with David Wood

Centennial Professor
of Philosophy,
Vanderbilt University

more detailed information



Thinking Out
of the Lunchbox


Feb. 1 2012
“The Cost of Comfort”

John Lachs, Centennial Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt

Lachs explores why many people today still feel unhappy even though they are living longer with better health than any previous generation. “The explanation must lie in the way institutional life shatters the natural unity of human acts, so that planning, action and enjoyment of the results fall to different groups of individuals,” Lachs said. “The result is a growth of passivity and resistance to taking responsibility for our actions. We will look at whether there are ways to reduce the cost of our comfort.”

Watch video of this event here. 


March 7,  2012
“Profane Apocalypse: The Zombie-Image as an Historical Symptom”

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James Mcfarland, Assistant Professor of German at Vanderbilt.

 James McFarland discusses a curious image from popular culture, familiar to most of us if rarely taken very seriously: the zombie-image. The image of a cannibalistic horde of reanimated corpses has its origins in Italian and American horror movies, but it now appears in cultural areas far removed from those traditions, often with satirical force. Both the satirical and the sensationalistic uses of this image are possible because of its inherent theological structure. From the margins of culture, the zombie-image raises questions of corporeal violence and public decency, of collective life and individual death.

Watch video of this event here. 


April 4 2012
“Terrorists are people too -- Legal and Moral Dimensions of Guantanamo Bay”

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Michael A. Newton, Professor of the Practice of Law, Vanderbilt Law School

The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba raises a host of controversies that have receded only slightly in the past decade.  Professor Newton will discuss the transfer provisions for the detainees at Guantanamo, their treatment and current conditions, and the legal regime that will witness major trials beginning in early spring 2012.  THE overarching historical and moral paradox is that the choice of Guantanamo Bay was predicated at the time [in 2001 shortly after the attacks in New York and Pennsylvania] as a location that would be wholly under executive control rather than the human rights regime.  The world is a different place now, in part due to the ripples emanating from Guantanamo Bay. 

Watch video of this event here. 


May 2 2012

“Recovering Lost Voices: Robert Penn Warren and the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.”

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Mona Frederick
Director, Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities,
at Vanderbilt

Kate Rattner
Activities Coordinator, Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities,
at Vanderbilt

In 1965, Warren published a book titled "Who Speaks for the Negro?"  To research the book, he travelled across the U.S. in 1964 to interview men and women involved in the Civil Rights Movement. He interviewed nationally-known figures as well as people working in the trenches of the movement whose names might otherwise be lost to history.  In each case, he recorded their conversations on a reel-to-reel tape recorder.   Vanderbilt has recently completed a full digital archive related to his research that includes digitized copies of the conversations as well as copies of written materials related to his project.  Anyone with access to the internet can now listen to these extraordinary conversations.

Watch video of this event here.