Event Audio

To listen to an audio recording of a previous Library special event, click the icon. The audio file will launch the media player on your computer.

The most recent recording displays at the top. The Library offers recordings only with the permission of the presenter.

  • Renowned New Testament scholar Amy-Jill Levine explains how Jesus’ first- century parables, when heard in historical Jewish context, can challenge and provoke us 2,000 years later.
    Jesus’ Parables in Their Jewish Context - Amy-Jill Levine
    Wednesday, October 21, 2015
    Central Library

    Jesus was a perceptive teacher and skilled storyteller who taught in parables, short stories using everyday images to speak about the Kingdom of Heaven. But life in first-century Galilee and Judea was very different from our world today.

    As renowned New Testament scholar Amy-Jill Levine notes in her book, Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi, many traditional interpretations of his teachings not only ignore the disparity but also import anti-Jewish and sexist views.

    Levine, the University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University, shows how hearing the parables in their Jewish context allows us to recover their original provocation and thus recognize what they might say to 21st-century listeners.

  • Author Antonya Nelson, a Kansas native whose award- winning work includes four novels and seven short story collections, discusses her writing with Angela Elam, the producer and host of KCUR-FM’s New Letters on the Air.
    A Conversation with Antonya Nelson - Antonya Nelson, Angela Elam
    Tuesday, October 20, 2015
    Plaza Branch

    Kansas native Antonya Nelson stands out on multiple literary fronts; she is the author of four novels and seven short story collections and has published her work in The New Yorker, Esquire, Harper’s, Redbook, and other magazines. She is the recipient of a USA Artists Award, a Rea Award for the Short Story, and National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim fellowships.

    Nelson, who teaches at Warren Wilson College and the University of Houston, discusses her works with Angela Elam, the producer and host of KCUR-FM’s New Letters on the Air. The conversation will be taped for later broadcast on New Letters.

  • As America wrestles with the issue of immigration, a panel of Kansas Citians – all naturalized citizens – discusses their experiences, why they settled in KC, and how they view the immigration experience today.
    Immigrant Tales – Christine Boutros, Martin Okpareke, Leo Prieto
    Tuesday, October 20, 2015
    Central Library

    The words are iconic, part of a sonnet written by Emma Lazarus in 1883 and inscribed on a bronze plaque in the museum inside the base of the Statue of Liberty: Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. They underscore America’s melting pot identity.

    Throughout its history, however, the country has had a love-hate relationship with immigration, and the subject seems particularly thorny today.

  • MidAmerica Nazarene University’s Tyler Blake discusses the research conducted in Kansas City by novelist Sinclair Lewis in advance of writing his acclaimed Elmer Gantry. What did it contribute to Lewis’ controversial views of Midwest Protestantism?
    Sinclair Lewis Comes to KC: The Genesis of Elmer Gantry - Tyler Blake
    Sunday, October 18, 2015
    Central Library

    In 1926, Sinclair Lewis, America’s premier contemporary novelist, came to Kansas City to do research for his “preacher novel” – the book that became the acclaimed Elmer Gantry. For background information on this sensational piece of fiction, where did the author of Main Street and Babbitt go? To whom did he talk? And what did the eventual Nobel laureate learn from the city’s leading clergy that contributed to his controversial views of Midwest Protestantism?

    MidAmerica Nazarene University’s Tyler Blake tells how Kansas City, its churches, and a circle of fascinating individuals — free thinkers and fundamentalists — became the subjects of study in Lewis’ “laboratory.”

  • In a discussion of his book Chief Executive to Chief Justice: Taft Betwixt the White House and Supreme Court, historian Lewis L. Gould examines William Howard Taft’s rise from ignominious defeat in his 1912 bid for re-election as president.
    William Howard Taft - Lewis L. Gould
    Thursday, October 15, 2015
    Plaza Branch

    As our 27th president from 1909-1913 and then as chief justice of the Supreme Court from 1921-1930, William Howard Taft was the only man ever to head two of America’s three governing branches. But between these two well-documented periods in office lies an eight-year patch of largely unexplored political wilderness — a time when Taft somehow rose from ignominious defeat in the 1912 presidential election to leadership of the nation’s highest court.

    Monmouth College historian Lewis L. Gould delivers the first in-depth look at this interval in Taft’s singular career in a discussion of his book Chief Executive to Chief Justice: Taft Betwixt the White House and Supreme Court.

  • Historian Tim Rives discusses Dwight Eisenhower’s view of the extinction of the American frontier – declared in 1890, the year of Ike’s birth – as the beginning of a new, progressive era of American history.
    The Significance of the Frontier in Eisenhower History - Tim Rives
    Tuesday, October 13, 2015
    Central Library

    2015 commemorates not only the 125th anniversary of the birth of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, but also the U.S. Census Bureau’s declaration that the American frontier had closed. As historian Tim Rives explains, these two events are not unrelated.

    Like other progressives of his generation, Eisenhower saw the extinction of the frontier as the end of the first phase of American history, and the beginning of a new age in which the federal government would replace the lost reservoir of free land and abundant resources with economic cooperation and individual security through social programs. More than any other single factor, Eisenhower’s interpretation of the vanished frontier is what distinguishes his “Middle Way” political philosophy from the conservative wing of the Republican Party he led through two terms as a president.

    Tim Rives is the deputy director and supervisory archivist of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home in Abilene, Kansas.

  • Saint Louis University’s Emily Lutenski discusses her new book, which offers a nuanced look at the roots and influences of Langston Hughes, Jean Toomer, Arna Bontemps, and other luminaries of the Harlem Renaissance.
    West of Harlem: African American Writers and the Borderlands - Emily Lutenski
    Thursday, October 8, 2015
    Central Library

    The life stories of Langston Hughes, Jean Toomer, Arna Bontemps, and other luminaries of the Harlem Renaissance extended well west of New York City. Hughes, for example, was raised in Kansas, and his move to Mexico opened a window on African Americans’ transnational experiences. Toomer’s interaction with a multi-national, multi-racial population in Taos, New Mexico, buttressed his notion of a “new American race.”

    Emily Lutenski, an assistant professor of American studies at Saint Louis University, offers a newly nuanced look at the roots and influences of these key literary figures in a discussion of her book West of Harlem: African American Writers and the Borderlands.

  • Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich worries that the economic recovery is bypassing most Americans. Reich examines how the economic system that helped make our country strong is now failing us. And he lays out what’s needed to fix it.
    Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few - Robert B. Reich
    Monday, October 5, 2015
    Plaza Branch

    Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich worries that America’s economic recovery is bypassing most Americans. Adjusted for inflation, median hourly and weekly pay has dropped over the past year. Since the depths of the Great Recession in 2009, median household income has fallen nearly 4.5 percent. Well-funded special interests have been allowed to tilt the market to their benefit, shrinking the middle class and creating the greatest income inequality and wealth disparity in 80 years.

    In a discussion of his new book, Reich examines how the economic system that helped make our country strong is now failing us. And he lays out what’s needed to fix it. Many of today’s workers aren’t paid what they’re worth. A higher minimum wage doesn’t equal fewer jobs. And corporations needn’t serve shareholders before employees.

  • In a discussion of his new book 1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History, historian  Jay Winik examines a momentous year for Franklin Roosevelt that entailed, in part, how to save millions of Jews from their Nazi captors.
    Franklin Delano Roosevelt - Jay Winik
    Thursday, October 1, 2015
    Plaza Branch

    From D-Day and the liberation of Paris to the Battle of the Bulge and the tumultuous conferences that finally shaped the peace following World War II, Franklin Roosevelt skillfully navigated a succession of crucial events in 1944. Millions of lives remained at stake, however, amid mounting evidence of the most grotesque crime in history, the Nazis’ Final Solution.

    In a discussion of his new book 1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History, best-selling author and historian Jay Winik examines the momentous period and the pressures it carried for the ailing 32nd president. Was winning the war the best way to rescue the Jews? Was rescue even possible?

  • Emory University’s Carol Anderson recounts the experiences of the young black Americans who longed to serve their country as pilots in World War II, met initial rejection, and ultimately gained renown as the Tuskegee Airmen.
    We Fight! Red Tails, Black Soldiers, and the Civil Rights Movement
    Thursday, September 24, 2015
    Plaza Branch

    Like so many others in the late 1930s, the young black Americans who would become known as the Tuskegee Airmen were eager for military service as the war in Europe and Asia intensified. What set them apart was that they wanted to fight as pilots, something that black people had never been allowed to do. Many applied to U.S. Army Air Corps’ training program, but all initially were rejected.

    Carol Anderson, associate professor of African American studies and history at Emory University, recounts their experience as part of a discussion on civil rights and World War II.

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