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Russell Banks, noted fiction writer, gave a talk titled “Shifting the Compass: Towards a Creole-American Literature” on November 7. Banks has received widespread acclaim for his novels, short stories, poems, and essays. His novels include two Pulitzer Prize finalists: Cloudsplitter and Continental Drift. Two of his books, Affliction and The Sweet Hereafter, were adapted into critically successful feature films.

bell hooks, author, poet, scholar, and one of the leading public intellectuals of our time, spoke on February 1. Although she is best known as a feminist theorist, her work covers a broad range of topics in the areas of gender, race, teaching, and the significance of media for contemporary culture. She’s written more than 20 books, including Feminist Theory From Margin to Center; Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics; Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life (with Cornel West); and Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom.

Rabbi Michael Lerner, founder of Tikkun magazine, a bimonthly Jewish critique of politics, culture, and society, delivered the 2005 Chamberlin Lecture on September 27. His talk was titled “Progressive Social Change: Why America Needs a Spiritual Left.” Lerner has been rabbi of San Francisco’s Beyt Tikkun synagogue since 1996 and is active in the Network of Spiritual Progressives. He is the author and coauthor of numerous books about faith, including Jews and Blacks: Let the Healing Begin, with coauthor Cornel West, and The Geneva Accord and Other Strategies for Middle East Peace.

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