February 11, 02

Vol. 17 , No. 07   

The World According to John Singleton: Film and Society

Producer, director, and screenwriter John Singleton most recently wrote, produced, and directed Baby Boy (2001), starring singer Tyrese, Ving Rhames, Snoop Dogg, and newcomer Taraji P. Henson. Baby Boy has received four NAACP nominations. He also wrote, produced, and directed Shaft (2000), starring Samuel Jackson for Paramount Pictures; Higher Learning (1995), starring Omar Epps and Laurence Fishburne; and Poetic Justice (1993), starring Janet Jackson. He also directed Rosewood (1997), starring Jon Voight and Ving Rhames.

While Singleton was attending the Filmic Writing Program at USC, he won three writing awards from the university, which led to a contract with Creative Artist Agency during his sophomore year. He was also a recipient of the John Nicholson Award in 1989 and 1990, and the Robert Riskin Award in 1989.

Singleton exploded onto the scene with his first film, Boyz N the Hood (1991), a tough, intelligent, plain-speaking look at friends in gang-ridden South Central L.A. that earned him Oscar nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Director, becoming the first African-American (and the youngest filmmaker ever) to do so. Singleton's numerous awards include the LAFCA New Generation Award (1991), the MTV Movie Award for Best New Filmmaker in 1992, the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best New Director (Boyz N the Hood) 1991, and finally the ShoWest Award for Screenwriter of the Year, and the Special Award for Directorial Debut of the Year, 1992.

John Singleton is currently developing a film for the big screen titled Sinbad, and a film about the twist and turns in the music business titled Flow. He has also directed several television commercials for Coca-Cola and AT&T with D.L. Hughley.

The Pomona College Department of Theater: Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus
EMILY VIGNERON, assistant director

The Greek playwright Aeschylus wrote Seven Against Thebes in 467 B.C. for presentation in the annual Athenian dramatic contest, for which he won first prize. In his play, Aeschylus, who was a veteran soldier, vividly evokes the terror, the slaughter, and the complete loss of body and spirit that are the awful spoils of war.

Sophocles tells the story of Oedipus and his family in three plays, Oedipus Rex (430 B.C.), Oedipus at Colonus (401 B.C.), and Antigone (441 B.C.). Aeschylus' play, Seven Against Thebes, fills in missing parts of the story, allowing us to see the battle between Oedipus' two sons for the right to rule the Kingdom of Thebes. Based on a popular legend, not an original story, it is the tale of seven heroes-Polynices, Adrastus, Amphiaraus, Hippomedon, Capaneus, Tydeus, and Parthenopaeus.

Directed by Professor Thomas Leabhart of Pomona College, this project was undertaken by the theatre department as a response to the events of September 11. Professor Leabhart and the cast of students from The Claremont Colleges are bringing this production to the Athenaeum for a noontime performance, planned in conjunction with the Questions of Civilization curriculum.

Lunch is served at 11:45 a.m. The performance begins at 12:15 p.m. and concludes at 1:00 p.m.

On Natural Law

Are concepts of natural justice and natural law universal? Few people are better equipped to confront such questions than Leszek Kolakowski. Philosopher, historian, theologian, political scientist and literary critic, Kolakowski is one of the most eminent figures in the world of ideas and renowned worldwide for wrestling with philosophical problems with dazzling wit.

This year's Podlich Distinguished Fellow, Professor Kolakowksi began his career at Warsaw University. Having been expelled from his university post by the Polish government in 1968 for political reasons, he became a Visiting Professor at McGill University and at Berkeley before being appointed Senior Research Fellow of All Souls College Oxford. During the 1970s he wrote his monumental, three-volume Main Currents of Marxism (Oxford, 1978). From 1981 to 1994 he was also Professor on the Committee of Social Thought at the University of Chicago.

Professor Kolakowski is the author of over thirty books including Religion: If There is No God... On God, the Devil, Sin, and Other Worries of the So-Called Philosophy of Religion (1990), Bergson (1985), Husserl and the Search for Certitude (1975), Metaphysical Horror (1988), The Presence of Myth (1989), God Owes Us Nothing, A Brief Remark on Pascal's Religion and the Spirit of Jansenism (1995). His many honors include six honorary doctorates, a McArthur Fellowship, the Jefferson Award, and Prix Tocqueville. He will be in residence at Claremont McKenna College until March 30th, and he will give his second lecture, "On the Future of Truth," at the Athenaeum on March 7th.

Year of the Black Horse, Spring Thunder Chinese Music Ensemble

How clean is our house or dorm room? Chinese superstition dictates that you should clean your home before the Chinese New Year, but don't sweep on the day of the New Year for fear of sweeping good luck away. While luck is certainly an important theme of the Chinese New Year, more generally it is a time to express one's sincere wishes of peace and happiness for family and friends.

The Lunar Calendar is based on cycles of the moon taking 60 years, or five sub-cycles of twelve years each. Legend tells of how the twelve years that make up the sub-cycles came to be named after different animals. It says that the Buddha called all of the animals to come to him before he left the Earth. Twelve animals came and to reward them he named the years after them. The Lunar New Year that begins in 2002 is the Year of the Black Horse.

Following a lavish New Year's feast prepared by Chefs David Skinner and Sid Vichaita, guests will be treated to a concert of traditional Chinese music. Five musicians from the Spring Thunder Chinese Music Association will play traditional Chinese instruments that include the zheng (21-25 string zither); dizi (Chinese flute); yangqin (fan-shaped dulcimer); erhu (fiddle); and pipa (string instrument).

And wear red if you can. Tradition says that red is a bright, happy color sure to bring the wearer a bright future. The dinner is for CMC persons only, but the concert is open to all.

Marion Pike Portraits: Who's Who? The Artist's Daughter Remembers

On Valentine's Day, I'll be at the Atheneaum to talk about my mother and the remarkable people she knew and painted. The exhibition of portraits was arranged by Barbara Beretich. Barbara met my mother in Paris in the 1960s when she was a young sculptress who had just received her MFA at Claremont Graduate School. She had wanted to go to Italy to study, but because she was traveling with Louise Padelford, they first visited the studio of Louise's old friend, Marion Pike.

"Why do you want to go to Italy," my mother asked Barbara, as she excitedly leafed through Barbara's portfolio. "You should stay right here in Paris!

"I'd love that," said Barbara," but I couldn't possible afford it."

With that, my mother just picked up the phone, called her friend Gladys, and in a matter of minutes, Barbara had a place to stay, rent free, for a year.

That was my mother. She always knew a Gladys-on every continent and in every town. And she was always ready to meet and to help someone with talent.

Barbara likes to say that the only reason she saw a good bit of my mother was the bathtub. Indeed, Gladys' atelier, where Barbara lived and worked, had only a sink, and Barbara used to show up at my mother's door clutching a towel and hoping to soak in a nice hot tub. But the real reason they saw one was that my mother saw in Barbara, twenty years her junior, makings of a real artist. Raw talent.

Barbara and my mother became friends for life and when mother died in February, 1998, Barbara became Custodian and Curator of her paintings.

Everyone my mother befriended in her 84 years had some special gift-high energy, curiosity, vision, talent. My mother was immediately drawn to extra-ordinary people from all walks of life-and they to her. And that is why the room full of my mother's friends, assembled now at the Athenaeum, runs the gamut from Coco Chanel, Lucille Simon and Claudette Colbert to Andre Malraux, Zubin Mehta and Bob Hope.

I look forward to sharing some of my favorite stories and memories-which all come flooding back as I look up at walls of the Athenaeum and see so many great characters, old friends, and family gazing down at me.

Are Mothers as Important as Warriors?

Theodore Roosevelt once remarked that "the good mother, the wise mother . . . is more important to the community than even the ablest man; her career is more worthy of honor and is more useful to the community than the career of any man, no matter how successful the career of any man . . . ." In her Athenaeum appearance, through a discussion of the ancient archetypes of the Mother and the Warrior, Ann Crittenden will discuss why the traditional female contribution to society is still not valued as highly as that of the traditional male.

In her recent book The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World is Still the Least Valued (2001), award-winning journalist and author Crittenden exposes how contemporary American society undervalues mothers-both socially and economically. As she points out, motherhood is the single biggest risk factor of poverty in old age. After all, mothers lose out on income if they stay home or are faced with an inflexible job market that makes part-time work scarce or inadequately paid. As Time reported in a review of the book, she "turns out a fresh persuasive argument sure to inspire vigorous debate."

Crittenden is also the author of Sanctuary: A Story of American Conscience and the Law in Collision (1988), which was a 1988 New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and Killing the Sacred Cows: Bold Ideas for a New Economy (1992). In addition, from 1975 to 1983, she worked as a reporter for The New York Times, where her coverage of a broad range of economic issues earned her a Pulitzer Prize nomination. She previously reported for Fortune and Newsweek and her articles have been published in The Nation, Foreign Affairs, McCall's, and Working Woman. Crittenden has been a visiting lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale and an economics commentator for CBS News.

Ann Crittenden's appearance at the Athenaeum is part of the Berger Institute's series on Work, Family, and Children and the year-long celebration of the 25th anniversary of coeducation at CMC.

Reflections on the 107th Congress: What's Been Accomplished and What Lies Ahead

Since his election in 1980, Congressman David Dreier has been a driving force in the United States House of Representatives. An advocate for U.S. global leadership and a limited, but effective, government, Congressman Dreier has worked to become a leader both in Washington and at home.

Because of his outstanding record and achievements representing California's 28th Congressional district, Congressman Dreier was appointed Chairman of the House Committee on Rules in January 1999. The first Californian-and one of the youngest members-appointed as Chairman, he has worked to pass important legislation on education, Social Security, taxes, and national security. In addition to his work on the House Committee on Rules, Congressman Dreier's colleagues from California unanimously voted him to chair the State's Republican Congressional Delegation last May.

Congressman Dreier graduated cum laude from Claremont McKenna College in 1975 and earned his master's degree in American Government from Claremont Graduate University the following year. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including ten successive Golden Bulldog awards from the Watchdogs of the Treasury, the Clean Air Award from the Sierra Club, and the Guardian of Small Business Award from the National Federation of Independent Business.

The Pacesetters Fellowship Program is the culmination of the hard work and dedication of alumni from the classes of 1948, 1949, and 1950-the Pacesetters. The program attracts leaders in business, academia, and public affairs to Claremont McKenna College for classroom visits and one-on-one interactions with students. Congressman Dreier is the second Pacesetters Fellow.

The Influence of Technological Change, Financial Limitation, and Strategic Contingency Upon National Security Policy

The global defense requirements of the United States in the early twenty-first century resemble those of imperial Great Britain in the early twentieth century. Between 1904 and 1914, Britain was confronted by multiple and changing threats to far-flung interests; rapid technological improvements in naval armaments that had major strategic and tactical implications; sharply escalating defense costs as her navy was enlarged and transformed to meet the challenge of expanding foreign forces that were equipped with the latest forms of naval weaponry; and growing domestic opposition to heavy spending on imperial security. For this reason, British imperial grand strategy has attracted the attention of defense intellectuals in academia and policy-makers in Washington. These issues will be discussed by Professor Sumida in his lecture at the Athenaeum.

Professor Sumida received his B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He has been a fellow-commoner of the Archives Center at Churchill College, Cambridge University and Visiting Distinguished Professor in the Department of Military Strategy and Operations at the National War College.

His articles have appeared in the Journal of Modern History, International History Review, Journal of Military History, Naval History, and the Journal of Strategic Studies. His books include The Pollen Papers: The Privately Circulated Printed Works of Arthur Hungerford Pollen, 1889 -1914 (1984) and Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command: The Classic Works of Alfred Thayer Mahan Reconsidered (2000).

Dr. Sumida is an associate professor of history at the University of Maryland, a visiting professor at the National War College, and a professional musician. His lecture is sponsored by The Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies.

Lending to the Poor: The Experience of a Bank in India

When dealing with poverty, K.M. Thiagarajan knows first-hand that microcredit-the business or policy of making microloans to impoverished entrepreneurs-is more successful than charity. As the founder of The Microcredit Foundation of India, a nonprofit company that focuses on the self-development, group development, and provision of mutual help and service of a village, Thiagarajan has seen the success stories. In fact, people under the plan have done so well with the loans that the repayment of them has been in the excess of ninety-nine and one-half percent.

In 1997 Thiagarajan and the Bank of Madura started the foundation by forming self-help groups for its participants. Initially, these groups were for women, but the concept was later extended to the formation of small traders' groups. The purpose was to provide credit to this segment of the society that could not otherwise have access to bank credit.

Having been the managing director of Loyal Textile Mills Ltd., a large, integrated, export-oriented textile company from 1973 to 1993, Thiagarajan was the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Bank of Madura Ltd for eight years until the bank merged with ICICI Bank in March of 2001. He continues to serve as a consultant to the bank as well as a management trainer and consultant for firms such as IBM India, the Indian Oil Corporation, the State Bank of India, and Audco.

Thiagarajan received his MBA and Ph.D. degrees from the Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Pittsburgh. Afterwards, he became a research associate at the Graduate School of Management at the University of Rochester. While there, he worked with one of the foremost leadership scholars, Dr. Bernard Bass, developing training and research programs as well as cross-cultural comparisons of leadership behavior. Using his research experience, Thiagarajan went on to conduct executive training programs in the United States, Norway, Iran, Japan, and India. His work has been published in journals such as The Journal of Applied Psychology and Management International.

K.M. Thiagarajan's Athenaeum presentation is sponsored by the Kravis Leadership Institute, CMC's Practicum Program, and the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum.

Writing Interdisciplinary Children's History: A Personal Perspective

The challenge of writing interdisciplinary children's history is formidable. But the rewards are great. Just as interdisciplinary children's history is a gateway to American history, so too the psychological, anthropological, and sociological study of human development is a key to understanding social change. Individual development is sometimes orderly, but frequently its disorderliness reflects the chaos of its major elements: culture, age, and history. This was certainly true for America's homefront children during the Second World War, and its lifespan effects are evident even today. As Gertrude Stein observed in 1945: "In times of peace what children feel concerns the lives of children as children but in times of war there is a mingling there is not children lives and grown up lives there is just lives ....

-William Tuttle, Jr.

William Tuttle is Professor of American Studies at the University of Kansas. Since being awarded the Ph.D. in 1967 from the University of Wisconsin, he has been the author or editor of a number of books, including Race Riot: Chicago in the Red Summer of 1919 (second edition, 1996), which received the Award of Merit of the American Association for State and Local History, and W.E.B. Du Bois (1973). Tuttle is also the co-editor of Plain Folk: The Life Stories of Undistinguished Americans (1982) and coauthor of a leading textbook history of the United States titled A People & A Nation (sixth edition, 2001).

In support of his research, Tuttle has been awarded research fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies. With the help of a research fellowship from the Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas, he completed Daddy's Gone to War: The Second World War in the Lives of America's Children, which was published in 1993, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and named a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times.

Tuttle is currently conducting research on several projects, including a history of the GI Bill and a history of police brutality as a factor in American race relations in the twentieth century. He also serves as historical adviser on film documentaries about children and teenagers in America.

Professor Tuttle's Athenaeum lecture is cosponsored by Claremont Graduate University and the Interdisciplinary Children's History Conference, held at CGU on Friday, February 22.