Taste of Arts and Science 2017

Saturday, March 11, 2017 8:15am to 3:30pm

Memorial Union, Stotler Lounge & Jesse Wrench Auditorium

Taste of A&S artworkMU’s College of Arts and Science presents a day of good food, fantastic professors, and topics as diverse as the world around us—A Taste of Arts and Science.

Laura King, Curators’ Professor of Psychology 
“Happiness and the Meaning of Life”

For many people, the science of psychology is the science of what is wrong with people. Many have viewed psychology as an enterprise focused on discovering the ugly underbelly of even the very best things in life. Yet, increasingly at the forefront of modern psychology is the science of well-being. The University of Missouri has become a hotbed for this flourishing area of scholarship. This presentation will review what psychologists have learned about the good things in life, with special focus on three main topics. First, we will consider the factors that make a life a good one. Second, we will discuss the science of happiness, including the factors associated with happiness. We will consider whether it is possible to become happier and if the pursuit of happiness is a worthwhile goal. Finally, we will consider one of the greatest questions facing humanity: What is the meaning of life? We will review sometimes surprising answers to this age-old question provided by psychological science. Often, the experiences that make life meaningful are right at our finger tips, hiding in plain sight, and waiting for us to notice.

Steven Watts, Professor of History
“JFK & the Masculine Mystique: The Case of James Bond”

Watts will discuss the friendship between John F. Kennedy and writer Ian Fleming. JFK was a huge fan of Fleming’s popular character, James Bond, whose image paralleled his own masculine mystique—handsome, tough-minded, sophisticated, with abundant sex appeal, and a committed Cold Warrior. The Bond connection helped shape Kennedy’s great admiration for the CIA and influenced his policies on Cuba and fighting Communism through counterinsurgency. As JFK occasionally remarked to his advisers, “I wish I had more men like James Bond.

Michael J. Budds, Professor of Music 
“The Temper of American Music During the 1950s: A Measured Assessment”

When we look back at American society during the 1950s, the Cold War and McCarthyism, Castro and Mao, the all-pervasive popularity of the transistor radio and the television, flat tops and poodle skirts come quickly to mind. The musical culture of the decade, in retrospect, proved to be just as memorable. Fine art practice revealed obsessions with academic serialism and the radical questioning of visionaries such as John Cage, as well as a lingering preference for music with a tonal center and a “melodic smile” à la Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein. Jazz reached its maturity in the form of the cool and hard bop with leading spirits Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Chet Baker, and John Coltrane. Well-loved minority traditions—country music and rhythm and blues—vaulted to center stage and, shocking to the establishment, coalesced into rock and roll: “Roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news!” The Broadway musical enjoyed a Golden Age, thanks to Rodgers and Hammerstein and their peers. Please join musicologist Michael Budds and enjoy a nostalgic consideration of the musical legacy of a decade so many of us remember so well.

Jim Schiffbauer, Assistant Professor of Geology
“The Dawn of Animals”

In his 1859 publication, On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin confessed astonishment over the geologically sudden appearance of complex, shelly, invertebrate animals at the “Cambrian Explosion”: “To the question why we do not find rich fossiliferous deposits belonging to these assumed earliest periods prior to the Cambrian system, I can give no satisfactory answer…the difficulty of assigning any good reason for the absence of vast piles of strata rich in fossils beneath the Cambrian system… must remain inexplicable; and may be truly urged as a valid argument against the views here entertained.” In the nearly 160 years since, paleontologists have uncovered a plentiful evolutionary history prior to the radiation of animals, but our resulting discoveries have not been without debate. Further, the uniqueness of the Cambrian Explosion event in the history of life pleads for a cause, or trigger, that could have started it in evolutionary motion. Schiffbauer will present results of a series of his studies focusing on this fascinating interval in an effort to frame both what we know and what we admittedly don’t, culminating in a recent model (‘wormworld’) that he and colleagues suggest both corresponds in time and accounts for a functional mechanism to explain the evolutionary pattern of animal origin and diversification as revealed by the fossil record. 

Stephanie Shonekan, Associate Professor of Music and Chair of Black Studies
Performance by Talking Drum

Talking Drum provides an innovative way of thinking, writing, and talking about the diversity of American identity and culture through a focus on American popular music. Because of its inclusive rather than exclusive nature, popular music provides a platform for the study of the various sub-cultures that comprise the complexity of American identity. Talking Drum focuses on the rich and recent history of American popular music, extracts a spectrum of music across genres, rearranges and covers them using new performance aesthetics, composes narratives that frame the music, and creates a unique series of programs that provoke discussion about what this contemporary music tells us about American identity. These programs are designed to inspire interactive engagement with various audiences.


Registration costs $35 and includes breakfast and lunch.

You may register by:

  • Downloading the PDF (linked at the top of this page), printing, and mailing with a check
  • Dropping off at our office (317 Lowry Hall)
  • Paying by credit card—call Amanda Cook at 573-884-4482

Registration deadline is Friday, March 3, 2017. Contact Amanda with questions at MUASevents@missouri.edu