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  Tanner Talks | 2019-20 

An annual lecture series generously endowed by the O.C. Tanner Foundation. 

Logo with drawing of O.C. Tanner

The Tanner Talks series brings in scholars, authors and influencers of all stripes to USU to introduce them to students, spark ideas, and start conversations.
The 2019-20 academic season is a cornucopia of wonderful nourishing and robust choices, from experts who confront injustice in the digital realm to an activist who survived Hiroshima bombing and has the scars that can help us understand its tremendous consequences. And the
best thing is:

All lectures are free and open to the public.


Sylvia Mendez, Latino champion

Two images, one of Sylvia Mendez as a child and the other as an adult

Sept. 17, 2019

When she was 8 years old, Sylvia Mendez and her family played a pivotal role in the landmark desegregation case of 1946 that prompted California to be the first state to integrate schools. In 2011, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.
Her sponsor: Crescencio Lopez, assistant professor of Spanish

First Amendment Symposium

An illustration of the original Bill of Rights.

Sept. 25, 2019

This date marks the 230th anniversary of the date in 1789 the First Congress put forward the ten amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights, so it is an auspicious time for a daylong symposium on the rights guaranteed in the First Amendment.
4 p.m.: Panel discussion on "The First Amendment: Its Legacy and Continuing Value," with Paige Peterson, Utah Supreme Court Justice; University of Utah Law Professor RonNell Anderson Jones, and Journalism Professor Thomas Terry.
7 p.m.: Donald Shaw will give the keynote address "First Amendment Rights: Threats and Triumphs." 

"Social Justice in Digital Spaces"

A woman in a hoodie looking at a laptop.

Sept. 26, 2019

The first of a four-part series on this timely subject. Presenting will be Tara McPherson, a professor in the University of Southern California's Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, where she teaches digital media and popular culture.
Upcoming lectures:
Oct. 24, 2019: Alison Macrina, founder of Library Freedom Project and a core contributor to the Tor Project.
March 5, 2020: Jody Byrd, English professor at the University of Illinois and a specialist on digital media's effect on indigenous communities.
April 7, 2020: Jacqueline Wernimont, professor of women and gender studies at Dartmouth College and a "network weaver" across arts, humanities and sciences.
Organizing committee: Rylish Moeller, Mattie Burkert, and Lynne McNeill, all English professors.

"From Gruel to Chicken McNuggets"

Dr. Gone in a casual pose

Oct. 4, 2019

The social issues that trouble us today all have historical antecedents. That will be addressed by Joseph P. Gone, a professor of anthropology, as well as global health and social medicine, at Harvard University, who will speak on "Race, Ethnicity, and Health: Historical Roots of Contemporary Challenges."
Sponsors are Seth Archer, assistant professor of History, and Guadalupe Marquez, assistant professor of Sociology

19th Amendment: Carol Anderson

Carol Anderson speaking in a TV news interview

March 19, 2020

The 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the vote, is worth celebrating, along with other instances of suffrage fights, such as 1870 and the Voting Rights Act which in 2019 remains endangered. Speaking will be Carol Anderson, author of the acclaimed 2018 book, One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying our Democracy." 
Sponsors: Professors Joyce Kinkead (Eng), Tammy Proctor (Hist), Jeannie Thomas (Eng), Sue Grayzel (Hist) and Christy Glass (Soc).

Actors of Shakespeare's 'Tempest'

A drawing of Prospero commanding the seas

March 19-21, 2020

A week-long residency concluding with three performances of "The Tempest."
The event concludes with three public performances of the Shakespearean tragicomedy at USU's Morgan Theater March 19-21. Tickets will be available for purchase at a later date.
Sponsor: Phebe Jensen, professor of English and an authority on William Shakespeare.

'Surviving the Atomic Bomb'

A woman (Shigeko Sasamori) wearing a hat

Spring 2020

“I looked like a monster." Shigeko Sasamori was a 13-year-old schoolgirl when Hiroshima was decimated by the atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945.  Ten years later, she and 24 other scarred and disfigured girls, all now known as the Hiroshima Maidens, came to the United States for multiple plastic surgeries.
She now shares her story with a presentation titled "Surviving the Atomic Bomb: Towards World Peace."

Sponsor: Atsuko Neely, lecturer in Asian Languages/Japanese.



2018-19 Tanner Talk presenters

God and Smog: Religion and Environmentalism
Oct. 10, 2018

Philip Barlow

A day-long panel discussion featuring four Religious Studies scholars in the morning hours and discussions by religious leaders in the afternoon. Panel discussion led by Philip Barlow, history professor and Arrington chair of Mormon Studies.

Merry Wiesner-Hanks

Oct. 4, 2018

Merry Weisner-Hanks

Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, as well as senior editor of The Sixteenth Century Journal: The Journal of Early Modern Studies. Wiesner-Hanks describes herself as wearing "... two hats, one as a historian of early modern Europe and the other as a world/global historian, with a primary focus on women, gender, and sexuality within these."


Krista Tippett
Nov. 7, 2018

Krista Tippetts

Creator and host of the public radio program and podcast, "On Being," a Peabody Award-winning program (as heard at Utah Public Radio, Tippett was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama for "thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence." Her book, Einstein's God (2010), was aNew York Timesbestseller.


Paul Losensky
Friday, Feb. 22, 2019

Paul Losensky

Professor of Central Eurasian Studies and Comparative Languages at Indiana University Bloomington. Dr. Losensky is a foremost authority on Persian language and literature in primarily Iran, India and Central Asia. His research focuses on Persian literary historiography, biographical writing, and the Fresh-Style poetry of the 16th and 17th centuries. Among the topics he teaches are comparative studies of Western and Middle Eastern literature, as well as translation studies.

Ayesha Ramachandran
Feb. 4, 2019

Ayesha Ramachandra

Associate professor of Comparative Literature at Yale. Dr. Ramachandran is a literary critic and cultural historian of early modern Europe. Her research focuses on Europe's relations with the expanding world of the 15th to 18th centuries.