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Conversations from the Cullman Center: The Joanna Jackson Goldman Memorial Lectures on American Civilization and Government: "The Half-Life of Freedom." Two lectures by Jelani Cobb, May 2 and 9


All events are free, but you must reserve seats.  We generally overbook to ensure a full house. All unclaimed seats are released 10 minutes before start time, so we recommend that you arrive early.

Watch the livestream for May 2 here
Part 1:  Tuesday, May 2, at 7 pm: "The Media and Alternative Facts"

To an unprecedented extent, the 2016 election raised questions about the role and function of the media, its responsibilities in a modern democracy, and the degree to which reportage can make a difference in public life. The national discussion of both candidates was driven by an à la carte relationship with reality that culminated in new levels of mendacity, "alternative facts," and, ultimately, toxic confusion. This lecture examines the dynamics at play in the election, the role played by print, broadcast, and social media, and the implications of those dynamics for the “fourth estate” over the next four years of American politics, and into the future.

Watch the livestream for May 9 here
Part 2:  Tuesday, May 9, at 7 pm: "Midnight in America: The Demagogues of American History" 

The election results on November 8th stunned a large portion of the American public. The angry, nationalistic rhetoric of Trumpism won out despite doubts from across the political spectrum that the erratic candidate at the center of the movement could win the presidency or govern effectively.  In the sweep of American history, however, the Trump phenomenon is neither novel nor uncommon. This talk looks closely at the political genealogy of the 45th president of the United States.


Jelani Cobb, a staff writer at The New Yorker and a professor at the Columbia Journalism School, writes frequently about race, politics, history, and culture.  Dr. Cobb, a historian by training, received the 2015 Sidney Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism, and has won fellowships from the Fulbright and Ford Foundations.

He is the author of The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress, as well as To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic, and a collection called The Devil and Dave Chappelle and Other Essays. His articles and essays have also appeared in The Washington Post, The New Republic, Essence, Vibe, The Progressive, and