Distinguished Guest Lectures – Fall 2023

Coordinators: Arlynn Greenbaum, Bob Reiss, Karen Levin, Estelle Selzer

The bimonthly Guest Lecture Series enhances the Quest program experience by inviting recognized experts in their fields to present on varied subjects. Presentations includ discussions of global policy and political science, literature, theater arts, social science, and music.

This semester’s lecture lineup may be seen here.

Philip Johnson and the Glass House: At Home with Art and Architecture

Presenter: Hilary Lewis, Chief Curator and Creative Director of The Glass House
Presentation Date: September 13, 2023
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Hilary Lewis is the inaugural Chief Curator & Creative Director at The Glass House, a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and former home of the architect Philip Johnson. She is co-author of two books on the architect.

The Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut is one of the nation’s most innovative architectural environments. This former home of architect Philip Johnson, first built in 1949, but expanded over decades, continues to preserve a nearly 50-acre landscape that is as much a part of the visual design as the architecture itself.

Johnson was best known in the world of architecture, but he played an equally powerful role as a patron of art. He was one the largest donors to New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The talk will look both at the property, best known for its signature work of modern architecture, and the extraordinary (and complex) figure behind this special property, which served as both a laboratory for architecture and a salon for the arts.

A Conversation with Anna Quindlen

Presenter: Arlynn Greenbaum, Anna Quindlen
Presentation Date: September 27, 2023
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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Anna Quindlen will be our Kenneth Leedom/Peter Cott Memorial Guest Lecturer this Fall. We all fondly remember her columns for the New York Times, which were collected in Living Out Loud and Thinking Out Loud.

Quindlen is the author of nine novels including Object Lessons, One True Thing, Black and Blue, Rise and Shine and Alternate Side. Her memoir, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, published in 2012, was a New York Times bestseller. Her book A Short Guide to a Happy Life has sold more than a million copies.

The format will be an on-stage interview conducted by Arlynn Greenbaum, followed by audience questions

Every Good Boy Does Fine, a Memoir

Presenter: Jeremy Denk, Classical Pianist
Presentation Date: October 11, 2023
No Recording

Jeremy Denk is one of America’s foremost pianists, proclaimed by the New York Times “a pianist you want to hear no matter what he performs.” Denk is also a New York Times bestselling author, winner of both the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and the Avery Fisher Prize, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

He is also known for his original and insightful writing on music, which has been praised for its “arresting sensitivity and wit.” His New York Times Bestselling memoir Every Good Boy Does Fine was published to universal acclaim by Random House in 2022, with features on CBS Sunday Morning, NPR’s Fresh Air, The New York Times, and The Guardian.

Turn Every Page

Presenter: Lizzie Gottlieb, Director
Presentation Date: October 25, 2023
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Lizzie Gottlieb is the daughter of Robert Gottlieb and the director of the critically acclaimed documentary Turn Every Page – The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb. She has been directing theater and film in New York for 20 years and teaches Documentary Direction at the New York Film Academy.

Her first film, Today’s Man, is about her brother who is on the Autism Spectrum. Her second film, Romeo Romeo, is about a young lesbian couple’s quest to have a baby. Both aired on PBS and won several awards.

We will look at the trailer for Turn Every Page and then Arlynn Greenbaum will interview Lizzie. If you haven’t seen Turn Every Page or want to see it again, it is streaming on Amazon, Apple, Criterion and Mubi.

Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers

Presenter: Jesse Green
Presentation Date: November 8, 2023
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Jesse Green is the Chief Theater Critic for The New York Times. From 2013 to 2017, he was the theater critic for New York Magazine. Before turning to writing, he worked in the theater as a gofer, a copyist and a musical coordinator on Broadway shows.

He is the author of the memoir The Velveteen Father: An Unexpected Journey to Parenthood and the novel O Beautiful.

Jesse speaks about his most recent book, Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers, the daughter of the theatrical composer, Richard Rodgers. Jesse co-wrote the book with Mary Rodgers.

As well as being an accomplished composer, author, and screenwriter, Mary Rodgers was “theater royalty.” She also wrote the music for Once Upon a Mattress, which won several Tony Awards.

The format is an an on-stage interview conducted by Karen Levin, followed by audience questions.

Tastes Like War, A Memoir

Presenter: Grace M. Cho
Presentation Date: December 13, 2023
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Grace M. Cho is the author of Tastes Like War, a finalist for the 2021 National Book Award in nonfiction and the winner of the 2022 Asian Pacific American Literature Award in adult nonfiction. Her writings have appeared in The Nation as well as several feminist publications. She is Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at The College of Staten Island, CUNY.

Grace is the daughter of a white American merchant marine and the Korean bar hostess he met abroad. When Grace was fifteen, her dynamic mother experienced the onset of schizophrenia, a condition that would continue and evolve for the rest of her life.

Part food memoir, part sociological investigation, Tastes Like War is a hybrid work about a daughter’s search for the roots of her mother’s schizophrenia. In her mother’s final years, Grace learned to cook dishes from her mother’s childhood in order to invite the past into the present, and to hold space for her mother’s multiple voices at the table.