Meeting with Lillian Civantos

March 24th, 2013

On this day, the Franklin Forum was joined at one of its regular discussion meetings by Ms. Lillian Civantos (here in green)–an ISI Program Officer, the Director of Collegiate Network Student Newspapers, and the Editor of CN Newslink. After informing us more about what ISI stands for and the opportunities that it provides for eager students like us, Ms. Civantos contributed to the lively debates we entertained about the week’s readings, which focused on courage and self-sacrifice: George S. Patton Jr.’s “Speech to the Third Army”, Michael Shaara’s “Chamberlain,” and Stephen Vincent Benét’s “The Devil and Daniel Webster.” In addition to telling us more about ISI and having a say in the discussion, Ms. Civantos also offered us several books, which now rest on the top shelf in the Honors Forum lounge and mark the first of the Franklin Forum’s library.

Lecture: “Lincoln’s Moral Revolution”

February 7th, 2013



The Franklin Forum gratefully hosted Dr. Danilo Petranovich of Yale University to deliver a talked entitled “Lincoln’s Moral Revolution.” Over forty students and faculty showed up to the event, which was hosted in the handsome Pohndorff Room. Dr. Petranovich advanced a two-part argument: first, that Lincoln was an abolitionist at heart long before he would issue the January 1st, 1863 Emancipation Proclamation; and second, that Lincoln had intended for the Civil War to occur–indeed sought to sow its seeds himself by moving Northern crowds to hate slavery on particularly moral grounds instead of merely pragmatic or economic ones.

To prepare for the event and for the discussion that followed it, Franklin Forum members read several of Lincoln’s speeches.

6th Annual Carl G. Menges Colloquium, hosted by the Alexander Hamilton Institute (AHI)

“What is a Civilization Struggle: The Work of Samuel P. Huntington”

April 18th-20th, 2013

This weekend, several members drove up together to Verona, New York to an all-expenses-paid conference (thanks to the Alexander Hamilton Institute) on the subject of the work of Samuel Huntington, a prominent 20th-century sociologist and political thinker who theorized about, among other things, the Cold War and the current period, which followed it. The event featured a keynote lecture by Professor of Political Science at Swarthmore College James R. Kurth and two days of panel discussions about the health of Western civilization as compared especially to that of Islamic civilization. Franklin Forum members were able to speak to the panelists during meals and at the end of the event.

Members were particularly fascinated by Huntington’s keen assessment of the nature of the various “clashes” that have occurred in recent history. He contended that since the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, clashes among peoples have gone through several stages: in the first, peoples fought on the level of principalities; in the second, they fought on the level of nations; in the third, on the level of ideologies; and in the fourth, which is the present stage, they fight on the level of civilizations.

Dinner and discussion at the Surrey Inn with What So Proudly We Hail co-editor Diana Schaub

April 27th, 2013

To top off its second and successful semester, the Franklin Forum invited Professor of Political Science at Loyola University, Maryland, Diana Schaub, who, along with Professors Leon and Amy Kass, edited the anthology that the group used for the semester, What So Proudly We Hail.

Franklin Forum members were joined by the group’s five faculty advisors in a discussion led by Professor Schaub about the stories “The Man Without a Country,” by Edward Everett Hale; and “The Namesake,” by Willa Cather. One member has since kept in touch with Professor Schaub about her work on Montesquieu.

The Franklin Forum would like to thank the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) for providing us with copies of What So Proudly We Hail.

Lecture: “Moby-Dick and America’s Dilemma”

November 14th, 2013

Moby-Dick%20poster-3MD desktop

As a capstone for its semester of reading Moby-Dick, the Franklin Forum hosted Dr. John Alvis, Professor of English and the Director of the American Studies Program at the University of Dallas. In his talk, Professor Alvis contended that Melville, through his portrayal of Ahab’s tyranny and usurpation of the Pequod’s mission, was critiquing the project of modernity. According to Professor Alvis’s provocative thesis, the White Whale hunted relentlessly by Captain Ahab is to be understood as representing, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, both “nature” and “Nature’s God.” Following the talk, Professor Alvis was kind enough to join the Franklin Forum for dinner.

In subsequent discussions, the group further explored Professor Alvis’s thesis, noting, for example, the differences between Captain Ahab’s presentation at the beginning of the voyage of his reason for pursuing  Moby-Dick, and his presentation of his reason later on.

The Franklin Forum would like to thank the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization for providing us with copies of Moby-Dick and for generously funding our speaker event.

Professor Flagg Taylor bakes a pie for the group

December 8th, 2013

sweet potato

At the final weekly meeting of the semester, Professor Taylor surprised the group by bringing his homemade good-old-fashioned sweet potato pie. Some members were at first wary, having never tasted the traditional dessert, but all soon came to the consensus that it was an extraordinary treat, and that Professor Taylor was a virtuous man for providing it. The same professor also promised to bake a pie for the group from now on a couple of times per semester. He will be held to his promise.


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