Athens in its Golden Age: The Time of Pericles

During the 5th Century BCE, citizens of the tiny city-state of Athens, despite political turmoil at home and constant threats from abroad, achieved levels of accomplishment in art, architecture, philosophy and theatre not previously recorded. They also established a working democracy. The influence of their achievements on the development of human civilization continues to this day.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Herbst Theatre,  401 Van Ness Avenue,  San Francisco

Moderator: Erich Gruen, Emeritus Professor of the Graduate School-Wood Professor, University of California Berkeley

Keynote Address  Democracy, Innovation, and Learning
Josiah Ober, Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis Professor in honor of Constantine Mitsotakis and Professor of Political Science and Classics, Stanford University

Beginning with the Funeral Oration of Pericles in Thucydides, in which Pericles gives what seems at first glance to be an almost absurdly idealistic portrait of the democracy and the democratic citizen, Professor Ober will discuss how the design of democratic institutions helped to make that ideal into a lived reality – and thus to make Athens into the startlingly wealthy, powerful, and culturally forward-looking community that it was.

Lecture/Performance  Staging the Past, Confronting the Present in Athenian Theater
Presented by Mark Griffith, Professor of Classics and of Theatre Dance and Performance Studies, UC Berkeley

The tragedies performed annually in the Theater of Dionysus (just below the Acropolis) were based on myths and characters of an earlier time — the era of the Trojan War and the Seven against Thebes. Playwrights adapted these stories so that they raised fresh issues of immediate and contemporary relevance to the Athenians sitting in the Theater: conflicts between family loyalty and political duty, the fragility of civilized values in the face of war and imperial conquest, and the psychological costs of the disenfranchisement and subordination of women. Since many of these issues are still with us, these plays continue to resonate with extraordinary power and immediacy among modern audiences. Professor Griffith will explore the exciting — and still troubling — dynamics of this unrivalled period of Western theater through illustrations of the original conditions and style of performance actually practiced in Periclean Athens, as well as with selected film-clips of scenes from modern productions of three of the most famous of these tragedies: The Oresteia, Antigone, and The Trojan Women.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Herbst Theatre,  401 Van Ness Avenue,  San Francisco

Lecture  The Akropolis of Athens and its Impact
Margaret Miles, Professor of Art History, Classics, and Visual Studies, UC Irvine
In the whole sweep of western architectural history, surely the fifth century BCE stands out as the period upon which much else depends: when the buildings of the fifth century did not stand as exemplars, they were iconic of what was to be overturned or superseded. Although its roles have been shifting and various, and occasionally forgotten, the architecture of the fifth century still requires a response from current architects. Already by the time of the Roman Empire, the Parthenon and Erechtheum in Athens represented a long-past “golden age” and their styles were emulated in Rome as a hallmark of a new golden age. The refinements of architectural ornament and the sculptural decoration on the temples also inspired much later generations and set new standards in the early modern period. The Parthenon and its sculpture (even in its current location in the British Museum) continue as primary symbols of the achievements of Athens in the Periklean era.

Lecture  War Is the Father of All: The Politics of War, Empire, and Freedom in Democratic Athens
Kurt Raaflaub, David Herlihy University Professor, Professor of Classics and History and Chair of Ancient Studies, Brown University

We think of fifth-century Athens as a “Golden Age” of greatness in culture and humanism, characterized by the Parthenon, Phidias’ sculptures, Sophocles’ tragedies, Aristophanes’ comedies, Herodotus’ Histories, and the emergence of Socrates’ philosophy. If we can trust the historian Thucydides, the contemporaries defined “greatness” by stunning victories in war, unprecedented imperial power, and unmatched liberty, all achieved by citizens uniquely committed, on the basis of a powerful civic ideology, to their community’s continuing military and political domination. Yet twenty-five years after Pericles’ death, starved and exhausted, Athens lost the Peloponnesian War and was almost destroyed. Professor Raaflaub will discuss the tensions and contradictions, so meaningful to our own time, inherent in Athens’ politics of war, empire, and freedom, their connection with democracy, and the reasons of Athens’ meteoric rise and fall in the fifth century BCE.

Performance  Pythagoras Discovers Philosophy
George Hammond, San Francisco attorney and author

The intellectual influence of Pythagoras on Periclean Athens, and on modern culture, is hard to exaggerate. Known to Humanities West audiences for his presentations on Mark Twain and Plato, this time George dramatizes Pythagoras’s return home to Greece in 550 B.C. after years of educational travel in Babylon and Egypt.

Lecture  Greece and Persia: A Clash of Cultures?

Erich Gruen, Emeritus Professor of the Graduate School – Wood Professor, UC Berkeley
The war between Greece and Persia in the early fifth century BCE has generally been interpreted as representing a mighty watershed in Hellenic history, a pivotal turning point in the self-perception of the Greeks by contrast with the great enemy. The outcome of the war (a Greek victory) provoked the “Orientalizing” of the Persian in Greek eyes, so it is said, a means to distinguish those who lived in freedom and democracy from the despised Iranians who lived contentedly under despotism, scorned liberty and preferred servility to rationality and self-determination. The lecture will explore the validity of this interpretation through two major 5th century texts, Aeschylus’ powerful play, “The Persians,” and Herodotus’ great history of the war itself.

Panel Discussion
Moderated by Erich Gruen


Mark Griffith, Theatre, UC Berkeley

Eric Gruen, History, UC Berkeley

George Hammond, Philosophy, Humanities West

Margaret Miles, Classics, Archeology, UC Irvine

Josiah Ober, Classics, Stanford

Kurt Raaflaub, Classics and History, Brown University


Empire on Horseback: Genghis Khan and the Mongols

Herbst Theatre,  401 Van Ness Avenue,  San Francisco

In the 13th century, Genghis (Chingis) Khan (Universal Ruler) led a nomadic East Asiatic people in the creation of the largest contiguous empire in the history of the world. In the wake of his military victories, the essence of Asian culture spread throughout the conquered lands, the Silk Road that linked China via Central Asia to Europe was reopened, papermaking and printing technologies were introduced to the West, and a comprehensive communications network was established (one of whose imitators, centuries later, was America’s Pony Express). Although his reputation as a brutal warrior is infamous, in recent years the contributions of his Empire in art, science, religious tolerance, commerce and politics, as well as military strategy, have gained more recognition. An able administrator himself, Genghis Khan, his sons and grandsons ruled the region from China to Europe for 150 years.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mechanics’ Institute, 57 Post Street, San Francisco
Special Event

Open to the public. $10 general admission.
Free to cooperating institutions and supporters of Humanities West.

5:30 pm  reception
6:00 pm  lecture

Portraits of Chingis Khan and Art of Mongol Empire.
Pre-performance Lecture on the Art of Mongolia by Orna Uranchimeg-Tsultem (ABD, Art History, UC Berkeley).
The lecture will discuss portraits of Chingis (Genghis) Khan and some selected works of Mongolian art during the imperial period. Were the Mongols “barbarians” or patrons and creators of fine art? Did the Mongol rulers build cities or always ruined and destroyed? Also some contemporary images of Chingis Khan will be discussed and analyzed.

The Mechanics’ Institute is a Humanities West Cooperating Institution.

Friday, February 22, 2007

Herbst Theatre,  401 Van Ness Avenue,  San Francisco

Moderator, Fred Astren  Director, Jewish Studies Program, San Francisco State University

Keynote Address  The ‘owl of misfortune’ or the ‘phoenix of prosperity”?  Reassessing Chingis Khan and the Mongol Empire
Daniel Waugh, Emeritus Professor, University of Washington

To some of their contemporaries, the conquest of Eurasia by Chingis (Genghis) Khan and his successors in the thirteenth century was the worst disaster which had ever befallen mankind. How did much of Eurasia come to be ruled from Mongolia? Were the Mongols uniquely destructive? This presentation will attempt to separate myth from reality and provide a balanced picture of the Mongols’ impact on their contemporary world.

Lecture/Demonstration  From Steppe to Stage: An Exploration of 800 Years of Mongolian Music
Presented by Peter K. Marsh, Assistant Professor of Music, CSU East Bay

Mongolian music, song, and dance are closely tied to the traditional pastoral nomadic ways of life of the Mongol peoples. Even the music performed in the refined and cosmopolitan courts of Kubilai Khan was rooted back in the lives of the Mongol nomads. In this lecture, we’ll explore the history of Mongolian music from Imperial times to the present paying particular attention to how traditional music, including the two-stringed fiddle and khöömii or ‘throat singing’ traditions, intersects the human, natural, and spiritual worlds. We’ll end by looking at how Mongolian music has fared in the era of globalization. With a demonstration by Orgilsaikhan Chimeddorj playing on the morin khuur or ‘horse-head fiddle,’ and Ulziisaikhan Lkhagvadorj playing on the ever büree or ‘Mongolian horn’ and singing khöömii or a ‘throat-singing’ style.

Saturday, February 23, 2007

Herbst Theatre,  401 Van Ness Avenue,  San Francisco

Lecture  Culture and Commerce
Morris Rossabi, Professor of History, Columbia University

The image of Chingis (Genghis) Khan and the Mongols as barbarians intent on plunder and destruction is still widely held. The brutality of their military campaigns should not be ignored, but this slide-illustrated lecture reveals that they promoted commerce and fostered some of the arts in the vast empire they subjugated.

Lecture  The Women in Genghis’s Life
James Ryan, Emeritus Professor, CCNY

“The Women in Chingis Khan’s Life.” In Chingis (Genghis) Khan’s era, Mongol women enjoyed higher position and greater recognition than those in China, the Arab world, or Europe, as commentators from those societies frequently noted. This was especially true of Mongol Katuns, the consorts of the khans, who played major political roles in the Mongol Empire and the various khanates that succeeded it. Surviving records reveal much about them and the society in which they wielded power. This presentation will focus on several of these remarkable women, including Chingis’ mother, his chief wife and mother of the four sons who figured in succession to his empire, and several of his daughters-in-law.

Performance  Mongolian Music

A presentation of Mongolian Music, coordinated by Peter Marsh and Orna Uranchimeg-Tsultem, withOrgilsaikhan Chimeddorj on the morin khuur or ‘horse-head fiddle,’ and Ulziisaikhan Lkhagvadorj on the ever büree or ‘Mongolian horn’ and singing khöömii or a ‘throat-singing’ style.

Lecture  The Mongol Influence on Islamic, especially Persian, Art (an illustrated account)
Stefano Carboni, Curator, Islamic Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art New York

During the century-long period of the unified Mongol confederacy, people, objects, and ideas moved with unprecedented freedom over the entire vast Asian territory, including the Islamic areas of Western Asia. The confluence of previously distant cultures yielded a bold new visual aesthetic that would resonate in Islamic art for centuries to come. The lecture will explore the impact of China’s Yüan dynasty on the art and culture of Iran’s Ilkhanid dynasty, a period of great cultural achievement and profound changes as local artists and artisans were introduced to previously unknown artistic traditions from East Asia and attempted to respond to the tastes of their new royal patrons, the Mongol rulers.

Panel Discussion
Moderated by Fred Astren


Stephano Carboni, Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Peter Marsh, Musicology, California State East Bay

Morris Rossabi, History, Columbia

James Ryan, History, City College New York

Uranchimeg Tsultem, Musicians

David Waugh, History, U Washington

Humanities West Voltaire release 10_5_07
Humanities West Voltaire release 10_5_07

Voltaire and the French Enlightenment

Prolific author, philosopher, social reformer, and successful businessman, Voltaire was a leading figure of the French Enlightenment as well as a friend and advisor to some of the most important monarchs of Europe, including Frederick the Great of Prussia and Catherine the Great of Russia. A fierce critic of the Church, religion, and aristocratic privilege, he offended many powerful interests, but also helped lay the foundations of a modern society based on the rule of law and reason.

On Friday night Keith Baker, the J.E. Wallace Sterling Professor in Humanities and the Jean-Paul Gimon Director of the France-Stanford Center of Stanford University, will discuss “Voltaire’s Wager,” in which Voltaire represents the epitome of the new spirit of secular engagement with the world we know as the Enlightenment. Baker will suggest the terms of Voltaire’s wager on humanity, the challenges it faced, and its long-term implications.

Maria Cheremeteff, Head of the Art History Department at City College of San Francisco and Lecturer at both the De Young and Legion of Honor Museums in San Francisco, in an illustrated lecture will demonstrate how paintings by Jacques-Louis David in the Neoclassical style become a symbol of the new rational order of the French Republic. The Republic required a new set of images and allegories to propagate the enlightened notion of representational rule. These ideas found voice in David’s paintings. His apprropriation of Greek and Roman subject matter and the new classical style he developed ideally suited to promote the values of liberty, equality, civic duty, and sacrifice.

On Saturday morning David Bodanis, award-winning author and Lecturer at Oxford University, will discuss his book Passionate Minds. This is the fascinating account of Voltaire, his mistress, Émilie du Châtelet, who was a brilliant scientist in her own right, and their joint intellectual projects. Roger Hahn, Emeritus Professor at UC Berkeley, will speak on Voltaire as author, philosopher, and supreme intellectual influence of the eighteenth century: his ideas, influences, and writings. On Saturday afternoon David Morris, acclaimed cellist and violist, will perform the works of Rameau on viola de gamba, along with David Wilson on violin and Katherine Heater on the harpischord. Kip Cranna, Musical Administrator of the San Francisco Opera, will discuss the composers of the Enlightenment.

Moderator:  Roger Hahn, Professor Emeritus of History University of California Berkeley

Friday October 5, 2007

The French Enlightenment

Keynote Address   Voltaire’s Wager          
As poet, playwright, philosopher, and pamphleteer, Voltaire defined and epitomized the new spirit of secular engagement with the world we know as the Enlightenment. Keith M. Baker (Stanford University) will suggest the terms of his wager on humanity, the challenges it faced, and its long-term implications

Lecture  Jacques-Louis David and the Iconography of the Revolution
Maria Cheremeteff (City College of San Francisco) will illustrate how paintings by David in the Neoclassical style become a symbol of the new rational order of the French Republic. The Republic required a new set of images and allegories to propagate the enlightened notion of representational rule. These ideas found voice in paintings by Jacques-Louis David. Appropriation of Greek and Roman subject matter and the new classical style he developed were ideally suited to promote the values of liberty, equality, civic duty and sacrifice.

Saturday October 6, 2007

Voltaire and Other Thinkers

Lecture  Émilie du Châtelet
Émilie du Châtelet was a fencer, gambler, brilliant mathematician and passionate lover. David Bodanis (Oxford University, Author of Passionate Minds) will discuss how she and her close friend Voltaire helped create the French Enlightenment.

Lecture  Voltaire’s Views on Religion
Voltaire was a major intellectual influence of the eighteenth century. Roger Hahn (University of California, Berkeley) will discuss how one squares Voltaire’s taunts against Judaism with his campaign for tolerance.

Katherine Heater(harpsichord), David Morris(viola de gamba), and David Wilson(violin), playPièce de claveçin en concert #1 in C minor by Jean Philippe Rameau.

Lecture and Demonstration   Opera and the Enlightenment: Trusting the Happy Ending
Voltaire had a profound influence on opera in the Enlightenment era and beyond, significantly impacting the intellectual and political ideals of composers and librettists. Foremost was Voltaire’s concept of just government embodied in the “Enlightened Despot”–one who employs rational judgment to rule wisely, fostering tolerance, freedom of the press, and property rights, while promoting the arts, science, and education. Closely allied with this theory was the principle of a happy dramatic outcome in opera through the triumph of human reason over the forces of cruelty, hatred, and revenge. San Francisco Opera’s Musical Administrator  Clifford (Kip) Cranna will explore these themes using video examples to illustrate how Voltairean thought influenced opera composers like Rameau, Handel, Mozart, and Rossini, and discussing the ways in which contemporary opera directors deal with Enlightenment ideals

Panel Discussion
Moderator Roger Hahn will lead a panel discussion with questions from the audience.


Keith Baker, History, Stanford

David Bodanis, writer

Maria Cheremeteff, Art History, City College San Francisco

Kip Cranna, Musicology, SF Opera

Roger Hahn, History, UC Berkeley

David Morris, viola da gamba,


The Crusades: Myth and Reality

Friday February 23

The First Crusade
keynote address  Living And Learning In The Holy Land After The First Crusade
The First Crusade (1096-99) resulted from the combination of two centuries’ worth of political, economic, and religious transformations in Western Europe and the Middle East. Geoffrey Koziol (UC Berkeley) will discuss these transformations and will introduce us to the writings of a cleric from Jerusalem who wrote a chronicle of the First Crusade and kept writing it for the next 20 years as he lived in the Holy land and saw it begin to fray.

lecture  The Medieval Epic And The First Crusade
The chanson de geste were immensely popular epic poems and part of the lyric poetry, all orally transmitted, that existed at the start of the First Crusade. Joseph J. Duggan (UC Berkeley) will explain how one of the most prominent of these, the Song of Roland, helped to inform the images of the Saracens in the mind of the French knights.

Selected Other Crusades

Saturday February 24, 2007

lecture   Reconquest And Crusade In Iberia (1085 To 1521)

The relationship between the Reconquest (or conquest) by the Spanish Christian kingdoms of lands held by Islam in the Iberian peninsula and how that changed the nature of the relations of the three religions living there will be explored by Teofilo Ruiz (UCLA).

lecture   From Contact To Coexistence: Art And The Crusades, (1130-1374)

Justine Marie Andrews(University of New Mexico) will enlighten us on the images which are now called Crusader Art, how they developed and became part of the fusion that went into the building of impressive cathedrals and icons built after the fall of Constantinople in 1204 and which continued even after the fall of Acre in 1291.

Tim Rayborn a Bay Area native and early music performer with an international reputation will play and sing some pieces of the Troubadours that were so much a part of their medieval communities, the crusades , and courtly life from 1100 to 1300.

lecture  Crusade Encounters: Medieval And Modern
The Muslim-Christian contact and confrontation in the Holy Land and the afterlife of the crusading ideal and its consequences for later and contemporary discourses on relations between Islam and the West will be presented by Adnan Husain (Queens University Kingston Ontario Canada).

panel discussion
Discussion and questions led by moderator James D. Ryan


Justine Andrews, Art History, U New Mexico

Joseph Duggan, French, UC Berkeley

Adnan Husain, Medieval Mediterranean History, Queen’s U Ontario

Geoffrey Koziol, History, UC Berkeley

Tim Rayborn, musician

Teofilo Ruiz, History, UCLA

James Ryan, History, CUNY


Rembrandt in the Golden Age of the Netherlands

Herbst Theatre, San Francisco

October 20 & 21, 2006 2006 marks the 400th anniversary of the birth of Rembrandt, one of the most recognized names in art history.  Our program will explore Rembrandt and his environs in great depth, including the master’s work, a look at the Golden Age of the Netherlands, an exploration of Amsterdam in the 17th Century, as well as Dutch literature and music of the time.

Moderator Johan P. Snapper, Queen Beatrix Professor Emeritus University of California Berkeley

Friday October 20, 2006

lecture   Rembrandt and the Dutch Republic
Dr. Arthur K. Wheelock Jr, (Curator of northern baroque painting at the National Gallery of Art, and Professor of Art History at the University of Maryland) will explore the way in which Rembrandt’s art relates to the broader character of Dutch Society.

performance   Music of Dutch Composers of the 17th Century
Bay area early music performers Hanneke van Proosdij (recorder) and Katherine Heater(harpsichord) will perform the following program:

CapriciePieter Luidhens
Pavaen de Spanje
From ‘t Uitnemend Kabinet 1646-1650
Johan Schop (1590–1664)
More PalatinoGisbert Steenwick (1615–1679)
Pavana en Gaillarde
Synphonia in nuptias Joannis Everswyn et Luciae Buys
Cornelis Thymanszoon Padbrué (c.1592–1670)
Onder een linde groenJan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562–1621)
Set of Brandes
From ‘t Uitnemend Kabinet; Brande A mener- Brande Gavotte- Brande Double- Derde Petit Brande- Vijfde Petit Brande
BravadeJr. Jacob van Eyck (c.1589–1657)
Doen Daphne
From the Camphuysen Manuscript (earlier than 1652)
BoffonsJr. Jacob van Eyck
Von der fortunaJan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Malle SijmenJr. Jacob van Eyck
Malle SijmenJan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
‘t Waren twee boerinnetjesPieter Dircksz Pers
FantasiaPieter Dircksz Pers
Als Bocksvoetjes
From ‘t Uitnemend Kabinet
Pieter Dircksz Pers
Jr. Jacob van Eyck

Saturday October 21, 2006

lecture   Amsterdam and the World in the Age of Rembrandt
Theodore K. Rabb (Professor emeritus, Princeton University) will discuss the role played by the city of Amsterdam in the complicated world order in 17th century Europe.

lecture   The Growth of the Market Economy in the Netherlands
Jan de Vries (Professor, University of California Berkeley) has studied European economic history and will delve into how the burgeoning economy in the Netherlands was reflected in the market for art.

lecture   Dutch Literature in the 17th Century
Our moderator, Johan P. Snapper, will acquaint us with some of the important writers working in the Netherlands during this period.

lecture  Nothing to Hide: Reflections on Rembrandt’s Creative Process
Susan Donahue Kuretsky (Professor, Vassar College) will demonstrate how Rembrandt reveals his own creative process, discuss Rembrandt’s desire that viewers share his fascination with how the works of art were created, and illustrate how they convey meaning.

Panel Discussion
Discussion and questions led by Johan P. Snapper with all of the program speakers.


Jan de Vries, History, Economics, UC Berkeley

Katherine Heater, harpsichord

Susan Donohue Kuretsky, Art, Vassar

Theodore Rabb, History, Princeton

Johan Snapper, Dutch Literature, UC Berkeley

Hannike van Proosdij, recorder performer

Arthur Wheelock, Curator of Northern Baroque Painting, National Gallery of Art


The Emperor Charles V: Conquest, Faith, and Splendor in the World of a Renaissance Prince

For, in the wisdom of the Almighty’s ways,
He waits until the world shall be made one
Beneath an Emperor more just and wise
Than any who since Augustus shall arise.
A prince of Austrian and Spanish blood…

—Ludovico Ariosto, (1532)

Imagine a young prince, born in 1500, who by age nineteen had inherited the Low Countries, Spain, Austria, half of Italy, some corners of France, bits of North Africa and exotic lands across the ocean in what was called the New World. He was also Holy Roman Emperor by election, and presided over a loose federation of German states and northern Italian duchies. History knows this prince by his imperial rank, Charles V, the just and wise Emperor prophesied in Ariosto’s epic poem about Charlemagne’s paladin Roland.

Charles reigned opposite extraordinary contemporaries: Francis I of France (1515-47), and Ottoman Turkish Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-66), with whom he was often at war; and Henry VIII of England (1509-47), an on and off ally. It was during Charles’s reign that Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation spread and the Catholic Counter Reformation responded. Making Charles a world emperor, Hernán Cortés conquered Aztec Mexico, Francisco Pizarro, Inca Peru, and the Magellan expedition circumnavigated the globe. While involved with the flood of events, Charles, a prince of the Renaissance, actively supported great composers, patronized great artists such as Titian and Dürer, and built splendid palaces.

Friday March 31

Lecture   Charles V of the Empire, Carlos I of Spain
Born in 1500 Charles had inherited by age 19 the Low Countries, Spain, Austria, half of Italy, some corners of France, bits of North Africa and exotic lands across the ocean in what was called the New World. He was also, by election, Holy Roman Emperor and presided over a loose federation of German States and northern Italian duchies. His richest inheritance was Spain, where he was known as Carlos I; it was comprised of the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile, as well as Castile’s growing overseas empire. Peter Pierson, (Professor Emeritus of History, Santa Clara University, and Professor at The Fromm Institute) will introduce us to Charles the man and will place him in the context of the tumultuous years in which he lived and reigned until his death in 1558, years central to the formation of the modern world.

Musical Performance
Secular Music from the sixteenth century will be presented by Shira Kammen and Friends.

Nicolas Gombert
Dezilde me al cavallero

Josquin Des Pres
Petite Camusette a 6
Johannes Ockeghem
Petite Camusette a 4
Thomas Crequillon
Petite Camusette a 7

Luis de Milan
Pavan # 6

Antoine Brumel
De tout plonget
Juan del Ensia
Si la Noche

Diego Ortiz
Recercada 2
Anon early 16th century Flemish
Adieu Mes Amours
Anon early 16th century Spanish/ Basque
Jançu Janto

Saturday April 1

Lecture   Charles V and the Visual Arts
Charles V was the most far reaching collector of his age. The sheer variety of artistic production that he bought or commissioned has rarely, if ever, been surpassed. Not only was Charles the patron of Titian and Durer, but he also accumulated tapestries, coins, armor, and sculpture. Theodore Rabb,(Professor of History, Princeton University) will consider Charles’s artistic interests, his use of art as propaganda, and also the great palace that he planned for Granada. Through Charles’s eyes, we will gain a sense of the humanist and court culture that he embodied.

Lecture   Imperial Vision and Overseas Empire
When Charles V assumed the imperial throne of the Holy Roman Empire in1519, he became part of a rich imperial tradition. In becoming king of the motley realms that formed early modern Spain, he also inherited a long and checkered tradition laden with ideological trappings and expectations.Teofilo Ruiz (Professor of History, UCLA) will seek to sort out these different imperial traditions with the emergence of Castile’s great New World Empire, which was signaled by the fall of Tenochtitlan in 1521, a few months after Charles was crowned Holy Roman Emperor at Aachen.

Musical Performance
Shira Kammen and Friends will perform sacred music of the Sixteenth Century including Josquin Desprez and contemporaries from the court of Charles V.

Josquin Des Pres
Ave Maria a 4
Mille Regretz
Christobal De Morales
Agnus Dei from Missa Mille Regrez

La Spagna / Agnus Dei from Missa La Spagna

Maria Mater Gratie/ Fors Seulement from the Chanson of Marguerite of Austria

Ludwig Senfl
Ave Maria a 6

Lecture  Charles V, Lord of the German Lands, and the Reformation of the Church Catholic
Thomas Brady (Professor of History, UC Berkeley) will discuss Charles’s rule of the German lands for thirty-seven years, a reign dominated by the religious question. The tumultuous eruption of dissent in the 1520s, the progress of Protestant resistance and collaboration from1529-1545, the first German religious war in 1546-1547, and Europe’s first religious peace in 1555 dominated the history of Charles’s imperial rule. By choosing to negotiate and arbitrate rather than use coercion, Charles helped to assure Germany would remain a country permanently divided in religion.

Lecture  Charles V and Italy: The End of the Italian Renaissance?
Charles V played a crucial role in the rearrangement of power relations among Italian states. He ushered in a new period for Italian politics after his troops sacked Rome in 1527. Historians still differ in evaluating his impact on the political, religious, and even artistic life of the Italian peninsula.Elisabeth Gleason (Professor Emerita of History, University of San Francisco and Professor at the Fromm Institute) will examine some of these questions and connect them with attempts to reform the church, especially during the four decades From1520 to1550.

Panel Discussion
A conversation with the speakers from this program.


Thomas Brady, UC Berkeley

Elisabeth Gleason, U of San Francisco

Shira Kammen, strings,

Peter Pierson, History, retired

Theodore Rabb, History, Princeton

Teofile Ruiz, History, UCLA


Sicily: Crossroads of Mediterranean Civilization

From the Sicali to the Phoenicians, from the Greeks to the Romans, from the Carthaginians to the Arabs, from the Goths to the Vandals, the island of Sicily has been a crossroads for ethnic groups moving through the Mediterranean or south from Central Europe. These various migrations left Sicily with a diverse cultural heritage, reflected in its architecture, fine arts, and music. This program will consider the most significant civilizations which established themselves on the island, from the Carthaginians to the present time.

Friday February 24, 2006

8:00 pm  Lecture   Crossroads of Civilization
In 850 BC the Carthaginians established trading ports in the west of Sicily at Palermo, Solunto and Mozia.Over the centuries most of the powers of the Mediterranean have laid some claim to parts or all of Sicily.Roy Willis an emeritus Professor of History from UC Davis will follow the threads through this fascinating tapestry.

9:00 pm  Lecture   Sicily at the Opera: Sicilian Life on the Operatic Stage
Sicily’s unique culture and history have been vividly reflected in operas written by, for, or about Sicilians. San Francisco Opera’s Musical Administrator Clifford (Kip) Cranna will examine how opera has mirrored the island’s colorful past. Video examples will highlight such masterpieces as Verdi’sThe Sicilian Vespers, and Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana (Rustic Chivalry).

Saturday February 25, 2006

10:00 am  Lecture   Greek Buildings and Art
The Greeks who colonized Sicily from 735 BC to 413 left behind many great buildings, both civil and religious that are among the finest examples in Magna Graecia.Margaret Miles (UC Irvine) will help us discover these treasures.She will also present examples of other art forms that flourished in Sicily.

11:00 am  Lecture   The Norman Conquest
Arabo-Norman style combines elements from Islamic, Romenesque, and Byzantine art. Monuments of incomparable beauty were erected in this style. Anna Gonosova (UC Irvine) will showcase the great Sicilian examples of this period.

12:00 noon  Break for Lunch

1:30 pm  Lecture  The Trial of Plato in Syracuse
Plato was a guest in Syracuse in 388-387 BC. He was a friend of Dion, the brother-in-law and son-in-law of the ruler Dionysius I. However the ruler was not receptive to Plato’s utopian ideas.When Dionysius II succeeded his father, Plato returned to Sicily, where he again fell out of favor. George Hammond (San Francisco attorney and raconteur) will present The Trial of Plato in Syracuse.

2:10 pm  Lecture  Spanish Sicily: From the Sicilian Vespers to the Wars of
Spanish Succession
From 1300 to 1700 Spain ruled Sicily.Thomas Dandelet (UC Berkeley) will examine
the influence that Spanish rule had on Sicily.

3:00 pm  Lecture  Sicilian Literature and the Modern Age.
Much of Sicilian Literature is a mirror of modern Sicily. Roberto Dainotto (Duke) will explore the works of Sciascia, Lavagino, Camilleri, Vittorini, Consolo, and Maraini to present a view of Sicily during the past sixty years.

3:50 pm Panel Discussion
A conversation with the speakers from this program.


Kip Cranna, Musicology, SF Opera

Roberto Dainotto, Italian, Duke

Thomas Dandelet, History, UC Berkeley

Elisabeth Gleason, History, U of San Francisco

Anna Gonosova, Art History, UC Irvine

George Hammond, writer, Humanities West

Margaret Miles, archeology, Art History, UC Irvine

Roy Willis, History, UC Davis


Mark Twain in the West

Friday, May 13, 2005

Mark Twain’s Adventures Out West

Through songs and monologues Jim Post interprets Mark Twain’s life and writing during his travels West. Drawn in part from the book Roughing It, Post’s original one-man show recounts Twain’s 1862 trip into the untamed American West. The portrayal shows Twain not only as a profound and caustic thinker, but a global charmer and influence peddler. Jim Post’s performance has been lauded by theChicago Tribune for “stay[ing] away from the usual sardonic characterization, offering instead a well-meaning, exuberant and flailing Twain with a clear tenor and not much irony.”

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Mark Twain Roughin’ It

Lecture : Mark Twain’s San Francisco
San Francisco in 1865 was a rustic metropolis, built from a combination of wealth and rugged individualism. Bernard Taper, author of Mark Twain in San Francisco, will discuss the Barbary Coast of the 1860s and the luminaries that Twain interacted with during his time on the Bay.

Lecture: Recent Discoveries from the Archives

As the largest recipient of Twain writings from recently archived collections throughout the US, the Mark Twain Papers & Project has embarked upon the large task of examining and publishing new Twain journals. The Project’s General Editor Robert Hirst will touch upon the importance of their most recent findings.


A short collection of Twain writings from his time on the Pacific, including the famous Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, will be read by acclaimed Twain interpreter Jim Post.

Lecture: Mark Twain, the West, and the Genteel Tradition

Undoubtedly one of the most influential and outspoken writers of his, Mark Twain captured the sentiment of a new, post-Civil War nation. Gregory Camfield (University of the Pacific) will share the pivotal experiences of Mark Twain’s youth in the South and his time in Nevada, California and Hawaii and how his perspective on the national landscape influenced his later writings.

Panel Discussion

All participants join a panel discussion moderated by Robert Hirst.


Gregg Camfield, English, U of the Pacific

George Hammond, writer, Humanities West

Janet Smith Post, cello

Jim Post, Mark Twain interpreter

Forrest Robinson, American Studies, UC Santa Cruz


Beauty and Treasures of Imperial Beijing

Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco

Moderator: Uldis Kruze, Professor of History, University of San Francisco

Friday, February 11, 2005

Dynastic China and the Forbidden City

Lecture: Legacy of Beauty: The Ming Dynasty
The Ming dynasty (1368-1644) was founded by a Han Chinese peasant and former Buddhist monk turned rebel army leader. The dynasty reached its zenith of power during the first quarter of the fifteenth century. Richard Vinograd (Associate Professor and Chair, Department of History, Stanford University) will explore the story of the empire through its greatest artistic achievements.

Performance: From Beijing Opera to Contemporary Legend
Dimensions Performing Arts will demonstrate and explain the key dance movement, make-up, and martial art elements of Peking Opera. Premiere Taiwanese performer Hsing Kuo Wu will perform a segment from his landmark work “Kingdom of Desire”, in addition to excerpts from the “Monkey King” and the “Riding Horse.”

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Beijing: Seat of Empire

Lecture: Religion and the Forbidden City under the Manchu Court

Famous worldwide for its striking architecture and precious collections of cultural and art objects, the imperial city is filled with royal secrets, scandals, romances and tragedies. Susan Naquin (East Asian Studies Department Chair and Professor of History, Princeton University) will explore the Forbidden City and its rulers.

Lecture: Imperial Rebuses: Hidden Meanings in the Decorative Arts of the Qing Dynasty

Porcelains, jades, and textiles made for the palace have specific meanings. Terese Tse Bartholomew (Curator of Himalayan Art and Chinese Decorative Art, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco) will discuss the typical blessings, such as good marriage, sons, wealth, and longevity, as well as those that symbolized bumper harvests and one long reign without end.

Performance & Demonstration

Local performer and educator Mary Dotter will give an explanation and demonstration of the art of traditional Chinese storytelling.

Lecture: Mandate of Heaven: The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City is not merely a seat of imperial power, but an instrument of its projection. Mary Scott (Professor, Department of Humanities, San Francisco State University) will discuss the Forbidden City’s overall orientation, the sequence of courts and halls, the private imperial family quarters, and the various service areas as a series of purposefully designed and inhabited ritual spaces.

Lecture: Beijing (Interrupted)

As a result of wars and invasions, there are few existing buildings in China predating the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). Jeffrey Riegel (Professor of Chinese, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley) recently spent a year in Beijing working on recently excavated manuscripts and other early texts. He lived in an old house right outside the east gate of the Forbidden City, close to long-time Beijing residents. He will share insights from his studies and experiences of the dramatic changes taking place in the city.

Panel Discussion

Discussion with all participants moderated by Uldis Kruze. Written audience questions to be addressed.


Therese Tse Bartholomew, Curator, Himalayan Art, Asian Art Museum

Uldis Kruze, History, U of San Francisco

Susan Naquin, East Asian Studies, Princeton

Jeffrey Riegel, East Asian Languages, UC Berkeley

Mary Scott, History, San Francisco State University

Richard Vinograd, Asian Art, Stanford


Italian Gems: Urbino, Mantua, and Ferrara

Friday, October 15

A Tale of Three Cities

Lecture   Portraits of Power
From the patronage of the courts of the Gonzagas, Isabella D’Este and the Duke of Montefeltro came works by Bellini, Mantegna, and others. Joanna Woods Marsden (UCLA) will survey the court personalities and politics of the day through the portraiture of Pisanello, Mantegna, Piero della Francesca, and Titian.

Performance   A Night in Ferrara
A showcase of Renaissance madrigals from Ferrara will be performed by the six voice ensembleInQuire.

Rebirth in the Hills

Saturday, October 16

Lecture  Remote Grandeur: Works from the Studioli of Mantua, Ferrara and Urbino
As examples of a unique patrimony in Italian architecture and paintings, the buildings of Ugo Sissi and Giulio Romano and paintings of Dosso Dossi, Bellini and Titian were monumental for their time. In this lecture, Loren Partridge (Professor of Art History, UC Berkeley) will discuss Alfonso D’Este’s Camerino d’Alabastro and its paintings in the context of Renaissance studies (studioli) and their significance in respect to other cities, including that of Federigo da Montefeltro of Urbino.

Lecture  The Original Grand Tour: Exploration within Italian Universities
Heightened scientific exploration during the Renaissance yielded major progress in medicine and universal thought. From anatomy to genetics, from astronomy to physics, Paula Findlen (Co-Chair, Science, Technology and Society Program, and Ubaldo Pierotti Professor in Italian History, Stanford University) will outline how the Renaissance showed humankind’s potential to survey the world around them and how the universities of Italy were at the forefront of research and discovery.

The classic alta capella ensemble Alta Sonora performs on period instruments.

Lecture  Renaissance Politics off Center Stage
Around the region, Florence, Rome, and Venice were the dominant seats of power during the Renaissance, yet the courts of their neighbors had heavy hands in the politics of the day. Robert Harrison (Rosina Pierotti Professor in Italian Literature and Chair, Department of French & Italian, Stanford University) will examine court interplay through literary works by Ludovico Ariosto and Castiglione, among others.

Lecture  Behind the Scenes, Influential Renaissance Women
Despite the shrouds of public decorum, women of the Renaissance yielded power with the same purpose and authority as their male counterparts. Lisa Regan (Lecturer, UC Berkeley) will explore the lives of women in the courts and their infinite, including Isabella D’Este and Catherine De Medici.

Panel discussion with all participants


Paula Findlen, History, Stanford

Robert Harrison, Italian, Stanford

Loren Pardridge, Art History, UC Berkeley

Lisa Regan, Italian, UC Berkeley

Joanna Woods-Marsden, Italian Art, UCLA


Ifsahan is Half the World

Isfahan embodies the greatness of imperial Persia. In the early 16th century, the Safavid dynasty made Persia the homeland of the Shiite vision of Islam. In 1598 the Safavid Shah Abbas the Great moved his capital to Isfahan in the center of the country, and rebuilt the city with broad avenues, elaborate gardens, majestic bridges, a magnificent royal palace, and stunning mosques. Under this enlightened monarch, music, literature, and miniature painting flourished, and Isfahan became world-famous for the beauty of its carpets and textiles. His successors continued to build magnificent palaces, mosques, and schools. They established a flourishing tradition of support for the decorative arts, notably calligraphy and miniature painting. Isfahan’s era of glory lasted into the nineteenth century.

Friday, May 14


Lecture Safavid Iran: Friend or Foe?
The newly established Safavid Shiite regime suffered birth pangs comparable to the adjustments of contemporary Europe to the culture of the Renaissance. The Safavids and European monarchs collaborated against the Ottoman empire which had already conquered large parts of Europe and threatened to expand eastward into Iran as well. Prize-winning historian Abbas Milani (Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, and Professor of Political Science, Stanford University) paints in deft, colorful strokes an image of Iranian society in this golden age and the role it played in international politics, focusing on the capital city of Isfahan as the perfect metaphor for the aspirations of Safavid royalty, particularly Shah Abbas.

Performance Dances from the Isfahan Region
Classical and folk dances from the Isfahan region performed by Ney Nava dance troupe, led by Shida Pegahi.

Saturday, May 15, 2004


Lecture The City of Isfahan and Its Glorious Architecture
“Isfahan nesf-e jahan” said the Safavids; “Isfahan is half the world,” and its architecture comes close to justifying this famous couplet. In moving the capital of Persia to Isfahan, Shah Abbas set out to create a glorious showplace of art, culture, and religion, to which travelers, ambassadors, and merchants from Europe and Asia would eagerly travel. Its beauty still remains as a center of exquisite art and architecture for the world to admire. Dr. Johanna Movassat (Lecturer in Art and Art History, San Jose State University), a popular lecturer on Asian architecture, is married to an Iranian and considers Isfahan her “second home.” Her lecture will include consideration of the key role of Shah Abbas in the planning of his imperial city.

Lecture Miniature Paintings of the Safavid Period
Miniature painters fostered by the Safavid court produced dazzling works of art that often broke new ground in their restricted genre. Isfahan’s artists, often using a single hair of the paintbrush, produced works of unsurpassed delicacy and detail, though simple in their themes and content: a princess bathing in a secluded stream; a king holding court. Carel Bertram (San Francisco State University) will analyze the aesthetics of Persian miniatures and explain their narrative function.

Performance Classical Iranian Music from the Isfahan-Shiraz Region
Performed by Mr. Mahmoud Zoufonoun and ensemble. Mr. Zoufonoun is probably the leading expert on classical Iranian music in the United States. His ensemble will play selected classical pieces and offer a demonstration of the authentic instruments on which they perform. Mr. Zoufonoun’s pupil, Professor Manuchehr Ghiassi of Santa Clara University, will discuss the function and structure of the music.

Lecture The Imagined Embrace: Christians and Jews Under the Safavids
The Safavid Dynasty proclaimed Twelver Shiite Islam as the state religion, and its rulers embarked on a rigorous campaign to convert muslims and non-muslims of Iran to Shiism. What was the status of religious minorities in Safavid Iran? How were Christians, Jews, Sunnis and Sufis treated? Did the state have an interest in favoring one against another? Professor Jaleh Pirnazar, (Near Eastern Studies Department, UC Berkeley) will address these questions through an examination of contemporary texts.

Lecture Carpets, Textiles and Other Applied Arts of the Safavids
Persian carpets are prized for their exquisite designs and colors, and carpets from Isfahan above all. But the Safavids excelled in metalwork, ceramics, and other areas of the applied arts as well. No one is better qualified to discuss the Safavid accomplishments in these fields than renowned art historian Walter B. Denny (University of Massachussets at Amherst), a dynamic lecturer and a consultant to numerous museums and private collectors.

Panel Discussion
All participants address audience questions.


Carel Bertram, Humanities, San Francisco State University

Walter Denny, Art History, U Massachusetts Amherst

Abbas Milani, Political Sciences, Stanford

Johanna Movassat, Art History, San Jose State University

Jaleh Pirnazar, Persian Literature, UC Berkeley


Lens Culture: The Impact of Photography on Modern Life

Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco

Without photography, today’s world would be unrecognizable. From public museums to personal memories, from medicine to the movies, from newsrooms to NASA, photographic imaging has, over the past two centuries, become indispensable to understanding ourselves and our universe. Like jazz and the computer, photography (including cinema) became, over the past century, a universal language. From the commonplace to the commercial, from the artists to the scientists, photography flowed seamlessly into world culture long before the word “globalization” came into use.


Sandra Phillips, Senior Curator of Photography, SF Museum of Modern Art, introduces the day’s program.

Lecture  Ahead of Their Time: Thirty-Eight Photographers of Genius at the Getty 1839-1969
Weston Naef, Curator of Photographs, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, will discuss photography as an art since its invention in 1838: a cavalcade of genius from the photographic innovators of the earliest days to those of our own era.

Lecture  Our Universe Will Never Again Be the Same
Dr. John Grunsfeld, NASA scientist and astronaut who repaired the Hubble in space will discuss how photography has transformed our understanding of the space/time continuum and the unbelievable results of the Hubble Telescope still coming in.

Demonstration  Mammoth!
Tracy Storer, operator of one of the few 20” x 24” Polaroid cameras in the world, will photograph two members of the audience, drawn by lot. The special role large scale photography has played, from Egypt in the 1850s, to digital scanning, to the self portraits of Chuck Close, will be discussed.

Lecture  Entertaining the World
Dr. Elizabeth Daley, Dean, USC School of Cinema-Television, University of Southern California, explores the idea that the soul of every civilization is laid bare by the stories it tells in the context of today’s universal language – and preeminent storytelling medium – film.

Lecture  Re-presenting Reality
Drawing on his 45 years as a photographer and author, William Carter suggests that photographs project what is inside ourselves; he will show how all our photos are shaped by private memory, public history, and pervasive values.

Panel Discussion
Audience questions will be addressed by the distinguished panel.


From Liberation to the New Wave: France in the Postwar Era, 1945-1962

Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco

Moderator: Julia Trilling, (Former Professor of Architecture/Urban Studies at Harvard University, Currently Senior Research Specialist at UC Berkeley)

Friday, February 20, 8:00 – 10:00 pm


Lecture  The Remaking of Postwar France: From the Fourth Republic to de Gaulle
In this keynote lecture, Irwin Wall (Professor of History Emeritus, UC Riverside) will describe and analyze the rise of France from its postwar devastation to a renewed position of power and prestige in the diplomatic world of the 1960s, when Charles de Gaulle dared to challenge the basic premises of American cold war policies.

Performance  Saluting Parisian Bebop of Bud Powell and Kenny Clarke
The Larry Vuckovich Trio and guests (Larry Vuckovich, piano; Stjepko “Steve” Gut, trumpet; Isla Eckinger, bass; and Omar Clay, drums) will perform a collection of jazz and bebop standards, showcasing the evolution of music taking place in Paris after World War II.

Saturday, February 21, 10:00 am – 4:30 pm


Lecture  French Postwar Culture and the Critique of Everyday Life

Two historical processes dominated Postwar France: the loss of France’s colonies and its adoption of more American-style patterns of consumption in the midst of an accelerated state-led modernization effort. Kristin Ross (Professor of Comparative Literature, New York University) will examine how decolonization coincided, then, for the French, with what some social theorists were called a new “colonization of everyday life.”

Lecture  The New Look: Haute Couture in Postwar France
In a country recovering from the privations of war, the rich fabrics and full flaring skirts of French designers, such as “New Look” originator Christian Dior, held great significance as a cultural symbol of luxury and prosperity. Melissa Leventon, former curator of textile arts at the DeYoung Museum, will discuss postwar French fashion, including the work of Chanel, Dior, Balenciaga and Yves St. Laurent.

Performance  L’air de Paris
The Baguette Quartette will offer a taste of Café music as was performed in Postwar Paris.

Lecture The French Economy and the New Europe: Between Market and State
In the first two decades after the Liberation in 1944, Paris once again became one of the preeminent cultural capitals of the world, exporting trend-setting fashion, filmmaking and literary style to the United States and a revived Europe. John Zysman (Co-Director, Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy, UC Berkeley) will explore the postwar revival and modernization of the French economy.

Lecture  The Cannes Film Festival, Cosmopolitanism and the Quatre Cents Coups
The key to the Cannes Festival’s success in 1950s France resided in its promotion as chic, hip and cosmopolitan as opposed to merely French. At the same time, the Festival also launched two of the most exported French products of the era: Brigitte Bardot and the French New Wave (Nouvelle Vague). In this lecture, Vanessa Schwartz (Department of History, University of Southern California) will describe the important role played by Cannes in creating an international film culture after the war.

Panel Discussion 
From liberation to the new wave: Is there a lasting impact of postwar french politics and culture? Julia Trilling moderates.

Presented in cooperation with the Consul General of France, the Alliance Francaise de San Francisco, and the Mechanics’ Institute Library.


Melissa Leventon, Curatrix
Kristin Ross, Comparative Literature, NYUniversity
Vanessa Schwartz, History, USC
Julia Trilling, Design, UC Berkeley and NYUniversity
Lary Vuckovich musician
Irwin Wall, History, UC Riverside
John Zysman, Political Science, UC Berkeley

20th anniversary
20th anniversary

Humanities West 20th Anniversary Celebration

Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco

Join us to celebrate Humanities West with a selection of short lectures and performances by favorite past presenters. HW Founder and harpsichordist Elaine Thornburgh performs pieces from Humanities West’s first program, “Venice in Glorious Decline,” and works by Frescobaldi and Caccini. HW co-founder Theresa Nelson and Susan Rode Morris sing Barbara Strozzi’s “I Baci”. Historian Theodore Rabb (Princeton University) lectures on Charles V: Europe’s Last Emperor, uncovering the story of the end of one kind of Europe and the beginning of another. Mitchell Schwarzer (California College of the Arts) explores how we experience architecture. HW Advisory Council member and Harlem Renaissance lecturer Olly Wilson (UC Berkeley Emeritus) performs stride piano.

Toast to Humanities West at a reception in the Green Room. Enjoy libations and continued entertainment in the company of Humanities West supporters and friends. Winners of the Anniversary Fund Drive Raffle will be drawn.


Dance Through Time, performers
Susan Rode Morris, vocals
Theresa Nelson, vocals, Humanities West
Theodore K Rabb, History, Princeton
Mitchell Schwarzer, Visual Studies, Architecture, CA College of the Arts


St. Petersburg’s 300 Year Legacy

Moderator: Jack Kollmann, Lecturer, Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, Stanford University

Friday, October 10


Lecture: St. Petersburg Themes: Autocracy, Power,  and Culture

Norman Naimark (Professor, Department of History, Stanford University) will look at the 300-year history of St. Petersburg from the perspective of a number of unifying themses. In both its Imperial and Soviet manifestations, the city has suffered fearsome tragedies and oppression, yet produced poetry, literature and music of brilliance and world renown. This lecture will explore these themes and their apparent disjuncture.


This performance will give the audience a sampling of music inspired by St. Petersburg or written by the City’s greatest composers. Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Prelude Opus 3, #2 Minor played by piano soloist Sergei Polusmiak will begin the program. The Russian Chamber Orchestra, led by Music Director and Conductor Alexander Vereshagin, will then perform “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Modest Mussorgsky. The Orchestra and pianist Dimitry Kogan will then accompany soprano Svetlana Nikitenko singing a selection of songs, including Liza’s Aria from “Pique Dame” (“Queen of Spades”) by Tchaikovsky (based on the poem by A. S. Pushkin), Marfa’s Aria from “Tsar’s Bride” by Rimsky-Korsakov, and “The Nightingale” by Alexander Alyabyev.

Saturday, October 11


Lecture: Peter the Great and the Founding of ‘Sanktpiterburkh’

What prompted Peter the Great to choose St. Petersburg’s location: the swampy Baltic delta of the Neva River, which belonged to Sweden at the time? Why did he turn to West Europe for the design and architecture of his new imperial capital city? Why did he deliberately turn his back on traditional Russian architecture? In this slide-illustrated lecture, moderator Jack Kollmann will discuss Peter’s motives and goals, and the lasting legacies of his reign for St. Petersburg architecture.

Lecture: Catherine’s Legacy, The Hermitage

One of the world’s largest and finest collections of art is housed in buildings that are works of art in themselves—the architectural complex known as the State Hermitage in St. Petersburg. In this lecture, Roberta Shaw (Fromm Institute) will give us a brisk tour of the Hermitage, beginning with a brief account of the history, architecture and interior decoration of the Winter Palace and other sections of the museum. Then we will survey highlights of the collection, savoring selected works of art and discuss the fascinating stories of how some of the pieces came to reside in this palatial setting.


Artists from Dance Through Time will demonstrate and perform the earliest forms of ballet as they were invented and developed in turn of the century Russia.

Lecture: Musical Greats

Educated in St. Petersburg under the Irish composer John Field, Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka is commonly regarded as the founder of Russian nationalism in music and some identify him has the founder of Russian music itself. An older contemporary, Piotr Tchaikovsky, is regarded as the most prolific of Russian composers, and certainly the better known outside Russia. In this lecture, Richard Taruskin (Professor, Department of Music, University of California, Berkeley) will compare the two composers and contrast their individual legacies to Russian music and music development as a whole.

Lecture: The Myth of St. Petersburg: From Pushkin to Brodsky

For every educated Russian, the thought of St. Petersburg inevitably evokes Pushkin’s “Bronze Horseman,” a “Petersburg tale,” as Pushkin called it, about the majesty and the hazard of life in the Venice of the North. For Russian poets, writers and artists ever since, “Bronze Horseman” has been both a challenge to the imagination and the corner stone of their own vision of the city and its meaning for Russian history. The telling and retelling of this “urban legend” over a century and a half offers a unique insight into the way St. Petersburg has shaped the identity and consciousness of the Russians. Gregory Freidin (Professor of Slavic Cultures, Stanford University) will examine the literary myth of St. Petersburg as it evolved and was recast from Pushkin’s time to the late twentieth century.

Panel discussion

All participants join a panel discussion moderated by Jack Kollmann.


Dance Through Time

Gregory Freidin, Slavic Literatures, Stanford

Jack Kollman, Center for Russian etc, Stanford

Norman Naimark, History, Stanford

Russian Chamber Orchestra

Roberta Shaw, Fromm

Richard Truskin, Music, UC Berkeley


Circumpolar Culture: Contemporary Perspectives of Ancient Peoples of the Arctic North

Sunday, June 8th

The Sami (Lapp) people are an indigenous population who form an ethnic minority in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Evidence of possible Sami settlement in Finnmark, the northernmost province of Norway, dates back to the Komsa culture (7000-2500 BC). Traditionally, the Sami way of life has been based on self-sufficient extended-family communities called siida whose economic base is provided in salmon fishing, whaling, the trapping of beaver and the hunting and herding of reindeer. The Sami’s cultural tradition has been enlivened in recent years through the movement of indigenous people all over the globe. In particular, collective interaction between the Sami and indigenous peoples of North America have allowed for a rich exchange of their similar and diverse traditions. This symposium will examine Sami history and traditions, giving some comparison to North American Indians and an outlook for indigenous cultural identity in the 21st century.

Lecture More Than a Hundred Words for Snow: Sami Language and Tradition

Harald Gaski, Professor of Sami Language and Literature (University of Tromsø, Norway) and author of numerous books on Sami issues including Sami Culture in a New Era: the Norwegian Sami Experience. The Sami people of Northern Scandinavia and the Kola peninsula in Russia represent an ancient Arctic culture which is struggling for existence while adjusting to a modern way of life. In Gaski’s presentation we will get a brief overview of Sami history and get better acquainted with the traditional worldview of the Sami. We will also learn about how new media is innovatively incorporating an expression of Sami identity today.

Lecture Indigenous Peoples on Two Continents: Considerations on Reclaiming and Renewing Sami and Native American Societies
Rauna Kuokkanen, Professor of Comparative Literature (University of British Columbia), founding member of Finnish Sami Youth Organization and specialist in comparative Sami and North American Indian literature. Indigenous peoples worldwide share many similarities in terms of their histories and cultures as well as contemporary developments such as the struggle for self-determination. Kuokkanen’s presentation offers a comparative perspective on some of the central trends in these processes taking place in Samiland and in North America.

Lecture Sami Arts: A Source of Spiritual Survival and Cultural Identity
In addition to their beauty and use in traditional Sami life and celebration, Sami arts are a key to maintaining Sami identity. Internationally known Sami artist Rose-Marie Huuva will share the many forms of Sami art, showing slide images from the Ajtte Swedish Mountain and Sami Museum in Jokkmokk, Sweden.

Panel Discussion What Does It Mean to Be “Indigenous” in the 21st Century?
Moderated by Faith Fjeld.

Performance The Sami Joik: A Way of Understanding Nature
Ande Somby, popular Sami traditional and contemporary joiker (joik singer), lawyer and political activist, will demonstrate the oldest musical expression still alive in Europe. Dr. Somby will also perform with popular San Francisco-based pianist Larry Vukovich, demonstrating joik in its modern jazz interpretations.

On-site Exhibit
Traditional Sami crafts from the Nathan Muus – Saami Báiki Foundation collection will be on display in the Cowell Theater lobby throughout the day of the program.


Faith Field, American Indian Studies, San Francisco State University
Harald Gaski, Sami Literature, U of Tromso, Norway
Rose-Marie Huuva, artist, poet, designer
Rauna Kuokkanen, Sami native of Finland, U of British Colombua
Ande Somby, Law, U of Tromso, Norway
Larry Vuckovich Trio, music


The First Flowering of Byzantium


Friday, April 11

Lecture Constantine the Great, Founder of the Christian Roman Empire
In 330 AD, the Emperor Constantine made Byzantium his capital and renamed it Constantinople. He considered his domain, which we now call the Byzantine Empire, as the true inheritor of the Roman mantle. In time, his empire became both an ally and rival of western Europe. Kenneth Harl (Tulane University) will explain the motives behind Constantine’s conversion to Christianity, his vision of an imperial church, and his development of Byzantine civil institutions and of Constantinople as the capital of Christianity.

Performance Byzantine Chant St. Gregory of Nyssa’s Choir, led by Sanford Dole


Saturday, April 12

Lecture The Emperor Who Never Slept: Justinian I and the Challenges and Contradictions of his Reign
Justinian I ( r. 527-565) attempted to restore the Roman empire to its earlier glory. His many accomplishments included the reconquest of North Africa, Italy, and parts of Spain; preparation of the Corpus Iuris Civilis — perhaps Byzantium’s greatest legacy to the west; the construction of stunning architectural monuments; and his enlargement of the imperial role in determining church doctrine. All of these successes came at a cost. Michael Maas (Rice University) will examine the impulses that drove Justinian as well as the economic and social forces that limited his triumphs, showing why his reign marked a watershed in the development of European civilization.

Lecture Literature and Patronage in the Age of Justinian
The sixth century left a rich legacy not only in the great art and architecture it produced but also in its works of literature. Claudia Rapp (UCLA) will consider the most important authors of Justinian’s time, beginning with the enigmatic Procopius, whose Secret History was both an official history of the Emperor’s wars and a diatribe against the imperial court. These authors operated in a unique social context, which helps to explain the proliferation of literature during this era. Patronage tied authors to aristocratic benefactors and to the imperial court, while ties of friendship and collegiality strengthened the bonds among the literati themselves.

Performance The Works of Procopius and Boethius
A reading by Peter Donat.

Lecture Hagia Sophia in Constantinople: Architecture of Power and Transcendence
Byzantium’s greatest monument, the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, is most often discussed in terms of its unique structure, which encloses the largest vaulted space of antiquity. Built by Justinian in 532-537, Hagia Sophia served both as a symbol of earthly power and a spiritual link to heaven. These two functions combined whenever the building served as a ceremonial space, housing the rituals which guaranteed order in the well-governed Christian cosmos. Robert Ousterhout (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) will explore the unique artistic and engineering achievement that is Hagia Sophia, as well as its religious and civic use.

Lecture Art on the Imperial Borders from Ravenna to Sinai
Justinian’s ambitions are reflected in the monuments he built on the borders of the empire. Helen Evans (Metropolitan Museum of Art) will showcase the superb mosaic decorations that survive from the Church of San Vitale in Ravenna, his western capital. She will then lead us through the church of the Holy Monastery of St. Catherine at Sinai in Egypt, a fortified monastery at the eastern edge of the Empire’s territories that demonstrated to the populace the power of the empire and the faith that protected it.

Panel Discussion
All lecturers join in a moderated discussion.


John Michael Boyer, music, cantor, Annunciation Cathedral
Sanford Dole, music director, Sanford Dole Ensemble
Peter Donat, actor
Helen Evans, Curator, Medieval Art, Metropolitan Museum Art
Kenneth Harl, History, Tulane University
Michael Maas, History, Rice University
Kathleen Maxwell, Art History, Santa Clara University
Robert Ousterhout, Architectural History, U Illinois Urbana
Claudia Rapp, Late Antiquity, UCLA


Beethoven: Resonant Genius

Friday, February 7, 2003

Herbst Theatre, San Francisco

The story of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) is one of personal triumph over tragedy and supreme musical achievement. A complex and brilliant man, no composer before or since has exerted greater influence.

Bill Meredith, (Director, Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies, San Jose State) Moderator


Lecture Myth-Making at Work: Beethoven and His 9th Symphony
The radical shift in the representation of Beethoven from recluse to “tone hero” (Wagner’s epithet) mirrors a basic evolution in European intellectual history. By the turn of the 20th century, the German-speaking world was at a peak of cultural efflorescence and at the brink of acute political crisis. Alessandra Comini (Southern Methodist University) will examine how the 9th Symphony provided a remedy for societal yearnings for “redemption through art.”

Performance Sonata in F Major op. 54 and Diabelli Variations
Pianist Charles Rosen performs these works. Saturday, February 8


Lecture A Walking Tour of Beethoven’s Vienna
Using historical paintings and engravings of late-18th and early-19th Century Vienna, Theodore Albrecht (Kent State University) will guide us through the streets that Beethoven knew well. We’ll visit the palaces and theaters that first echoed with his music, and imagine the community of musicians with whom Beethoven interacted as he produced his masterpieces.

Lecture Beethoven’s Musical World
If, by some miracle of modern science, you could be transported back to Vienna in 1800 (the year of Beethoven’s first public concert), you would recognize the music, but very little else about the musical world. By 1827, the musical landscape would start to look a little more familiar. Mary Sue Morrow (University of Cincinnati) will explore the musical world that Beethoven knew and the dramatic changes that had taken place over the course of his career.

Demonstration Piano or Forte: Beethoven and His Instrument
Beethoven’s relationship with the piano was almost never a peaceful one. He drew from the effects so powerful that audiences were left in tears and hysterics-yet he was never satisfied! In this lecture, George Barth (Stanford University) will follow the evolution of the piano and Beethoven’s relationship with his instrument. Janine Johnson will offer musical examples on an instrument like those Beethoven knew and used until the early 1800s.

Lecture Beethoven’s Bizarrerie: Perceptions of Creative Genius
One of the most frequent descriptions of Beethoven’s music by his German contemporaries was the term “bizarre.” Though we might suspect that such labels first appeared in analyses of such difficult late works as the Hammerklavier Sonata, Opus 106, the labeling of Beethoven as bizarre can be traced back to the late 1790s. William Meredith will catalog the uses of these words and explore how this quality was attributed to Beethoven.

Lecture Beethoven: Revolutionary, Conservative, and Reactionary
Beethoven never threw away a scrap of paper that he had written. He kept referring always to the work of his earliest years of training and composing. Beethoven revolutionized music, while not abandoning the lessons that he learned when in his youth. Charles Rosen will discuss Beethoven’s appropriation of the past, his ambiguous relation to tradition, and his attempts to deal with the history of music.

Panel Discussion
All lecturers join in a moderated discussion.

Presented in cooperation with the Consul General of Germany, the Goethe Institut, the Consul General of Austria, the Mechanics Institute Library, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, the German-American Chamber of Commerce, KDFC Radio, the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies at San Jose State University and the Institute for European Studies at UC Berkeley.


Theodore Albrecht, Kent State University
George Barth, Stanford
Alessandra Comini, Southern Methodist University
Janine Johnson, Piano
William Meredith
Mary Sue Morrow, U of Cincinnati
Charles Rosen Piano