Which “architectural jamboree” is actually the only building on campus that bears true national significance? Which Amherst-educated architect invites comparisons to Groucho Marx for his lack of steady principles?
As a student-organized event, “Peace Party,” celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Armistice of November 11, 1918, a completely different centennial event was also celebrated at the College this weekend: the anniversary of the establishment of the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), an important political development of the last century. A conference sponsored by the Stanley Kaplan Program in American Foreign Policy, as well as the political science department, provided the setting for a gathering of several dozen scholars of the history of the CPUSA.
“Look, I’m not gonna get my humanity from Bill f*cking Clinton,” Hasan Minhaj said. “He’s just not gonna understand where I’m coming from, my point of view, the things my community has had to go through – we have to claim that shit on our terms.” Minhaj recalled this specific moment at the 2016 Democratic National Convention as being that which inspired the creation of his new weekly Netflix comedy series, Patriot Act.
The last few years have ushered in a political landscape that is unlike any other in our nation’s history. Meanwhile, access to news media is constantly expanding: Pew Research Center reported in June of this year that 93 percent of adults get “at least some” of their news online, such as through digitized forms of established news outlets or fresh resources often exclusively available online.
Apple, Google, Facebook – some of the most recognizable companies are also prime targets for graduating college students hoping to transition into a career in tech. Many publications offer accounts of the benefits of “working in tech,” promising potential employees that those big-name companies eliminate the mundanity of an ordinary office job.
During his 25-year career at the College, Professor of Art History Michael Lewis has watched hundreds, if not thousands, of tour groups pause in the courtyard below his office window on the south side of the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA). Each time, he hears the same speech delivered more or less word-for-word – “Like Old Faithful,” he recalled, “Every 20 minutes, it would come back.
On Thursday night, Steven Pinker, cognitive psychologist and author of Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress, gave a lecture of the same title in Chapin Hall. The event was sponsored by the Gaudino Fund and the College’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, which has lined up a set of speakers throughout the academic year who are meant “to encourage dialogue around human knowledge and reason.”
In his lecture, which acted as an overview of the more in-depth studies examined in his book, Pinker laid out his central argument: despite the growing sentiment that society is in some kind of downward spiral, civilization is currently in a positive state and has been progressing for centuries thanks to the ideals of the 18th century Enlightenment.