The Inaugural Summer Institute for the Liberal Arts

July 7–10, 2018

Group photo of speakers
President Bradley (second from left) and Professor of History Robert Brigham, (third from left), coordinator of Vassar’s first Summer Institute for the Liberal Arts, with Institute participants. Photo: Karl Rabe

Vassar faculty and distinguished alumnae/i hosted a contingent of international business leaders in a series of workshops in a wide range of disciplines, including geopolitics and diplomacy, economics, philosophy, cognitive science, art, literature and film. The workshops were supplemented by visits to the FDR Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park and the United States Military Academy at West Point. The conference drew rave reviews from both presenters and participants, prompting President Elizabeth Bradley to vow to organize similar events in the future.

Forward

Dear all,

I am delighted to welcome you to the Summer Institute for the Liberal Arts at Vassar. This will be a week for you to enjoy our beautiful campus and engage with our world class faculty, passionate alumnae/i, and stellar students. Our Program Director Robert Brigham, the Shirley Ecker Boskey Professor of History and International Relations, has organized an intellectually rigorous program that includes the best of Vassar and the gems of the Hudson Valley.

The liberal arts are the cornerstone of the Vassar experience, and we are excited to share this week with you. Please feel free to challenge faculty, alumnae/i, and yourselves with difficult questions and deep learning throughout the week. I am sure we will all leave this week with broader perspectives and new friends.

If you have any questions or feedback for us, please let me know. This is your week, and we are committed to making it meaningful and fulfilling for everyone. See you soon.

—President Elizabeth Bradley

Seminars

From Kennan to Kissinger: Topics in Global Diplomacy

Robert K. Brigham, Program Director, Shirley Ecker Boskey Professor of History and International Relations, Vassar College

This seminar uses historical case studies to examine how global leaders formulate coherent and effective strategies for policy-making in a complex and unpredictable environment.

The Interwar Years, 1919–1939

Robert K. Brigham, Program Director, Shirley Ecker Boskey Professor of History and International Relations, Vassar College

This seminar explores the political, military, economic, and social instability that resulted from the First World War and the eventual descent towards the fresh upheaval of the Second World War.

ROBERT BRIGHAM

Robert K. Brigham is the Shirley Ecker Boskey Professor of History and International Relations at Vassar College. He is a specialist on the history of US foreign policy and global diplomacy. Brigham is author of nine books, among them Reckless: Henry Kissinger’s Responsibility in the Vietnam Tragedy (PublicAffairs, 2018); Iraq, Vietnam, and the Limits of American Power (PublicAffairs, 2008); and Argument without End: In Search of Answers to the Vietnam Tragedy (PublicAffairs, 1999), written with former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara and James G. Blight.

Globalization and its Impact on Education: Where are the Liberal Arts Going?

Elizabeth H. Bradley, President of Vassar College

This session will explore different meanings of the term “global,” how it is being used, and implications for higher education. We will tackle what it means to be a global campus, considering both the promise and perils of efforts to globalize education. We will also place this discussion in the historical context of the model of liberal arts education and we will debate the future of liberal arts education and its role in economic development and security around the world.

ELIZABETH H. BRADLEY

On July 1st, 2017, Elizabeth H. Bradley became the 11th President of Vassar College. Prior to becoming the president of Vassar College, Elizabeth Bradley was the director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy at Yale, a university-wide, interdisciplinary program primarily for undergraduates, whose goal is to train emerging leaders. The program, which employs a comprehensive approach to achieving large ends with limited means, examines disciplines such as history, political science, and classical literature as context to address a wide range of current-day challenges, including security, economic inequality, global health, and climate change. Highly regarded for her international work as founder and faculty director of the Yale Global Health Leadership Institute, which operates education and research programs in China, the United Kingdom, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Rwanda, and South Africa, Bradley led teams that contributed to transforming Ethiopia’s health care system, enhancing the quality of hospital management and availability of primary care. Prior to her work at Yale, Bradley was a hospital administrator at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where she helped lead the first generation of quality improvement efforts as part of the National Demonstration in Quality Improvement in Health Care, the inspiration for much of her subsequent research.

Grand Strategy: Where Are We Now?

Azamat Kumykov, Founder of the Russian Directed Studies in Grand Strategy Program

AZAMAT KUMYKOV

Azamat Kumykov lives in Moscow and St. Petersburg (Russia) and is a private equity investor with interests in the real estate, energy and agricultural industries. He serves on the boards of RusMoloko (the largest dairy producer in the Moscow region) and PSN Group (one of Russia’s largest real estate developers) as an independent director. Azamat is a graduate of the University of Hawaii and of Yale University. Philanthropically, he is active in supporting many educational and cultural exchange programs in the U.S. and in Russia, as well as major art institutions in Russia. Azamat is the founder of the Russian Directed Studies in Grand Strategy Program, which aims to provide Russian business leaders with a knowledge of the major works of history, philosophy, economics and art. He also serves as a member of the International Advisory Council of Jackson Institute of Global Affairs (Yale University), is a Sterling Fellow and a Fellow of Yale’s Branford College.

Return of the Great Middle Eastern Game? The United States and Russia in the Arab World

Steven A. Cook, Eni Enrico Mattei Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations

The United States has determined that “inter-state conflict” and great power competition are now its foreign policy priorities. Though there is a small group of dissenters, most policymakers and analysts in Washington believe that Russia’s return to the Middle East is part of a broader Russian strategy to weaken the West. Are these assumptions accurate? If not, what is the nature of Russia’s presence in the Middle East and what does Moscow want? If they are correct, how should the United States respond?

STEVE COOK

Steven A. Cook is Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He is an expert on Arab and Turkish politics as well as U.S.-Middle East policy. Cook is the author of False Dawn: Protest, Democracy, and Violence in the New Middle EastThe Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square, which won the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s gold medal in 2012; and Ruling But Not Governing: The Military and Political Development in Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey. Cook is a columnist at Foreign Policy magazine. He has also published widely in international affairs journals, opinion magazines, and newspapers, and he is a frequent commentator on radio and television. His work can be found on his blog, From the Potomac to the Euphrates. Prior to joining CFR, Cook was a research fellow at the Brookings Institution (2001–2002) and a Soref research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (1995–1996). Cook holds a BA in international studies from Vassar College, an MA in international relations from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and both an MA and a Ph.D in political science from the University of Pennsylvania. He speaks Arabic and Turkish and reads French.

Classical Rhetoric in its Ancient and Modern Contexts

Curtis Dozier, Visiting Assistant Professor of Greek and Roman Studies

This seminar introduces participants 1) to the relationship between rhetorical speech and political institutions in ancient Athens, 2) to ancient debates about the benefits and harm of rhetoric, and 3) to Aristotle’s theory of how persuasion works. In our discussion, we will turn from this ancient context to a consideration of the relevance of this material to the contemporary political landscape in the U.S. Reading 1 (“Rhetoric and Democracy…”) introduces the ancient context and some of the major figures in classical rhetoric; Reading 2 (“Plato and Gorgias…”) presents excerpts from two ancient texts relevant to that history: Plato’s critique of rhetoric and the sophists in his Gorgias and Aristotle’s theories of persuasion by character (ethos), by emotion (pathos), and argument (logos); Reading 3 (“Thucydides: Pericles’ Funeral Oration”) provides an ancient example of political rhetoric: the Athenian general Pericles’ speech honoring the dead in the Peloponnesian War.

CURTIS DOZIER

Curtis Dozier teaches in the Vassar College department of Greek and Roman Studies and is the director of Pharos: Doing Justice to the Classics, a website devoted to documenting and responding to appropriations of ancient Greece and Rome by hate groups. He is also the producer and host of The Mirror of Antiquity, a podcast featuring classical scholars discussing the intersections of their research, the contemporary world, and their own lives. His research focuses on Latin poetry, classical rhetoric, and ancient literary criticism. His course on “Classical Rhetoric and the Presidential Campaign” has been featured on Vassar’s Admissions site and his work has appeared in Salon.com, the online journal for Classics and Contemporary Culture Eidolon, and Public Radio’s Academic Minute. In addition to his work in the department of Greek and Roman Studies, Professor Dozier serves as faculty advisor to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans studying at Vassar through the college’s partnership with the Posse Foundation.

Russian Connection in American Liberal Arts: Vladimir Nabokov, Josef Brodsky, and Beyond

Nikolai Firtich, Associate Professor of Russian Studies

This seminar will focus on Russian émigré contributions to liberal arts education in the United States. It will center on the two most famous cases in point, Vladimir Nabokov and Joseph Brodsky, both of whom taught in a few of our peer institutions and visited Vassar several times. I will discuss their accomplishments in a wider context of Russian participation in liberal arts. 

NIKOLAI FIRTICH

Nikolai Firtich is an Associate Professor of Russian Studies at Vassar College and at Yale University’s Russian Summer Session. His areas of academic interest include Russian literature of the 19th and 20th Century from Gogol to Nabokov, English literature of Nonsense (Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll), literary and visual arts of the early Russian and European avant-garde (1910–1915), alogism and absurd in Russian and European literature, art, theater and cinema. Firtich is the author of numerous articles and the editor of the six collections of essays including The World of Alice: Poetics of the Unusual in Literature and Art of the 19th and 20th Centuries (2017) and From Gogol to “Victory Over the Sun:” Trajectories of Russian Avant-Garde. Special volume of Transactions of the Association of Russian-American Scholars in the USA (2009).

Life and the Art of Landscape

Susan Kuretsky, Professor of Art on the Sarah Gibson Blanding Chair

For the Dutch in the seventeenth century landscape painting became a major specialty for the first time, stimulated by the formation of a newly independent nation in which “landscape” was patriotically associated with political retrieval of land from foreign rule as well as literal retrieval of territory from the sea. Dutch painters further developed the theme as a metaphor for the creative process itself: God’s creation of nature in a spiritual sense, paralleled in earthly efforts to reclaim and protect territory. In discussions of these major paintings, which often resonate with our environmental concerns today, we explore, above all, the need to enrich the experience of human life through connections with nature. This quest is further illustrated in the direct Dutch influence on nineteenth century American paintings of the Hudson River School, on view in the Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, along with more recent artistic responses to nature.

SUSAN KURETSKY

Susan Donahue Kuretsky, Sarah Gibson Blanding Professor of Art at Vassar College, received her A.B. degree from Vassar and her Ph.D. from Harvard University. A specialist in Dutch art of the seventeenth century, she has published a monograph on the Dutch genre painter, Jacob Ochtervelt, co-authored the catalogue of Dutch paintings at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and produced the traveling exhibition, originating at the Loeb Art Center: Time and Transformation in Seventeenth Century Dutch Art. Further articles focus on Rembrandt as a printmaker and her current project—Rembrandt’s Animals—explores a largely ignored aspect of this major artist’s work.

Cognitive Science, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of Humanity

Ken Livingston, Professor of Cognitive Science

This seminar will offer an overview of the modern investigation of mind and intelligence, with a special focus on the effort to test our understanding by building smart machines. These efforts have already transformed human life in myriad ways. What will it mean for the future if we continue to make progress in the design and construction of artificial intelligence? How do we use what we are learning about ourselves as autonomous agents to better plan for the future we are building instead of merely reacting to it as it happens?

KEN LIVINGSTON

Ken Livingston is Professor of Cognitive Science and Director of the Interdisciplinary Robotics Research Laboratory at Vassar College. He was one of the founders of Vassar’s Cognitive Science major (the first undergraduate major in cognitive science in the world) and his research includes work in human cognitive development, concept acquisition, belief systems (especially religious beliefs), and robotics. His major research focus for several years has been the new field of evolutionary robotics.

Reflections on Dark Humor: Reading Racial Parody in Foxy Brown, Hollywood Shuffle and Bamboozled

Mia Mask, Professor of Film on the Mary Riepma Ross Chair

This seminar examines how African American performers and filmmakers have used farce, camp and parody to critique, challenge and subvert the history of racist representation in mainstream commercial cinema.

MIA MASK

Mia Mask is the Mary Riepma Ross Professor of Film at Vassar College. She specializes in African American cinema, documentary film, feminist film theory, African national cinemas, and Media Studies.

She is the author of Divas on Screen: Black Women in American Film (Univ. of Illinois, 2009) and the editor of Black American Cinema Reconsidered (Routledge, 2012). In 2014 she published Poitier Revisited: Reconsidering a Black Icon in the Obama Age (Bloomsbury). She served at the Institute of International Education for three consecutive years as a member of the National Screening Committee assembled to select Fulbright scholars. Mask is on the editorial board of The Black Scholar. Her cultural commentary can be heard on National Public Radio.

Tour of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center

James Mundy, The Anne Hendricks Bass Director of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center and Lecturer in Art

JAMES MUNDY

James Mundy has been the Anne Hendricks Bass Director of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College since 1991. He earned his undergraduate degree at Vassar College and his MFA and PhD at Princeton University having written his dissertation on the Early Netherlandish painter Gerard David. He taught at Northwestern University and Mount Holyoke College before taking the position of chief curator at the Milwaukee Art Museum where, among other exhibitions, in 1989 he organized the major retrospective of drawings by the Roman sixteenth-century painters Taddeo and Federico Zuccaro from North American collections. In addition to numerous exhibition catalogues, his scholarly work has appeared in such publications as Master DrawingsSimiolusRömisches Jahrbuch der Bibliotheca HertzianaBurlington MagazinePantheon, and Drawing. He is presently working on the catalogue raisonné of the drawings of Federico Zuccaro. In the spring of 2003, he spent four months in residence at the Metropolitan Museum as Andrew Mellon senior research fellow.

From Hitler’s Germany to Saddam’s Iraq: The Enduring False Promise of Preventive War

Scott Silverstone, Director of the Grand Strategy Program, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York

This seminar focuses on a political problem that spans all of recorded human history, the problem of finding security in a shifting threat environment as a potential rival grows stronger, and the temptation to solve this problem through preventive military attacks. It is a phenomenon as old as the ancient Greeks and as contemporary as the daily nightmare of living alongside a nuclear armed North Korea seeking intercontinental reach. Interest in the promise of preventive war as a strategic concept for neutralizing future dangers has surged in the 21st century, kick started by the Bush Doctrine of “preemption” first announced in the summer of 2002 and put into action by America’s subsequent march toward war with Iraq in 2003. Preventive war, in various forms, continues to find favor across the American political spectrum. Preventive war has its champions among those who believe military strikes could successfully blunt whatever nuclear ambitions Iran’s leaders might cling to. And the Trump administration continues to study the preventive attack option to neutralize North Korea’s growing nuclear weapon and missile capabilities. The goal of the seminar is to cut through the cacophony of daily headlines to offer participants a fresh way of thinking about this age-old dilemma, both in terms of the strategic logic of preventive war and the history of the preventive war temptation in practice. Along the way it will focus on what history can teach us about the strategic flaws inherent to preventive war, and how this history might inform our options for confronting emerging threats today.

SCOTT SILVERSTONE

Dr. Silverstone has been a professor of International Relations in the Department of Social Sciences at West Point since July 2001, and he is currently serving as the Deputy Department Head. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1999, and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of New Hampshire in 1985. In 1999-2000 he was a visiting professor of International Relations at the University of Pennsylvania and the Assistant Director of the Browne Center for International Politics. In 2000-2001 he was a visiting professor in the Department of Political Science at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and continues to serve as an Adjunct Professor at Bard College.

Dr. Silverstone’s main areas of academic interest include international relations theory, international security, and American foreign policy. He is a Future of War Fellow with New America, a Washington, D.C. think tank, and in 2003-2004 he was a research fellow with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. He is the author of From Hitler’s Germany to Saddam’s Iraq: The Enduring False Promise of Preventive War (Rowman and Littlefield, forthcoming), Preventive War and American Democracy (Routledge Press, 2007), and Divided Union: The Politics of War in the Early American Republic (Cornell University Press, 2004), in addition to numerous articles and book chapters on international security. He is married with two children and lives in Cornwall, NY.

The Problem of Executive Power in the U.S. Constitution

Justin Zaremby, Justin Zaremby, Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP

JUSTIN ZAREMBY

Justin Zaremby is a non-profit attorney at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP in New York, where he represents a range of public charities and private foundations, including universities and cultural institutions, as well as other tax-exempt entities on a variety of matters including corporate governance and restructuring, charitable giving, program-related investing, international grant making, and other state and federal regulatory matters. From 2010 to 2011, Mr. Zaremby served as a Law Clerk to the Hon. José A. Cabranes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Justin received his B.A, Ph.D. and J.D. from Yale University. He is the author of Legal Realism and American Law (Bloomsbury 2014) and his writings on political theory, law, and legal history have appeared in numerous publications including the Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities, Rutgers Law Review, and The New Criterion.

Schedule

Thursday, July 5

Welcoming Dinner (President’s House)

7:00 p.m.

Friday, July 6

Breakfast

7:30 a.m.

Welcome and Introduction to the Week

8:30 a.m.

Elizabeth H. Bradley, President

Grand Strategy: Where Are We Now?

9:00 a.m.

Azamat Kumykov, Founder of the Russian Directed Studies in Grand Strategy Program

Classical Rhetoric in its Ancient and Modern Contexts

9:30 a.m.

Curtis Dozier, Visiting Assistant Professor of Greek and Roman Studies

Lunch (ACDC Upstairs)

12:00 p.m.

Bus to West Point

1:00 p.m.

Grand Strategy: Stopping Hitler?

2:30 p.m.

Tour of West Point

5:00 p.m.

Dinner

7:00 p.m.

Saturday, July 7

Breakfast

8:00 a.m.

From Kennan to Kissinger: Topics in Global Diplomacy

9:00 a.m.

Robert K. Brigham, Program Director, Shirley Ecker Boskey Professor of History and International Relations, Vassar College

Lunch

12:00 p.m.

Russian Connection in American Liberal Arts: Vladimir Nabokov, Josef Brodsky, and Beyond

1:00 p.m.

Nikolai Firtich, Associate Professor of Russian Studies

Globalization and Its Impact on Education: Where are the Liberal Arts Going?

3:00 p.m.

Elizabeth H. Bradley, President

Vassar Campus Tour

4:30 p.m.

Dinner, President’s House

7:00 p.m.

Sunday, July 8

Breakfast

8:00 a.m.

Life and the Art of Landscape

9:00 a.m.

Susan Kuretsky, Professor of Art on the Sarah Gibson Blanding Chair

Lunch (Taylor Hall)

12:00 p.m.

Tour the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center

1:30 p.m.

Susan Kuretsky, Professor of Art on the Sarah Gibson Blanding Chair

Vassar College Special Collections: Catherine the Great to Tolstoy

2:30 p.m.

The Interwar Years, 1919-1939

4:00 p.m.

Robert K. Brigham, Shirley Ecker Boskey Professor of History and International Relations, Vassar College

Powerhouse Theater

7:00 p.m.

Dinner

9:00 p.m.

Monday, July 9

Breakfast

8:00 a.m.

Film and Representations of Cultural Norms

9:00 a.m.

Mia Mask, Professor of Film on the Mary Riepma Ross Chair

Break

11:00 a.m.

The Problem of Executive Power in the U.S. Constitution

11:30 a.m.

Justin Zaremby, Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP

Lunch (ACDC Upstairs)

1:00 p.m.

Travel to Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) Museum and Library

2:00 p.m.

Tour FDR Museum and Roosevelt Library

2:30 p.m.

Dinner (Alumnae House Dining Room)

7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, July 9

Breakfast

8:00 a.m.

Cognitive Science, Artificial Intelligence, and Liberal Arts

9:00 a.m.

Kenneth Livingston, Professor of Cognitive Science

Lunch (Swift Hall)

12:00 p.m.

Return of the Great Middle Eastern Game? The United States and Russia in the Arab World

1:00 p.m.

Steven Cook, Eni Enrico Mattei Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations

Revisiting Grand Strategy

3:00 p.m.

Robert K. Brigham, Shirley Ecker Boskey Professor of History and International Relations, Vassar College

Taking the Week With You

4:30 p.m.

Elizabeth H. Bradley, President