Calendar Highlights: April 10, 2013

Meadows Percussion Ensemble
Meadows Percussion Ensemble

Percussion double feature: Indonesian master musician Ade Suparman performs with the Meadows Percussion Ensemble and World Music Ensemble at noon  Wednesday, April 10, as part of the Expanding Your Horizons Brown Bag Concert Series. It serves as a preview for the Percussion Ensemble Spring Concert that same day at 8 p.m. The spring concert features different faculty artists and composers:  Andrés Díaz, Meadows cello professor, Dr. Lane Harder, Meadows alum and composition faculty member, and Suparman, who plays the zither and bamboo flute. The noon performance is in the Taubman Atrium; the 8 p.m. performance is in Caruth Auditorium. Both are free and open to the public.

Drone strikes: Is the United States legally obliged to explain its drone policy? This and other topics will be discussed on Thursday, April 11, during Drone Strikes: Security, Human Rights and Morality. The lecture will include perspectives from Jeffrey Kahn, SMU Dedman School of Law professor, Naureen Shah, Columbia Law School associate director, Michael Lewis, Ohio Northern University Law School professor. The panel is moderated by Chris Jenkins, SMU Dedman School of Law professor. The event begins at 5 p.m. in Karcher Auditorium, Storey Hall. The lecture is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

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Poetry and pain: Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences presents an interdisciplinary discussion, The Languages of Pain: What Poetry Can Tell Us about Pain, and What it Can’t. The panel will be led by Willard Spiegelman, Hughes Professor of English, who will be joined by Thomas Mayo, Law; Robert Howell, Philosophy; and Rhonda Blair, Theatre. Each will discuss the role poetry plays in their specific discipline and how people use poetry to give words to inexplicable pain, both physical and mental. Spiegelman is the editor-in-chief of Southwest Review and has authored books, essays and reviews as well as contributed to The Wall Street Journal. The event begins at 4:30 p.m. in Room 133, Fondren Science Building.

Afternoon Gallery Talks: Join Meadows Curator Nicole Atzbach for Martín Rico and His Circle, an afternoon gallery talk Friday, April 12. Atzbach has been with Meadows Museum since 2010 and became a curator in 2012. She will discuss the current Meadows exhibition, Impressions of Europe: 19th-century Vistas by Martín Rico. The talk begins at noon and is free with regular admission to the Meadows Museum.

Jampact: The eclectic Jampact band brings a mix of jazz, funk and world music to campus Saturday, April 13. The band includes some of SMU’s own faculty members; the musicians are Meadows Dean José Bowen, piano, with SMU professors Kim Corbet, trombone and synthesizer; Akira Sato, trumpet; and Jamal Mohamed, drums; with musician Buddy Mohamed on bass. The concert begins at 8 p.m. in the Greer Garson Theatre, Owen Arts Center. Tickets are $7 for faculty, staff and students.

Common Reading 2012: Anatomy of a financial disaster

'The Big Short' book coverBy the time the public learned of the 2008 U.S. stock market crash, it had been happening for more than a year. Author and journalist Michael Lewis sought out a relatively obscure handful of Wall Street hedge-fund managers – minor players even in their own companies – to answer the questions of who knew about the oncoming financial disaster and why they were unable, or unwilling, to stop it.

The result was The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, originally published in 2010. SMU has chosen Lewis’ work as the class of 2016’s first-year Common Reading Experience – the book every member of the Fall 2012 incoming class will read and discuss.

In an e-mail announcing the selection, Associate Provost Harold Stanley cited Lewis’ ability to “[weave] the stories of some lesser-known players in the financial crisis to illustrate … specific examples of corporate greed run amok as well as certain intrinsic ills of Wall Street in general.”

SMU News: Tate Distinguished Lecture Series presents Michael Lewis

Lewis is perhaps best known for his sports writing; his best-sellers include The Blind Side and Moneyball. Yet his knowledge of Wall Street culture comes from an insider’s perspective. His first book, Liar’s Poker, was an autobiographical account of his disillusioning experiences at the investment bank Salomon Brothers during the “greed is good” era of the 1980s. The Big Short describes the Wall Street players who created the arcane credit default swap market that bet against the subprime mortgage bubble and made millions as families lost their homes.

“[Lewis] has accessibly and expertly described a broken financial system that rewards bad decisions and fraudulent alchemy … then shifts the inevitable losses to the strapped U.S. taxpayer,” wrote Chuck Leddy in his Boston Globe review.

NPR: Michael Lewis on “How a Few Made Millions Betting Against the Markets”

Since its beginning in 2004, the Common Reading Experience has brought SMU faculty, staff and new students together for an introduction to the intellectual experiences of college life. Incoming first-year students receive the Common Reading book during summer AARO sessions and discuss it at informal gatherings led by SMU faculty and staff members and student leaders at the beginning of the fall term.

Past SMU Common Reading books include Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman, How to Be Good by Nick Hornby, The Devil’s Highway by Luís Alberto Urrea, Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama, Zeitoun by Dave Eggers and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

The selection committee is now seeking faculty and staff leaders for the discussion event that has become one of the first shared experiences for new students during their first week on the Hilltop. Each discussion leader will receive a free copy of the book.

To volunteer, contact Diana Grumbles, senior lecturer in English and director of first-year writing.

Join SMU’s Common Reading group at Facebook

Moneyball author Michael Lewis to give 2012 Tate Lecture Jan. 24

Michael Lewis, author of 'Moneyball,' 'The Blind Side' and 'Boomerang'Financial journalist and best-selling author Michael Lewis – whose books became the Oscar-nominated films Moneyball and The Blind Side – visits the Hilltop Tuesday, Jan. 24, to deliver the Omni Hotels Lecture in SMU’s 2011-12 Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series. The event begins at 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium.

All tickets to the previously scheduled Meg Whitman Tate Lecture from Oct. 18, 2011, will be honored at the Michael Lewis lecture.

Lewis is a regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Slate and Bloomberg. His latest book, Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World (2011), is based on articles he wrote for Vanity Fair on the debt crisis in Greece, Iceland and Germany. It captures the financial madness on both sides of the Atlantic during the past decade as individuals, institutions and entire nations embraced instant gratification over long-term planning. The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (2010) analyzes the freefall of the U.S. economy and the heroes and villains that drove it overboard.

As an author, Lewis first made a name for himself in 1989 with Liar’s Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage of Wall Street, an inside look at his career as a bond trader. Author Tom Wolfe called it “the funniest book on Wall Street I’ve ever read,” and the book also earned Lewis the label of “America’s poet laureate of capital” from The Los Angeles TimesLiar’s Poker spent 62 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list.

Lewis also examined the 1980s’ get-rich-quick jungle in The Money Culture (1992), chronicled the 1996 presidential campaign in Losers: The Road to Everyplace but the White House, and explored the internet boom in Next: The Future Just Happened (2002).

His 2003 bestseller, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, examined the effect an innovative personnel approach has had in allowing the small-budget Oakland Athletics to consistently rank among baseball’s best teams. Moneyball became a major motion picture in 2011 starring Brad Pitt and holds the record for the largest opening weekend for a baseball movie ever. (On the morning of Lewis’ Tate Lecture, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that the film had been nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture.)

In 2006, Lewis wrote The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, which tells the true story of Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher. The 2009 film adaptation – starring Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw and Kathy Bates (’69) – broke the box office record for the biggest opening weekend of a sports film in history. It was also nominated for Best Picture and won Bullock a Best Actress trophy in the Academy Awards. His 2009 book, Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood, is a compilation of stories he wrote for his column “Dad Again” in Slate, detailing the parenting realities he encountered with the births of his children.

A native of New Orleans, Lewis graduated from Princeton University with a degree in art history and earned his Master’s at The London School of Economics. Before he began his writing career, he worked with The Salomon Brothers on Wall Street and in London. He lives in Berkeley with his wife, former MTV News correspondent Tabitha Soren, and their three children.

The evening lecture is sold out, but SMU students may attend for free with their University ID if seats become available. Lewis will answer questions from University community members and local high school students in the Turner Construction/Wells Fargo Student Forum at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 24 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom. The event is free, but seating is limited. SMU faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend; RSVP online to ensure a place.

Learn more about this year’s Tate Lectures at