be a worthy descendant and successor to behavioral finance.

David Hirshleifer's visit is sponsored by the Financial Economics Institute.

"The Best Kind of College is the U.S. SLAC (small liberal arts college), But Why Don't More People Know and Believe That?"

Higher education in the United States, especially institutions and programs that emphasize the liberal arts, has come under attack in many quarters. Some educational reformers are in fact calling for "creative destruction" to up-end the entire system. Largely overlooked in that national controversy, however, are the virtues of the distinctively American model of college, namely the residential small liberal arts college. Professor Seery contends that the U.S. SLAC model should still be recognized the gold standard for education and educational reform, and he blames certain parties for failing to sing adequately the praises of the SLACs, and therewith, of the liberal arts more generally.

John Seery is the George Irving Thompson Memorial Professor of Government and Professor of Politics at Pomona College, where he teaches political theory. He is the author or editor of eight books, including the forthcoming (co-edited with Susan McWilliams), THE BEST KIND OF COLLEGE: AN INSIDERS' GUIDE TO AMERICA'S SMALL LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGES. In 2009 the national Phi Beta Kappa Society honored him with their Sidney Hook Memorial Award, and in 2013 the American Political Science Association gave him their first discipline-wide Distinguished Teaching Award. In 2010-2011 he served as the Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Professor for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton University, and twice he has received Pomona College's Wig Distinguished Teaching Award. He is a summa cum laude graduate of Amherst College, received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from UC Berkeley, and has taught at Stanford, U.C. Santa Cruz, Tufts University, and Princeton.


  • The Athenaeum serves as a gathering place where ideas, inquiry, and fellowship bring students, faculty, staff, other scholars, and nationally prominent speakers together.

  • Attendance at any event may be limited to persons associated with CMC, to the people who signed up for the dinner, or to the maximum number of people allowed by fire regulations.

  • On some occasions the speaker may address the group in another forum or the College may set up a video feed to handle an overflow crowd. All programs at the Athenaeum are filmed. Individuals attending should understand that their image might appear on the videotape.

  • House rules and common courtesy prohibit disruptive actions inside the building during an Athenaeum sponsored program.

  • Time allowing, there will be a period set aside for questions. Students will have priority during this portion of the program.

  • Guests are expected to dress appropriately in all dining rooms. Shorts, jeans, and t-shirts are not acceptable at dinner; more casual attire is acceptable for lunch and tea. No bare feet at any time.


  • It is the policy of the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum that no lecture, appearance or performance by any speaker or performer at the Athenaeum is to be videotaped, audiotaped, or otherwise recorded and/or broadcast without the prior written permission of the relevant speaker, performer, or other authorized owner of the intellectual property rights to the event.

  • Anyone requesting permission to record an event is required to submit an “Event Recording Request Form” to Bonnie Snortum, the Director of the Athenaeum, at least 48 hours in advance of the relevant event.

  • It is understood that the speaker, the performer, the Athenaeum, and any other event sponsor, as appropriate, reserve all intellectual property rights for each Athenaeum event.

  • If you have any questions regarding this policy, please contact Bonnie Snortum at bsnortum@cmc.edu or at (909) 607-4180.