The Lunch Colloquium

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 or Tuesday 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 sub-navigation to the left to view past speakers and topics. The 2020 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 as they become available.


Monday, January 6
Harvey Klehr, Andrew W. Mellon Professor Emeritus of Politics and History
"The Millionaire Was a Soviet Mole: The Twisted Life of David Karr"

It has been said that “Harvey Klehr is unquestionably the most important living historian of American Communism and Soviet espionage in the United States,” evidenced by the fact that three of the books he has authored, co-authored, or edited have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He’ll share the story he so memorably tells in his most recent book—the story of David Karr, who lived a number of lives: newsman, government bureaucrat, public relations flack, CEO, Hollywood and Broadway producer, hotel magnate, international banker, and Soviet and Israeli source. His remarkable life also included four wives, five children, hidden financial assets, and enemies around the world.  Even after his death in Paris in 1979, rumors swirled about his involvement in assassinations and arms dealing, and the French press exploded with claims he had been murdered. This new book, according to Klehr, is the end of a 30-year search for the truth about this slippery character.

Tuesday, January 21
Ren Davis, Retired Administrator and Consultant, Emory Healthcare; Author of Caring for Atlanta: A History of Emory Crawford Long Hospital (2003)
"When Emory Doctors Went to War: Honoring the Centennial of the Emory Medical Unit's Service in the First World War"

Following the United States’ entry into the Great War in April 1917, the US Army Surgeon General and the American Red Cross called on the country's medical schools and major hospitals to organize units to provide care to the soldiers deploying for combat in France. Emory School of Medicine Dean William Elkin, MD, asked faculty member and military veteran Edward Campbell Davis, MD, the presenter’s grandfather, to recruit physicians and nurses and to organize the Emory Medical Unit. After training at Camp Gordon, the Emory Unit arrived in France in July 1918 and established Base Hospital 43 in the city of Blois. The hospital would care for more than 9,000 patients, earning praise from AEF commander Gen. John J. Pershing before returning home in March 1919. This presentation also will highlight selected medical and surgical advances that arose from the war and provide a brief overview of the second Emory Unit that served in North Africa and France during World War II.


Monday, February 3
John Banja, Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Medical Ethicist, Center for Ethics, Emory University
“Artificial Intelligence and the Western Workforce: Will AI Take Our Jobs?”

The history of technological development and its use has clearly shown that new technologies have created more jobs than they have replaced. Innovative technologies frequently result in greater demand and thus greater productivity, which has been good for job markets. However, artificial intelligence products, especially ones characterized by “deep learning” computational functions, are generating great concern among futurists who worry that once these technologies become adopted, they will increasingly assume human job functions without improving job prospects for human workers. There is fear they will simply take over. And indeed, people in numerous job sectors including banking, delivery services, assembly line work, and the food industry are expected to be replaced by AI-run devices over the next five to twenty years. Come hear John Banja discuss the ways artificial intelligence is likely to alter the workforce in the not-so-distant future (and beyond) and the ways in which we might prepare for its doing so.

Tuesday, February 18
Paul Courtright, Professor Emeritus of Religion
The Goddess and the Dreadful Practice: An Ancient Hindu Cautionary Tale” 

Currently in the final year of the work on Indian history and religion that his recent Heilbrun grant has helped to support, Paul will offer an illustrated talk on a “Cautionary Tale” he examined in the course of his research. It features a number of Hindu gods as well as the king and daughter referenced in the title of the tale. Hating the god whom his daughter opts to marry, the king refuses to let them participate in a fire sacrifice, the ritual meant to sustain the world. We won’t spoil the suspense about what ensues here (Paul will let us know during our gathering, of course). We’ll only say, as he does, that the tale might be compared with Greek or Shakespearean tragedies and, though deeply Indian, resonates as they do with universal themes of power, loyalty, violence, love, and “the ultimate order of things.”


Monday, March 2
Pearl Dowe, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Political Science and African American Studies, Oxford College and Emory College
“The Chaos the DNC Created”

Headed into the 2020 election, the Democratic Party is reckoning with the varied ideas that characterize liberal politics and complicate the question of “electability.” The expansive Democratic candidate field suggests that the party is not (yet) clear about its current identity or what Democratic voters want. This talk, by one of Emory’s newest professors, an expert in American politics in general and African American political leadership in particular, will provide a discussion of how the Democratic party has reached this moment and what steps it should take to ensure it is seen as a viable party option for the many millions of voters it will need to attract if it is to succeed in removing Trump (and Trumpers) from power and reclaiming the White House (and then some).

Monday, March 16
Kipton Jensen, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Director of the Leadership Studies Program in the Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership, Morehouse College
“Howard Thurman: ‘Tutor to the World’”

Howard Thurman (1899–1981) is one of the unsung heroes of the civil rights movement in America. Having met with Gandhi in 1936, he quickly and adeptly applied the philosophy of nonviolence to the problem of racism in America, eventually and memorably mentoring Martin Luther King Jr. in his application of that philosophy. However, as Kipton Jensen demonstrates in his most recent work, Howard Thurman: Philosophy, Civil Rights, and the Search for Common Ground (2019), the reach of this extraordinary man’s thinking extended to an entire generation of activists, making him the man his wife has described as a “tutor to the world.” An activist as well as a philosopher, Thurman preached the power of the love that can get us past hatred, through reconciliation, and into a peaceful and productive life shared on “common ground.” And, speaking of preaching, Kipton will also discuss Thurman’s Sermons on the Parables, subject of another book that he recently co-edited with Emory (and Oxford) professor of religion, David Gowler.

Monday, March 30
Voracious Readers Anonymous, Members of the Emeritus College
“BookFest 2020: Recommendations for Summer Reading”

Assorted members of EUEC gave short presentations on their favorite books for reading now that there is likely more time to read. Enjoy!


Monday, April 6
Gretchen Schulz, Professor of English Emerita, Oxford College
Bringing ‘Remote Learning’ Closer to Home

Most emeriti have little or no experience with the “remote learning” so many of our colleagues are struggling with just now. But hey, it’s never too late to learn about it. This virtual lunch colloquium will give us a chance to do just that—and learn a little bit about James Joyce, too. Gretchen is going to “teach a class” on one of the very best short stories of all time—“Araby” from Joyce’s 1914 collection Dubliners. And, having done your “homework” by reading the (very short) story ahead of time, as we will enable you to do, you will be able to participate in the class, “raising your hand” to ask and answer questions. By the end of the experience, we should all have a fuller sense of how online teaching works and, not so incidentally, a fuller sense of what the heck it is English professors do in their classes, virtual and otherwise.

Monday, April 13
Bobbi Patterson, Professor of Pedagogy, Department of Religion
“Building Resilience through Contemplative Practice”

Bobbi Patterson’s book, Building Resilience Through Contemplative Practice: A Field Manual for Helping Professionals and Volunteers, recasts burnout as a crucial phase of service and life itself. Using real-world case studies, including aspects of our current situation, she will offer present relevant exercises for cultivating resilience through tough times. Yes, as she’ll argue, to choose change in the midst of difficulty, even collapse, we need guiding values as well as concrete tools and skills. But drawing on contemplative principles and practices, in secular as well as Christian and Buddhist forms, can enable us to find the resources we need to move forward. The very burnout that may force us to ease our grasp on long-held assumptions may free us to reach out for new means to new ends and a more productive future. As you’ll see, it’s no wonder that reviewers have celebrated this book as “a hopeful and compassionate refuge [for those feeling challenged] at the crossroad where service and contemplative practice meet.”

Monday, April 20 
Kipton Jensen, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Director of the Leadership Studies Program in the Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership, Morehouse College
“Howard Thurman: Tutor to the World” (Rescheduled from Monday, March 16)

Howard Thurman (1899–1981) is one of the unsung heroes of the civil rights movement in America. Having met Gandhi in 1936, he quickly appropriated and adeptly applied the philosophy of nonviolence to the problem of racism in America, eventually and memorably mentoring Martin Luther King in his application of that philosophy. However, as Kipton Jensen demonstrates in his most recent work, Howard Thurman: Philosophy, Civil Rights, and the Search for Common Ground (2019), the reach of this extraordinary man's thinking extended to an entire generation of activists, making him the man his wife has described as a "tutor to the world." An activist as well as a philosopher, he preached the power of love to get us past hatred, through reconciliation, and into a peaceful and productive life shared on "common ground." And, speaking of preaching, Kipton will also discuss Thurman's Sermons on the Parables, subject of another book he recently co-edited with Oxford College Professor of Religion David Gowler. 

Monday, April 27
Henry Kahn, MD, FACP
“Can US Health Care Be Made Affordable?”

Our medical costs per capita far exceed those of any comparable nation, but our health outcomes do not. What are the consequences for the uninsured, the underinsured, and for the caring professions and societal survival? Our medical care financing is unique among developed countries. For-profit corporations dominate the environment of private coverage and play increasing roles in our public coverage. Corporate influence throws obstacles in the way of policy changes that could otherwise respond to rational evidence and the public interest. The stress of the COVID-19 pandemic may present opportunities for major reform.


Monday, May 4
Denise Raynor, MD, MPH, Professor Emerita, School of Medicine, and Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychology, Emory College
“Ah, You’re a Doctor?: Exploring the Experiences of African Americans in Medicine”

Building on her own experiences in medical school, residency, and academic medicine, perinatologist Denise Raynor, who retired from her position as director of the OB/GYN residency program at Grady’s Perinatal Center in 2009, is currently developing a book on racial bias in medical education and its impact on disparities in health outcomes. As she has said, there’s been very little change in that area since she began medical school at Vanderbilt in 1980. No less impactful for being more implicit than explicit, such bias continues to be an invisible hand that touches all interactions in health care—between colleagues, staff, and patients. Perhaps in bringing the subject out of the shadows and into the light, through talks like this one and talks she’s been offering her OLLI students as well, Denise will help further the change that’s been so slow in coming, however badly needed for so long.

Monday, May 11
Gary Hauk, PhD, University Historian
“‘The Feast of Reason and the Flow of Soul’—A History of Emory Commencement”

Since COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of Emory’s 2020 Commencement, come join a virtual commencement on the day that would have witnessed Emory’s 175th graduation exercises. Gary Hauk, who retired as the Emory University historian in January, tells how the university has celebrated the achievements of its students and faculty through the generations. Where did the bagpipes come in? When did regalia become part of the scene? Who was the most celebrated Commencement speaker? And what about those honorary degrees? (Three cheers for Anthony Fauci 03H, granted an honorary doctor of science degree) A 19th-century newspaper article called one Emory College Commencement “the feast of reason and the flow of soul,” borrowing a line from Alexander Pope. The phrase seems apt even now to describe the celebratory end of the academic year. Come prepared to share your own commencement memories as we observe the day that would have been.

Monday, May 18
Brenda Bynum, Senior Lecturer Emerita, Department of Theater Studies
“An Introduction to the Epistolary Friendship of Flannery O'Connor with Betty Hester”

In 1955, Flannery O'Connor received a letter from a woman who had just read her book A Good Man is Hard to Find, and she replied by writing back, "I want to know who this is who understands my stories." What followed was a remarkable correspondence between the two that lasted and thrived until O'Connor's death nine years later. Though most of the letters that Hester sent to O'Connor have not been found, O'Connor's to Hester were saved by the recipient, donated to Emory University in 1987, and opened to the public 20 years later. They are candid, perceptive, and honest and reveal the development of a deep and satisfying friendship for both of them. They are also a pleasure to read, as O'Connor brought all of her literary brilliance to bear in writing them. Bynum has developed a program on these letters that she will share.


Monday, June 1          
Vernon K. Robbins, Professor of Religion Emeritus, Winship Distinguished Research Professor in the Humanities
“The Birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary in the Infancy Gospel of James (Protevangelium Jacobi)”

The Protevangelium Jacobi (Infancy Gospel of James), written ca. 180 CE, presents Mary, the mother of Jesus, growing up in the holy environment of the Jerusalem temple where she is fed by angels. When her monthly flow is about to begin, the priests take her out of the temple so she will not pollute it. After the priests assign Mary to the care of a widower named Joseph, who already has children, difficulties arise when Mary becomes pregnant while Joseph is away for six months on a carpentry job. The immaculate holiness of Mary, however, leads to the birth of Jesus in a thoroughly surprising manner in a cave alongside the road to Bethlehem. For centuries, Christians knew this version of the birth of Jesus, also referenced in the Muslim holy book of the Qur’an. Then with the 16th-century Reformation, Christians began to privilege the birth stories in the gospels of Matthew and Luke in the New Testament. Join us for a discussion of this now so-little-known second-century CE version of the story with a scholar who describes it as “breathtaking.” 

Monday, June 8              
Holly York, Senior Lecturer Emerita, Department of French and Italian
“Reading Collaboratively: Poems by Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman”

In her April 6 colloquium, Gretchen Schulz invited us to participate in what faculty and students might experience as their normal face-to-face courses migrated online to end the semester. She successfully guided the group through a close reading of James Joyce’s short story “Araby,” even though she herself was new to the remote learning format. The rich variety of experience contributed by our emeriti brought the work alive, even for those who might not otherwise have been enthusiasts of Joyce (or indeed of literature itself). So let’s try poetry! With its highly figurative language, poetry lends itself particularly well to collaborative reading where participants co-create meaning. Holly York, who has had much experience in online work with literature in MOOCs she’s enrolled in during her retirement, will guide us through a discussion of Emily Dickinson (1830–1886) and Walt Whitman (1819–1892), both radical poets for their time who are seen by some as polar opposite precursors of contemporary American poetry. She’ll ask us to do some “homework” ahead of time by reading several of the typically terse poems by Dickinson and a single section of Song of Myself by the longer-winded Whitman and then invite us into conversation with one another to see what we can make of this seminal material. We hope for as much revelatory fun as we enjoyed in examining “Araby.” 

Monday, June 15     
Daniel LaChance, Associate Professor, Andrew W. Mellon Faculty Fellow in Law and the Humanities, Department of History
“Mrs. Miller’s Constitution: Civil Liberties and the Radical Right in Cold War America"

In the early years of the Cold War, grassroots activists on the far-right end of the political spectrum waged a campaign against government bureaucracies they believed were quietly ushering in an age of despotism. They grew especially alarmed at the growing power the government was giving to psychiatrists to oversee the psychological well-being of Americans. Under the pretense of treating mental illness, they feared, liberals would soon banish conservatives to mental institutions. As Emory historian Daniel LaChance will explain, two events in the 1950s brought these anxieties to a fever pitch: the involuntary confinement of Vermont anti-communist activist Lucille Miller to a federal psychiatric hospital and federal legislation to fund the construction of a mental hospital in the Alaska territory. In their campaigns to free Miller and stop the construction of what they believed would be an Alaskan gulag, these activists turned to the law, arguing that the Constitution safeguarded a vision of liberty as the absence of unwanted government intrusions into an individual’s life. In subsequent decades, as we know too well, others also would grow wary of government paternalism and embrace a more libertarian and procedural understanding of rights, countering the alternative vision of rights as a tool for pursuing collective, egalitarian ends that so many of us prefer. 

Monday, June 22               
Ronald J. Gould, Goodrich C. White Professor of Mathematics Emeritus
“The Oddball’s Oddball: The Unusual Life of a Mathematical Genius”

In this talk, our own unusually gifted mathematician, Ron Gould, will describe the life and work of Paul Erdös, one of the most important mathematicians of the 20th century and its most prolific. He’ll explain how Erdös’ enormous influence on many branches of mathematics and many other mathematicians changed the very way mathematics research is conducted, transforming this famously solo endeavor into a wonderfully collaborative one. But, as Gouldalso will explain, Erdös was at least as strange as he was brilliant—so much so that Time magazine dubbed him “The Oddball’s Oddball.” (Sheldon Cooper of “The Big Bang Theory” had nothing on him!) Join us to learn about Erdös’ professional successes and personal eccentricities from one who knew him well enough to appreciate both.

Monday, June 29         
Pamela Scully, Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and of African Studies and Vice Provost, Undergraduate Affairs
“Settler Societies after Colonialism: South Africa and the USA”

Pamela Scully, who has most recently co-authored the book Writing Transnational History, will discuss the concept of Settler Society as it has been applied historically and in the contemporary era. Using her expertise in South African and transnational history as well as her experiences in growing up under apartheid, Scully will discuss similarities and differences between South Africa and the USA—with brief forays into the situations in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—as a way of theorizing our contemporary US moment.