November 16, 2012

I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution

Did video kill the radio star? If so, it was with a lot of help from MTV. It's hard to remember that the initials MTV, now better known for reality programming, actually stand for "Music Television." In its first decade, MTV lived up to its name - it played music videos all day, the way a radio station played records. Though music videos had been played on television since the 1960s, MTV was the first outlet specifically programmed around music videos. We'll talk with Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum, authors of "I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution" about the tumultuous first decade of MTV and the videos that made the 1980s and early 1990s memorable.


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November 14, 2012

John Quincy Adams

The sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams fought for George Washington, served with Abraham Lincoln in Congress, witnessed Bunker Hill, and as a staunch opponent of slavery, foresaw that slavery would lead to civil war between the North and South. He is, in fact, the only major figure in American history who knew both the founding fathers and Abraham Lincoln. He negotiated an end to the War of 1812, engineered the annexation of Florida, and won the Supreme Court decision that freed the African captives of The Amistad. He served his nation as minister to six countries, secretary of state, senator, congressman, and president. His opposition to slavery inspired John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage.  Yet he remains one of the least-known presidents in our nation's history. We'll talk with biographer Harlow Giles Unger about John Qunicy Adams.


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November 09, 2012

The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience

In the 1930s and 1940s, the Library of Congress commissioned audio recordings of amateur singers and songwriters throughout the United States. These have come to be called "field recordings," and the recordists travelled the country in search of them. Musician, recording artist, and writer Stephen Wade tells the story of thirteen of these recordings made across the United States between 1934 and 1942 in locations reaching from Southern Appalachia to the Mississippi Delta and the Great Plains. Working 18 years on this project, Wade travelled the country, seeking out the original artists, their families or friends present at the recordings and interviewed more than 200 people for the book. Most of the original artists were amateur singers or musicians who were being recorded for the first and only time; many of their famililes were not even aware that the recordings were made. And yet many of the songs have enjoyed long afterlives, influencing musicians and featuring in films. 

Stephen Wade is a musician and writer whose latest album is Banjo Diary: Lessons from Tradition, out on Smithsonian Folkways Records.


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November 08, 2012

Interview With Historian and Geographer David Harvey

Historian and Geographer David Harvey is a leading theorist in the field of urban studies, whom Library Journal called “one of the most influential geographers of the later twentieth century.”

He is a Distinguished Professor of The Graduate Center, CUNY, and Director of the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics, and the author of a number of books. His most recent work is Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution.

David Harvey will give the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities “Revolution” Theme Lecture on November 8, 2012, 7:30 p.m. at Foellinger Auditorium.


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November 02, 2012

Living Color: The Biological and Social Meaning of Skin Color

Living Color investigates the social history of skin color from prehistory to the present, showing how our body’s most visible trait influences our social interactions in profound and complex ways. Nina G. Jablonski begins with the biology and evolution of skin pigmentation, explaining how skin color changed as humans moved around the globe. She explores the relationship between melanin pigment and sunlight, and examines the consequences of rapid migrations, vacations, and other lifestyle choices that can create mismatches between our skin color and our environment. This book explains why skin color has come to be a biological trait with great social meaning— a product of evolution perceived by culture. It considers how we form impressions of others, how we create and use stereotypes, how negative stereotypes about dark skin developed and have played out through history—including being a basis for the transatlantic slave trade. Offering examples of how attitudes about skin color differ in the U.S., Brazil, India, and South Africa, Jablonski suggests that a knowledge of the evolution and social importance of skin color can help eliminate color-based discrimination and racism.


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October 02, 2012

Money at Work: On the Job with Priests, Poker Players and Hedge Fund Traders

Kevin J. Delaney, Professor of Sociology and Vice Dean for Faculty Affairs in the College of Liberal Arts at Temple University

Host: Craig Cohen

We talk with Kevin Delaney, a Professor of Sociology at Temple University, about his latest book, entitled Money at Work. In it, Delaney explores how what we do for a living, and the people we work with, can have a significant impact on how we think about money. He argues that the economic conditions endemic to various occupations produce what he characterizes as “money cultures.” He’ll explain what he means by that, and what we might be better able to understand about ourselves, and how our attitudes towards money are influenced by the culture we experience at work.


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September 28, 2012

Half the Sky - Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women

Maro Chermayeff, Executive Producer and Director

Edna Adan, Founder, Edna Adan Hospital of Somaliland

Host: Craig Cohen

Inspired by journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's book of the same name, Half the Sky - Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women is a four-hour television series for PBS that documents women and girls who are living under some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable — and fighting to change them. Their intimate, dramatic and immediate stories of struggle reflect viable and sustainable options for empowerment and offer a blueprint for transformation. We'll talk with two guests - Maro Chermayeff, Executive Producer and Director, as well as one of the activists featured in the film, Edna Adan, founder of the Edna Hospital in Somaliland. Half the Sky airs on WILL-TV in two parts, on October 1st and 2nd at 8 pm.


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September 11, 2012

Privacy

Garret Keizer, contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine, contributing writer to Mother Jones, recent Guggenheim Fellow

Host: Craig Cohen
Privacy Book Cover

In his book Privacy, Garret Keizer begins by noting how the word “sharing” today has almost everything to do with personal information, and almost nothing to do with personal wealth. Keizer sees a link between shrinking personal privacy and a growing gap between rich and poor. He maintains privacy has long been thought of as a value that came along with the growth of the middle class, and now that the middle class is shrinking, so, naturally, is privacy. We’ll discuss what privacy means in 21st century America – and just what sort of impact political, economic, or cultural influences have on it. From concerns over security to the rise of technology designed to make our lives easier, but requiring more and more access to information we once considered personal, is there even room for such privacy anymore?


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September 10, 2012

Can Technology Serve Social Justice?

Virginia Eubanks, Department of Women’s Studies at the University at Albany, author of Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age

Host: Craig Cohen

As the online world developed in the 1990s, so did a belief that such technology, if distributed evenly across communities, could be a vehicle for social equality – that if everyone had the same access to the same information, it would put everyone on an equal footing.

Virginia Eubanks believed that, and saw the web as that great equalizer, and a fundamental social justice issue in American cities. She built her career around the idea. By the early 2000s, she concluded she was wrong. We’ll welcome your questions for Virginia Eubanks, author of Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Digital Age. Eubanks will present a free lecture on this topic at the Champaign Public Library on Wednesday, September 12th at 5:30 p.m. (That event is sponsored by the proposed Center for Digital Inclusion at the Graduate School for Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois).


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September 07, 2012

Why Does the World Exist?

Jim Holt, Essayist and contributor to the New York Times Book Review and the New York Review of Books.

Host: Craig Cohen

It’s hard to pass up any book that promotes itself as an “existential detective story.” That’s the subtitle of author Jim Holt’s new book “Why Does the World Exist?” In it, Holt traces efforts to grasp the origins of the universe, and suggests along the way that many discussions revolving around the classic question “why are we here?” are simply too narrow – that there are many more possible answers than the old God versus the Big Bang debate would suggest. Holt talks with philosophers, physicists, and a Buddhist monk, among others, as he seeks big answers to the biggest of questions.


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