Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Freedom Author Jonathan Franzen Joins CT Forum Panel

Franzen photo credit Greg Martin (Freedom)
We are thrilled to announce that
Celebrated Novelist...The Corrections and Freedom
will be a panelist at our Forum Book Club on Saturday, May 7, 2011. 

He will join fellow panelists Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, and John Irving, author of The Cider House Rules and The World According to Garp.

Jonathan Franzen is a celebrated American novelist and essayist whose most recent book, Freedom, much like his 2001 novel The Corrections, has won widespread critical acclaim. Touted as “a work of total genius,” and a “tour de force,” Freedom is considered a masterpiece in American fiction and Franzen a “literary genius of our time.” He is the first American author to appear on the cover of TIME magazine in the last ten years.

Franzen’s acclaimed novel, The Corrections, earned the 2001 National Book Award for Fiction, the 2002 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction, and was a finalist for the 2002 Pultizer Prize for Fiction. The Corrections was also selected for Oprah Winfrey’s book club in 2001; however, Franzen declined the opportunity for fear that the Oprah logo on the cover might dissuade men from reading the book. Franzen subsequently gained widespread media attention and The Corrections became one of the decade’s best-selling works of literary fiction. His other novels include The Twenty-Seventh City and Strong Motion.

Franzen’s 2002 essay collection, How to Be Alone included “Perchance to Dream, “ a 1996 Harpers essay bemoaning the state of literature and his discomfort with the place of fiction in contemporary society. He further explored the influence of his childhood and adolescence on his creative life in his 2006 memoir, The Discomfort Zone.

Among Franzen’s rules for aspiring writers are: ”You see more sitting still than chasing after” and “Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting.”

Educated at Swarthmore, Franzen studied on a Fulbright Scholarship in Germany. He lives in New York City and also writes for The New Yorker magazine.

Please visit our website for more information about Forum Book Club on Saturday, May 7, 2011.

Note: At this time, tickets for Forum Book Club are currently on sale to Forum Members only, but you may call (860) 509-0909 to get on the pre-sale waiting list. Wait list ticket orders will be processed in the order they are received.

Monday, August 30, 2010

CT Forum "Brain" Panelist Temple Grandin Wins Big at the Emmy Awards - Grandin will Appear in CT on February 25, 2011

Photo courtesy of The Baltimore Sun

Last night HBO's Temple Grandin won big at the 2010 Emmys, taking home awards for Best Made for TV Movie and Directing in a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special, as well as Best Actress and Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for Claire Danes and Julia Ormand respectively.

"I hope this movie is going to educate a lot of people about autism because there's a lot of people who don't understand it," Grandin said backstage.

The subject of the movie, Temple Grandin, will join our "Glorious, Mysterious Brain" panel on February 25, 2011 alongside Steven Pinker and others yet to be announced.

Temple on the red carpet:

Temple accepts award for Best Made for TV Movie and Directing in a Miniseries:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Gift of Listening

When our views are so polarized, it becomes increasingly difficult to listen...and hear.
Special Forum guest blogger Rosanne Thomas, certified etiquette and protocol consultant and founder of Boston-based Protocol Advisors, Inc., reflects on the public response to the proposed Islamic Center in New York and offers tips to help us communicate with respect, despite our differences.

Mention the now approved Islamic community center to be built near the site of the World Trade Center and you will get an opinion. Politicians and the general public are voicing theirs (some even making up words, i.e., 'refudiate,' so great is their consternation), and dissenting opinions are often met with shrill invective. President Obama, the Reverend Pat Robinson, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former House of Representative Speaker Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and countless others have weighed in. "Religious tolerance" and "freedom of assembly" are juxtaposed against "insult and dishonor" and "a slap in the face to victims and their families."

The 9/11 attacks evoke universal sadness and anger to this day. And in the midst of these emotions, if there is disagreement, true listening, understanding and respect are hard to come by. For many, it is difficult to remember that the vast majority of Muslims were as horrified and traumatized as anyone that day, yet have lived with guilt by association ever since. For others whose losses were simply overwhelming, to expect them to embrace a mosque near the site seems too much to ask.

There may in fact be no common ground here, but there may still be an opportunity. Deciding to really listen, to respect even if we do not agree, to not take dissenting opinions personally and to accept that others just see things differently could do us all a world of good.

In active listening, we:

  • Subjugate our thoughts and feelings about a topic in favor of a speaker's thoughts and feelings
  • Tune in to both what the speaker is saying and how s/he feels about what s/he is saying
  • Give the speaker the gift of understanding and respect, even if we do not agree

To listen well, we must:

  • Give undivided attention
  • Refrain from asking questions or directing the conversation
  • Mirror the speaker's emotions, i.e., smile if s/he smiles, or look concerned if s/he looks concerned
  • Restate through-out to make sure we understand and to let the speaker know we are listening
  • Empathize
While our opinions may not change, we still may learn something and may forge a new or stronger relationship in the process.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Blow for Civility

Special Guest Blogger Rosanne Thomas, certified etiquette and protocol consultant and founder of Boston-based Protocol Advisors, Inc., continues the conversation about the recent Jet Blue incident and what it means for civility.

In yesterday's New York Times, Benedict Carey wrote of Steven Slater, the Jet Blue flight attendant whose dramatic exit from a plane after an encounter with a passenger has elevated him to folk hero status. The veracity of Mr. Slater's account is now in question after several other passengers offered different views of what actually transpired.

But whether the messenger is ultimately to be believed, light has been shone on the very real challenges faced by those who deal with the public every day, and perhaps what happened is a good thing. Or perhaps it isn't.

Time will tell if Mr. Slater's claims have merit. If they do not, time will also tell whether what he did for the "working man" was more harmful than helpful, a potential ironic blow to customer service workers who deserve a credible advocate.

In the meantime, what we know for sure is that Mr. Slater struck no "blow for civility" as Mr. Carey asserts. Answering alleged rudeness with rudeness, and in this case involving an entire plane of innocent passengers, lowers the bar of respectful discourse across the board. These are undoubtedly stressful times, yet nothing can be gained by lauding such behavior. Civility, unfortunately, was not on board that day.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Civility Meets the Unfriendly Skies

Special Guest Blogger Rosanne Thomas, certified etiquette and protocol consultant and founder of Boston-based Protocol Advisors, Inc., weighs in on the recent Jet Blue incident.

Recent events upon a Jet Blue flight have brought into focus the element of "stress" and its impact upon daily lives.

According to the vast majority, stress, defined as "an emotionally disruptive or disquieting influence," was largely to blame for the unprecedented behavior of a flight attendant that day. Rude customers, unforgiving work conditions and unrelenting pressure finally took their cumulative toll and he had an understandable, even justifiable "meltdown," they say. In fact, his actions were lauded as working-class heroics by those who only wish they had the courage to do the same.

While most of us do indeed sympathize and perhaps even relate to the challenges of stressful working conditions, something is amiss here and one can only wonder how the situation might have been handled differently. Incivility, regardless of provocation, harms more than just those directly involved. It sets our collective bar for respectful interactions lower and opens the door for even more egregious and potentially harmful behaviors in the future.

"Answer rudeness with civility, with politeness." Rosanne Thomas

Click here to see Rosanne featured on WBZ TV's Keller @ Large! http://wbztv.com/video/?id=91758@wbz.dayport.com

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Connie Schultz to Moderate CT Forum on Civility

We are thrilled to once again welcome Connie Schultz to The Connecticut Forum as moderator for our first Forum this Season, "The End of Civility?" on Saturday, October 2, 2010.  Panelists for this Forum include David Gergen, Christopher Buckley, Stephen Carter, and Gina Barreca.

A nationally syndicated columnist for The Cleveland Plain Dealer and PARADE magazine's column "Back Page,"  Schultz won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for columns that judges praised for providing “a voice for the underdog and the underprivileged."

During the 2008 presidential race, she was a frequent guest on The Charlie Rose Show and also offered her Midwesterner's perspective on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show, HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher and C-SPAN’s Washington Journal.  
Schultz is the author of two books published by Random House: …And His Lovely Wife, a memoir about her husband Sherrod Brown’s successful 2006 race for the U.S. Senate, and Life Happens – And Other Unavoidable Truths, a collection of essays.

In 2005, Schultz won a Scripps Howard National Journalism Award and a National Headliner Award, both for commentary.  She was a 2003 Pulitzer Prize finalist in feature writing for her series, The Burden of Innocence, which chronicled the ordeal of Michael Green, who was imprisoned for 13 years for a rape he did not commit.  The week after Schultz’s series ran, the real rapist turned himself in after reading her stories.  The series won the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Social Justice Reporting, the National Headliner Award's Best of Show and journalism awards from Harvard and Columbia universities.

In 2004, Schultz won the Batten Medal, which honors "a body of journalistic work that reflects compassion, courage, humanity and a deep concern for the underdog."  Recently, the Urban League of Greater Cleveland awarded Schultz the Whitney M. Young Humanitarian Award.

She has moderated two previous CT Forums: God in 2009 with Rabbi Harold Kushner, Christopher Hitchens, and Reverend Peter Gomes; and A World of Change in 2010 with Bob Woodward and Tina Brown

Here's a clip of Connie in action last Season at A World of Change.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Author John Irving Joins the Forum Book Club Panel!

The Connecticut Forum Announces:
John Irving to Join Azar Nafisi at
The Forum Book Club
Saturday, May 7, 2011

Novelist and screenwriter John Irving is one of the most popular and respected writers in the world. His novels have become American classics; each one is a publishing event.

Irving’s first international bestseller, The World According to Garp, introduced a world of readers to his inventive and expansive style, memorable characters and masterfully woven stories-within-stories. Garp won a National Book Award in 1980 and was made into a film starring Robin Williams.

Since Garp’s release, all of Irving’s novels, including Cider House Rules, A Prayer for Owen Meany, and A Widow for One Year, have been translated into over 30 languages and sold tens of millions of copies, and The Cider House Rules was turned into a movie in 1999 that won him the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Irving has three screenplays in-progress; his 12th novel, Last Night in Twisted River, was released in 2009.

Irving has won the O. Henry Award and awards from the Rockefeller Foundation, the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 1992 Irving was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma and in 2001 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Watch Irving talk about the "Writer's Craft" below.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Yale Professor Stephen Carter to Join Civility Panel

The Connecticut Forum Announces:
Stephen Carter to Join Gergen, Buckley and Barreca at
The End of Civility?
Saturday, October 2, 2010

Recognized by Time magazine as one of the fifty leaders of the next century, Stephen Carter is one of America’s leading public intellectuals.

The author of four novels and of seven critically acclaimed nonfiction books on law, ethics and politics, he has been shaping the national debate throughout his career on issues ranging from the role of religion in our politics and culture to the role of integrity and civility in our daily lives. He currently is writing a book on the future of democracy and speaks on “Democracy’s Future: Books or Bumper Stickers,” among other topics. Carter has just published his fourth novel, Jericho’s Fall, a sophisticated, topical, thought-provoking thriller about issues ranging from the morality of intelligence operations to the meltdown of the world financial system.
And it creates, in Beck DeForde, an unforgettable heroine for our turbulent modern age.

Carter’s extraordinary fiction debut, The Emperor of Ocean Park, spent three months on the New York Times Bestseller List and has appeared on bestseller lists in several European countries. His other acclaimed novels are New England White and Palace Council.

Stephen Carter is also a Connecticut local: he is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale University. Carter served as a law clerk for two of the great veterans of the civil rights movement, including Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court. As a trustee for the Aspen Institute, he moderates seminars for business executives on the role of values in leadership.

Carter's recent work focuses on the role of human affection in ethical and moral discourse and the intersection between theories of unjust war and unjust law.

Local Author, Academic and Humorist Gina Barreca Joins Civility Panel

The Connecticut Forum Announces:
Gina Barreca to Join David Gergen and Christopher Buckley at
The End of Civility?
Saturday, October 2, 2010

Deemed a “feminist humor maven” by Ms. Magazine and “Very, very funny. For a woman” by Dave Barry, Gina Barreca is most recently the author of It's Not That I'm Bitter: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Visible Panty Lines and Conquered the World. She has appeared on 20/20, 48 Hours, NPR, the BBC, The Today Show, CNN, Joy Behar, and Oprah to discuss gender, power, politics, and humor.

Her earlier books include the bestselling They Used to Call Me Snow White But I Drifted: Women's Strategic Use of Humor, and Babes in Boyland: A Personal History of Coeducation in the Ivy League; her books have been translated into several languages, including Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, and German. She’s the editor of seventeen books, including The Signet Book of American Humor and The Penguin Book of Women’s Humor as well as The Erotics of Instruction and A Sit-Down With the Sopranos.

You may recognize Barreca's name from her weekly column in The Hartford Courant, "Irreconcilable Differences". She also writes for the "Brainstorm" section of The Chronicle of Higher Education, blogs for Psychology Today, and occasionally spars with her former co-author (of I'm With Stupid: One Man, One Woman, and 10,000 of Misunderstandings between the Sexes Cleared Right Up) Gene Weingarten in his "Below the Beltway" column in The Washington Post. With degrees from Dartmouth College, Cambridge University, and the City University of New York, Barreca is Professor of English and Feminist Theory at the University of Connecticut.

Dr. Barreca on her female students and their fear of not dating:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Christopher Buckley, Best Selling Author & Satirist, to Join the Civility Forum

The Connecticut Forum Announces:
Christopher Buckley to Join David Gergen at
The End of Civility?
Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tom Wolfe has called Christopher Buckley, "one of the funniest writers in the English language." Buckley is the author of 13 books, many of them satirical, including Little Green Men, Supreme Courtship and Thank You For Smoking, which was made into a major motion picture. He is most recently the author of Losing Mum and Pup: A Memoir.

Christopher Buckley comes from a conservative pedigree; the son of William F. Buckley and Patricia Buckley, he was a long time columnist for The National Review, the conservative magazine founded by his father, as well as the chief speechwriter for George H.W. Bush when he was Vice President. In 2008, Buckley surprisingly endorsed Barack Obama in a piece for The Daily Beast titled "Sorry Dad, I'm Voting for Obama." His column in The National Review was promptly revoked.

Buckley has written for most national newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, TIME, The Atlantic Monthly, US News and World Report, Vanity Fair, and Vogue. He is currently a regular columnist for The Daily Beast. He has published over 50 comic essays in The New Yorker. In 2002, Buckley received the Washington Irving Medal for Literary Excellence.

Watch Christopher Buckley on The Daily Show:
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Christopher Buckley
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party