Writer Naomi Klein opens spring Assembly Series

Speakers covering such diverse subjects as science, entrepreneurship, film and mathematics will take center stage during the spring 2009 Assembly Series.


The programs will be presented in a variety of venues and at various times, including the traditional Wednesday 11 a.m. slot.

Kicking off the spring series is the annual Chancellor’s Fellowship Lecture featuring Naomi Klein at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28, in Graham Chapel. Her talk is on “The Present and Future of Capitalism.”

In columns and best-selling books, Klein writes about global social ills, such as the detrimental effects of brand-oriented consumerism and unconstrained free- market capitalism.

Her third and most recent book, “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism,” challenges the ideology espoused by Milton Friedman and his followers that free-market policies create democratic nations. Rather, she sees free-market capitalism as the opposite, creating economic opportunists who use misery and disasters to push through economic policies that benefit themselves, not the people.

Klein also writes a syndicated column for The Nation and The Guardian, distributed internationally by The New York Times Syndicate. Her 2004 article for Harper’s Magazine on the Iraq war won the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. The documentary she co-produced with Avi Lewis called “The Take,” reporting on Argentina’s occupied factories, won the Best Documentary Jury Prize at the American Film Institute’s Film Festival.

The lecture will be followed by a panel discussion scheduled at 2 p.m. in the Women’s Building Formal Lounge. The discussion will continue to explore the issues Klein will raise in the lecture.

Spring 2009 schedule

Maxine Clark, 5 p.m. Feb. 5, Graham Chapel

In 1997, Clark turned a unique concept into a multi-million dollar success story. The founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop updated the traditional teddy bear and made it interactive. In just 11 years, she has grown the business from one store to more than 400 worldwide.

She will field questions on the role of entrepreneurship in the current economy and participate in the Olin Cup awards ceremony. This program and ceremony are being hosted by the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.


Lela Lee, 4 p.m. Feb. 11, Graham Chapel

Through her cartoons, short films and Internet comic series, Lee has found creative outlets for expressing her feelings as a minority in America. Lee also is an actress whose credits include the popular television series “Scrubs.” Her talk, “My Culture Is Pop Culture,” is sponsored by the Asian American Association.

Janice Radway, noon Feb. 17, Women’s Building Formal Lounge

Radway is known as a cultural historian and literary scholar who examines the art as well as the act of reading. The author of “Reading the Romance” and “A Feeling for Books” looks at the excitement and satisfaction of “middlebrow” reading.

Radway will speak on “Zines, Half-Lives, and AfterLives: On the Temporalities of Social and Political Change.” Her talk is one of three speakers for this year’s Interdisciplinary Project in the Humanities Lecture Series.

Other speakers include Lynne Tatlock, Ph.D., the Hortense and Tobias Lewin Distinguished Professor in the Humanities in Germanic Languages and Literatures in Arts & Sciences, at noon Feb. 18 in the Women’s Building Formal Lounge; and Miriam Bailin, Ph.D., associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in English in Arts & Sciences, at 11 a.m. Feb. 20 in the Women’s Building Formal Lounge.

Jonathan Schaeffer, 11 a.m. Feb. 18, Steinberg Auditorium

Schaeffer is a computer scientist who created the Chinook Project, the 18-year project to build a computer program capable of winning the human World Checkers Championship. In his William C. Ferguson Lecture, “Computer (and Human) Perfection at Checkers,” he will discuss the interplay between people and technology — the story of man versus machine — for supremacy at checkers.

The Legacy of George Washington: A Panel Discussion, 6 p.m. Feb. 18, Women’s Building Formal Lounge

To commemorate the anniversary of George Washington’s 277th birthday, WUSTL scholars will examine the legend versus the real man and consider whether the philosophical and moral ambiguities he wrestled with during his lifetime have modern implica-tions.

Panelists are David Konig, Ph.D., professor of history in Arts & Sciences and professor of law, and Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D., associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in political science in Arts & Sciences.

A Discussion About Race, 4 p.m. Feb. 25, location TBA

In mid-January, several sponsors brought the Human Race Machine to campus with the hope of creating a new way of discussing race. In February, members of the sponsoring groups will converge for an informal discussion.

Paul Alivisatos, 11 a.m. March 4, Graham Chapel

Nanoscience and its applications will play a major role in future scientific and medical breakthroughs. For the past two decades, Alivisatos, Ph.D., has been at the forefront of this revolution. In his talk for the Arthur Holly Compton Lecture, he will describe his work and the promise it holds for creating new imaging tools.

Robert Osserman, 4 p.m. March 25, Steinberg Auditorium

The St. Louis Gateway Arch is not only a monumental architectural structure, it’s also a mathematical marvel. Osserman, Ph.D., a distinguished mathematician, will explore the concepts involved in the Arch’s design.


Morgan Spurlock, 4 p.m., Wednesday, April 1. Graham Chapel

For filmmaker Spurlock, “keeping it real” is more than just a phrase — it’s the philosophy that drives him to write, direct and star in his documentaries.

Spurlock gained fame in 2005 with the Oscar-nominated “Super Size Me,” an indictment of Americans’ unhealthy eating habits in fast food restaurants. His film “Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?” was released in 2008. This presentation is being sponsored by Congress of the South 40.

Theresa Wilson, 11 a.m. April 15, Graham Chapel

Wilson is leading thousands of women in some of the poorest countries out of poverty with her nonprofit organization, The Blessing Basket Project.

The concept, connecting basket weavers directly with consumers, translates a simple purchase into one that makes a big impact.

The Women’s Society of Washington University Adele Starbird Lecture, “Making a Purchase that Makes a Difference: The Blessing Baskets Project,” will close the Spring 2009 Assembly Series.

All Assembly Series programs are free and open to the public. For more information about individual events, visit assemblyseries.wustl.edu or call 935-5285.