TU Announces 2010-11 Presidential Lecture Series

Thursday, July 29, 2010

UPDATED March 3, 2011 with new information about April 7 event.

The University of Tulsa's 2010-11 Presidential Lecture Series, sponsored by the Darcy O'Brien Endowed Chair, will feature one of the world's most prominent anthropologists, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the New York Times, and a conversation between two internationally accclaimed authors.

All the presentations will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Great Hall at the Allen Chapman Activity Center. The lectures are free and open to the public.

Speakers for this year's series include:

  • C. Owen Lovejoy, University Professor of Anthropology at Kent State University, on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010,
  • New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010, and
  • Swedish author and playwright Henning Mankell in conversation with author Michael Ondaatje, Thursday, April 7, 2011.
C. Owen Lovejoy

This year's series will begin Sept. 21 in the Great Hall of the Allen Chapman Activity Center on the TU campus with C. Owen Lovejoy presenting, "Are We Sexy Because We're Smart or Smart Because We're Sexy: What Ardi and Lucy Tell Us About How Humans Came to Be." Lovejoy is University Professor of Anthropology at Kent State University, Adjunct Professor of Anatomy at the Northeast Ohio University College of Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He has authored nearly 150 articles on human evolution, and his work has been discussed in Time, Newsweek, the New York Times, Discover, Scientific American, the National Geographic and the Wall Street Journal, as well as all major science journals.

Lovejoy's work has centered on why humans first began to walk upright, and other aspects of early human evolution. He was a principal descriptor of "Lucy" and more recently was a principal author in the description of "Ardi," a revolutionary new fossil whose description was chosen by Science as "Science Breakthrough of the Year" in 2009.

Dr. Lovejoy is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the National Academy of Science where he now serves on the editorial board of its Proceedings. He has specialized in examining the human fossil record from the perspectives of evolutionary theory and has argued that monogamy may have been one of the earliest human traits, likely first appearing nearly five million years ago, and thereby setting the stage for the further human development, especially the emergence of the massive human brain and eventually cognition. His presentation will center on the relationships between Ardi and Lucy and how these two major discoveries have provided fundamental new evidence on how we came to be.

In June 2010, Lovejoy and his colleagues announced the discovery of "Kadanuumuu," an important new early hominid partial skeleton from Ethiopia that is 400,000 years older than the famous "Lucy" skeleton. Lovejoy is a principal author of the analysis of the new specimen to published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), one of the world's most-highly cited multidisciplinary scientific serials.

Nicholas Kristof

The second presentation in the series will be Oct. 7 in the Great Hall of the Allen Chapman Activity Center with Nicholas Kristof, who has twice won the Pulitzer Prize for his column in The New York Times. Kristof is an extraordinary thinker, human rights advocate, and astute chronicler of humanity. A seasoned journalist, he has traveled the major roads and minor byways of China, Africa, India, and South Asia, offering a compassionate glimpse into global health, poverty, and gender in the developing world.

Kristof has lived on four continents, reported on six, and traveled to 140 countries, all 50 states, every Chinese province, and every main Japanese island. He's also one of the few Americans to visit every member of the "Axis of Evil." During his travels, he has had unpleasant experiences with malaria, wars, an Indonesian mob carrying heads on pikes, and an African airplane crash.

Haunted by the Darfur genocide, Kristof has gone beyond reporting. Often called the "reporter's reporter," Kristof is also the subject of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival documentary Reporter. Crossing over into activism and hoping his dispatches will resonate with people, Kristof gives a voice to the voiceless. He believes, "you [can] tell the story of a place by writing about a tiny village as a sort of prism into the bigger issues the culture [is] facing."

Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn were the first married couple to win a Pulitzer in journalism for their coverage of China's Tiananmen Square democracy movement. They wrote China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power together and co-authored their latest book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Addressing worldwide maltreatment, marginalization, and brutality towards women, Half the Sky draws a compelling picture of the trials and triumphs of women struggling for opportunity and equality. Called "electrifying" by The Washington Post, the book has already hit The New York Times Bestseller List.

Author Henning MankellThe series will conclude April 7 with internationally bestselling Swedish novelist and playwright Henning Mankell in conversation with author Michael Ondaatje. Mankell has achieved international acclaim for his Kurt Wallander detective series. His novels have been translated into 40 languages and sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. Mankell has received the German Tolerance Prize and the U.K.’s Golden Dagger Award and has been nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize three times. His Wallander mysteries have been published in thirty-three countries and consistently top the bestseller lists in Europe. He divides his time between Sweden and Maputo, Mozambique, where he has worked as the director of the Teatro Avenida theatre since 1985. He is currently working on a new novel which will be released in Sweden in 2011, as well as writing a television series about his late father-in-law, Ingmar Bergman. The Troubled Man, his last novel about Kurt Wallander, will be released in the US, UK, and Canada on March 29.

Author Michael OndaatjeOndaatje is one of the world’s foremost writers – his artistry and aesthetic have influenced an entire generation of writers and readers. Although he is best known as a novelist, Ondaatje’s work also encompasses memoir, poetry, and film, and reveals a passion for defying conventional form including his transcendent novel The English Patient—later made into the Academy Award-winning film. He is the author of four collections of poetry and his works of fiction include In the Skin of a Lion, Coming Through Slaughter, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, Anil's Ghost, and Divisadero. His forthcoming novel, The Cat’s Table, will be published by Knopf this fall.

David Hamby