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Morning Lecture Previews

Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday to break down documentary filmmaking in golden age

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In 2017, the top-grossing documentaries were Disney’s “Born in China” and Raoul Peck’s “I Am Not Your Negro,” earning more than $13 million and $7 million in the United States, respectively, according to The Numbers.

But those numbers have already been surpassed in 2018. The documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” has grossed more than $22 million, and “RBG” is the second-highest documentary, having earned more than $13 million at the box office, according to The Numbers. While the dollar amounts for the 2017 year have been finalized, these box office numbers for 2018 come before the second-run push most movies make during Oscar season.

Ann Hornaday

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor” and “RBG” have been some of the most-talked about movies of the year, and Chautauqua’s Week Nine theme, “Documentary Film as Facilitator: Storytelling, Influence and Civil Discourse” has come at a ripe time, said Ann Hornaday, film critic for The Washington Post.

“The timing could not be more perfect to be talking about documentaries at Chautauqua this summer,” Hornaday said.

During her lecture at 10:45 a.m. Wed., Aug. 22, in the Amphitheater, Hornaday will speak about documentary filmmaking and how it has evolved to its current form and how people should watch the genre.

“By that time in the week, people will have heard from Ken Burns,” Hornaday said. “They will have had full-body immersion into documentaries, and especially Ken Burns’ approach to documentary filmmaking. So what I would like to do on Wednesday is kind of pull the lens back a little bit.”

In 2009, Hornaday embarked on a journey to explore what makes a movie good or bad through the eyes of the audience. The Washington Post series was titled “How to Watch a Movie,” thus giving her a launching pad for her 2017 book, Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies. 

In the how-to guide, Hornaday breaks down a movie production into seven subsets: screenplay, acting, production design, cinematography, editing, sound and music, and directing. In each chapter, she poses questions viewers should be asking and provides insight into the filmmaking process. Hornaday draws on the copious interviews she has done with industry leaders in her career spanning four decades.

One chapter of the appendix focuses on documentaries and fact-based dramas, such as biographical pictures. In her lecture, Hornaday hopes to explore that area more.

When it comes to documentaries and biographical pictures, Hornaday said people should be wary of taking the content at face value.

“Everything is mediated,” Hornaday said. “The filmmaker is choosing what to film; the filmmaker is choosing what to leave out; the filmmaker might be scrambling chronology in a way that we might not be aware of.”

There are certain components Hornaday is looking for when she watches documentaries, and one of them is transparency.

Sarah Polley’s “Stories We Tell” is a good example of being transparent, Hornaday said. In the autobiographical documentary, Polley uses footage that appears to be archival and home videos. She later reveals those scenes were staged.

“She let (viewers) fall under the spell of the movie, then she very gracefully and kind of gently eases out of that at the end,” Hornaday said. “She kind of shows her hand, like, ‘Here’s what I did.’ I just think it’s such an elegant way to do that transparency I was talking about, and not at all compromise the emotional power of the movie.”

The inception of director’s commentary on DVDs and Wikipedia pages with innumerable facts has given way to a more active audience, Hornaday said. When viewers watch a documentary or a biopic, they can research the real-life events the film is based on.

Though audiences are engaging with the material more, Hornaday believes people need to think more critically and question what they’re watching on screen.

“When (filmmakers) fudge facts, if they’re doing so for whatever reason — to make a smoother narrative or a more dramatic narrative — I would like to see a little more transparency on their end,” Hornaday said. “But I do think it’s ultimately incumbent on the viewer to just be skeptical and just remember, even in the case of a documentary, and surely in the case of a biopic, that this is not the ‘truth.’ This is storytelling; this is somebody’s point-of-view on events. We can value it, and we can derive meaning from it, but that’s different than taking it as the ungarnished truth.”

Ken Burns, Geoffrey C. Ward, Dayton Duncan to discuss process, collaborative work in documentary films

Ken Burns

There is an old adage that history repeats itself. Mistakes and triumphs cycle again and again on an endless reel.

Documentarians Ken Burns, Geoffrey C. Ward and Dayton Duncan have worked to bring these stories out of the tattered folds of history through film.

The trio will hold a conversation about the work they’ve done in their collaborative careers at 10:45 a.m. Mon., Aug. 20, in the Amphitheater as part of the Week Nine theme, “Documentary Film as Facilitator: Storytelling, Influence and Civil Discourse.”

Ken Burns

Burns said he looks for projects that reflect us back to ourselves, saying he considers both the simple two-letter pronoun, “us,” and its capitalization, “U.S.,” as in the United States.

“Each film, maybe at a distance, may look the same,” Burns said. “They have a certain style to them. But they all represent up close, or minutely, sometimes hugely different calibrations of all the elements of our effort trying to wake up the past, our kind of trying to shake the dead, saying, ‘Tell us your stories again.’ ”

For more than 40 years, Burns has produced some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries of all time, garnering numerous awards and nominations.

Burns said he has always looked at what a particular subject tells viewers about not only who Americans were or are now, but what the country might be in the future.

“More often than not, I feel like the subjects choose me,” Burns said. “They’re quintessentially American things that I hope will be helpful to us in complicated times — which is, of course, all times.”

Burns’ style involves an integration of different mediums, dense research and storytelling.

“The grist of our mill is inevitably these old photographs, the diaries, the journals, the film footage, the paintings, the sketches, the newspaper headlines,” he said. “It just became a way for me to to work out a way to tell these dramatic stories without getting into the dramatic filmmaking and the fictionalization and the licenses that (feature film style) takes.”

Burns said he learned from photographer Jerome Liebling at an early age that there is more drama in the world than the human imagination could ever come up with.

Burns said he loves giving a new dimension to eras that have been visited in so many of his films. The effort became to reveal the film and research crews’ own process of discovery through complex stories, rather than to introduce audiences to things they didn’t already know, or things the teams wished them to know. Burns said it becomes a different form of storytelling entirely.

“No hero is perfect,” Burns said. “No villain is absolutely bad. Nothing is ever only one thing. Wynton Marsalis told us during ‘Jazz’ that sometimes a thing and the opposite thing are true at the same time.”

Although Burns might be the household name known for those films, he said he can’t imagine where he might be in his career if it weren’t for his professional collaborations with Duncan and Ward.

“I seem to have found what I’m supposed to be doing in this short tenure that we have,” Burns said. “I work, most importantly, with extraordinary people, particularly extraordinary writers that have helped me finish the films that I’ve made.”

Geoffrey Ward

Geoffrey Ward, author and scriptwriter, has worked with Burns for 36 years, writing companion novels for eight of the series the pair has collaborated on, including A First-Class Temperament: The Emergence of Franklin Roosevelt, a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Of Ward’s writing on the team’s upcoming project centered around author Ernest Hemingway, Burns said he stopped numerous times to ask who was the superior writer, the subject or the scriptwriter. Burns said Ward, as a writer, stepped his work up beyond an already high level when working on this script.

“It was just a pleasure and a joy,” Burns said. “That has a huge effect on how we film, how we edit and how we do it.”

Ward said he has enjoyed every film he’s been able to work on with Burns, saying the pair seem to agree on how to tell a story.

“It’s a wonderful team,” Ward said. “Ken is terrific. He likes words, which is a huge advantage as a writer. And he’s not scared of complexity.”

Dayton Duncan

Filmmaker and author Duncan said he has the best job in the world, working alongside one of his best friends. He said being able to work on a project and learn everything about a topic he’s already passionate about or profoundly curious about is a “joy that thrills the reporter inside him.”

“We do this — and I think it’s true of Geoff and Ken as well — we do it because we love doing it,” Duncan said. “It’s part of our DNA, our interest in American history and people, known and unknown, that tapestry of American history. That’s what we live for. The audiences we attract, that’s just an extra bonus.”

Duncan said he’s always humbled by the audiences the films reach. As a storyteller, he said he always wants to share these topics with as many people as possible.

Having spoken at the Institution before, Burns described Chautauqua as the “pursuit of happiness” personified and embodied.

“We’ve spent a lot of time, 240 years, trying to figure out the inscrutability of that last phrase of Thomas Jefferson’s second sentence of the Declaration of Independence,” Burns said. “A lot of people mistakenly think it’s the pursuit of material objects, a marketplace of things, when in fact, happiness with a capital ‘H’ is about lifelong learning and the improvement of the brain, the heart, the body and the soul throughout one’s lifetime. And there is no place on Earth that embodies that rigor and that joy more than Chautauqua Institution.”

Jesse Jackson, with Joan Brown Campbell, to close week on MLK’s legacy, civil rights movement

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Photo by Roger J. Coda

Thus far, the Week Eight morning lecture platform and the Interfaith Lecture Series have explored different issues: “The Forgotten” and a remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr., respectively. Fri. Aug. 17, they converge.

At 10:45 a.m. in the Amphitheater, the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Joan Brown Campbell will join the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Chautauqua’s vice president of religion, to close both morning and afternoon themes for Week Eight.

Jesse Jackson

Matt Ewalt, Institution chief of staff, said Jackson and Campbell’s conversation is an “opportunity to bring both the morning and afternoon platforms together in a powerful way.”

“Through the work of Department of Religion leadership — both past and present — we close with the reflections of the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Joan Brown Campbell on King’s legacy and the legacy of the civil rights movement,” Ewalt said.

Both Jackson and Campbell are longtime proponents of social justice and civil rights.

As a student in the 1960s, Jackson rose to prominence as one of the foremost leaders of the civil rights movement, working closely with King on various initiatives. He is the founder and president of Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the recipient of several awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Joan Brown Cambell

Campbell is a former director of religion at Chautauqua. During her tenure, she established key programs within the Department of Religion, including the Abrahamic Program for Young Adults and designating the 2 p.m. religion lectures as the Interfaith Lecture Series. She was the first woman in that position, as well as the first woman to be associate executive director of the Greater Cleveland Council of Churches; executive director of the U.S. office of the World Council of Churches; and the first ordained woman to assume the position of general secretary of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States. Her many awards include the Walter Cronkite Faith and Freedom Award from the Interfaith Alliance.

Robinson, who will moderate today’s discussion, said Jackson and Campbell each bring a  different perspective of King’s legacy and can speak to the differing impacts of his work.

“One of the ways we honor Dr. King in this 50th anniversary of his assassination is to connect as personally as we can with both his experience, but also the experience of those around him,” Robinson said.

Robinson said he’s interested in hearing Jackson’s thoughts on not only the legacy of the civil rights movement, but also how modern movements like Black Lives Matter compare to the work King did.

“So where does the movement stand now, and how is it different now?” Robinson said. “We can point to some gains, in terms of an emerging black middle class and African-Americans being named to all kinds of rather grand positions, but going back to our theme — what should we have learned that we didn’t? What did we learn momentarily that we actually forgot?”

Robinson said Campbell will speak to the impact King had on her own life, as well as the “indirect impact” King had on various communities he visited. As pastor of the first white Cleveland church King visited, Campbell witnessed the “enormous effect on that community,” Robinson said.

“Just his presence, just the announcement that he was coming, sent people into a flurry of activity,” Robinson said.

Robinson said an important part of today’s conversation will be a point that has echoed throughout the Week Eight interfaith lectures — King was more than his “I Have a Dream” speech or his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” To honor the legacy of the man is to “dwell not merely on how Dr. King died, but also on how he lived,” as Jackson wrote in an April opinion piece for The New York Times.

“We owe it to Dr. King — and to our children and grandchildren — to commemorate the man in full,” Jackson wrote in the Times, “a radical, ecumenical, antiwar, pro-immigrant and scholarly champion of the poor who spent much more time marching and going to jail for liberation and justice than he ever spent dreaming about it.”

Writer, scholar Abby Smith Rumsey to talk on archiving digital memory in the modern era

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When Abby Smith Rumsey started working at the Library of Congress, she was worried about the amount of information being produced digitally.

“I was very aware that inside the library, people who knew about the technology and librarians and archivists understood that there was this avalanche coming of digital data that no one knew how to preserve and, in fact, this occurred very quickly,” said Rumsey, who worked with the Library of Congress’ National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program. “ … Over time, I became more reassured that more people were aware of this — that more technology could solve some of the problems of preserving.”

Abby Smith Rumsey

Wanting to document that worry and ways to deal with it in the future led Rumsey to write When We Are No More: How Digital Memory Is Shaping Our Future. Rumsey will give the 10:45 a.m. morning lecture Thurs., Aug. 16, in the Amphitheater as part of Week Eight’s theme, “The Forgotten: History and Memory in the 21st Century.”

During her lecture, Rumsey will touch both on the fundamentals of memory and the artificial memory humans have created.

“As far as we know, no other species records and accumulates information and knowledge the way we do,” Rumsey said. “It’s actually one of the keys to our success as a species. Why we are spread across the planet is because we actually can accumulate knowledge and share it with other generations — and now with digital, across time and space.”

Now with social media and the 24-hour news cycle, people have been exposed to an information overload, but Rumsey said the world experienced a similar flood of information in the 1800s. When people created the technology to record sound, they couldn’t just hold up an LP and be able to hear what was on the disc; they needed a machine. The same goes for digital memory, Rumsey said.

The concept behind digital archiving is that there is an endless realm in which people can save information, but it’s difficult to know long-term value in the digital era, she said.

Now, Rumsey said, there is one question that is repeatedly asked: What should we save?

“There is very, very little surprises and hard lessons in the digital realm that humans have not experienced before,” Rumsey said. “We’ve always been able to solve the problems of how to manage too much information, how to organize it in such a way that we can find it and that, like today and the past, sometimes we invent technologies to solve one problem, then create an entirely new set of problems that we hadn’t anticipated.”

Rumsey spent time in Soviet-era Russia researching the country during the 17th century. She encountered some documents that had been made inaccessible by the Soviet government, and said it hadn’t occurred to her that the political happenings of tsarist Russia could warrant censorship during the Soviet era.

Rumsey knew it was routine for people in charge of totalitarian regimes, like that in Soviet Russia, to erase people in photographs or censor documents. That’s how leaders controlled the population. Even when people tamper with documents, that gives insight into society of the time, Rumsey said.

With digital memory, she said it’s harder to discern what has been manipulated, but that’s only because the technology to figure it out hasn’t been developed yet.

“It’s not as if this hasn’t happened before. People have solved these problems before,” Rumsey said. “People used to forge papers all the time until it became just a matter of vital importance to the state and other people that forgeries be detected. It will be the case with digital.”

Rumsey said there is no right answer to what people should forget or remember in the digital age because memories change.

“How we choose to remember people is fluid. It will change with time, and we are in charge of it. It’s we who remember,” Rumsey said. “We think our machines remember for us, but we are the ones who remember things. Machines don’t erase the past; humans erase the past, and they do it all the time.”

Kent State President Beverly Warren to speak on lessons from May 4, 1970, shooting

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On May 4, 1970, members of the National Guard opened fire on a group of Kent State University students protesting the Vietnam War. Four were killed, and nine were injured.

On April 27, 2018, Kent State students staged an on-campus demonstration with various firearms in support of open-carry gun laws. One might have expected “tense confrontations,” said Beverly Warren, president of Kent State. What happened instead was “meaningful conversations.”

Beverly Warren

“The May 4 shootings still speak to us about the dangers of polarization,” Warren said, “the price we pay for shouting at one another in place of civil discourse.”

At 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 15, in the Amphitheater, Warren will give her lecture, “Kent State Beyond the Shootings: Journey of the Wounded Healer.” Her speech, which marks the first time a Kent State president has spoken publicly about May 4 outside of Kent’s campus, is part of the Week Eight theme, “The Forgotten: History and Memory in the
21st Century.”

Her topic is a bit of both. As the 50th anniversary of the Kent State shooting approaches, Warren and others at the university have used the event to frame “Kent State’s unique answer to a common challenge: how do we keep history relevant?”

The answer, which Warren will share with Chautauquans, involves how Kent State “use(s) our history to drive positive change in the world.”

That journey has led the university to undertake a number of initiatives to reflect on and learn from the May 4 shooting. In addition to an annual commemoration of the date, a visitors center was built in 2013 to host exhibits that “tell the story of the decade leading up to May 4, 1970, the events of that day, the aftermath and the historical impact,” according to the center’s website. The site of the shooting was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2016. Plans for the 50th anniversary include a series of events throughout the 2019-2020 academic year.

“For many members of the Kent State family — including me — the events of May 4, 1970, remain a vivid and emotional memory,” Warren said in a June press release. “ … As we honor and remember the lives lost and those lives forever changed, we reflect on the lessons of May 4 and renew our commitment to lift our collective voices to affect positive change.”

Since taking the helm at Kent State in 2014, Warren has launched a six-year plan that includes a “global exploration” of the lessons learned from the incident.

Although it was not understood at the time, Warren said many now consider the Kent State shooting to be the “pivot point that turned mainstream American public opinion against the Vietnam War once and for all.” The incident was a spark that ignited similar events at universities across the country — such as the nearby Ohio University, where National Guardsmen were also summoned on May 15, 1970. The school closed for the remainder of spring quarter.

Despite that importance, there are many questions about May 4, 1970, that are still unresolved.

“Who gave the order to open fire? Why did those rifles have live ammunition?” Warren said. “We have to make peace with a certain lack of closure.”

This presents another challenge, Warren said. Although the lessons of the shooting have “never been more useful,” the majority of Americans now were not alive to witness it.

“The shootings are embedded in our history,” she said. “It is vital for Kent State to keep the memory alive … Sharing the painful lessons of May 4 is a vital path to healing and renewal.”

Silkroad Ensemble will lecture on collaboration, ‘listening across differences’

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The Silkroad Ensemble abides by the notion that “embracing difference leads to a more hopeful world,” according to its website.

Playing into Week Seven’s theme, “The Arts and Global Understanding,” members of the group will speak at 10:45 a.m. Monday, August 6, in the Amphitheater. The discussion will be moderated by Steven Seidel, Harvard University’s director of Arts in Education Program.

Jeffrey Beecher, co-artistic director of Silkroad Ensemble, said Seidel and the group “are intent on opening up this idea of listening across differences and what that means. … We can see those separations, whether it’s a different culture, or a different instrument or a person you’ve never met before, as dealbreakers, or as hurdles.”

“Or,” Beecher said, “you can take that difference and find a pathway to connect with that musician or a different culture.”

World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma began assembling Silkroad Ensemble in 1998. The group’s name and purpose comes from the Silk Road, an ancient trading route between Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

Symbolically, Silkroad Ensemble hopes to do the same thing — bring worldwide cultures together and help them to understand one another.

“I founded the Silk Road Project because I believe we’re not as isolated as we think we are,” Ma told World Literature Today in a 2006 interview. “One of the ideas we talk about at the project is how important it is to know our neighbors, both our next-door neighbors and our halfway-around-the-world neighbors.”

The Silkroad Ensemble is made up of musicians from all over the world who are also, according to the group’s website, “teachers, producers and advocates.” Eleven of those artists are scheduled to perform at Chautauqua this week.

Silkroad Ensemble is a nonprofit organization and has released seven albums. Sing Me Home won a Grammy for Best World Music Album. Ma’s album Songs of Joy and Peace features Silkroad and won a Grammy for Best Classical Crossover Album.

The documentary “The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble” was first released abroad, then in the United States in 2016. The film, directed by Morgan Neville and chronicling the founding of the Silkroad Ensemble, has been met with largely positive reviews.

The Silkroad Ensemble will perform at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, August 8, in the Amp, and again at 8:15 p.m. Friday, August 10, in the Amp with Ma.

“(Monday’s) lecture is both the welcome and a framing session for the whole week,” Beecher said, “giving context to who we are, where we come from, what instruments we play, but … how do you go about collaborating with someone when it doesn’t feel like you have a lot in common when you start out?”

Arun Sundararajan to lecture on America’s economic shift to technology

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Since March 2017, the United Kingdom has taken steps toward withdrawing from the European Union, a movement known as Brexit. Proponents of the change believed it would reinvent the economy and spark job growth, among other benefits.

But Arun Sundararajan believes the Brexit cause is partially rooted in fear and a misunderstanding about the changing economy.

“I think a lot of people in England who voted for Brexit were reacting to changes in the workplace that had led to a loss of opportunity,” Sundararajan said. “It’s hard for a human being to wrap their head around the fact that this change is caused by machines, and so they blame choices that their government makes, or they blame the new humans around them.”

At 10:45 a.m. Monday, July 30, in the Amphitheater, Sundararajan will lecture on the changing economy as part of the Week Six theme, “The Changing Nature of Work.”

Sundararajan is the Robert L. and Dale Atkins Rosen Faculty Fellow at New York University’s Stern School of Business and the author of The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism.

Sundararajan, a member of World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Technology, Values and Policy, has extensively studied America’s economic shift and its social implications. The current technological shift, he said, resembles America’s 1960s move away from farming, though the 21st-century change is “more dramatic.”

“A lot of things that are (now) done by humans will be automated, requiring us to evolve in what we do,” he said. “Both how work is organized and what the work is are changing, and there are many consequences of that for society.”

These consequences are ingrained in the country’s social institutions, which were built around an employer-employee system. Now, Sundararajan said, the rise of technology increases opportunities for self-employment, which redefines the work environment.

To equip individuals for this technological transition, Sundararajan believes the groundwork begins in the education system. Without proper preparation, middle-aged workers who have been groomed for a certain style of employment may feel helpless.

“When you go to college, you go to class and you learn, but that’s not all college is about,” he said. “You create a network, you learn how you are going to take the next step in your life and you get the branding associated with your college. So what we need to do is to create the equivalent for people who are transitioning mid-career, some institution that allows people to do it with dignity, and smoothly.”

In addition to preparing for the shift, Sundararajan also recognizes that daily work environments will change. Self-employment sacrifices the break room comradery and weekend outings with coworkers, which he said may diminish social identity.

“Companies that you work for have become a critical community organization as well,” he said. “For a lot of people, this is part of their identity. It’s where they make their friends, and it’s where they meet their spouses. It’s an important part of the social structure and once this goes away, something has to come in to fill the gap — otherwise, people will feel this void of community.”

Having addressed governing bodies like the U.S. Congress and National Economic Council, Sundararajan is keenly aware of the government’s role in the economy and its stable “social safety net.”

“The United States and Japan in particular have chosen an economic model where a lot of stuff is funded by the employer,” he said. “The employer can choose to give you paid vacations or not, your employer can decide if you can take time off from work and your employer can contribute to your retirement.”

However, these employer benefits were established before digital innovations began defining the working world. A changing economy, Sundararajan said, demands all social and political systems work to rethink their function to best serve the people.

“As we move to a world where more people will not have this entity called the employer, but will be working for themselves, the social safety net that we’ve constructed starts to become shaky,” he said. “Refunding and recreating that social safety net is going to be one of the big public policy challenges of the next 20 years.”

Nation Institute fellow and independent journalist Sarah Jaffe to address expansion of American activism and need for revolt

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Since America’s 2008 financial crisis, independent journalist Sarah Jaffe argued that social movements have gained a new and powerful influence. Fueled by disdain toward capitalism and the state of American politics, she said, citizens no longer accepted complacency, and this surge of emotion gave rise to social movements.

“I was a reporter and when Occupy Wall Street broke, I was there in New York covering it — and nobody really thought it was going to be anything. I didn’t think it was going to be anything,” Jaffe said. “But by the end of it, it was clear this was not insignificant. It was already changing, and other things were taking shape.”

Jaffe, a Nation Institute fellow, traveled the country in pursuit of movements that called for “full-on system change.” Her observations and reporting resulted in her first book, Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt.

But even as a seasoned reporter on social and political movements, Jaffe admits her work is unpredictable.

“You never can tell where a social movement is going to come from,” she wrote in an article for Dissent. “They’re built of a million injustices that pile up and up, and then, suddenly, spill over. I’ve spent years covering movements, trying to explain how one incident becomes the spark that catches, turning all those individual injustices into an inferno.”

At 10:45 a.m. Friday, July 27, in the Amphitheater, Jaffe will lecture as part of the Week Five theme, “The Ethics of Dissent.” As a columnist for The New Republic and New Labor Forum, Jaffe constantly examines nationwide economic and social tensions. At Chautauqua, she said she hopes to demonstrate the connection between acts of dissent and oppressive forces of power.

“I am trying to think about the idea of dissent versus the bigger questions of power,” she said. “One of the things I try to do is bring them together, so the question of dissent becomes a complicated question of power.”

In her book, she acknowledges the outspoken criticism against the American political system that resulted after the 2016 presidential election.

However, she said this dissatisfaction is not new to the country.

“And while the size and vehemence of the protests that came immediately after Trump’s election shocked many, their roots had been visible for years to anybody who cared to look,” she wrote in her book.

As co-host of Dissent magazine’s podcast “Belabored, Jaffe has studied dissent and revolt from a variety of perspectives. While researching her book, she found herself searching for the source of American indignation. From traveling to a church gymnasium in Ferguson, Missouri, to hopping on a bus of student protestors, Jaffe brings her cumulative experiences to help inform Chautauquans.

Jaffe studies movements like Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street, which now often make headlines and dominate social media. However, this momentum did not always exist.

“When Occupy Wall Street first took Zuccotti Park, it was laughed off even by those who might have been expected to be supportive — until it began to spread across the country, holding spaces for people to come together and discuss deep-rooted problems that had created the crisis they still felt,” she wrote in her book. “By the time Black Lives Matter seized the stage, it became clear that something was fundamentally changing.”

Despite the differences between various social movements, Jaffe said they are undeniably intertwined. Police violence against African- Americans, she argues, serves to represent larger patterns of inequality present in America’s social and economic landscape.

“Labor struggles have a long, checkered history with struggles for racial justice and particularly against violence,” she wrote in an article for Salon.

What connects American activists, Jaffe said, lies in the fight against dominant and exploitative forces that control the country.

“Concentrated economic power leads to concentrated political power,” she wrote in her book. “Those with the money can buy not just an election, but all the legislating that comes in between; the rich see their policy preferences enacted, and the rest of us see that happen only when our desires align with those of the rich and powerful.”

Despite the current state of America, Jaffe said she has faith in oppressed people and their mission to create a “necessary revolt.” Although the country’s power may be concentrated, citizens can find strength in their common cause.

“I think these movements have common roots and common causes and are often fighting against the same things,” she said. “Broadly, we’re grappling with the question of inequality and how we’ve gotten to this incredibly unequal point in American society.”

Bari Weiss to speak about cultural and political trends in morning lecture

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In a week full of speakers with wide-ranging views like Suzanne Nossel and Shaun King, Bari Weiss will contribute her own perspective to the challenging conversations Chautauquans are having.

Weiss, a writer and editor who covers culture and politics for The New York Times opinion section, will speak at 10:45 a.m. Thursday, July 26, in the Amphitheater as part of Week Five’s theme, “The Ethics of Dissent.” Her columns cover topics like anti-Semitism, the #MeToo movement and free speech at colleges, which she’ll discuss during her talk.

Matt Ewalt, Chautauqua Institution’s chief of staff, said Weiss will bring a unique perspective to the trending topics around dissent for those on opposing political sides.

“Bari will be addressing what she sees as a culture of fear in the United States around free speech, particularly for those on the political right, but also across the political spectrum,” Ewalt said. “She’s written extensively on the state of free speech on college campuses, on what she’s identified as a redrawing of the bounds of acceptable speech by the left, and the derision that meets certain speakers and thought leaders by those who are otherwise calling for an openness in our discourse.”

Before joining the Times in 2017, Weiss was an op-ed editor and an associate book review editor at The Wall Street Journal. She was also a Robert L. Bartley Fellow in 2007 and a Dorot Fellow in Jerusalem from 2007 to 2008. She was a senior editor at Tablet and has written for Haaretz, The Forward and The New York Sun.

She’s also appeared on shows like “Morning Joe” and “Real Time with Bill Maher,” to give an on-air voice to the topics she writes about.

Weiss said she was humbled to be speaking around these issues she’s spent her career covering, especially at a time when these topics — free speech, sexual conduct and social justice — are at the forefront of national dialogue.

“Free speech and free thinking are subjects I care about deeply, and I’ve written about these themes in various contexts my whole career,” Weiss said. “Being able to spend a lot of time working on a big talk about them has been really exciting and challenging.”

In her March 2018 piece, “We’re All Fascists Now,” Weiss criticized the growing frequency with which people on the left classify anything they disagree with as “fascist.”

“The main effect is that these endless accusations of ‘fascism’ or ‘misogyny’ or ‘alt-right’ dull the effects of the words themselves. As they are stripped of meaning, they strip us of our sharpness — of our ability to react forcefully to real fascists and misogynists or members of the alt-right,” Weiss wrote. “For a case study in how this numbing of the political senses works, look no further than Mitt Romney and John McCain. They were roundly denounced as right-wing extremists. Then Donald Trump came along and the words meant to warn us against him had already been rendered hollow.”

Weiss said she is grateful for the chance to speak at the Institution and praised those who are interested in hearing and learning about different perspectives.

“I’m really excited to be speaking in front of an audience of people who choose to spend their vacation learning,” she said. “I expect it will be a really engaged, smart and challenging crowd. I look forward to engaging with them.”

Ewalt described Weiss’ work as significant and said that she has used her platform to critique cultural movements.

“Bari has asked critical questions of the leaders and activists of social movements such as the Women’s March and #MeToo. In doing so, she has been the subject of significant derision on social media,” he said. “As we wrestle with difficult ethical questions inside this week on dissent, Bari’s work, and, I imagine, her lecture, prompt us to ask how we engage (with) one another in asking and answering these questions as a larger community.”

Despite the social media backlash Weiss has experienced, she said no one should be afraid to voice their opinions.

“You can go through life playing it safe, or you can go through life saying what you really think,” she said. “To me, the choice is a no-brainer.”

Shaun King, Tamika Mallory, Edwin Lindo to share importance of solidarity in activism

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Shaun King

In July 2016, a video of an African-American man pulled over for a traffic stop surfaced on social media. The video depicted the man, Philando Castile, being shot by a police officer while reaching for his glove box. He died shortly after in a local hospital.

The video is shocking and quick, described by the New York Times as how “mundane conversation about a broken taillight devolved within seconds into gunfire.” Trevor Noah, host of “The Daily Show,” said the video was disturbing and “broke my heart into little pieces.”

For Black Lives Matter activist and social justice scholar Edwin Lindo, this type of discomfort can be beneficial.

“I’d like folks to be ready to be uncomfortable because that discomfort is where we grow,” said Lindo, an instructor at the University of Washington. “It’s not an uncomfortableness of being attacked, but an uncomfortableness of being pushed to expand how you see the world.”

Tamika Mallory

At 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, July 25, in the Amphitheater, Lindo will join The Intercept columnist Shaun King and Women’s March national co-chair Tamika Mallory as a panel of Black Lives Matter activists. The panel is part of the Week Five theme, “The Ethics of Dissent.”

King, co-founder of the PAC Real Justice and former senior justice writer at the New York Daily News, visited Chautauqua last summer to speak during a week on “The Nature of Fear.”

“Following Shaun King’s Chautauqua lecture in 2017, we reached out to him about our week on ‘Ethics of Dissent’ particularly on the questions we were intending to explore and how to engage movement leaders in such a critical conversation,” said Matt Ewalt, Chautauqua’s chief of staff. “Shaun was very interested in leading a program with Black Lives Matter activists that would respond to these questions, reflecting on the ethical frameworks that drive the work and how we can understand the ethics of dissent within Black Lives Matter alongside other contemporary movements and the civil rights movement of the 1960s.”

In addition to sharing the history of African-American activism, Lindo said he hopes to emphasize the power of solidarity.

Edwin Lindo

Though police brutality targets black and Latino communities, Lindo said, all races need to recognize inequality and take universal action against such hatred.

“We have to work together because if we don’t, it becomes a struggle and a fight that feels overbearing,” he said. “We need everyone, and to be able to speak to as many people as possible is crucial and necessary.”

For King, this exposure to injustice began in 2014 when he was forwarded several videos of African- American men who fell victim to police violence.

“I learned, as most of America learned and as most of my friends learned, that police in America were not killing people every two or three weeks; it was not even every two or three days,” King said in his lecture last year at Chautauqua.“It was every three or four hours.”

His discomfort sparked action, and now King is well-known within the Black Lives Matter movement. With over 1 million Twitter followers, he uses social media to voice his oppositions against racism and violence. As a co-founder of Real Justice PAC, King and his team work to elect prosecutors at both county and municipal levels who are committed to derailing discrimination in the justice system.

He has also raised almost $10 million for charities worldwide and has received accolades like the Epoch Humanitarian Award.

Mallory, who spearheaded the creation of New York City’s Crisis Management System that works to prevent gun violence, also believes in progressive change that goes beyond simply acknowledging a problem. In an interview with The Root, Mallory criticized those who like her social media posts but fail to take any action.

Specifically, she cited an April 2018 incident when an African-American woman was arrested at a Waffle House in Alabama.

“What happens is sometimes people sit back and say, ‘OK, maybe on social media it’s important, but it’s not important in terms of our bottom dollar,” Mallory told The Root. “So when a young woman by the name of Chikesia Clemons can be dragged up and down Waffle House all over the place … and we can still go to the Waffle House, even though we’re sharing the video on social media, that’s a problem. … I don’t need your likes, I need your movement.”

Mallory devotes her time to social justice causes as president of Mallory Consulting, a firm that has worked with Fortune 500 corporations to fight against issues like gun violence and mass incarceration.

Though these three activists will spend limited time at the Institution, Lindo said he is optimistic about their visit. Progressive change is the end goal, but Lindo said it needs to be sparked through civil and informative conversation.

“I’m glad that these conversations are happening in a place like Chautauqua,” Lindo said. “The history of it is one of curiosity and investigating and one of exploring ideas. If we are only listening to certain ideas, we start to get sucked into a vacuum, so I think this is a chance to present ideas that perhaps are unique to this particular group.”

Free speech should be taken more seriously and Suzanne Nossel will tell you why

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The First Amendment protects one’s right to freedom of expression, and Suzanne Nossel will explain why this right needs to be protected.

At 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, July 24, in the Amphitheater, Nossel will take the lecture platform as part of Week Five’s theme, “The Ethics of Dissent.”

Nossel is the chief executive officer of PEN America, a leading human rights and free expression organization. She joined PEN America in 2013 and has increased the organization’s staff, budget and membership. Nossel is a featured columnist for Foreign Policy magazine and has published articles in outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times. She has also had scholarly articles published in Foreign Affairs, Dissent, Democracy and other journals.

Nossel believes free expression is “under attack” in the United States. She thinks that being able to express oneself is a fundamental right, but it is not being protected as much as it should be. Nossel said she thinks people need to learn from others’ perspectives instead of silencing those with differing opinions.

“Take the struggles of others, and don’t shut down free speech,” Nossel said. “Hate speech shouldn’t be suppressed. No speech should be suppressed.”

Nossel said there are better ways to deal with hate speech instead of banning it through the creation of a law. Making hate speech illegal would go against what the First Amendment symbolizes.

“Take on the concerns of diverse groups, and figure out a different system that will invoke change,” Nossel said.

Conversations about equality and free speech need to happen, according to Nossel.

“They have to happen face-to-face and not through social media,” she said. “All sides are important and should be treated as such.”

These conversations shouldn’t be limited to just certain people and groups, she said. Free speech conversation should be talked about publicly and with all people.

“Free speech needs to be taught,” Nossel said. “Introduce it to the new generation so they are raised knowing what is right.”

PEN America is working to have agents based in all 50 states in order to educate about free expression and its importance. The organization is also working with local news outlets across the country, hoping to create a sense of trust between citizens and the media.

“We are growing and doing a lot of work around the world,” Nossel said.

Free expression needs to be taken more seriously and should be a topic of conversation on an everyday basis, Nossel said, not just when there is a rally with attendees who spew hate speech.

“Free expression has been latent and not on the top of enough people’s minds,” Nossel said. “It can’t be forgotten; the issue needs to raised everywhere.”

Nossel wants people to walk away from her lecture with an understanding that free expression is significant.

“Don’t leave free speech up to the courts and officials,” Nossel said. “We all have a role to play and have to stand up for our rights. Change takes a long time and is not easy. We have to make free speech welcoming to everyone.”

LGBTQ and Friends Community sponsors Gessen’s lecture

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Catie Kirsten, Karen James and Barbara Britton discuss the sponsorship of speaker Masha Gessen through the LGBTQ Friends and Community group and how they hope Gessen’s lecture will bring about new conversations at Chautauqua on Friday, July 13, 2018. ABIGAIL DOLLINS/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

In 2013, the Russian government imposed an anti-gay propaganda law in an effort to reinforce traditional family values. The law forced many LGBTQ people, like journalist and author Masha Gessen, to flee the country with their families.

“(Gessen) is powerful in the perspective on what freedom is and how freedom can be endangered,” said Barbara Britton, member of Chautauqua’s LGBTQ and Friends Community. “It really is a cautionary tale for what we’re going through in our society right now.”

At 10:45 a.m. Friday, July 20, in the Amphitheater, Chautauquans will hear Gessen’s story thanks to the sponsorship of LGBTQ and Friends Community.

LGBTQ and Friends’ mission statement says it strives to “expand diversity within the greater Chautauqua community.” The group holds two weekly events: a meet and greet at 6 p.m. on Sundays on the porch of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall and a Brown Bag at 12:15 p.m. on Tuesdays in the Garden Room of Alumni Hall.

The group has also sponsored lectures, such as the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson’s talk last season in the Hall of Philosophy. In addition to sponsoring Gessen’s lecture this season, the LGBTQ and Friends Community was also involved in a weeklong dialogue on sexual orientation, gender and identity throughout Week Three in the Hall of Philosophy, sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Chautauqua.

After reading Gessen’s book The Future is History, Britton knew that the author would be an influential voice to include in this season’s programming.

Gessen was a journalist in Russia for 20 years, writing about the state of the country, LGBTQ rights, medical genetics and various other topics. Gessen is currently a staff writer for The New Yorker and contributes to other publications such as The New York Times and The Washington Post.

After the Russian Duma introduced, and would later pass, the anti-gay propaganda law five years ago, Gessen’s oldest adopted child was sent to the United States in fear of the government annulling the his adoption.

One reason the LGBTQ and Friends Community decided to underwrite Gessen’s lecture was because of Gessen’s powerful story, yet the group also wanted to do its part in supporting Chautauqua Institution.

“As a community, we want to be a supporter of Chautauqua and give back,” said Karen James, member of the LGBTQ and Friends Community. “(We’re) willing to sponsor speakers (and) willing to make that financial commitment.”

Catie Miller, member of the LGBTQ and Friends Community, said that sponsoring people to come and speak at Chautauqua is of “great educational value,” and the community benefits from being exposed to different perspectives.

Specifically, Britton said she hopes community members will take away from Gessen’s lecture the importance of “not losing your freedoms” because of propaganda. She and other members of LGBTQ and Friends hope that people will gain a better understanding of the struggles marginalized people are facing in their communities.

For more information on program underwriting opportunities, contact Karen Blozie, senior major gifts officer at the Chautauqua Foundation, at 716-357-6244 or kblozie@chq.org.

Alina Polyakova of Brookings Institution to clarify the United States and Russia’s ill-defined relationship post-Cold War

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In reference to the historically frosty relationship between the United States and Russia that continues to this day, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared on Monday during the Helsinki summit that the Cold War was over. Foreign policy analyst Alina Polyakova said she agrees with him — to an extent.

“There was a very clear awareness to the United States that the Soviet Union was an adversary,” Polyakova said. “Today, we don’t have that clarity anymore. Today, most American don’t know what to think of Russia. They don’t know what to think of Putin. We don’t have this easy way of dividing the world into good guys and bad guys.”

For this reason, Polyakova said that terms like “Cold War 2.0” do not accurately reflect the current state of international tension.

“We’re in a much more problematic position with Russia than we were during the Cold War,” she said. “I don’t like the label because I think it actually underestimates the way we are in a different situation today.”

At 10:45 a.m. Thursday, July 19, in the Amphitheater, Polyakova, the David M. Rubenstein Fellow for Brookings Institution’s Center on the United States and Europe, will discuss the relationship between the United States and Russia, continuing Chautauqua’s weeklong look at “Russia and the West.”

Polyakova’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, among other media outlets. Her 2015 book, The Dark Side of European Integration: Social Foundations and Cultural Determinants of the Rise of Radical Right Movements in Contemporary Europe, describes the nationalist backlash to Europe’s economic integration. Additionally, she is an adjunct professor of European studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Two months before Ukraine achieved independence in 1991, a young Polyakova left the country with her family as refugees for Atlanta, Georgia. After graduating from Emory University, she returned to the continent in 2004 to study in Germany on a Fulbright scholarship.

“I started to notice that there was something happening in Europe,” she said. “At the time, Europe was sort of a safe space, but even in the mid-2000s, I started noticing certain trends.”

As part of her graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley, Polyakova spent two years in Ukraine studying the rise of far-right political parties and interviewing their leaders. In 2012, she said she noticed a growing bond between these parties and Russia.

“I realized that if I wanted to be part of this conversation, I needed to leave the ivory tower and work on policy,” she said.

On top of Europe’s radicalized political parties, Polyakova said she was motivated to change course by the way countries like Germany and the United Kingdom were taken in by Russia’s disinformation efforts.

“I was shocked at the amount of Russian propaganda that was being launched not just at Ukraine, but at the international community,” she said, “and to what extent the Western media was uncritical of these narratives.”

In light of the Helsinki summit, Polyakova said there is no better time for Chautauquans to talk about how the United States and Russia interact.

Going into the meeting, Polyakova said that the United States and President Donald Trump held all the cards. Nevertheless, she said Trump’s lack of a clear agenda and Putin’s diplomatic experience gave Russia a victory.

“This is not his first time at the rodeo,” Polyakova said. “At the end of the day, we don’t know what happened in the one-on-one meeting between the two leaders, but certainly from the press conference I thought it was obvious that Putin ran the show.”

During the leaders’ joint press conference, Polyakova noted, Trump blamed the United States for the decline in relations, never mentioned Russian “infractions” in Syria, Crimea and Ukraine, and sided against U.S. intelligence agencies on Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election.

“To my mind, this is an embarrassing moment for the United States to look so weak when that weakness is unwarranted,” she said.

While Democrats and Republicans alike have condemned Trump’s actions at the summit, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov described the meeting as “fabulous … better than super,” according to Russian media.

“You never hear Lavrov use that kind of language,” Polyakova said.

Polyakova said that Putin’s success at the summit gave a huge boost to his approval ratings, which last week were at their lowest point since before Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

“Clearly, for the domestic audience, Putin got exactly what he wanted,” she said. “He was seen as (being) on equal footing with the United States and not only that, as actually leading the United States at some points in explaining U.S. policy toward Russia to the audience, to the journalists in the room. I think Putin used this moment to shine, and that’s exactly how he’s being portrayed in the Russian media.”

Polyakova said that while her lecture will address the summit, her remarks will touch on how the past four United States presidents worked with the Kremlin.

After being floated around as an idea for years at Chautauqua, this week’s theme was chosen more than a year ago for the 2018 season, long before the Helsinki summit was announced. Nevertheless, Polyakova said she appreciates the theme’s synergy with the current national conversation.

“I’m very glad that my trip to Chautauqua has fallen how it has,” Polyakova said. “It will be nice to escape a little bit from the madness of Washington.”

Ambassador William J. Burns to discuss the evolution of U.S, Russia relations

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Ambassador William J. Burns served for over three decades at the highest levels of the U.S. government, shaping foreign policy through some of history’s most monumental international affairs. As part of Week Four’s theme, “Russia and the West,” Burns will speak at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, July 17, in the Amphitheater.

Matt Ewalt, Chautauqua Institution chief of staff, said those decades of experience are why Burns was a perfect fit for the theme.

“Ambassador Burns brings incomparable on-the-ground knowledge of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Russia,” Ewalt said. “His having served under both a Republican and Democratic administration informs a perspective on how diplomacy must react to the politics of the day while also building long-term relationships that can rise above those politics.”

Burns is currently president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the oldest international affairs think tank in the United States.

Burns retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 2014 after a 33-year diplomatic career. He holds the highest rank in the Foreign Service, career ambassador and is only the second serving career diplomat in history to become deputy secretary of state.

“I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate over nearly 33 years in the Foreign Service, and had wonderful opportunities and terrific people to work with,” Burns said in an interview with the American Foreign Service Association. “I realize how lucky I’ve been.”

Prior to his tenure as deputy secretary, Burns served as ambassador to Russia from 2005 to 2008.

“Whatever the difficulties in our relations — and, certainly, today we have profound difficulties with the current Russian leadership — it is important to develop a sense of respect for that history, and what Russians as a people have not only endured but also achieved,” he told the AFSA.

Burns speaks Russian, Arabic and French. He told the ASFA investing in the Russian language “is an entry point to understanding that society.”

“Russians are understandably deeply proud of their history and their culture,” he told ASFA. “It’s important to understand what Russia as a society has been through in recent generations, going back to the Soviet period during which the population endured the famine, the purges and the Second World War.”

Burns told the ASFA that Russia can be a difficult place to serve at times, but that is what makes the work so gratifying.

“ … (I)t can also be a very rewarding place, especially if you keep a sense of perspective, and you understand not only the sweep of Russian history, but the continuing significance of Russia and U.S.-Russian relations,” Burns said.

In 1994, Burns was named to Time magazine’s list of the “50 Most Promising American Leaders Under Age 40” and to its “100 Young Global Leaders” list. Since then, he has been the recipient of three Presidential Distinguished Service Awards and more than eight Department of State awards.

However, no matter what advancements he has made in his career, Burns told the ASFA that the fundamentals always remain the same.

“Foreign language, curiosity, adaptability, integrity and honesty; a respect for foreign cultures and other societies; and understanding, as I said before, how to navigate them,” he said. “And then, not least, knowing where you’re from — having a clear sense of American purpose.”

On day of Helsinki summit, Coons to discuss U.S.-Russia relations

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It’s a big week for U.S.-Russia relations.

On Wednesday and Thursday, July 11 and 12, President Donald Trump met with European leaders at the NATO summit in Brussels, where he accused Germany of being a “captive of Russia.” On Monday, July 16, in Helsinki, Trump is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. And at 10:45 a.m. Monday, July 16, in the Amphitheater,  will open the morning lectures for Week Four, “Russia and the West.”

In his first visit to Chautauqua, the Democratic senator will lay out a “comprehensive vision for the U.S.-Russia relationship,” according to Thomas Mancinelli, Coons’ foreign policy adviser. Mancinelli said the relationship between the two countries is one that extends far beyond the events of the 2016 election.

“There’s a lot of different aspects of (that relationship) that are important to Americans,” Mancinelli said. “Part of that, though, starts with recognizing that we’re at a low point in U.S.-Russia relations as a result of President Putin’s own efforts to undermine our own democracy in an attempt to divide us as a country, to divide us from Europe and to divide European society from within.”

Mancinelli said Russia has been working to “sow discord and create chaos in democracies around the world” as early as 2007, and Coons will discuss some of the circumstances that have led the Kremlin and Putin to “wage this campaign of informational and hybrid warfare.”

Coons, the junior senator from Delaware, has been an outspoken advocate for policies that “counter Russian aggression and subversion,” he said in a February talk he gave at the Hudson Institute. Although Mancinelli said the lecture will not specifically address the ongoing investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election, Coons has previously spoken out against the president’s relationship with Putin.

On July 8, Coons told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he is “very concerned about things (Trump) might give away or say with Vladimir Putin” at the expected Helsinki summit today.

The president told reporters last Thursday that he will raise the subject of Russia’s alleged interference during his meeting with Putin.

Coons is the vice chair of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics and a member of the Foreign Relations, Judiciary, Appropriations and Small Business and Entrepreneurship committees. In those roles, he frequently works with Republican members of the Senate to create bipartisan legislation. In April, Coons co-sponsored a bill that would limit the president’s ability to fire any special counsel through the use of an “expedited judicial, review” to determine if the proposed termination was for a “good cause,” according to The Hill.

Most recently, Coons was part of a bipartisan delegation to northern European countries that share borders with Russia to discuss their concerns about U.S.-Russian relations.

“I’ll remind you last month in Quebec at the G7, President Trump picked a whole lot of fights, particularly with Canada,” Coons told “Morning Joe” on July 9, “and for us to be facing a trade war with China and at the same time have President Trump be picking fights with our key allies in Europe and North America, strikes me as just nonsensical, and many Republican senators feel the same.”

Mancinelli said Coons frequently works with Republicans like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, as well as other Republican officials who see the Russian threat with “clear eyes.” Mancinelli said this approach is crucial for developing a “pragmatic analysis of how we can go forward and improve the (U.S.-Russia) relationship.”

“Whether you’re Republican, Democrat, American, European or Russian, if we all understand one another’s perspectives and backgrounds, we can use that as a basis for developing an informed, bipartisan strategy going forward,” he said.

Matt Ewalt, Chautauqua’s chief of staff, said the Institution is excited for Coons to set the stage for Week Four with suggestions for how “we as American citizens … can ultimately serve an important role in bringing this relationship to a constructive space.”

“Coons is widely praised for his pragmatism, working across the aisle and finding common ground with his Republican colleagues,” Ewalt said. “It’s this commitment to talk across differences that gives us confidence that he’ll find the Chautauqua community and experience both personally enriching and a valuable model for community discourse.”

Original SNL cast member Newman to discuss benefits of everyday play, improv

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“The fourth wall” originated as a concept in theater. Merriam-Webster defines the fourth wall as “an imaginary wall (as at the opening of a modern stage proscenium) that keeps performers from recognizing or directly addressing their audience” It sections off the fabricated world the actors are performing in from the audience.

People often think of play as something that only takes place within the confinements of a space closed off by the fourth wall. Yet the concepts of improvisation, play and acting are not always enclosed in the imaginary worlds of theater, television and movie production.

“(While) researching the topic, it became apparent to me how much improvisation and humor are used every day in so many ways that we don’t even think about,” said Laraine Newman, actor and original cast member of “Saturday Night Live.”

At 10:45 a.m. Friday, July 13, in the Amphitheater, Newman will speak to Chautauquans about how applicable play is to everyday life, from casual encounters to easing the stress of those affected by a medical condition, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

For more than three decades, Newman has gained experience in the entertainment industry.

A Los Angeles, California, native, she first became interested in improvisation, acting and humor as a teenager, which eventually led her to study mime under Marcel Marceau. She was a founding member of the improvisational and sketch comedy troupe, The Groundlings, in 1974 and became an original cast member of “Saturday Night Live” a year later.

From there, Newman has enjoyed a career in acting and voice animation, appearing in episodes of iconic television shows like “Friends” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” in addition to numerous animated shows like “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” “Fairly Oddparents” and “Spongebob Squarepants.”

Throughout Week Three, Chautauquans have been asked to think of play in a constructive manner. One area Newman will touch on is the importance of play during childhood, relating to her own experience of letting her children run free with their imaginations in the park.

“For a child, it affirms them,” Newman said. “I noticed in my own children when we’d play in the park … the self-confidence they gained from it was such a delight to see.”

Yet Newman plans to take a holistic approach to the importance of play, as Chautauquans have engaged in dialogue about the relevance of play in adulthood throughout the week.

For example, horror movies are often produced in response to public fear about a real-life event, such as war. During World War II, Vietnam War and post-9/11, there was an increase in horror films that related to each era’s anxieties. Newman said she will touch on how those horror films are “another form of play for people to deal and manage with stress.”

Another facet of Newman’s lecture will be about the benefits of play in terms of health conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. By talking about these conditions, Newman said the discussion may make someone who has Alzheimer’s feel at ease.

“Much of the time, people with Alzheimer’s are told that their reality is not happening,” Newman said. “You can only imagine how terrifying that must be on a daily basis. To go along with what someone’s reality is … just a loving thing to do. For someone with Alzheimer’s, it relieves their stress.”

Newman said play has a number of benefits and real- world applications. She thinks play is not confined to a specific age group or professional field, and she plans to share the various ways play can be incorporated into everyday life.

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