The RSIS Virtual Roundtable is open only to RSIS staff and students.
Some truths and insights about human nature, including human social and political nature, are better expressed in fiction than in the didactic works of scholars. Plenty of literature exists, in English or English translation, about plagues, and these can easily be brought together in a talk that can shed light on our own circumstances.
Such a talk could include these five different kinds of works: Daniel Defoe, In the Year of the Plague (1722); Albert Camus, The Plague (1947); Michael Crichton, The Andromeda Strain (1971); Paulo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl (2009); and Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven (2014).
Each one of these books bears its own merits. Examined together in a comparative framework, they bear insight that is more than the sum of the five parts. While government experts must focus on large problem-solving formulae, we as individuals and as families have emotional needs that such a comparative literary framework can service.
About the Speaker
Adam Garfinkle is on a year-long engagement at RSIS as Distinguished Visiting Fellow. Aside from being Founding Editor of The American Interest, Dr Garfinkle has served as Editor of The National Interest, as Principal Speechwriter to the U.S. Secretary of State while attached to the Policy Planning Staff of the State Department, was chief writer of the Hart-Rudman Commission reports, and has taught at several institutions of higher education including SAIS/Johns Hopkins. His PhD in International Relations is from the University of Pennsylvania.