Fifteen Questions

David Atherton Portrait

David C. Atherton ’00 is an Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard College. He specializes in Japanese literature of the Edo period, and teaches multiple Japanese literature courses as well as Gen Ed 1067: “Creativity.”

Fifteen Questions: David Atherton on Japanese Literature, Creativity, and Remembering to Breathe

The literary scholar sat down with Fifteen Minutes to discuss Edo-period writing and his experience returning to Harvard as a professor. “How can we find and contribute and generate interesting humanistic questions and different ways of thinking about things like literature and culture,” he says, “that are not bound by region at all?”

Fifteen Questions: Joe Harris ’72 on Math 55, the Dudley Co-op, and Failure

The mathematician sat down with Fifteen Minutes to discuss Math 55’s notorious reputation and his own experience at Harvard. “In math, it’s rare that you would decide to fix on a specific concrete goal, and then either achieve it or not,” he says. “Usually, it’s a matter of exploration.”

Fifteen Questions: Manja Klemenčič on Student Agency, Pre-Professionalism, and Small Acts of Kindness

The sociologist sat down with FM to discuss the most pressing issues in higher education today and student agency, even in the smallest acts. “You don’t need to change the entire world already while you’re at Harvard,” she says. “You can do small things every day and that matters also.”

Manja 15Q Portrait

Manja Klemenčič is an associate senior lecturer in Sociology and researcher on higher education, student agency, and student-centered learning.

Melanie Matchett Wood

Melanie Matchett Wood is a professor of mathematics at Harvard University and a Radcliffe Alumnae Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Fifteen Questions: Morgan Ridgway on Urban Indigeneity, Solange, and Linear Time

The historian sat down with Fifteen Minutes to discuss the way their archival work, poetry, and performance art inform each other. “I think less about events happening sequentially, and more about these moments of aspiration,” they say.

Fifteen Questions: Glenda Carpio on Humor, Hum 10, and the Failure of “Success” Stories

The Chair of the English Department sat down with Fifteen Minutes to discuss rethinking the literary canon and immigrant narratives. “I was the lucky one, I survived,” she says. “What happens to those who are undone by the violence of having to be uprooted?"

Fifteen Questions: Rakesh Khurana on Pizza, Veritas, and “Squishy Things”

The Dean of the College sat down with Fifteen Minutes to discuss how Harvard has transformed him and the challenges he sees ahead. “I’m not saying that we’re a perfect institution, but we’re trying to be good for the world,” he says.

Peter Der Manuelian

Peter Der Manuelian ’81 is the Barabara Bell Professor of Egyptology and teaches in both the Anthropology department and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. Photo by Laurie Thomas.

Fifteen Questions: Cass Sunstein on SCOTUS, Squash, and The Lampoon

The legal scholar sat down with Fifteen Minutes to discuss why those disillusioned with the Supreme Court’s direction should not give up on the country’s judicial system. “The law is essential to study so we can maintain its best features and improve on those features that aren’t so good,” he says.

Fifteen Questions: Gregory Nagy on Heroes, Tricksters, and his Achilles Tendon

The “Ancient Greek Hero” professor sat down with Fifteen Minutes to discuss what we can learn from the Ancients. “If we sweep under the rug the bad parts of the heroic world, then we won’t understand why we have to keep processing and seeing what their mistakes were, just as we try to imitate what’s good about them,” he says.

Fifteen Questions: Sheila Jasanoff on STS, Objectivity, and Alternative Facts

The professor of Science and Technology Studies sat down with Fifteen Minutes to discuss how she came to the field and its unique contributions to today's political landscape. “A way forward is to recognize that disputes of facts are often really disputes over the credibility, the honesty, and the integrity of the body finding the facts,” she says.

Fifteen Questions: Anne Harrington on Hist of Sci, Mental Health, and Ice Cream

The History of Science professor and faculty dean of Pforzheimer House sat down with Fifteen Minutes to discuss the history of mental health and some pfun Pfoho traditions. “I think the Quad is great, I really do,” she says. “How can we move people’s minds and hearts a little bit on this issue?”

Fifteen Questions: Adele Bacow on Urban Design, Life with Larry, and Book Clubbing

The urban planner and first lady of Harvard sat down with Fifteen Minutes to discuss her artistic pursuits and her formative college years at Wellesley. “I grew up in a very protected, secure, happy home life,” she says. “And then to come up North and be exposed to all the new ideas and the changes in the world, it was extremely eye-opening.”

Fifteen Questions: Danielle Allen on the Future of Democracy, Optimism, and Minecraft

The political theorist sat down with Fifteen Minutes to talk about practical problem-solving in a divided country. “It’s not exactly that I’m an optimist,” she says. “I’m just a person who believes that failure is not an option. So I’m a ‘not-an-optionist!’”

Diana Eck 15Q

Diana L. Eck, Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies, served as Lowell’s Faculty Dean alongside her wife Dorothy A. Austin for 20 years.

Fifteen Questions: Taeku Lee on Political Science, Civic Engagement, and His Stint as a Premed

The Government professor sat down to discuss his decision to pursue political science in graduate school and the development of ethnic studies at Harvard. “I keenly felt like there was something fundamentally misguided about my pursuit of thinking about politics and political science without understanding at a very fundamental level the history of racial politics in the United States,” he says.

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