Spencer Trask

Princeton University’s Spencer Trask Lectures: Alfred Brendel

The lecture sets out to show that in musical performances the perception of character and atmosphere is no less important than that of form and structure. The belief that the structure of a work automatically reveals its character is a fallacy. The notion of character appears in 18th-century treatises on interpretation as well as in writing on aesthetics where it is first discussed at the time when Beethoven’s sonatas begin to appear. Czerny’s comments on Beethoven’s piano works are full…

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Princeton University’s Spencer Trask Lectures: Special Event, Tribute to Odetta Panel

The panel discussion will include Oscar Brand, Judith Casselberry, Olivia Greer, Matthew Frye Jacobson, Albert J. Raboteau, and Bernice Johnson Reagon. The topic, “Odetta, American Folk Music, and Social Activism,” will provide the opportunity for the panelists to consider the cultural traditions that influenced Odetta’s musical development, her significant contributions to the preservation of African American and American folk musics, and the broad scope of her musical influence. The 8:30 p.m.  concert, “A Tribute to Odetta” will feature Ruby Dee, Guy…

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Princeton University’s Spencer Trask Lectures: Philippe Descola

Words such as “nature” or “culture’” do not denote a universal reality that would manifest itself under the same guise to everybody, but rather particular ways of carving ontological domains in the texture of things that the Moderns have devised in the course of the past four centuries. Other civilizations have adopted different ways of ascribing qualities to beings in the world, resulting in forms of continuity and discontinuity between humans and non-humans that, as they differ widely from our…

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Princeton University’s Spencer Trask Lectures: Robert Alter

The Bible, though its centrality may now be fading, has been a pervasive presence in American culture, for the most part, in the King James version. It was the Old Testament rather than the New Testament that exerted the greater magnetism because its focus on family and nation, politics and history spoke to the American condition, and because, beginning with the Pilgrims, generations of Americans saw themselves as the New Israel. Allusions to biblical texts and biblical motifs consequently abound…

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Princeton University’s Spencer Trask Lectures: Robert Hass

Robert Hass, poet laureate of the United States from 1995 to 1997, will read from his latest collection, Time and Materials. Currently chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Hass has won several awards, including two National Book Critics Circle Awards. He received a Ph.D. in English from Stanford University and teaches at the University of California, Berkeley. His volumes of poetry include Under Wood: New Poems (Ecco Press, 1996); Human Wishes (1989); Praise (1979); and Field Guide (1973), which was selected for the Yale Younger Poets Series. He…

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Princeton University’s Spencer Trask Lectures: Krista Tippett

The founder and host of American Public Media’s “Speaking of Faith” will read from her book. Leigh Schmidt (Department of Religion), Matt Hedstrom (Center for the Study of Religion), and Judith Weisenfeld (Department of Religion) will be the panel participants. Carolyn Rouse, Department of Anthropology, will serve as moderator.A journalist and former diplomat, Krista Tippett conceived the idea for “Speaking of Faith” while consulting for the ecumenical institute of St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville. She has hosted and produced the program…

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Princeton University’s Spencer Trask Lectures: Carlos Eire

Until fairly recently eternity was no mere abstraction or metaphor in the Christian tradition, but rather the ultimate destination for humankind, a metaphysical conceit with practical implications as inescapable as legal obligations, or taxes, or death. Eternity was an ineffable mystery, to be sure, but of no less value in human interaction than money itself, or crowns and thrones. In our own day, however, eternity seems a purely abstract concept best left in the hands of astrophysicists, a frightfully uncertain…

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Princeton University’s Spencer Trask Lectures: Carlos Fuentes

A personal view of Mexican history, its different stages from the Indian civilizations to the present day. Novelist, scholar, and diplomat, Carlos Fuentes was born in Panama and educated in both Mexico and Washington, D.C., where his father was a member of the Mexican diplomatic corps. Fuentes studied law and served as director of international cultural relations for the Mexican government before pursuing a full-time literary career. After the publication of his critically acclaimed novel Terra Nostra, Fuentes served for two…

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Princeton University’s Spencer Trask Lectures: Paula Fredriksen

Jesus of Nazareth announced that God was about to redeem the world. Some 450 years later, the church taught that the far greater part of humanity was eternally condemned. The early community began by preserving the memory and the message of Jesus; within decades of his death, some Christians asserted that Jesus had never had a fleshly human body at all. The church that insisted that Jewish scriptures were Christian scriptures also insisted that the god who said “Be fruitful…

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