A novelist and essayist, a computer scientist, and a scholar of human development discuss their lives and intellectual development. Claire Messud is the beloved author of many works of fiction and criticism. In Kant’s Little Prussian Head and Other Reasons Why I Write, she examines her lived life and her literary life--which are bound together inextricably. Rana El Kaliouby talks about her personal journey and her efforts to humanize artificial intelligence by teaching machines to measure and interpret human emotions in Girl Decoded. And finally, the great Howard Gardner, originator of the theory of multiple intelligences, discusses his intellectual development in A Synthesizing Mind. Darrin McMahon, author of Divine Fury: A History of Genius, is the apt and able host of this revelatory session.
Memoir: Intellectual Histories [pre-recorded]
Howard Gardner is a Harvard professor, writer, and recipient of the MacArthur Prize and Fellowship from the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Gardner has written more than thirty books, including Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, which revolutionized how psychologists framed inteligence; Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons; and 5 Minds for the Future. His latest book, A Synthesizing Mind: A Memoir from the Creator of Multiple Intelligences Theory, reflects on his groundbreaking work, and development as an intellectual. Harvard Professor Steven Pinker says, “It’s been quipped that theories in psychology are true of those who propose them, and that’s certainly the case with Howard Gardner: creative, openminded, artful, disciplined, and in command of multiple intelligences.”
Rana el Kaliouby is a scientist, entrepreneur, and a leader in bringing emotional intelligence to our digital world. Her new memoir, Girl Decoded: A Scientist’s Quest to Reclaim Our Humanity by Bringing Emotional Intelligence to Technology, tells the story of how el Kaliouby fought to find and pursue her calling. A Muslim and an Egyptian immigrant raised in a conservative home, she challenged restrictive expectations placed on her throughout her life. Her book is part of her journey to revolutionize technology. Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert calls it, “A poignant and deeply personal tale about love, loss, and coming of age on a new scientific frontier.”
Claire Messud is the author of multiple novels, including The Burning Girl and The Emperor's Children. Messud is a recipient of Guggenheim and Radcliffe Fellowships and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her latest is the “powerful and inspirational” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) essay collection Kant's Little Prussian Head and Other Reasons Why I Write, whose “intimate, contemplative and probing essays reveal her rich inner life and generosity of spirit.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review). She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her family.
Darrin M. McMahon is a historian, author, and public speaker based in Somerville, Massachusetts. He is currently the Mary Brinsmead Wheelock Professor of History at Dartmouth College and has taught as a visiting scholar at various universities around the world, including Columbia and Yale, and in Rouen and Potsdam. McMahon is the author and editor of numerous award-winning books, and his writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal, among others. The New York Times Book Review dubbed Divine Fury, his history of the idea of genius and the genius figure, as “erudite and engaging.”