Sept 14: (A 25th Anniversary Kick-off) “An Evening with Fellows of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities at USC” featuring readings from authors Amy Gerstler, Shook, Danzy Senna, Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn, Liz Brown, and Sarah Shun-lien Bynum. This Thursday evening event begins with a 7PM reception featuring LAIH Fellow, dublab DJ Mark “Frosty” McNeill; readings at 8PM at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center 681 Venice Boulevard, Venice. There is a $10 cover charge, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. RSVP link:


Sept. 22: The Los Angeles Philharmonic has for some time been considered one of the finest in the world, not only for its musicianship but also for its innovative redefinition of the role of an orchestra in its community. Now with so many changes (the departures of L.A. Phil music director Dudamel and L.A. Phil CEO Chad Smith, the changing demographics of the audience, etc.), Mark Swed, LAIH Fellow and classical music critic for the Los Angeles Times, overviews what’s happening in L.A. and national classical music culture.

Prior to Swed’s talk, LAIH founding member Steve Ross and LAIH Fellow Shonda Buchanan (‘21) will have a 10-minute conversation on 25 years of Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities: what it has meant and what it means now as an intellectual center for L.A.

–This luncheon is generously sponsored by Albert Litewka.

Mark Swed

Oct. 6: (Fellows-Only Field Trip) How do you create a convincing span of nature over one of the
state’s busiest freeway corridors so that wildlife like L.A.’s famous, ill-fated cougar, P-22, can cross unscathed? First you build a nursery and collect a million hyperlocal seeds. This is not hyperbole. After Katherine Pakradouni was hired in January 2022 to grow the plants for the coming Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing in Agoura Hills, she spent much of the year combing the hills within five miles of the crossing, collecting — yes — more than a million seeds from native plants. (Los Angeles Times)

Pakradouni will provide a talk about the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing with a private visit to the construction site of the wildlife crossing itself to watch the project’s progress. (This field trip will be at Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, 27571 Agoura Rd, Agoura Hills 91301.)

–This event is generously sponsored by Cody Sisco and Jay Fennelly.

Oct. 20: Linda Deutsch was only 18 when she got her first newspaper job in 1963. Her first front-page byline soon followed. After moving to Los Angeles four years later with $1,000, she shot up the ranks from cub reporter to court reporter at the Associated Press, covering some of the biggest cases in history — from Angela Davis to Charles Manson to O.J. Simpson. She was one of the female journalists who sued the Associated Press for equal pay and the right to be called “newswomen” rather than “newsmen.”

Deutsch is one of a handful of Special Correspondents in the AP’s history, and she jokes that she has covered “every big trial except Socrates.” Above all, throughout her 48-year career, she has championed both the freedom of the press and the rights of women journalists. Presenting her work-in-progress memoir, Deutsch discusses her incredible career and her hopes for the future of journalism.

–This luncheon is generously sponsored by Lynda Obst.

Nov. 10: For more than twenty years as an acclaimed correspondent on PBS’s The News Hour with Jim Lehrer and the winner of two Emmys and two Peabody Awards (for her coverage of Africa), Charlayne Hunter-Gault discusses a new work-in-progress revealing her life as an American civil rights activist, journalist and former foreign correspondent for NPR, CNN, and PBS. Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton Holmes were the first African-American students to attend the University of Georgia.

Recognized by the National Urban Coalition and the American Women in Radio and Television, Hunter-Gault was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists. She has written articles for Essence, Ms., Life, and Saturday Review. Her courage as a pioneer integrationist has been chronicled by Calvin Trillen and recognized by the University of Georgia, where a hall is named for her and Holmes. (This presentation will be via Zoom.)

Dec. 8: In 1785, when the great German poet Friedrich Schiller penned his immortal “Ode to Joy,” he crystallized the deepest hopes and dreams of the European Enlightenment for a new era of peace and freedom, a time when millions would be embraced as equals. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony then gave wing to Schiller’s words, but barely a century later these same words were claimed by Nazi propagandists and twisted by a barbarism so complete that it ruptured, as one philosopher put it, “the deep layer of solidarity among all who wear a human face.”

When it comes to how societies remember these increasingly distant dreams and catastrophes, we often think of history books, archives, documentaries, or memorials carved from stone. But in Time’s Echo: The Second World War, the Holocaust, and the Music of Remembrance (Knoff, 2023), award-winning critic and cultural historian Jeremy Eichler reveals a passionate and revelatory case for the power of music as culture’s memory, an art form uniquely capable of carrying forward meaning from the past.

Jan. 12: (Fellows-Only Field Trip) A return to the L.A. River Walk with LAIH Fellow and Los Angeles Times columnist Patt Morrison, bestselling author of RIO-LA: Tales from the Los Angeles River. This visit coincides with the 2022 Angel City Press revised edition of the book which features an Afterward examining Los Angeles County’s 2021 Master Plan to improve the quality of life and ecosystem health in the region–all centered at the original source, the Los Angeles River.

When RIO-LA was first published in 2001, few people even regarded the river, but because of Morrison’s devotion to the topic, the L.A. River has been rediscovered. The river has become the center of the county’s 2021 MasterPlan to reestablish it as the heart of the city, its lifeline to all things positive: an antidote to homelessness; a source of increased affordable housing; new jobs, good health; serenity. Morrison traces this rediscovery in her extensive new Afterword, following pages of river history, dating back to before the founding of the pueblo called Los Angeles. Together Morrison and photographer Marc Lamonica explore the river and the culture that evolves around this virtual oasis in a land of super highways and celluloid dreams. Picnic-style boxed lunches to be provided. (This field trip begins at Lewis MacAdams Riverfront Park, 2944 Gleneden St, Los Angeles, CA 90039.)

–This luncheon is generously sponsored by Jonathan Aronson and Joan Abrahamson.

Jan. 26: Johanna Drucker, author of Inventing the Alphabet (University of Chicago Press, 2022 provides the first account of two-and-a-half millennia of scholarship on the alphabet. Drawing on decades of research, Drucker dives into sometimes obscure and esoteric references, dispelling myths and identifying a pantheon of little-known scholars who contributed to our modern understandings of the alphabet, one of the most important inventions in human history.

Beginning with Biblical tales and accounts from antiquity, Drucker traces the transmission of ancient Greek thinking about the alphabet’s origin and debates about how Moses learned to read. The book moves through the centuries, finishing with contemporary concepts of the letters in alpha-numeric code used for global communication systems. Along the way, we learn about magical and angelic alphabets, antique inscriptions on coins and artifacts, and the comparative tables of scripts that continue through the development of modern fields of archaeology and paleography.

Feb. 9: Hollywood was created by its “others”; that is, by women, Jews, and immigrants. Salka Viertel was all three and so much more. In The Sun and Her Stars: Salka Viertel and Hitler’s Exiles in the Golden Age of Hollywood (Other Press, LLC, 2020), Donna Rifkind spotlights this little-known story of a screenwriter whose salons in 1930s and 40s Hollywood created a refuge for a multitude of famous figures who had escaped the horrors of World War ll.

Viertel was the screenwriter for five of Greta Garbo’s movies and also her most intimate friend. At one point during the Irving Thalberg years, Viertel was the highest-paid writer on the MGM lot. Meanwhile, at her house in Santa Monica she opened her door on Sunday afternoons to scores of European émigrés who had fled from Hitler—such as Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht, and Arnold Schoenberg—along with every kind of Hollywood star, from Charlie Chaplin to Shelley Winters. In Viertel’s living room (the only one in town with comfortable armchairs, said one Hollywood insider), countless cinematic, theatrical, and musical partnerships were born.

–This luncheon is generously sponsored by Leo and Dorothy Braudy.

Feb. 23: A powerful and epic novel of colonialism, ethnicity, and the ties of blood, Charmaine Craig’s Miss Burma, longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award for Fiction, explores the story of modern-day Burma through the eyes of one family struggling to find love, justice, and meaning during a time of war and political repression. Based on the story of the author’s mother and grandparents, Miss Burma is a captivating portrait of how today’s Burma came to be and of the ordinary people swept up in the struggle for self-determination and freedom.

Craig is the author of the novels My Nemesis and The Good Men, a national bestseller. Her writing has been published in a dozen languages and appeared in venues including The New York Times Magazine, Narrative Magazine, AFAR Magazine, and Dissent. Formerly an actor in film and television, she studied literature at Harvard College, received her MFA from the University of California at Irvine, and serves as a faculty member in the Department of Creative Writing at UC Riverside.

–This luncheon is generously sponsored by Jack Miles.

Mar 8: Blair LM Kelley discusses her book, Black Folk: The Roots of the Black Working Class (W.W. Norton, 2023) at Blackbird Collective, 3520 Schaefer St in Culver City, 90232. Black Folk is a seminal work spanning 200 years of history, both of Blair Kelley’s family and the American working class. From one of her earliest known ancestors, an enslaved blacksmith, to essential workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Folk highlights the lives of laundresses, Pullman porters, domestic maids, and postal workers who established the Black working class as a force in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Kelley is the director of the Center for the Study of the American South and codirector of the Southern Futures initiative at the University of North Carolina. Her first book, Right to Ride, won the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize, and she received a Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant to support her writing of Black Folk.

About the host venue: Blackbird Collective was founded by Bridgid Coulter Cheadle with the intention to empower women of color and allies in the entrepreneurship and creative fields to create positive change for each other and the world. Lunch to be catered by Gorilla Grub LA and All Chill Ice Cream Hip Hop Shop.

–This luncheon is generously sponsored by Renae Williams Niles.

Mar 22: Sandy Tolan is a bestselling author, award-winning journalist and Professor at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Tolan’s book, Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land (Bloomsbury), about one Palestinian’s dream to build a music school in the midst of Israel’s military occupation, provides a history of Gaza since 1948, including the election of Hamas in 2006, and the context for the calamity in Gaza since October 7, 2023. Children of the Stone was selected as a finalist for the 2015 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Tolan is also the author of the international best-seller, The Lemon Tree, an acclaimed history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

April 12: (Fellows-Only Field Trip) LAIH Fellow Mary Miller, director of the Getty Research Institute, hosts The Getty for a tourinside an iconic L.A. printmaking workshop, Gemini G.E.L. What began as a lithography workshop, Gemini quickly expanded to support other printmaking processes, as well as editioned sculpture. It helped that L.A. had dozens of prototype shops for the movie and aerospace industries.

A hub of technical innovation, Gemini enabled artists to realize big visions. “Printmaking is very demanding. If you spend a part of a day here, you very quickly see what these demands are, particularly during a proofing session,” Gemini founder, photographer Sidney Felsen told the Smithsonian. “It’s a give-and-take, experimental, passionate, exhausting time.” In his photographs, Felsen records the energy and dedication of the artists at work and the power of their collaborations with master printers and fabricators. Luncheon hosted by The Getty Research Institute. (This field trip will be at The Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles 90049.)

April 26: A distinguished scholar of American culture, Alexander Nemerov explores our connection to the past and the power of the humanities to shape our lives. Through his empathetic, intuitive research and close readings of history, philosophy, and poetry, Nemerov reveals art as a source of emotional truth and considers its ethical demands upon us in our moment. Revered for his breadth of scholarship and celebrated for his eloquent public speaking, Nemerov inspires audiences with his belief in the affirming and transfiguring force of art.

An instinctive, nuanced author, Nemerov’s most recent book is The Forest: A Fable of America in the 1830s (Princeton University Press, 2023) presenting tales of a visionary experience in the last years of America as a heavily forested land. His conjuring of a lost world of shade and sun has been praised by Annie Proulx (“deeply beautiful”, “astonishingly tender”, “one of the richest books ever to come my way”) and Edmund de Waal (“moving and shocking and beautiful, an extraordinary achievement”).

May 17: (Fellows-Only Field Trip) A private tour and discussion of The Academy Museum of Motion Picture’s John Waters: Pope of Trash with an introduction by LAIH Fellow Howard Rodman, Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Governor. Tour to be led by co-curator Jenny He. The exhibition reveals details of how Waters’ films have redefined independent cinema, including Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, Desperate Living, Hairspray, Serial Mom and A Dirty Shame.

“Known for pushing the boundaries of ‘good taste,’ Waters has Created a canon of high shock-
value, high-entertainment movies that have cemented his position as one of the most revered independent auteurs in the history of American movies,” said co-curators Jenny He and Dara Jaffe in a statement. “A massive inspiration to other artists who rebelled against the mainstream, Waters’ renegade films are replete with muses and themes derived from obsession and celebrity culture. They lovingly draw inspiration from Herschell Gordon Lewis, Russ Meyer, Andy Warhol, and Ingmar Bergman alike, and are also tributes to his hometown of Baltimore.” Lunch to be provided by Fanny’s. (This field trip will be at The Academy Museum
of Motion Pictures, 6067 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036.)

–This luncheon is generously sponsored by The Norman Lear Center.

June 7: (Fellows-Only Field Trip) A private tour and discussion of The Broad’s exhibition, Mickalene Thomas: All About Love, hosted by LAIH Fellow and curator Ed Schad.

Of her work, Thomas has said that she wants Black women to see reflections of themselves and their desires. “When they go to a museum, they can see that there’s a conversation of beauty that exists that is not conventional,” says Thomas. “So, it inspires young women to feel proud about who they are.”

The Brooklyn-based artist is best known for her elaborate, collage-inspired paintings, embellished with rhinestones, enamel, and colorful acrylics. Thomas explores and expands traditional notions of female identity and beauty through her rhinestone-encrusted depictions of Black women. (The Broad)

The Broad currently has two recently acquired works from Thomas in its galleries. Lunch on your own. (This field trip will be at The Broad, 221 South Grand Avenue, in downtown Los Angeles.)