Artist’s Talk on July 25

Join artist Nikki Brugnoli and curator Jennifer Lillis on Wednesday, July 25, 1:30pm in the Fenwick Main Reading Room for a discussion of Convergence, our current Fenwick Gallery exhibition. For more information, visit http://fenwickgallery.gmu.edu/exhibits/convergence/

Convergence focuses on the intersecting and overlapping lines of artist Brugnoli’s research over the last four years in Virginia and Pennsylvania. Disregarded, post-industrial structures from her past and present as well as widening horizons converge through a series of mixed media drawings, screen prints and photographs. These investigations are engaged meditations on memory and loss, abandonment and reconciliation.

Mason Author Series: Bryan Caplan

Join us for our last Mason Author Series event of the spring semester on Thursday, May 3, at 3 p.m. in the Fenwick Main Reading Room. Our featured faculty author is Bryan Caplan, who will be discussing his recent book, The Case Against Education.

In this explosive book, Bryan Caplan argues that the primary function of education is not to enhance students’ skill but to certify their intelligence, work ethic, and conformity—in other words, to signal the qualities of a good employee. Learn why students hunt for easy As and casually forget most of what they learn after the final exam, why decades of growing access to education have not resulted in better jobs for the average worker but instead in runaway credential inflation, how employers reward workers for costly schooling they rarely if ever use, and why cutting education spending is the best remedy.

Caplan draws on the latest social science to show how the labor market values grades over knowledge, and why the more education your rivals have, the more you need to impress employers. He explains why graduation is our society’s top conformity signal, and why even the most useless degrees can certify employability. He advocates two major policy responses. The first is educational austerity. Government needs to sharply cut education funding to curb this wasteful rat race. The second is more vocational education, because practical skills are more socially valuable than teaching students how to outshine their peers.

Books will be available for purchase at the event, and refreshments will be provided.

About the Author: Bryan Caplan is professor of economics at George Mason University and a blogger at EconLog. He is the author of Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun than You Think and The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies (Princeton).

About the Mason Author Series: The University Libraries’ Mason Author Series features Mason faculty and alumni authors throughout the year, and is generously sponsored by the University Bookstore. For more information about the Mason Author Series, please contact John Warren, Head, Mason Publishing, jwarre13@gmu.edu.

Exhibition Opening: Origins

Fenwick Gallery is pleased to host “Origins,” an exhibition of prints and works on paper from the Mason printmaking collective ELEMENTS. The exhibition runs from Monday, April 16, 2018 through Friday, May 18, 2018.

“Origins” examines creation myths focusing on the genesis of man, the material world, and the role of divine beings. The four participating artists and the curator, representing the classical elements of earth, air, fire, water, and æther, create a body of work in response to the role of the natural elements in the formation of the universe. Participating artists include Brigitte Caramanna (Earth); Mike Walton (Aether); Melvin Parada (Water); Emily Fussner (Fire); and Jennifer Lillis, Curator (Air).

An artists’ talk is scheduled on Wednesday, May 2 at 4:30 p.m. in the Fenwick Library Main Reading Room.

About the Fenwick Gallery: Fenwick Gallery is part of the University Libraries and is located in Fenwick Library on Mason’s Fairfax campus. The Gallery is dedicated to exhibiting high quality works by students, faculty, staff, and other emerging and experienced artists. The gallery is open during Library business hours; see library.gmu.edu and fenwickgallery.gmu.edu for more information about hours and exhibitions, or contact Stephanie Grimm, Art and Art History Librarian, at sgrimm4@gmu.edu.

Fenwick Fellow Lectures: April 25

Join the University Libraries on Wednesday, April 25 at 2 p.m. in the Fenwick Library Main Reading Room, when Professors Edward Rhodes and John Turner will discuss their research findings from their 2016-2017 fellowships.


Edward Rhodes, Professor, Government & International Affairs, Schar School of Policy & Government

Lecture Title:  “Normalcy”: Rediscovering the Curious Brilliance of Warren G. Harding

Abstract: Dismissed by biographers as an intellectual nullity, mocked by critics for what H.L. Mencken famously described as his “Gamalielese” prose, and remembered in history texts principally for his notably corrupt Secretary of the Interior and for his illegitimate daughter, Warren G. Harding has escaped serious academic scrutiny, living on largely as an easy target for late-night comedians. Harding’s own writings –which were generally in the form of speeches – have gone not only unread but uncollected. For the most part they are, even in this time of widespread digitization, extremely difficult to locate or to access. This is unfortunate because a close reading of Harding reveals not only a clear, sophisticated, and internally consistent vision of America but a deep understanding of the challenges facing a liberal, democratic republic in a period of rapid economic and social change. Forgotten, too, is the fact that Harding was, in his three years in office, extraordinarily successful in advancing his policy agenda, particularly in the realm of foreign policy. Even more interesting, however, is how strongly some of the key elements in Harding’s vision and strategic approach resonate in today’s world.


John Turner, Associate Professor, Religious Studies, College of Humanities & Social Sciences

Lecture Title:  Plymouth Colony and the Making of American Liberty

Abstract: Over the last two centuries, Americans have celebrated “the Pilgrims” as the progenitors of democracy and liberty. At the same time, the Mayflower leaders and their successors in Plymouth Colony imprisoned, tortured, and expelled religious and political dissenters. Were the Pilgrims rank hypocrites, denying others the freedom they desired for themselves? The answer is more complicated. The Pilgrims had a very specific understanding of “Christian liberty,” which essentially meant an obligation to have church according to their understanding of the Bible. While their leaders did not favor a broader “freedom of religion,” Plymouth Colony was riven by debates over the meaning and extent of liberty over its seventy year history.


About the Fenwick Fellows: The Fenwick Fellowship is awarded annually to Mason faculty member(s) to pursue research project(s) that use and enhance the University Libraries’ resources while advancing knowledge in the faculty members’ field. Applications for the 2018-2019 fellowship are currently being accepted; the deadline is May 7, 2018.