Sing, Unburied, Sing author Jesmyn Ward speaks on storytelling

Last Thursday the College hosted Jesmyn Ward, author of this year’s Williams Reads book, Sing, Unburied, Sing. Ward reflected on the events that have shaped her life and influenced her as a writer. 

Marlene Sandstrom, dean of the College, opened the talk by reaffirming the mission of Williams Reads, stating that the program is a way to “see and feel and understand the world through people who experience and see the world differently than us.” Sandstrom was then followed by Professor of English Kimberly Love, whose courses focus on the intersection of literature and the black experience.

Steven Pinker speaks on Enlightenment

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.

College awards Bicentennial Medals to four alums

Last Saturday, the College marked the start of the 2018-2019 academic year with the annual convocation ceremony in Chapin Hall, which included the awarding of this year’s Bicentennial Medals. Four alums received the medals, given each year since 1993 for “significant achievement in any field of endeavor.”
The 2018 recipients of the Bicentennial Medals were John Walcott ’71, Cheryl Robinson Joyner ’85, Michael Wynn ’93 and Shoshana Clark Stewart ’02.

Brian Keating speaks on losing the Nobel Prize

On Friday, physicist and University of California San Diego professor Brian Keating visited the College to discuss his recently published book, Losing the Nobel Prize, about his attempts to find traces of gravitational waves from the very early universe. The telescope that Keating helped design and build, BICEP2, reportedly found evidence of these waves in 2014, placing Keating in contention for a Nobel Prize.