Humanities


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Yusef Komunyakaa, an internationally renowned poet who won the Pulitzer Prize for "Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems," reads and discusses his work while writer-in-residence at UC Santa Barbara. Recorded on 03/01/2017.

For more than a half century, John Lithgow has been delighting audiences on stage, in movies and on television. In a lively discussion with Peter Gourevitch, distinguished Professor Emeritus of Political Science at UC San Diego, Lithgow reflects on his preparations for the wide diversity of roles that have shaped his career and influenced the larger culture, from his star turn in "The World According to Garp" to his SAG-award-winning role as Winston Churchill in the Netflix original series "The Crown." Recorded on 10/11/2017.

In discussing his new book, "Dirt is Good: The Advantage of Germs For Your Child's Developing Immune System," author and UC San Diego Professor of Pediatrics and Computer Science & Engineering Rob Knight explains how the microbiome works and offers guidance for parents on boosting their children's health. Knight is presented by the Library Channel at UC San Diego. Recorded on 10/24/2017.

In describing his new book, "East West Street" author Philippe Sands looks at the personal and intellectual evolution of the two men who simultaneously originated the ideas of "genocide" and "crimes against humanity," both of whom, not knowing the other, studied at the same university in a now-obscure city that had once been known as "the little Paris of Ukraine," a city variously called Lemberg, Lwów, Lvov, or Lviv. It is also a spellbinding family memoir, as Sands traces the mysterious story of his grandfather, as he maneuvered through Europe in the face of Nazi atrocities. Sands is presented by the Holocaust Living History Workshop and the Library at UC San Diego. Recorded on 02/28/2018.

Behavioral economist Elizabeth Linos talks about how to implement good public policy by focusing on needs of the people who serve in government. In this conversation with Henry E. Brady, Dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, Linos argues that diversity in recruitment leads to better outcomes, particularly in law enforcement, and that burnout can be avoided if staffers are appropriately supported in their work environments.

Our lifespans are ever-increasing, but our healthspans are not, leading to long periods of unpleasant and expensive suffering with chronic conditions. Many of these conditions have recently been linked to the microbiome. We are constantly shaping our microbiomes through the foods we eat, the environments we experience, even the people we live and work with. Through the American Gut Project, the largest crowdsourced and crowdfunded citizen-science project yet conducted, we now know about the microbiomes of many types of people, from the healthiest to the sickest. Potentially real-time analysis of our microbiomes could guide our daily decisions in a way that optimizes our microbiomes for extending our healthspan. Although the potential benefits of such research are clear, what are the risks (e.g., privacy concerns) that need to be identified and addressed? Rob Knight, PhD explains.

Abigail Pogrebin is the author of the recently published book, My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew. Hear how she spent 12 months researching and observing every holiday in the Jewish calendar. Recorded on 04/22/2018.

How it is possible for imagination to have practical social effects? The great potential size of human societies, in contrast to those of other primates, is due to a kind of shared imagination of which kinship and religion are important examples, says Maurice Bloch, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics. Bloch says that the shared imaginary emerges in normal life at certain moments yet is still governed by the potential of imagination. The lecture is illustrated by Bloch's experience of an isolated village in Madagascar. Recorded on 06/04/2018.

Communicating through the Internet is different than face-to-face interaction. No matter how familiar people are with email, chat, and the web, differences in the availability of nonverbal cues lead people to underestimate the interpersonal and emotional impact of online interaction. Joe Walther (UCSB Communication) explores the hyperpersonal model of communication and explains how people actually create more intense impressions and relationships as they influence each other online, often more positive than those occurring face-to-face. The results of studies from several online settings show how we and our communication partners sometimes unwittingly affect our perceptions of others and ourselves through computer-mediated interaction. Recorded on 07/11/2018.

A gene drive is a targeted contagion intended to spread within species, forever altering the offspring. Gene drive enthusiasts say they could wipe out malaria, saving more than half a million lives each year. As yet, no CRISPR gene drive has been released in the wild few have even been built. Laurie Zoloth of the University of Chicago explores the ethical questions about genes designed to spread through populations and alter ecosystems, and their unforeseen consequences. Recorded on 11/15/2018.

Pianist Cecil Lytle and friends celebrate the Jewish folk traditions of Eastern Europe with spoken word, Klezmer music, and songs from the Yiddish theater. Featured performers include bassist Bertram Turetzky, singer Eva Barnes, and the Second Avenue Klezmer Band. Recorded on 01/27/2019.

Academy Award-winning screenwriter Josh Singer (Spotlight, The Post) discusses First Man (2018) with Matt Ryan as part of the Carsey-Wolf Center's Script to Screen series. Singer talks about the depth of research necessary to write the screenplay for First Man, including the creative challenges involved in portraying Neil Armstrong who was known for being a man of few words in a film that also has long stretches of minimalistic dialogue, much of which was taken directly from Apollo 11 mission transcripts. Singer comments on his shared desire with director Damien Chazelle for maximum historical accuracy, and the challenges this presented when accounts and recollections of the events sometimes differed in detail. Singer mentions his extensive work consulting with those who were actually present during the mission and depicted in the film, including astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the family of Neil Armstrong, and other members of NASA. Recorded on 11/27/2018.

The ancient Buddhist sources have a great deal to say about what it means to be a biological man or woman, what it means to be gendered male and female, what kinds of desires and sexual practices are considered normative, and what kinds deviate. But this material is scattered throughout hundreds of different texts and is found in no single source. Drawing on decades of research into the classical Indian and Tibetan Buddhist texts - and on the extensive literature on ancient theories of "queerness" - Jose Cabezon traces the life of a man and woman from conception to death, in the process laying bare Buddhist assumptions about what it means to be normal and abnormal and why these issues were so important to ancient authors. Recorded on 02/07/2019.
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