Uncommon Conversations

college commons logo smallI almost forgot to mention that tonight marks the launch of the series of events called the College Commons here at USC. Here’s a news story about the programme. This academic year, I’ve been working on the committee working on shaping the ideas that have come up from the faculty (I had promised to tell you more about this), and we’ve announced the short Spring programme, which you can see here.

There is a featured part celebrating 1859:

Where do ideas come from, and how far do they travel? One hundred and fifty years ago, the astonishing year of 1859 saw not only the publication of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, but such pioneering works as John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities, Karl Marx’s Critique of Political Economy, and Richard Wagner’s first version of Tristan and Isolde. This year also marked amazing advances in travel and communications, the first battles prefiguring the Civil War and the first trapeze act performed in Paris. Can we imagine the world 150 years from now, and imagine the place our ideas will have in it? Scholars from biology, anthropology, physics, literature, history, and gender studies, as well as poets and artists, will explore these questions together this spring.

I hope there’ll be a lot of participation in the events (I’ll say more on this later). Tonight has a free movie, Master and Commander (so there’s a reason to go, right there – to see the weevil joke at least) and the first of several interesting Darwin discussions:

USC faculty members David Bottjer, Philippa Levine, Nancy Lutkehaus, Michael Quick, Hilary Schor and Craig Stanford discuss why Charles Darwin still matters, as well as the origin of The Origin of Species and its impact on the world of literature, philosophy, religion and science. Where do these ideas take us next?



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