Fall 2015 “Communities in Conversation” Series

Rhodes’ “Communities in Conversation” Series will present four public lectures this fall. The series provides the insights of scholars, philosophers, historians, journalists, and other thought leaders on the big issues faced nationally and around the world. Free and open to the public, they take place on the Rhodes campus.

Sept. 17 - Sven Beckert, “Empire of Cotton” 
Blount Auditorium, Buckman Hall at 6 p.m. (reception at 5:30 p.m.)

Dr. Sven Beckert, the Laird Bell Professor of American History at Harvard University, will speak about his book Empire of Cotton: A Global History. A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and winner of the Bancroft Prize, the most prestigious award for works on American history, the official announcement called it “a masterful achievement in the burgeoning field of the study of capitalism…an expansive global history that also helps us rethink the history of the United States, lifting our understanding of American slavery, cotton production, the Civil War, and Reconstruction out of the parochial confines of nation-centered history.” With Memphis and the Delta at the center of this story, this lecture will transform our understanding of how we fit into the modern world.

Sept. 22 - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, “Constitutional Interpretation” 
McCallum Ballroom, Bryan Campus Life Center at 6 p.m.

Justice Scalia, nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, is the longest serving current member of the Court. In nearly three decades of service, Justice Scalia has become known as a forceful advocate for adhering to the original meaning of the constitutional text and he will address this approach in this Constitution Day Lecture.

Oct. 8 - Mike Davis, “Planet of Slums” 
Hardie Auditorium at 7 p.m. (reception at 6:30 p.m.)

Dr. Mike Davis, Professor Emeritus at University of California, Riverside, will speak about his book Planet of Slums, which investigates the increasing inequality of the urban world. According to the U.N., more than one billion people now live in the slums of the cities of the global South. Davis explores the meaning and the future of this radically unequal and unstable urban world and the neo-economic policies that helped to them. He was named a Macarthur Fellow in 1998 and is the author of more than 20 books.

Nov. 4-5 - Memphis Reads: What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng by Dave Eggers 

  • Nov. 4 - Valentino Achak Deng in conversation with Rhodes Readers 
    Rhodes’ Bryan Campus Life Center, 6 p.m. Q&A | 5:30 p.m. reception
  • Nov. 5 - Memphis Reads book talk and book signing with Dave Eggers 
    Creative Arts Building, 2375 Tiger Lane S., 7 p.m.

Dave Eggers is one of America’s most renowned living authors. His book What is the What, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, is based on the life of Valentino Achak Deng. In this epic novel, Deng, who along with thousands of other children—the so-called Lost Boys—is forced to leave his village in Sudan as a young boy and trek hundreds of miles by foot while being pursued by militias, government bombers, and wild animals. When he finally resettles in the United States, he finds a life full of promise, but also heartache and myriad new challenges. Moving, suspenseful, and unexpectedly funny, What Is the What is an astonishing novel that illuminates the lives of millions through one extraordinary man.


Find Communities in Conversation on Facebook or Twitter. For more information, contact Dr. Jonathan Judaken, the Spence L. Wilson Chair in Humanities at Rhodes, at judakenj@rhodes.edu or (901) 843-3292.