New Topics New College

New Topics is a collaboration of the New College Foundation and New College of Florida.

New Topics New College

New Topics is a collaboration of the New College Foundation and New College of Florida. This dynamic community series features national speakers on relevant topics of our time.

This year, all programs are complimentary and will be held in the Mildred Sainer Pavilion, 5313 Bay Shore Road.

For seat reservations and more information, please contact the New College Events Office at 941-487-4888 or go to

The 2016–2017 Lineup

SEPTEMBER 12 | 5:30 p.m.
How did Jews Become the People of the Talmud? The Metamorphosis of Oral Torah in Medieval Europe

The New College Klingenstein Chair of Judaic Studies presents Dr. Talya Fishman, a professor of Religious Studies and modern intellectual history at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work focuses on Judaism in the medieval and early modern periods, with a special interest in Jewish intellectual and cultural history.

Dr. Fishman is a 2004 Guggenheim Fellow at Penn and a 2011 National Jewish Book Award winner for her book, Becoming the People of the Talmud: Oral Torah as Written Tradition in Medieval Jewish Cultures.

OCTOBER 26 | 5:30 p.m.
A Conversation with Jim Obergefell

The New College Gender Studies Program presents a conversation with Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in last year’s U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality decision.

On June 26, 2015, in a decision that drew headlines around the world, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the constitutional right of gay couples to marry in all 50 states after decades of incremental rulings. Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff and now among the most recognized faces in the LGBTQ rights movement, will share an intimate, gripping account of the legal precedents and personal hardships behind this unforgettable victory for the gay community.

JANUARY 17, 2017 | 5:30 p.m.
Humans, Animals, and Hybrids in Rabbinic Reproductive Thought” with Rachel Neis

The first thing that often comes to mind when thinking about Jewish and Christian ideas of humanness is the Hebrew Bible’s notion of humanity “created in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27). Noting the ways that the human as “image of God” can form the basis of exclusions as much as they can gesture to diversity, Professor Neis will present a very different approach to classical Jewish approaches to humanness. Neis will argue that the ancient rabbis actually thought about the limits and makings of the human within broader considerations about reproduction and species hybridity. She will show the surprising ways in which the early rabbis of the Mishnah created a “biology” that sought to determine the boundaries and the overlaps between species.

This alternative Jewish approach to the human opens up possibilities for a more porous and varied approach to bodily variation and dovetails with insights drawn from the fields of disability studies and animal studies. Drawing upon understudied traditions in the tractates on menstrual and agricultural laws in the Mishnah, Neis also shows surprising affinities between these ancient rabbinic traditions and the graphic novel The Rabbi’s Cat and the artistic works of Sunaura Taylor.

Lectures are sponsored by New College of Florida, The Klingenstein Chair of Judaic Studies and The Jay Rudolph Endowment, and New Topics New College.

FEBRUARY 15, 2017 | 5:30 p.m.
Nuclear Weapons: They’re Back

The Sarasota World Affairs Council presents Bob Gallucci, director of the The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress and former Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs. In 1998, he was appointed U.S. State Department Special Envoy to deal with the threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction.

Dr. Gallucci will describe the evolution of the U.S. approach in dealing with nuclear weapons and their re-emergence as critical to Russian defense policy, Chinese force modernization, and regional importance in the Middle East. He will also address the threat posed by the prospect of a terrorist nuclear attack.

FEBRUARY 23, 2017 | 5:30 p.m.
Tampa Cuban Cigar Makers: A Cultural and Economic Heritage

The New College Cubano-American Community Project presents Tampa Bay historian Maura Barrios.

She will share the origin and history of Cuban cigar makers who settled in Ybor City and the surrounding area in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Her lecture will have a special focus on the historical context and transformation of Cuban communities across generations in West Central Florida.

MARCH 3, 2017 | 5:30 p.m.
Cuban Diaspora: The Evolving Relationship between Florida and Cuba

The New College Cubano-American Community Project presents Dr. Jorge Duany, anthropologist and director for the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University.

Dr. Duany will discuss the Cuban diaspora, and how the recent changes in the U.S. policy toward Cuba affects the Florida’s west coast. Dr. Duany has published on migration, ethnicity, nationalism and transnationalism in the Caribbean and the United States. He has also published about Puerto Rican and Cuban cultural identity on the islands and in the diaspora.

MARCH 8, 2017 | 5:30 p.m.
Newtown Alive: Courage. Dignity. Determination.

The New College Public Archaeology Lab presents Vickie Oldham, a consultant with the Newtown Conservation Historic District.

The history of Sarasota’s African American community was in fragments throughout Sarasota County until the City of Sarasota funded a groundbreaking research project. Consultant Vickie Oldham led the Newtown Conservation Historic District team and discusses its history makers and historic resources.

APRIL 25 | 5:30 p.m.
U.S.-Cuba Relations: What Does Normalization Mean?

The New College Cubano-American Community Project presents Rafael Hernández, Chief Editor of Temas, a Cuban quarterly, offering an open forum within the realm of the state. In addition, Dr. Hernández has been Adjunct or Visiting Professor at various universities (Columbia, Brown U.S. Universities Consortium, Renmin University in Beijing) and taught some graduate seminars sponsored by cultural institutions, like the Film Institute in Havana.

Dr. Hernandez’s expertise involves Cuban and U.S. policies, inter-American relations, and Cuban culture, society and politics. He will speak about the implications for Cuba brought forth by its new relationship with the United States.