Spoken Word


Start Smart, Get Smarter!

“SmartTalks” is a series of captivating speakers–scholars and authors who are experts in their field–to broaden our horizons and challenge conventional wisdom. Exploring the intersections between the arts and humanities, plus science and technology, this lecture series brings some unusual and innovative thinkers to illuminate our daily lives with new perspectives.

All lectures begin at 2:30PM.  Seating is General Admission.  All sales are final.

Series Subscription: There is an $8 handling fee per subscription.
Museum Members: $80
Non-Members: $120

Single tickets go on sale the day of the event, subject to availability.

Purchase the series.

Box Office: 973.971.3706

Being-with Smartphones
Monday, March 25, 2019

This lecture explores a connection between the philosophy of technology and the philosophy of the self. Tiger Roholt offers a novel approach to understanding and assessing the impact of smartphone-use in small groups. By drawing upon the existentialist claim that an individual creates her own identity or self, and the Heideggerian phenomenon of being-with, Roholt argues that smartphone-use fractures sociality in ways that are detrimental to individual self-creation.

Tiger Roholt is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Montclair State University. His research centers on philosophy of art, philosophy of music, phenomenology, and philosophy of technology. He received his PhD is from Columbia University and his B.A. from the University of Minnesota.  He currently teaches Philosophies of Art, Contemporary Continental Philosophy, Social & Political Philosophy, and Introduction to Philosophy.


Mathematics + Art: A Cultural History
Tuesday, April 2, 2019

This is a cultural history of mathematics and art, from antiquity to the present. Mathematicians and artists have long been on a quest to understand the physical world they see before them and the abstract objects they know by thought alone. Mathematics + Art demonstrates how mathematical ideas are embodied in the visual arts and will enlighten all who are interested in the complex intellectual pursuits, personalities, and cultural settings that connect these vast disciplines.

Lynn Gamwell is lecturer in the history of art, science, and mathematics at the School of Visual Arts in New York. She is the author of Exploring the Invisible: Art, Science, and the Spiritual (Princeton).


From Classical to Rock: What Attracts us to the Music we Love
Monday, April 8, 2019

Writer and radio commentator and lover of music of all kinds, William Berger asks the question, why do we listen to what we listen to, why we like what we like? From classical to rock, Berger examines how one’s unique musical tastes are formed.

Will Berger has worked at the Metropolitan Opera since 2006 as a writer, producer, and on-air commentator with host Mary Jo Heath, for the live, weeknight broadcasts on Met Opera Radio. He is also a writer and producer for the Metropolitan Opera’s famed Quiz, heard as part of its live, international Saturday broadcasts. His recent articles have appeared in the publications of the opera companies of Seattle, Washington D.C., and Barcelona’s Theatre de Liceu.

LOL, A Philosophical Look at Comedy

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Chuckle. Chortle. Snicker. Cackle. Guffaw. Laughter. We usually recognize comedy by the laughter which accompanies it, but is that all there is to it? What is the true nature of comedy? Since the formal introduction by the ancient Greeks, comedy has been and continues to be more than just laughs. It can be explored from a philosophical perspective and shed light on this aspect of the human condition. In this session, participants will take this jovial phenomenon seriously, one laugh at a time.

Brandyn Heppard is an assistant professor of philosophy at Raritan Valley Community College in New Jersey & Co-Director of RVCC’s Women’s Center. A PhD candidate at the New School for Social Research in NYC, his dissertation project is entitled “The Revolution Must Be Funny: Comedy as a Revolutionary Practice.” Brandyn is a peforming artist and furthers the mission of progressing humanity through the arts with his hip hop reggae band Universal Rebel.


The Art and Science of Creating a Crossword Puzzle
Monday, April 22, 2019

Learn the process of creating a crossword and see a demonstration of how it is done, from theme development and grid creation to writing clues.

Tony Orbach is a construction project manager, saxophonist and crossword puzzle constructor who is approximately 33% effective in each of those fields. He has built many fancy apartments, performed on many recordings, and has had crosswords published in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Wall Street Journal. His initial interest in these puzzles developed from creating a special crossword as a gift for his father’s birthday – the actor Jerry Orbach.


Underground: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet
Monday, April 29, 2019

Hear a panoramic investigation of the subterranean landscape, from sacred caves and derelict subway stations to nuclear bunkers and ancient underground cities—an exploration of the history, science, architecture, and mythology of the worlds beneath our feet.

Will Hunt’s writing, photography, and audio storytelling have appeared in The Economist, The Atavist, The Paris Review Daily, Discover, Men’s Journal, Audible Originals, and Outside, among other places. He has received grants and fellowships from the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and The Macdowell Colony. Currently, Will is a visiting scholar at the NYU Institute for Public Knowledge. Underground is his first book.


Using Artificial Intelligence for Robust Personalized Learning of Science
Monday, May 6, 2019

An innovator in developing new technology for use in science education, Dr. Janice Gobert introduces how advances in artificial intelligence can revolutionize science education.

Dr. Janice Gobert is a Professor of Learning Sciences and Educational Psychology at
Rutgers Graduate School of Education (https://gse.rutgers.edu/janice_gobert). She is
also the CEO of a start-up company named Apprendis, whose products are Inq-ITS
(Inquiry Intelligent tutoring System) for students, and Inq-Blotter, an alerting platform for
teachers to accompany Inq-ITS (www.apprendis.com). Gobert holds 4 patents for her
work in the areas of science assessment and eye tracking during learning.


Sarah Demers (Left) and Emily Coates (Right). Photo by Michael Marsland.

Physics and Dance
Monday, May 13, 2019

Requiring no previous knowledge of dance or physics, this introduction covers the fundamentals while revealing how a dialogue between art and science can enrich our appreciation of both. Readers will come away with a broad cultural knowledge of Newtonian to quantum mechanics and classical to contemporary dance.

Including problem sets and choreographic exercises to solidify understanding, this book will be of interest to anyone curious about physics or dance.

Emily Coates is associate professor adjunct of theater studies at Yale University, where she created the Dance Studies curriculum.

Sarah Demers is Horace D. Taft Associate Professor of Physics at Yale University, where she is ATLAS Upgrade Physics convener and works on the Mu2e trigger. Their work has been featured in the World Science Festival and covered in the New York Times and the New Yorker.