Pico Iyer and David Silbersweig: Travel, Stillness, & Everything Between

A conversation between Montgomery Fellows Program Director Steve Swayne and Fall 2022 Montgomery Fellows David Silbersweig and Pico Iyer.

How can we meet the planet first-hand, in all its glorious complexity, and also sit still enough to remember what we love? And how do we stay calm in an ever more distracted and divided world?


Pico Iyer

Pico Iyer is the author of 15 books of fiction and non-fiction, translated into 23 languages. He has been a regular essayist for 36 years for Time, The New York Times, Harper's, the Financial Times and more than 250 periodicals across the world. He has also written a screenplay for Miramax, many liner notes for Leonard Cohen and the introductions to more than 70 other books.

On screen, his four talks for TED have received more than 11 million views so far. He has been the subject of program-length interviews with everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Krista Tippett, and everywhere from NHK World to Larry King's show. His books cover subjects ranging from the Cuban Revolution to Islamic mysticism, from globalism to stillness and from the British novelist Graham Greene to the XIVth Dalai Lama, with whom he's been talking and traveling for 48 years.

Most recently, in the summer of 2019 he served as Ferris Professor at Princeton, Guest Director of the Telluride Film Festival and the first official writer-in-residence at Raffles Hotel Singapore.

Born in Oxford, England, to parents from India, Iyer was educated at Eton, Oxford and Harvard, and at Oxford received a Congratulatory Double First, with the highest marks of any English Literature student in his year. Since 1987 he has been based in Western Japan, and in recent years he has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters.

David Silbersweig

David Silbersweig (Dartmouth Class of 1982, high honors in philosophy) chairs the Department of Psychiatry at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, co-directs the Brigham and Women's Hospital Center for the Neurosciences, is the Stanley Cobb Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and is an Associate Faculty Member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

A pioneer of functional neuroimaging research in psychiatry, Silbersweig serves in leadership positions in numerous Harvard transdisciplinary centers, institutes, and initiatives. He has also been an active Dartmouth alumnus, having chaired the Alumni Council's Academic Affairs Committee and served on its Executive and Nominating & Alumni Trustee Search Committees, and is a member of the Advisory Board for the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies.

Steve Swayne

Conversation host Steve Swayne teaches courses in art music from 1700 to the present day, opera, American musical theater, Russian music, and American music. He has received fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His articles have appeared in The Sondheim Review, the Journal of the Royal Musical Association, American Music, Studies in Musical Theatre, the Indiana Theory Review, and The Musical Quarterly. He has written two books—How Sondheim Found His Sound (University of Michigan Press, 2005) and Orpheus in Manhattan: William Schuman and the Shaping of America's Musical Life (Oxford University Press, 2011; winner of the 2012 ASCAP Nicolas Slonimsky Award for Outstanding Musical Biography)—and is at work on three projects: 1) the development of the chamber musical, with a focus on composer/lyricist William Finn; 2) intersections between music, neuroscience, and ethics; and 3) American composer David Diamond. He was an inaugural recipient in 2017 of the Professor John Rassias Faculty Award, given to faculty for their exceptional educational outreach to alumni. In addition to his work at Dartmouth, he has taught at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music; the University of California, Berkeley; and Quest University, and he is the president-elect of the American Musicological Society, the premier organization for musicologists in the English-speaking world. He is also an accomplished concert pianist.

This conversation was filmed on Tuesday, October 4, 2022
Spaulding Auditorium, Dartmouth College