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Professor Ted Melillo

Going to Hawaii to Learn About Nantucket

With a prestigious New Directions fellowship, a history professor will study the Hawaiian language—and then use that skill to research myriad connections between Massachusetts and the Pacific Ocean.

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How Fermi Became Fermi

David N. Schwartz

Monday, February 5
4:30 p.m.
Paino Lecture Hall, Beneski

Enrico Fermi was one of the most significant figures of 20th century physics, with major contributions across a wide range of sub-disciplines. He was also a central figure in the Manhattan Project, and led the team that created the first controlled, sustained nuclear chain reaction at the University of Chicago in December 1942. How did Fermi become Fermi? Drawing on research undertaken in preparation for his new biography of Fermi, “The Last Man Who Knew Everything: The Life and Times of
Enrico Fermi, Father of the Nuclear Age” (Basic Books), David N. Schwartz will discuss the development of Fermi as a physicist; the role of nature, nurture, and historical circumstance in his career; and the characteristics behind both his strengths and his weaknesses. Are great physicists born, do they make themselves, or do others make them? How does the accident of one’s birth influence a career like Fermi’s? What was it that enabled Fermi to continue to contribute to the field well beyond the age when many great physicists are content to rest on their previous achievements?

David N. Schwartz holds a B.A. from Stanford University and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has worked at the US Department of State, the Brookings Institution, and Goldman Sachs in both London and New York. He has published widely on US strategic nuclear weapons policy, NATO, and foreign policy. He lives in New York with his wife Susan. His father, Melvin Schwartz, shared the 1988 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of the muon neutrino.

  David N. Schwartz


The "Dialectic of Enlightenment"

Steven E. Aschheim

Tuesday, January 30
6:00 p.m.
Pruyne Lecture Hall, Fayerweather

Intellectual and cultural historian Steven E. Aschheim (Hebrew University, Jerusalem) is the author of Brothers and Strangers: The East European Jew in German and German Jewish Consciousness, 1800-1923 (1982), The Nietzsche Legacy in Germany 1890-1990 (1993), Culture and Catastrophe: German and Jewish Confrontations With National Socialism and Other Crises (1996), In Times of Crisis: Essays on European Culture, Germans, and Jews (2000), Scholem, Arendt, Klemperer: Intimate Chronicles in Turbulent Times (2001), Beyond the Border: The German-Jewish Legacy Abroad (2007), and At the Edges of Liberalism: Junctions of European, German, and Jewish History (2012).

In his lecture, The Dialectic of Enlightenment Revisited, Aschheim will critically interrogate Adorno and Horkheimer's 1944 much admired "Dialectic of Enlightenment", addressing its contextual and ideological origins, its philosophical biases and theoretical assumptions, and the nature of its emphases and omissions as the work sought to grasp the barbarism of the time. He will also highlight a rather overlooked publication detail which ideally should have given the authors pause to somewhat revise their provocative views and positions, but in practice did not.

The Dialectic of Enlightenment - Steven E. Aschheim


15th Annual Hugh Hawkins Lecture: Craig Steven Wilder

“The Approaching Past: Legacies of Slavery and Conquest on Campus”

Craig Steven Wilder, Barton L Weller Professor of History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Craig Steven Wilder
Barton L Weller Professor of History
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Thursday, October 5

4:30 p.m.
Paino Lecture Hall
107 Beneski

Professor Wilder will be speaking to contemporary efforts of colleges and universities to confront historical relationships to slavery and colonialism. His most recent book is the award-winning Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013). He is also the author A Covenant with Color: Race and Social Power in Brooklyn (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000/2001) and In the Company of Black Men: The African Influence on African American Culture in New York City (New York: New York University Press, 2001/2004). His talk will examine how we arrived at this moment and how to address the challenges that remain. (MIT’s full profile).

The annual Hugh Hawkins Lecture honors Hugh D. Hawkins. Professor Hawkins was the Anson D. Moore Professor of History and American Studies upon his retirement from the faculty in 2000 after forty-three years of teaching at Amherst.  He was a distinguished scholar of American higher education, the American South, and of cultural and intellectual history.  In 1976 he was the principal architect of the first-year introduction to Liberal Studies curriculum and he helped build both the History and American Studies departments. 

This lecture is free and open to the public.

Event Flyer: 


Last Updated:
18 Sept 2017 TLR

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