The 2015 Kylene and Bradley Beers Lecture


Jesmyn Ward
author of Men We Reaped

Tuesday, September 8, 2015
6:30 p.m.
Dixon Hall, Tulane University

Free and open to the public, with a book signing to follow.

Award-winning novelist and Tulane professor Jesmyn Ward will lecture about her book, Men We Reaped, this year's Tulane Reading Project selection. Men We Reaped is Ward's critically acclaimed memoir, in which she examines the lives and untimely deaths of five young men she was close to, including her beloved brother. Her own story provides a poignant counterpoint: a private school education funded by her mother’s employer eventually led her to Stanford, two graduate degrees, and literary acclaim. Yet she remains haunted by the memory of these men, and by the role that poverty and racism played in their fates.  

Ward is the 2011 National Book Award winner for her novel Salvage the Bones, and the recipient of Tulane's first Paul and Debra Gibbons Professorship in the English department. A native of DeLisle, Mississippi, she received her MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan, where she won five Hopwood awards for essays, drama, and fiction. From 2008-2010, she was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in the department of creative writing at Stanford University, where she also earned a master's degree in media studies and communication. Ward also served as the John and Renee Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi from 2010-2011.

Sponsored by the Newcomb-Tulane College Office of Cocurricular Programs and Reading Project.

The Fall 2014 Kylene and Bradley Beers Lecture

Sarah CarrSarah Carr
author of Hope Against Hope

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

6:30 p.m.
Dixon Hall

Free and open to the public, with a book signing and reception to follow.

Award-winning education reporter Sarah Carr will lecture about her book, Hope Against Hope: Three Schools, One City, and the Struggle to Educate America's Children, this year's Tulane Reading Project selection. Hope Against Hope is "the story of New Orleans schools after Hurricane Katrina, through the eyes of those most affected by the dramatic education changes."

Carr has written about education for the last twelve years, reporting on the growth in online learning in higher education, the battle over vouchers and charter schools in urban districts, and the struggle to educate China's massive population of migrant children. Her work has been honored with numerous national awards and fellowships, most recently a Spencer Education Journalism Fellowship at Columbia University. She has also contributed to the New York Times, the Hechiniger Report, the Times-Picayune of New Orleans,, and several other news outlets.

Sponsored by the Newcomb-Tulane College Office of Cocurricular Programs, Reading Project, and Center for Public Service.



The 2014 Kylene and Bradley Beers Lecture

Sarah Vowell (credit Bennett Miller)Sarah Vowell
best-selling author, journalist, essayist and "social observer"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

6:00 p.m.
Freeman Auditorium in the Woldenberg Art Center, Tulane University

Free and open to the public, with a book signing and reception to follow.

Sarah Vowell is a New York Times best-selling author of six nonfiction books on American history and culture. By examining the connections between the American past and present, Vowell offers personal, often humorous accounts of everything from presidents and their assassins to colonial religious fanatics, as well as thoughts on American Indians, utopian dreamers, pop music and the odd cranky cartographer.

Her books include The Wordy Shipmates and Assassination Vacation, and her most recent book, Unfamiliar Fishes (2011), is the intriguing history of our 50th state, Hawaii, annexed in 1898.

Vowell was a contributing editor for Public Radio International’s This American Life from 1996 to 2008, where she produced numerous commentaries and documentaries. She even provided the voice of teen superhero Violet Parr in Brad Bird’s Academy Award-winning The Incredibles, and was one of the original contributors to McSweeney’s, also participating in many of the quarterly’s readings and shows. She has been a columnist for, Time, and San Francisco Weekly, and continues to write occasional essays for the opinion page of the New York Times. Vowell has made numerous appearances on the Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. She is also the president of the board of 826NYC, a nonprofit tutoring and writing center for students aged 6-18 in Brooklyn, New York.

---“Sarah Vowell is for my money, the best essayist/radio commentator/sit-down comic and pointy headed history geek in the business.”Seattle Times

"Queen of the Literary Hipster Nerds" - Vanity Fair

Sponsored by the Newcomb-Tulane College Office of Cocurricular Programs.

The 2013 Newcomb-Tulane College Lecture


Paul Tough
education reform advocate and writer

“The Hidden Power of Character”

Monday, March 11, 2013

6:00 p.m.
Dixon Hall, Tulane University

Free and open to the public, with a book-signing and reception to follow.

Paul Tough Writer, broadcaster, and speaker Paul Tough is one of the country’s leading voices on the topics of education reform and social innovation, challenging our culture’s belief that intelligence, endlessly measured by test scores, is the sole indicator of value in our education system. A contributing writer to New York Times Magazine, Tough has written extensively about education, poverty and politics, including cover stories on New Orleans' post-Katrina school system, the Harlem Children's Zone, the No Child Left Behind program, and charter schools. He is also the bestselling author of How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character (2012), which argues that non-cognitive skills – or, character – are better indicators of success; and Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America (2008), which focuses on the steps necessary to improve the lives and education of underserved children. Tough has also contributed to This American Life, The New Yorker, Slate, GQ, and Esquire.

In his lecture, “The Hidden Power of Character,” Tough will show how “nature” and “nurture” are intertwined, exploring how childhood stresses modify life success and the surprising ways that parents do – and do not – prepare their children for adulthood. Helping to understand how early adversity affects childhood emotional, social, and cognitive development in ways that will carry on throughout a person’s entire life, Tough will demonstrate why determining one’s success may come more from “personality traits” than scoring highest on tests, from pre-school to SATs. Tough’s message carries special resonance in New Orleans, which has taken center stage in the education reform movement since Katrina.

Learn more at

Sponsored by Newcomb-Tulane College Office of Cocurricular Programs, the NewDay Speaker Series, and the Office of Academic Affairs.


The 2012 Newcomb-Tulane College Lecture


Neri Oxman
architect, designer, and assistant professor of media arts and sciences at the MIT Media Lab

Finding Form at the Crossroads of Art, Science, Technology, and Environmentalism

Wednesday, March 21, 2012, 6:00 p.m.

Woldenberg Art Center, Freeman Auditorium, Tulane University

Free and open to the public, with a reception to Follow

Neri-LavinThe guest speaker for the 2012 Newcomb-Tulane College Lecture will be architect, designer, and researcher Neri Oxman of the MIT Media Lab. Dr. Oxman’s work integrates art, science, design, and ecology, drawing on nature to create sustainable concepts for businesses, infrastructures, and daily life.

Oxman was named to Icon's list of the "top 20 most influential architects to shape our future" (2009), and was selected as one of the "100 most creative people" by Fast Company (2009). In 2008, she was named "Revolutionary Mind" by Seed magazine. Her work has been exhibited at MoMA (NYC) and is part of the museum's permanent collection; other exhibitions include the Museum of Science (Boston, MA), FRAC Collection (Orleans, France), and the 2010 Beijing Biennale. She has received numerous awards including a Graham Foundation Carter Manny Award, the International Earth Award for Future-Crucial Design, and a Metropolis Next Generation Award.

Visit her website at and read her profiles in Interview magazine and Esquire magazine.


The 2011 Newcomb-Tulane College Lecture


Douglas Rushkoff
“Program or Be Programmed: Higher Education in the Digital Age”
media theorist, columnist, graphic novelist, documentarian and author of Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age

Wednesday, February 23, 2011, 7:00 p.m.

Dixon Hall, Tulane University

Free and open to the public
Book Signing to Follow

RushkoffWorld-renowned media theorist and counterculture figure Douglas Rushkoff is the originator of ideas such as “viral media,” “social currency,” “digital native” and “screenagers.” He has been at the forefront of digital society from its beginning, correctly predicting the rise of the net, the dotcom boom and bust, as well as the current financial crisis.

Winner of the first Neil Postman award for Career  Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity, Douglas Rushkoff is also a writer, graphic novelist and documentarian who is best known for his association with the early cyberpunk culture, and his advocacy of open source solutions to social problems.  He has served as an Advisor to the United Nations Commission on World Culture and lectures around the world about media, art, society and change, focusing on the ways people, cultures, and  institutions create, share, and influence each other’s values.  Rushkoff also wrote the first syndicated column on cyberculture for The New York Times and Guardian of London, and he developed the Electronic Oracle software series for HarperCollins Interactive.

  Rushkoff’s commentaries have appeared on CBS Sunday Morning, NPR’s All Things Considered, NBC Nightly News, Larry King Live on CNN, Real Time with Bill Maher and in Time and Arthur magazines, to name a few. 

His ten best-selling books on new media and popular culture have been translated to over thirty languages. They include Cyberia, Media Virus, Playing the Future, Nothing Sacred: The Truth about Judaism, Get Back in the Box: Innovation from the Inside Out and Life Inc., an analysis of the corporate spectacle, was also made into a short, award-winning film.  His book Coercion won the Media Ecology Association’s Marshall Mcluhan Award for best media book.  Rushkoff also wrote the acclaimed novels Ecstasy Club and Exit Strategy and graphic novel, Club Zero-G.  He wrote a series of graphic novels for Vertigo called Testament, and is currently working on another book for Vertigo.

Rushkoff is on the board of several new media non-profits and companies, including and HyperWords, and regularly consults on new media arts and ethics to museums, governments, synagogues, churches, universities, and even Fortune 500 companies that “are willing to listen to reason.”

Rushkoff graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University, received an MFA in Directing from California Institute of the Arts, a post-graduate fellowship (MFA) from The American Film Institute, and a Director’s Grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  He’s currently finishing his dissertation on media literacy and gaming for University Utrecht.  He has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, and Senior Fellowships by the Markle Foundation, the Center for Global Communications, and the International University of Japan.

The 2010 Newcomb-Tulane College Lecture

ntclectureLogoThe 2010 Newcomb-Tulane College Lecture

Brian Greene, physicist, string theorist and author of The Elegant Universe
“Why Science Matters”
Tuesday, March 16, 2010, 7:00 p.m., Dixon Hall
Free and open to the public


Greene photo color vertical cropBrian Greene is one of the world’s leading theoretical physicists and a brilliant, entertaining communicator of cutting-edge scientific concepts. The Washington Post described him as “the single best explainer of abstruse concepts in the world today.”

In The Elegant Universe Greene recounted how the theories of general relativity and quantum mechanics transformed our understanding of the universe, and introduced us to string theory, a concept that might be the key to a unified theory of the universe. The book sold more than a million copies and became an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning NOVA special that Greene hosted.

His second book, The Fabric of the Cosmos, spent 6 months on The New York Times bestseller list and is currently being adapted into a 4-part NOVA miniseries airing in the fall of 2011 on PBS. Greene is currently at work on a new book that will be published in January 2011.

His latest book, Icarus at the Edge of Time (Sept. ’08), is a futuristic retelling of the Greek myth. The Wall Street Journal described it as “terrific” and Seed magazine called it “moving and successful" and "beautifully illustrated”. Greene and David Henry Hwang have adapted the story for a symphonic performance in collaboration with composer Philip Glass; the world debut will be in Spring 2010.

In 2008, Brian Greene co-founded The World Science Festival. An annual event, its mission is to take science out of the laboratory and into the public halls making the esoteric understandable and the familiar fascinating to the general population.

A graduate of Harvard and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, Greene is a professor in both Physics and Mathematics at Columbia University. Greene has had many media appearances, from Nightline and Charlie Rose to The Late Show with David Letterman, and has made cameo appearances in the films Frequency, Maze, and The Last Mimzy. Greene has also written essays for NPR, Wired Magazine and The New York Times.

The 2009 Newcomb-Tulane College Lecture

ntclectureLogoJoe Klein, TIME political columnist and
author of Primary Colors
“The Obama Administration and the World”
Wednesday, March 11, 2009, 7:00 p.m., McAlister Auditorium
Free and open to the public




Columnist for TIME and author Joe Klein is one of America’s best political journalists, known for his provocative and probing analysis of events in our nation’s capital and abroad.

kleinHis weekly column, “In the Arena,” which covers national and international affairs, from Washington to Europe and the Middle East, won the National Headliner Award for best magazine column. A veteran of nine presidential campaigns, he has been praised for his “dogged reporting, a thorough, subtle grasp of issues, and a clear-eyed, compelling style.”

As “Anonymous,” he wrote the #1 bestseller, Primary Colors, which The New York Times Book Review called “one of the best political novels to appear in the latter half of the 20th Century” becoming a major motion picture starring John Travolta and Emma Thompson.

His other books include The Running Mate, The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton (a New York Times bestseller) and his latest book, Politics Lost: How American Politics Was Trivialized By People Who Think You’re Stupid.

A self-described “political junkie,” he is a former Guggenheim Fellow and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; he appears frequently on Meet the Press and The Chris Matthews Show.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 504-865-5720