Conversations with History

A Microbiologist’s Intellectual Odyssey
Lucy Shapiro
Ludwig Professor of Cancer Research in the School of Medicine, Stanford University

Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes Lucy Shapiro, Ludwig Professor of Cancer Research in the School of Medicine, Stanford University, for a discussion of her career in the biological sciences. Topics discussed include unraveling the mystery of bacterial DNA, creativity in the sciences, the interdisciplinary nature of biology, the policy challenges posed by the increasing threat of infectious disease and the diminishing efficacy of antibiotics, and the problem of bioterrorism.

http://globetrotter.berkeley.edu/people9/Shapiro/shapiro-con0.html

Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and the Burden of Slavery
Annette Gordon-Reed
Professor of Law and History, Harvard University

Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes Harvard Professor Annette Gordon-Reed for a discussion of her work as a lawyer/historian focusing on the contradictions of the life of Thomas Jefferson.  Recalling her intellectual odyssey. Professor Gordon-Reed elucidates her contribution to Jeffersonian scholarship including her most recent book “The Most Blessed of Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of Imagination(written with Peter S. Onuf). Topics covered in the conversation include how her training as a lawyer empowered her to overturn the conventional historical view of the relationship between Jefferson and Sally Hemings. Professor Gordon-Reed highlights the structural intellectual racism at the heart of Jeffersonian historiography  which ignored the factual evidence which pointed to Jefferson as the father of Sally Heming’s children.  In examining the evolution of Jefferson’s ideas on slavery, Professor Gordon-Reed emphasizes how Jefferson’s theory of slavery evolved as he adapted to the reality of American social and political life. She concludes with an the implications of her work for understanding the present turmoil over black/ white relations in the U.S. today.

A Linguist’s Intellectual Journey
Deborah Tannen
University Professor, Georgetown University

Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes Deborah Tannen, University Professor, Georgetown University, for a discussion of her intellectual odyssey. Topics covered include: formative experiences; the concept of conversational style; the skills and temperament desirable for work in linguistics; the examples of applying concepts in her work in understanding communication between men and women and in her work in understanding the erosion of civic discourse; and using linguistics to understand the  2016 Presidential campaign.

Food and Politics
Marion Nestle
Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition at New York University

Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes Marion Nestle Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition at New York University. Professor Nestle reflects on the evolution of her thinking on the interplay between nutrition studies and the politics of food. She discusses the environment of the food industry emphasizing its dilemma of producing too much food in an environment in which profits are paramount and the competition with other food producers is intense. She analyzes the arsenal of tools at its service—advertising and lobbying and talks about the role of food activism in creating a structure of choice in which health, the environment and social justice are determining factors in what is produced and what we eat. Finally, she identifies the role of government in entrenching the status quo and the possibilities of it assuming a different kind of role. Finally, she offers advice to students preparing for the future.

Law, Politics, and the Coming Collapse of the Middle Class
Elizabeth Warren
Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law Harvard University

Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren for a discussion of the economic pressures confronting the two income middle class family as it struggles to pay mortgages, health care, and education costs. Professor Warren offers surprising answers to "Who goes bankrupt and why?" and explores the role of banks and credit card companies in tightening the squeeze on the average American family. The interface between politics and the law in addressing these problems is explored.

http://globetrotter.berkeley.edu/people7/Warren/warren-con0.html