The Lunch Colloquium

With some exceptions, Lunch Colloquiums are held in 130 Luce Center (825 Houston Mill Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA 30329). Colloquiums are generally held every first and third Monday from 11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m. Entries will note if colloquiums are held offsite. All are welcome to attend any Lunch Colloquium. However, capacity seating is 45, so an RSVP is required.

Click on the subtabs to the left to view past speakers and topics. The 2018 speakers and topics are listed below by month. Because we webcast most colloquiums and archive the results, many are available to view online. Click on the blue titles to view past lectures.


Monday, January 22 
“The Vanished People of Northern Malawi: Ancient DNA and Hunter-Gatherer Lifeways in Prehistoric Africa”
Jessica Thompson, Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Kendra Ann Sirak, PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology

Archaeological evidence, linguistic data, and DNA from living people clearly show that between 4000 and 2000 years ago there was a massive migration of early farmers and herders across sub-Saharan Africa. Indigenous hunting and gathering lifeways came to an end everywhere this migration reached, but many mysteries remain. What was life like for hunter-gatherers then? Did they mix with the incoming farmers or vanish completely? New archaeological work and advances in the study of ancient DNA in northern Malawi (east-central Africa) begin to answer some of these questions. And Emory’s own Jessica Thompson and Kendra Ann Sirak have been at the center of that work and study (with the help of some of our undergraduates, as well). They’ll report on their experiences and their findings to us today.



Monday, February 5
Frankenstein: How A Monster Became an Icon”
Sidney Perkowitz, Candler Professor of Physics Emeritus
Eddy von Mueller, Former Senior Lecturer, Department of Film and Media Studies

In the new book that shares the title of their presentation today, Sidney and Eddy have brought together scholars, scientists, artists, and directors (including Mel Brooks) to celebrate the bicentenary of Mary Shelley’s marvelous creation and its indelible impact on art and culture. And given that the two hundred years since the novel’s publication have brought scientists closer to actually now doing what Shelley’s scientist supposedly did then, consideration of the ethical issues involved in the creation of life such as the novel prompts has never been more timely. It’s no wonder Emory itself has declared this “the year of Frankenstein.” And this colloquium is our way to honor that designation.

Monday, February 19
“Phillis Wheatley: Poetics and Politics”
Dwight A. McBride, Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of African American Studies, and Distinguished Affiliated Professor of English

Dwight McBride, a leading scholar in race and literary studies, currently is working on a volume about Phillis Wheatley, the 18th-century poet who was the first African-American to publish a book. He will share insights from that work with us.


Monday, March 5
“Hearing the Trees: Works from an Exhibition”
Katherine Mitchell, Artist, Senior Lecturer Emerita, Visual Arts Department

Katherine will speak about works from her recent exhibition at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University, an exhibition funded in part by one of the Bianchi grants awarded by Emeritus College. The original inspiration for these two-dimensional mixed media drawings and paintings was a beloved white oak on her property that had become diseased. The works serve as talismans for the tree, for Katherine herself, and for all of the endangered environment.

As always, these works show Katherine’s interest in architectural form, and the layering of systems and patterns as well as her interest in the natural world. In this case, the layers include texts taken from her journals, from poetry, and from various prose readings, including quotations from Henry David Thoreau, Gregory Bateson, and others.

In the fall, the exhibition will be on view again at the Circle Gallery at the University of Georgia. We of the EUEC hope to arrange a field trip for those who’d like to see it. 

Monday, March 19
“Black and Blue: Exploring Racial Bias and Law Enforcement in the Killings of Unarmed Black Male Civilians”
Erika V. Hall, Assistant Professor of Organization and Management, Goizueta Business School

“Intersectionality” is the word that best characterizes Erika Hall’s research, focusing as it does on the influence of race, gender, and class-based implicit biases on interactions within the workplace and society as a whole. However, her presentation for the colloquium will center on one kind of bias in particular, namely racial bias, and how the attitudes associated with skin color affect interactions between the police and members of the public whom they’re charged to “protect and serve.” She will share the results of others’ studies of this complex subject (and her own)—results she earlier shared with (other) scholarly colleagues in an article published in American Psychologist.


Tuesday, April 10
“Finding Flow: Stories from the Nantahala Outdoor Center”
Payson Kennedy, Founder and Retired President of the Nantahala Outdoor Center

In 1972, Emory alumnus Payson Kennedy was working at Georgia Tech and with his wife, Aurelia, was raising four young children in suburban Atlanta. A year later, he had given up this conventional life and was living with his family in a new community located on the Nantahala River in the mountains of western North Carolina, working as a raft guide and helping to found the Nantahala Outdoor Center that has since become one of the largest and most successful outdoor recreation businesses in the world.

Payson will talk about his decision to make this change in his search for more frequent experiences of “the flow state,” while also sharing stories from many other recent and former NOC employees, all of which he has compiled in a book due out this very April, NOC Stories: Forty-five Years of Changing Lives at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Our own Stewart Roberts will introduce his lifelong friend.