A Cool Thing You Probably Missed: Jhumpa Lahiri lecture

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A little known fact about Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri is that she is a Rhode Island native. Although she was born in London, Lahiri grew up in Kingston, RI, after her parents immigrated to America when she was two. Her father is a librarian at URI, and was seated front and center at her talk, hosted by the Brown Bookstore, on Sunday. The event consisted a reading from Lahiri’s new novel, The Lowland, which deals with four generations of an Indian-American family that moves to Rhode Island from Calcutta, and discussing her work with poet William Corbett. (Ed. Fun fact! Mindy Lahiri, the protagonist of The Mindy Project, is named after Jhumpa Lahiri.) Read on for a breakdown of what I learned from one of our home state’s most prolific contemporary authors:

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A Cool Thing You Shouldn’t Miss: Bernice King’s MLK Lecture

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What were you up to on Martin Luther King Jr. Day? Perhaps you were struggling through the cold as you moved back into your room. Or maybe you were just struggling to not leave your couch as vacation came to a close. Fortunately, if you failed to observe or contemplate or even remember the holiday, redemption is here because Brown’s MLK Lecture is happening Wednesday at 4 p.m. in Upper Salomon. Oh, yea, and MLK’s daughter, lawyer and social activist Bernice King, will be the featured speaker.

While last year’s event focused on stereotypes’ impact in education, the 2013 installment will address the ever-important issue of healthcare inequality within the United States. In the fittingly titled “Advancing the Dream” lecture (2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech), King will discuss how the struggle for social equality has taken on a new form in the 21st century—primarily that of improving the accessibility, affordability, and quality of healthcare in the United States. Whether you’re interested in making up for a forgotten MLK Day or simply interested in hearing a great speaker before your workload rules out any possibility of attendance, this is a cool thing you shouldn’t miss.

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Five reasons why you should go see Julie Bowen ’91

This Wednesday, October 24th, the Brown Lecture Board will be hosting a Q&A with Julie Bowen ’91. You might recognize her blonde locks and Colgate smile from ABC’s hit TV show Modern Family, where she plays Claire Dunphy, a crazy party girl turned mom of three. Bowen has won the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series two years in a row. In case you aren’t a fan of the show, here are 5 reasons you should come out and see her:

  1. Claire and Phil Dunphy are the parents you wish visited on Parents Weekend. Haley, Alex, and Luke Dunphy might disagree, but Claire and Phil would be delightfully awkward meeting your college friends (and maybe your more-than-friends.)
  2. Bowen proves that there is a future with an Italian Renaissance Studies concentration. Granted, what she does is in no way related to Italian Studies, but still! There’s hope! Maybe the Dunphy clan will take a summer vacay to Rome and Bowen can woo wow us with her italiano.
  3. Her day job is being a mom. She couldn’t party à la Sofia Vergara after the Emmy’s because she had carpool the next morning. She has three adorable boys and is married to someone who’s not involved with Hollywood. So she’s just a normal mom, you guys! And the driver of what is probably the most fun carpool ever.
  4. Her 2012 Primetime Emmy acceptance speech was basically an ode to nipple covers. Only Claire Dunphy can get away with saying nipples as many times as she did in under two minutes at the Emmys.
  5. She and Sofia Vergara are friends in real life, and it warms our hearts. Bowen has openly spoken about how she has rooted for Vergara at both Emmys. Because who doesn’t want to be friends with Sofia Vergara?

But here’s the real reason you should go: Bowen is a Brown alum, and she’s reppin’ hard in Tinseltown, where she plays an amazing character in an amazing show. Basically she’s amazing, if I hadn’t already made that clear. And you can still get tickets tomorrow! Tickets will be distributed again starting at noon in the Kasper Multipurpose Room. The line might start a couple of hours earlier, though. So you might want to skip 10 a.m. section. Claire Dunphy’s worth it.

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Nicholas Kristof tickets available Wednesday and Thursday

UPDATE: A previous version of this post said that tickets would be available on Tuesday and Wednesday in Kasper Multipurpose Room. Tickets will actually be distributed Wednesday and Thursday from 12–1 p.m. in Kasper Multipurpose Room.

Though his presence might be somewhat drowned out by the campus-wide freak out that erupted around the imminent arrival of the Dalai Lama, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is in fact speaking at Brown on Thursday, October 11th. Tickets will be available starting at 12:00 p.m. both Wednesday and Thursday in the Kasper Multipurpose Room; half of them will be given out on each day. Like for most lectures, you can only get one ticket per Brown/RISD ID, but one person can be holding two IDs.

The talk, which is sponsored by the Brown Lecture Board, will be at 7:00 p.m. in Salomon 101, with doors opening at 6:15. Kristof, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, actually got an honorary degree from Brown back in 2011 (along with, among others, Jack Nicholson and Ariana Huffington). Somehow, I just don’t see there being as many marriage proposals as there were for John Krasinski ’01.

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Get your Seth Meyers lecture tickets this Wednesday and Thursday

For most of us, Saturday Night Live consumption has been relegated to a hodgepodge of Hulu videos, “Best Of…” compilations on Watch Instantly and the sound bites from ’80s and ’90s sketches that have made their way into the cultural zeitgeist. But experiencing SNL like this has caused us to forget that each week a bunch of neurotic individuals sit down in a room to write over an hour of comic material for January Jones to infuse with her trademark lifelessness.

Since Tina Fey’s departure in 2006, the leader of SNL‘s writing staff has been Seth Meyers, a Northwestern grad with a background in improv and an uncanny ability to make celebrities spontaneously appear on Weekend Update. If you’ve ever wondered how he does it, you’re in luck. Continuing its tradition of bringing famous funny people to campus, the Brown Lecture Board has invited Meyers to speak on Tuesday, March 13. Tickets will be distributed (free of charge) from 12–1 p.m. in the Kasper Multipurpose Room (lower Faunce) on Wednesday and Thursday this week. The rule is 1 ticket per Brown/RISD ID and 2 IDs max per person.


A Cool Thing You Probably Missed: Deirdre McCloskey’s Odyssey Lecture

Though we may like to forget it sometimes, Brown University is, above all else, an educational institution and part of its role is to invite scores of intelligent people to campus for meaningful debates and lectures in every field. Unfortunately, many Brown University courses pile on coursework like its their job — because it is —and, as a result, the average student lacks the time to take advantage of all the opportunities for unadulterated academic enrichment outside of class. A Cool Thing You Probably Missed… seeks to highlight obscure, esoteric and often fascinating people and ideas that tend to get lost in the “school vs. everything else” manner of time management.

Last Wednesday afternoon, Deirdre McCloskey gave the Political Theory Project’s Odyssey Lecture on her book Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World in MacMillan 117. But, while the giant lecture hall overflows with Out of Bounds enthusiasts for their regular sketch shows, the audience was a mere handful of professors and students for the equally entertaining Professor McCloskey.

If you’re already wondering what could possibly be notable about another seemingly standard political theory talk, look no further than McCloskey’s characteristically extravagant self-description: “postmodern free-market quantitative rhetorical Episcopalian feminist Aristotelian woman who was once a man.” Yep. That just happened. Trying to unpack all the contradictions and ironies of that bunch of descriptors might make your head spin, and the spinning will only get worse once you try to wrap your head around her thesis: in terms of wealth, world average income was almost perfectly consistent (roughly $3) until a drastic upshot in the 1800s, when free market ideology gained wide acceptance amongst everyone who conducted business. In this way, McCloskey basically claims that free market ideology, rather than higher investment in capital (the conventional economic explanation), explains how the world got so rich. More on why McCloskey, and her ideas, were a cool thing you probably missed after the jump. Continue Reading