NBN Politics' picks their dream CTSS speakers

    Contemporary Thought Speaker Series regularly hosts some of the most thought-provoking lectures and discussions on campus. After their latest, “#MeToo and Its Repercussions,” featuring Lauren Duca, Megan Twohey and Erika Allen, NBN Politics decided to brainstorm who each writer’s ~dream~ CTSS speaker would be. Here are our thoughts so you can learn a little bit more about the section with the hottest politics takes!

    Shreyas Iyer, Politics Assistant Editor: Kendrick Lamar

    My ideal CTSS speaker would be, undoubtedly, Kendrick Lamar. Mainstream culture has slowly begun to view his work as not just music, but rather as a collection of political messages juxtaposed with trap music and traditional rap themes. In addition to his Grammy sweep in the rap category, he recently won a Pulitzer Prize, becoming the first artist to win the award outside of jazz or classical musicians. As his songs spread to a larger audience, discussing the messages, relevance and increasing popular appeal and reach of rap music in the United States would make for an enthralling speaker event that would certainly be one of the highlights of the year for many Northwestern students.

    Leslie Bonilla, Contributor: John Mulaney

    I’d love to see John Mulaney speak. The stand-up comedian and former Saturday Night Live writer is relatable and hilarious, even when the anecdote in question is entirely too specific for viewers to literally relate to. The contrast between his unassuming appearance and sometimes-shocking material (cocaine the night before college graduation, anyone?) makes his shows that much more appealing. He’s been riding a pop culture wave since the May 1 release of his Netflix special, Kid Gorgeous, and it’d be incredible to get him in for CTSS.

    Maggie Kates, Contributor: Nikolas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

    My dream CTSS guest is two people: Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. They’re a married couple; WuDunn is a Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times journalist turned businesswoman, and Kristoff is a Pulitzer Prize-winning NYT columnist. They recently co-authored a book called Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide about the epidemic of human trafficking. Not only are they incredibly smart and knowledgeable, but they opened my eyes to an issue I hadn’t really thought about before.

    Justin Curto, Editor-in-chief: Anne Helen Petersen

    I'd love to see CTSS bring academic-turned-cultural-critic Anne Helen Petersen, one of my favorite journalists on the planet. As a BuzzFeed senior culture writer, she splits her time between making sense of the celebrities of the moment and reporting on the politics and culture of The West. She can dispel a media narrative about a celebrity better than anyone, has done some of the most in-depth reporting on Native American life I've seen recently and actually helps me understand health care. With a doctorate in media studies and a dissertation on gossip magazines, she's a better researcher than most other culture writers I read, and I love reading about her writing process in her newsletter. My dream would be to take a class with Petersen, but since that's not possible, I'd give anything to hear just one talk by her.

    Mila Jasper, Politics Editor: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    CTSS did me a solid when they invited my favorite thought leader and narrative master, Ta-Nehisi Coates, to campus last year. I struggled for a quick minute trying to determine who could compete with Coates, but then my gut kicked in: It would have to be The Notorious RBG. Though her profile has risen enough to garner her this title only in the past few years, Ginsburg has been an icon for a long, long time (she’s 85, after all). My favorite thing about her, other than her incredible brainpower and career, is the careful, methodological way in which she chooses each word, phrase and sentence she speaks. Watching interviews with Ginsburg is incredible. She is in no rush to toss out a flavorful quote. She understands the power of language and wields that power with a skill unlike any other, and it’s fascinating to observe.


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