Presentations

If you wish, you can download a printable pdf of the program.

Keynote

Presenter: Richard Strier

Shakespeare's Prejudices: Shrews and Jews

Presenter
Mandel Hall

The Taming of the Shrew and The Merchant of Venice are two of Shakespeare’s most controversial and least loved (though very often performed) plays. While both of them are, by genre and intention, comedies, they often do not strike modern and contemporary audiences as such. The aim of this talk is not to dismiss concerns with misogyny and anti-Semitism as historically inappropriate or anachronistic, but to see what difference to our judgments some historical contextualizing and close reading can make. The plays will look rather different after these operations are performed on them, though they may still remain—as they probably should—potentially disturbing.

Session I

Presenter: Michael Bourdaghs

1950: The Year "Tokyo Boogie Woogie" Crossed the Pacific

Presenter
Stuart Hall, Room 105

When the postwar ban on foreign travel for Japanese performers was lifted in 1950, popular musicians immediately launched into overseas activities. The list of musicians who conducted U.S. tours in 1950-1951 reads like a “Who’s Who” of mid-century Japanese pop. Appearing primarily before Japanese-American audiences, these U.S. appearances represented a breakthrough not only for the Japanese music industry, but also for local audiences. Barely five years removed from wartime internment camps, Japanese-Americans found the concerts a rare opportunity to celebrate publicly their connections to Japanese culture. While many performers used these tours as the basis for new films, stage revues, and songs after returning to Japan, the concerts themselves faded into historical oblivion—until 2008. A collection of audio recordings made at the Sacramento Nichibei Theater was discovered and restored, leaving us an astonishing archival treasure. This presentation will explore the cultural and historical significance of the 1950 tours and will include sound clips and images from the concerts.

Presenter: Benjamin Callard

Ethics and the Consequences of Our Actions

Presenter
Kent Chemical Laboratory, Room 107

Some people think that we are morally obligated to do whatever produces the best outcome; other people think that there are some things that we must not do, regardless of the outcome. This dispute lies at the heart of ethical, social, and legal thought and practice. This talk will argue that both parties in this dispute accept a false idea about actions and their outcomes, and that once this idea is cleared away we can resolve the dispute.

Presenter: Christopher A. Faraone

Women and Children First: The Earliest Greek Amulets

Stuart Hall, Room 104

This lecture will explore vase-paintings and votive statues that show how Greek women and male children wore knotted cords and strings of amulets to protect their bodies. The absence of similar amulets on naked adult males points to a restriction of use to females and immature males. This talk will also show how the wearing of childhood amulets by boys (especially on Cyprus and in Athens) seems intertwined with assertions of citizenship and other forms of status.

Presenter: Philip Gossett

Rossini's "Maometto Secondo" at Santa Fe

Presenter
Goodspeed Hall, Fulton Recital Hall

This summer the Music Festival at Santa Fe Opera performed for the first time the new edition of Rossini's major 1820 opera, Maometto Secondo. But it is a terribly complicated score to edit. An unusual and innovative score, it did not easily find an audience in the nineteenth century, and Rossini revised it twice—once in Italy, once in France—trying to garner the public he thought it deserved. It remains one of his most priceless scores, and this talk will discuss the problems involved in bringing into the modern theater.

Presenter: Alison James

Beyond the Book: French Literature Online

Presenter
Harper Memorial Library, Room 140

As the territory of literary production and diffusion increasingly extends beyond the book, a number of today's French writers have explored the possibilities of new media technologies and online publication. This talk will offer an overview and a typology of a range of recent writing projects, including the algorithmic experiments of the Oulipo offshoot ALAMO, the multimedia cinépoèmes of Pierre Alferi, various explorations of hypertext form (Jacques Roubaud, Renaud Camus), the web-based publication platforms of François Bon, and Eric Chevillard’s use of the blog form to reformulate the aesthetic of the fragment.

Presenter: Michèle Lowrie

Doing Politics by Other Means: Horace's "Art of Poetry"

Presenter
Harper Memorial Library, 130

Horace received the elite education of an orator and served as a military tribune under Brutus against Caesar in the civil wars. When the Roman Republic collapsed and Augustus came to power, Horace gave up the expectation of becoming Cicero's successor and turned to poetry. Once we realize that literature replaced politics as the public sphere under the empire, many enigmas in Horace’s famed Ars poetica appear in a new light: the address to a preeminent republican family, the focus on tragedy, the audience as populus, and the figure of Empedocles—an example of a poet gone mad.

Presenter: Kaley Mason

Sound Masala: Gastromusicology and Popular Music in South India

Presenter
Franke Institute, Regenstein Library, Room S-118

Music and the culinary arts frequently intersect in cross-cultural human sensory experience. Language about music often relies on gastronomic analogies to elucidate aesthetic concepts and creative processes. Songs reference food culture in narratives and poetry. Musical events are also culinary events, from life cycle occasions like weddings and funerals, to rituals of faith, entertainment, and labor in everyday life. Tastes in music and cuisine regularly serve to reinforce social boundaries. Finally, professional musicians, like chefs, take great pride in the bodily skills, imagination, professional lineages, and hard work that represent hallmarks of exceptionality in their craft. Gastromusicology extends research on musical embodiment, medical ethnomusicology, cultural history, and the anthropology of food to examine how expressive uses of sound and sustenance mutually inform, structure, and nourish one another. There is no better place to begin than South Asia, where the quality of an artistic experience depends on the ability to create and appreciate the rasa—literally juice, flavor or taste—of a performance. This talk offers preliminary thoughts on the use of culinary metaphors like masala—distinctive spice blends—to express cosmopolitan sensibilities and cultural intimacy through sound.

Presenter: Steven Rings

Here's Your Throat Back, Thanks for the Loan: On Dylan's Voices

Presenter
Social Science Research Building, Room 122

Bob Dylan’s voice is at once one of the most recognizable and most polarizing sounds in Western music, simultaneously iconic and inscrutable. More even than his words, Dylan’s voice is the most potent material signifier of his mercurial persona. As an early Columbia Records advertising campaign put it, “Nobody sings Dylan like Dylan.” But does he even sing like himself? Over the last five decades Dylan has adopted a bewildering range of voices, from laconic dust-bowl drawl to smooth country croon, from gospel shout to guttural Delta-blues bark. What is Bob Dylan’s “real voice”? And why does this problematic question seem to have such urgency in his case? This talk will consider these questions by surveying Dylan’s diverse voices, illustrating some of their differences through spectrographic imaging and speculating on their stylistic and physiological origins. We will also consider the ways in which his voices act as agents of meaning and identity, bringing his celebrated words—and equally celebrated personae—to sonic presence. 

Presenter: Lawrence Rothfield

Antiquities Under Siege: Baghdad, Cairo, and Libya

Presenter
Oriental Institute, Breasted Hall

The looting of the Baghdad Museum in the wake of the 2003 American invasion, the break-in at the Cairo Museum in January 2011, and the threats to Libya's fabled archaeological sites in the fall of 2011 offer three vignettes of cultural heritage in moments of peril. What lessons can we learn from what went wrong, and what went right, in each case?

Presenter: Haun Saussy

The Memory Man Visits the Land of Amnesia: Maurice Halbwachs at the University of Chicago

Presenter
Stuart Hall, Room 101

The great French sociologist Maurice Halbwachs, author of two groundbreaking books on the structures of collective memory, was a visiting professor at the University of Chicago in the fall of 1930. He had a desk in the brand-new Social Sciences Research Building, experienced exotic American food in the Quad Club and downtown cafeterias, worried about Al Capone pumping him full of lead, and went motoring with Hyde Park society matrons. Like most Europeans at the time, he felt that Chicago was an inhuman environment but an indication of things to come. His letters home, newly published, give a fascinating glimpse of the lived dimensions of his scholarship: memory, identity, place, collective belonging, and the fragile character of peace between the wars.

Presenter: Olga Solovieva

Stages of an Exile: Thomas Mann in Chicago

Presenter
Stuart Hall, Room 102

Thomas Mann, the 1929 laureate of the Nobel Prize for Literature, was Nazi Germany’s most prominent political-literary exile. His sojourn in the United States (1938-1952) is usually associated with Princeton, New Jersey where he lectured in 1938-39, and with Pacific Palisades, California, where he wrote Doctor Faustus. However, Mann’s American exile was also anchored by personal and intellectual connections to Chicago, where his youngest daughter Elisabeth lived with her husband Giuseppe Antonio Borgese, Professor of Italian Literature at the University of Chicago. During the war years President Robert Maynard Hutchins sought to make the University an important mediator of the European and German humanistic cultural tradition in the United States. Aided by Mann’s prestige and with Borgese’s enthusiastic participation, the University provided an institutional platform for such initiatives as the Goethe Bicentennial Observances and the Movement for World Federal Government. Through the University of Chicago, Mann’s anti-Nazi position and defense of democracy acquired their political impact. This lecture builds on materials from the University of Chicago’s Special Collections.

Presenter: Staff

Between Heaven and Earth: Birds of Ancient Egypt

Presenter
Oriental Institute

Join Oriental Institute docents for guided tours featuring our world-renowned collection of art and artifacts from the ancient Near East, as well as a guided viewing of Between Heaven and Earth: Birds of Ancient Egypt. This new special exhibit explores how the millions of migratory birds that filled the ancient Egyptian skies every spring and fall influenced every aspect of ancient Egyptian life and culture.

Joe and Rika Mansueto Library Tour

Presenter
Mansueto Library

This behind-the-scenes tour of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library will take visitors through the Grand Reading Room as well as Mansueto’s underground automated storage and retrieval system. The tour will conclude at the Special Collections Research Center.

Presenter: Ulrike Stark

Experimental Field, Laboratory of Modernity: The Beginnings of Popular Education in Colonial India

Presenter
Harper Memorial Library, Room 103

By the time the Elementary Education Act was introduced in Britain in 1870, India had for decades been a site of pioneering experiments in popular education. This talk explores the beginnings of the modern project of mass primary education in colonial India. It focuses on the perspective of the agents in the field and depicts the uphill struggle of British and Indian educational officials to implement state education at the grassroots level. Imperial policies, hatched in London and Calcutta, were frequently at odds with the on-the-ground realities of the Indian countryside.

Presenter: Jessica Stockholder

Art in Context

Logan Arts Center, Performance Penthouse

Jessica Stockholder will share images of her work and discuss its relationship to context. Her presentation will focus particularly on the “Color Jam” installation that was on view on the corner of State and Adams this past summer, describing the process of its construction and how its meaning is in part derived from its location. She will share images of other works that relate to this one and give an overview on how she arrived at this way of working.

Presenter: Rebecca West

Rudolph Valentino: The First "Latin Lover"

Presenter
Film Studies Center, Cobb Hall, Room 307

Nothing about the early life of Rodolfo Guglielmi in the small southern town of Castellaneta, Italy would indicate that in his future Rodolfo would become the world's most famous “Latin Lover,” known as Rudolph Valentino. Nor that we would still be talking about him more than eighty years after his tragically premature demise in 1926. Valentino was a creation, and one of the earliest examples of a pop icon, prefiguring the era of paparazzi, the cult of stardom, and the ever increasingly intrusive, controlling role of the media in the shaping of public identities not only in the world of entertainment but also in politics. This talk will present some aspects of Valentino's “vicissitudes of identity” as he was constructed as a sensual screen lover, an aesthete, an athlete, and an aristocrat. His identity was a study in contradictions, and this discussion will seek to trace some of the many threads that made up the weave of his public persona. In addition to his films, we will also discuss his little known writings: a book of his poetry and a travel diary. To end, we will view a short film, “Good Night Valentino,” by the actor and director Edoardo Ballerini, in which he recreates a touching meeting between Valentino and the journalist H.L. Mencken.

Session II

Presenter: E. Annamalai

Survival of Multilingualism in the New Economy in India

Presenter
Stuart Hall, Room 104

India has remained multilingual all through its history. The political, economic, and cultural relations between the languages have changed, but multilingualism has been constant. These relations are again redrawn in the new globalized free market economy. Is India’s multilingualism endangered? This talk describes the special features of Indian multilingualism that include the grammatical fluidity, porous language borders, differential values, and distributive functions of the languages. It also points to the changes in the nature of multilingualism that are driven by macro level changes in the political and economic systems, in the goals of education, and in the beliefs of people about the languages. The talk will show how the multilingualism will survive, but will be of a different kind. 

Presenter: Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer

The Western Classics in Modern China

Social Science Research Building, Room 122

Chinese scholarly interest in the canonical texts of the West has increased on a pace with their recent economic development.  But what they are reading, and what sense they make of it, would surprise many a western Classicist.  Interpreting many of our ancient texts through the approach (ironically enough) of the famous University of Chicago scholar Leo Strauss, they find in these texts arguments that presciently point to the failure of modern democracy and its values.  In other words, the western classics have become tools in suggesting that the answer to what should succeed communist orthodoxy is precisely not the liberal government of the west.  How this has come about is the topic of this lecture.

Presenter: Orit Bashkin

An Exodus? Why did the Jews Leave Iraq in the 1950s?

Presenter
Oriental Institute, Breasted Hall

The departure of Jews from Iraq is puzzling in retrospect, considering the degree to which Iraqi Jews were immersed in Iraqi life and culture. This emigration, however, was spurred by the increasingly volatile situation in the years 1948–1951. The desire of the state of Israel to bring Iraqi Jews to Israel, in conjunction with brutal right wing nationalist activity in Iraq and the ineptitude of the Iraqi leadership, provided the impetus for emigration. The escalation of the conflict in Palestine prompted Iraqi right wing politicians to mark all Iraqi Jews as Zionists. The state did not make much of an effort to discredit these right wing propaganda efforts, and at times even incited anti-Jewish acts, with the result that younger Jews turned to Zionism. The state of Israel seized upon the Iraqi government’s actions as the ultimate proof that Arabs and Jews could not live together. This talk will analyze the processes and events that led to the demise of one of the most important Jewish communities in the Middle East.

Presenter: Philip Bohlman

The New Budapest Orpheum Society Goes to the Movies

Presenter
Goodspeed Hall, Fulton Recital Hall

Cabaret music, especially in the Jewish traditions of the twentieth century, has been inseparable from film since the first talkies and the first English- and German-language sound films: The Jazz Singer (1927) and Der blaue Engel (The Blue Angel, 1930). The cross-fertilization between film and music intensified through the 1930s, with the rise of Yiddish film in Eastern Europe and the cabaret experiments of film composers such as Hanns Eisler and Friedrich Holländer. In addition, the emergence of Hollywood film music followed the exile of directors fleeing fascist Europe. The New Budapest Orpheum Society, the Ensemble-in-Residence in the Division of the Humanities, will bring these film and cabaret traditions to life once again on Humanities Day.

Presenter: Diane Brentari

On the Origin and Diversity of Sign Languages

Presenter
Stuart Hall, Room 105

Over 200 different sign languages can be found in Deaf communities all over the world. This presentation will provide an overview of research on sign languages while describing the analyses of form and meaning that have assisted scholars in achieving a better understanding of the origin and diversity of this relatively understudied group of languages. This talk will also discuss the relationship of sign language to the gesture systems of hearing people.

Presenter: Alain Bresson

Coins, Money, and Market in the Ancient Greek World

Presenter
Harper Memorial Library, Room 140

Coinage was an invention of the Greek world. This innovation was the product of a society that was more and more market oriented. Conversely, coinage accelerated immensely market processes. This talk will explore the reasons why the Greek world made the choice of “commodity money” when other contemporary societies followed quite different tracks.

Presenter: Raúl Coronado

Revolutionary Catholic Political Philosophy? Print Culture and the Independence of Latin America from Spain

Presenter
Franke Institute, Regenstein Library, Room S-118

In 1810, Latin American revolutionaries met in Philadelphia to seek U.S. support for the cause of winning independence from Spain. In the spring of 1812, Mexican revolutionary José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara returned from Philadelphia to the Spanish Texas-Louisiana border ready to fight for the independence of Spanish Texas from Spain. They thought winning Texas would have a domino effect for independence all the way down to South America. The revolution, however, did not begin with an invasion; it came in the form of pamphlets, broadsides, and manuscripts. For two months, Gutiérrez de Lara spread revolutionary literature into Texas before marching his military forces. Yet, the Spanish governor knew he had been routed even before combat began: this new political language of community seduced the life and minds of his subjects. What enticing alternative vision did these documents offer that made the inhabitants of Texas reject the order they and their ancestors had known for so long? This lecture will focus on these events, and specifically, on this alternative vision of the world.

Presenter: Matthew Jackson

What Comes After Contemporary Art?

Presenter
Logan Arts Center, Performance Penthouse

Materials and situations, atmospheres, and activities that once had been near art, but not art, are now very often art. It is as if today, only if we are unsure who did it, what they did, where they did it, why they did it, and how they managed to do it at all, only then are our minds constructively engaged by an artwork. In fact, perhaps today we are provided with so much information about so many things that only a deficit of facts can bring about a truly arresting art experience. As a result, a cloud of evaluative anxiety often accompanies the art of this decade, an art that might be called post-contemporary.

Presenter: Anne Leonard

Awash in Color: French and Japanese Prints

Presenter
Smart Museum

The rise of color printmaking in France in the late nineteenth century is often attributed to a fascination with Japanese woodblock prints, which began to circulate in great numbers after the opening of Japan in 1854. But a closer look at the history of color printmaking in these two cultures reveals that the story is not so simple. Parallel traditions were flourishing in both France and Japan well before 1854. And, when the two cultures met, the channels of technical and aesthetic influence flowed in both directions, not merely from East to West. Embracing these complexities, Awash in Color explores the roles, functions, and technology of color in French and Japanese prints. It features more than one hundred and twenty prints and illustrated books from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries, drawn from the Smart Museum’s substantial holdings as well as major public and private collections across the country. These exquisite works reveal two unfolding traditions—each shaped by artistic experimentation and technological progress—that came to complement each other aesthetically, even while preserving their own distinctive features.

Presenter: Salikoko Mufwene

The Emergence of Language as Communicative Technology

Presenter
Harper Memorial Library, Room 103

Human languages are complex adaptive systems that emerged gradually by successive exaptations of the hominine anatomy. They evolved in response to various protracted changes during the phylogenetic evolution of the hominine species. More specifically the exaptations were driven by ecological pressures exerted by an evolving mind that began producing more complex social and material cultures. This lecture will present a hypothesis that explains how the mind gradually domesticated the body to produce the language technology.

Presenter: Bart Schultz

Empowering the Poor through the Humanities: Reflections on the Worldwide Clemente Course in the Humanities

Presenter
Stuart Hall, Room 101

The Clemente Course in the Humanities was founded by a product of the Hutchins College at the University of Chicago: Earl Shorris, who would in due course win the National Humanities Medal for his efforts to make a first class humanities course freely available to low income adult learners. According to the Clemente Course website, today more “than ten thousand students worldwide have attended a Clemente course, and over fifty percent have successfully completed it. The aim of the course is to bring the clarity and beauty of the humanities to people who have been deprived of these riches through economic, social, or political forces.” The Humanities Division's Civic Knowledge Project has long worked in collaboration with the Illinois Humanities Council to bring the Clemente Course to the South Side of Chicago, where it is known as the Odyssey Project.  Please join us for a very special discussion of this effort, featuring the faculty, students, and graduates of the Clemente Course/Odyssey Project reflecting on how and why the humanities can flourish even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Presenter: Staff

Between Heaven and Earth: Birds of Ancient Egypt

Presenter
Oriental Institute

Join Oriental Institute docents for guided tours featuring our world-renowned collection of art and artifacts from the ancient Near East, as well as a guided viewing of Between Heaven and Earth: Birds of Ancient Egypt. This new special exhibit explores how the millions of migratory birds that filled the ancient Egyptian skies every spring and fall influenced every aspect of ancient Egyptian life and culture.

Presenter: Malynne Sternstein

“Hooliganism” and the Art of East European Dissent

Presenter
Logan Arts Center, Screening Room

Interviewed in March of 2010, Czech artist David Černý (b. 1967) denied his rebel status and underscores his hatred of officials: “The other day, I had to shake the hand of the Czech Prime Minister, and he was very nice and friendly, but I know he does not care about me, and does not like me. And I do not care about him….” Asked whether he is a rebel or prankster, Cerny replies, “No, I do not see myself as anything of the above. I am a sculptor. I make art. Period.” But the art he makes has been derided as trashy, depraved, obscene, offensive, tasteless, and shameful to the nation, its people, its values. This talk argues that this “hooliganism” is not restricted to Černý’s brand of art and provocation but is a hallmark of the work of so many Czech “dissidents”—writers, sculptors, painters, priests, students, florists, musicians, plastic peoples of the universe, dog walkers, etc. As Václav Havel might have provoked: Act as a hooligan so as to be able to recuperate that hooliganism as one’s true civility.

Presenter: Gary Tubb

Dreaming and Waking: Sanskrit Stories of Delusion and Freedom

Presenter
Stuart Hall, Room 102

How do we know whether we are dreaming right now? And if we might be, what should we do about it, and how? Since the time of the Upanishads, Sanskrit texts have used stories about dreaming and waking to teach lessons on awareness and spiritual liberation. The story of a person who experiences a series of mysterious transformations was used in a simple form in texts on Vedanta to explain how being awakened from sleep is a useful model of enlightenment. More entertaining versions of it elsewhere associate it with a philosophy in which the model is not waking up from our dream, but waking up inside it.

Presenter: Candace Vogler

Reason and the Freudian Unconscious

Presenter
Harper Memorial Library, 130

According to Aristotle and Aquinas, human beings are essentially rational animals.  According to psychoanalysis, much of our mental lives are taken up with unconscious mental activity. The usual way of understanding unconscious mental activity has it that the unconscious is either a sea of irrationality or an aspect of mental life so distant from the operations of reason as to be a-rational—a view that tends to treat manifestations of unconscious activity as significantly pathological. This talk will explore a strong sense in which reason and the unconscious are not contraries, even though unconscious mental activity does not bear the hallmarks of self-conscious thought or feeling.

Presenter: David Wellbery

The Midnight of Mankind: Nietzsche and Mahler

Presenter
Kent Chemical Laboratory, Room 107

One of the most famous pieces in Friedrich Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra is the poem “At Midnight.” Professor Wellbery will discuss this poem against the background of Nietzsche's life and philosophy. The presentation will include a consideration of Gustav Mahler's musical interpretation of the poem in the fourth movement of his Third Symphony. The themes of human existence and time in their relationship to poetry and music will be at the center of our discussion.

Session III

Presenter: Ted Cohen

Kings and Salesmen

Presenter
Kent Chemical Laboratory, Room 120

When we read fiction or watch plays, what difference does it make whether the character is unlike us (say, a king) or like us (say, a salesman)?

Presenter: Lenore Grenoble

Endangered Languages: The World’s Languages in Crisis

Presenter
Stuart Hall, Room 105

There are somewhere between 6,000 and 7,000 languages spoken in the world today, and linguists estimate that 50 to 90 percent of them will disappear before the end of this century. Although in some cases this loss is the result of natural disasters, disease, or warfare, it is primarily due to language shift, where one group of people abandons their native tongue in favor of another. This talk will explore the phenomenon of language endangerment and discuss the implications of this loss for societies and for scientific knowledge. Finally, the discussion will look at the responses of linguists and community members to this crisis, responses which range from recording and documenting languages while still possible to revitalizing them, even to the point of “resurrecting” languages which have not been spoken for generations, efforts which will cause us to reframe our understanding of exactly what is at stake when a language is lost.

Presenter: Jason Grunebaum

Hindi Boot Camp: Learn the Devanagari Alphabet in One Hour

Presenter
Stuart Hall, Room 104

Learn Devanagari, the alphabet of Hindi, the second most spoken language in the world, in one hour. Marathi, Nepali, and Sanskrit are also written in Devanagari. Please come prepared to participate!

Presenter: Chris Kennedy

The Grammar of Subjectivity

Presenter
Harper Memorial Library, Room 140

One feature of human language that is crucial to its role in communication is the systematic relation between linguistic symbols (words, phrases, sentences) and the information they express in different contexts. For example, the sentence, “The Quad Club is currently serving tripe for lunch” conveys the same information about the world at the time of utterance no matter who utters it. As a result, if Anna says “The Quad Club is currently serving tripe for lunch,” and Beatrice says “No, the Quad Club is not currently serving tripe for lunch,” then clearly one must be wrong, and we can simply look at the menu to discover the facts. However, the information content of many kinds of linguistic expressions appears to vary according to the perspective, attitudes, or subjective viewpoint of the individual who utters them. If Anna says “The Quad Club tripe is delicious,” and Beatrice responds, “No, the Quad Club tripe is not delicious,” we can no longer say with confidence that one must be right and the other wrong; instead, what each says can be in some way “true for her.” Expressions of taste are a fairly benign example of such “subjective predicates.” Other examples, such as expressions of aesthetic or moral judgments, play a more significant role in thinking about the relation between language and the world. This talk will examine subjectivity from the perspective of linguistic semantics, showing that subjective predicates have a number of shared grammatical features, and explain how a close examination of these features can help us better understand what subjectivity consists in and how it is encoded in the linguistic system.

Presenter: Gabriel Lear

Why is True Speech Beautiful?

Presenter
Social Science Research Building, Room 122

In several of his dialogues, Plato contrasts the allure of poetic myth and demagogic rhetoric to the genuine beauty of speaking truthfully. What is it about speaking truly that is beautiful and why is this beauty important? We will explore Plato's thoughts about these questions with an eye to what they might show us about our own habits of civic and communal speech.

Presenter: Alice McLean, Ana Maria Lima

How Best to Learn a Foreign Language? The Case of Brazilian Portuguese

Cobb Hall, Room 201

“It is difficult to enjoy well so much several languages” (Pedro Carolino, 1883). This presentation will briefly walk the audience through the methods used by the Portuguese program at The University of Chicago over the past 25 years to arrive at our current approach: one based on the use, inasmuch as possible, of authentic materials, both in and out of the classroom. Through the use of Blackboard, the university’s learning management system, these activities are housed online. We will also address a persistent student complaint that native speakers are difficult to understand because they speak too fast, use “nonstandard” pronunciation and structures, have regional accents, and so forth. The exercises we have developed address this issue by providing students with a variety of non-scripted native voices, coupled with directive exercises to help them both better understand authentic spoken Brazilian Portuguese, and in turn, to produce similar samples, spoken and written, but which reflect their own lives.

Presenter: Deborah Nelson

Around 1948: Global Realignments in Politics and Culture

Presenter
Franke Institute, Regenstein Library, Room S-118

In a relatively short span of time, from 1947 to 1949, a wide array of nation-states and other institutions would assume new forms, most immediately in response to the aftermath of the Second World War but also in relation to the unfinished business of the decades that preceded it. Like a few other dates in the modern period – 1848, 1968, and 1989 – the year 1948 stands for an abbreviated passage of time that bears importance and potency for many diverse locations, movements, peoples, and fields. Reflecting on a year-long multidisciplinary seminar, this panel will synthesize some of new ways to imagine this moment and its legacies. 

Presenter: William Nickell

Why Read "War and Peace"?

Presenter
Kent Chemical Laboratory, Room 107

War and Peace is universally recognized as a great work, but its reputation as the quintessential “long novel” has resulted in an unwarranted reluctance to read it. In fact, the novel is a page-turner, which was Tolstoy’s intention from the beginning. Fresh off his experience teaching peasant children Russian history and influenced by his reading of English “sensation novels” of the 1860s, Tolstoy set about to write an engaging account of one history’s great stories. In the end he accomplished much more than this: in addition to producing some of the most memorable scenes and characters in world literature, he set forth a theory of history that continues to provoke today. As October 2012 marks the 200th anniversary of Napoleon's famous retreat from Moscow, it is a great time to read this classic. Prof. Nickell will also read excerpts from his forthcoming reader’s companion to the novel.

Presenter: David Schloen, Miller Prosser

Using Computers to Help Scholars Have Good Arguments: An Online Cultural and Historical Research Environment

Harper Memorial Library, 130

Scholarship in the humanities is characterized by competing interpretations of texts, artifacts, and other cultural products. Some of this is (dare we say) ego-driven, but scholarly arguments are nonetheless useful and productive because they stem from a legitimate diversity of interpretive perspectives and research agendas. Arguments are necessary for discarding faulty interpretations and generating new insights. All too often though, the computer software scholars use to aid their research has the effect of inhibiting diversity and debate because it imposes a single set of terms and concepts. Most database systems are created to meet the needs of organizations in which there is a top-down semantic authority that imposes standardized terms and concepts as, for example, in large corporations and government agencies. However, a different approach is needed to meet the needs of scholars. The Online Cultural and Historical Research Environment (OCHRE) is an innovative database system that can accommodate many different interpretations and conceptual schemes and thus facilitate not only the sharing of data but productive arguments about what it means. This talk will introduce OCHRE and give examples of its use.

Presenter: Matthew W. Stolper

Recording Persian Antiquities in Crisis: An Update on the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project

Presenter
Oriental Institute, Breasted Hall

In 1933, Oriental Institute archaeologists made a startling discovery at Persepolis, near the palaces that Darius and Xerxes built in the heartland of the Achaemenid Empire (near the Fars Province of modern Iran): tens of thousands of clay tablets that contained texts in several ancient languages and the impressions of thousands of seals. Oriental Institute researchers have been studying them ever since, with results that have transformed our understanding of the Persian Empire at its zenith. But since 2004, researchers have been working under the shadow of litigation that threatens the future of the tablets. Since 2005, the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project has marshaled electronic tools and techniques in a race to preserve a comprehensive record of the Archive and to enable new kinds of research.

Presenter: Augusta Read Thomas

Delight in Sound - Transformations and Connections

Goodspeed Hall, Fulton Recital Hall

Composer Augusta Read Thomas discusses her creative process, examining fundamental qualities inherent to her musical compositions. In an informal and lively setting, the audience will be invited to browse through her manuscripts and sketches while the composer provides brief recorded musical examples. Topics include rhythm, counterpoint, harmony, text setting, motivic development, organic transformation, nuance, color, improvisation, spirit and gestalt. The discussion will show how music shares these qualities and processes with many other forms of human endeavor and creativity. (No formal training in music is necessary to participate in this conversation.)

Presenter: Jennifer Wild

The Cinema’s Lesson for Cubism

Presenter
Logan Arts Center, Screening Room

This presentation explores the forgotten features of the early cinema experience in Paris that were central to the development of both analytic and synthetic Cubism. While cinematic movement undoubtedly transformed the representational paradigms of painting and literature, the focus of this talk is on the varied spatial contexts and styles of projection that made Parisian film exhibition a radically modernist event. This talk will revisit the early theaters, cafés, and brasseries of the era between 1900 and 1915, demonstrating how the early cinema environment contained some of the most challenging formal problems to which Picasso, for one, returned repeatedly, obsessively. This talk will be followed by a 75-minute screening of Henri-Georges Clouzot's Mysteries of Picasso (1956).

Presenter: Leila Wilson, Megan Stielstra , Rachel DeWoskin

The Art of Writing through Reading

Logan Arts Center, Performance Penthouse

The Committee on Creative Writing presents three of its faculty members reading from their work, each representing one of the genres at the core of the program. In addition to teaching fiction at University of Chicago and Columbia College, Megan Stielstra is Director of Story Development for 2nd Story (www.storiesandwine.com) and a veteran of the Chicagoland literary scene. Rachel DeWoskin is the author of two novels and a memoir that is currently being adapted into an HBO pilot. She will be reading nonfiction. Leila Wilson, a poet and a graduate of the MAPH, is the former poetry editor of the Chicago Review. Her collection of poetry is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions. Join us for an afternoon of uniquely Chicago writing from our accomplished teachers.

Presenter: David Wray, Hilary Strang

On Reading Dante's Vita Nuova

Logan Arts Center, Room 802

This year, the MA Program in the Humanities (MAPH) welcomed its 17th class of master’s students. From its beginning, MAPH has asked its students to become critically aware of the reading practices that characterize scholarly work in the humanities. MAPH’s Core course, Foundations of Interpretive Theory is a rigorous introduction to key texts and reading practices for contemporary humanistic inquiry. In this talk, MAPH faculty director David Wray will give a reading of Dante’s complex, self-referential book of poetry and prose, the Vita Nuova, one of the literary texts the Core course addresses and a fascinating meditation on what it means to write, read, and desire.

Open Houses

Presenter: Hoyt Long, Niall Atkinson, Peter Leonard, Richard Jean So

Digital Humanities Forum

Harper Memorial Library, Room 140

How is the digital changing the way that humanities scholars look at the past? This forum showcases several ongoing projects by faculty that utilize network visualization, text-mining, geo-spatial mapping, and other digital techniques to augment and/or reframe more traditional lines of humanistic inquiry. How have these techniques changed the kinds of questions that scholars are asking? How should they be integrated with established methods of interpretation? Presenters consider these issues as they exhibit their work on network analysis and the sociology of literary modernism (Long and So) and on the sonic landscapes of Renaissance Florence (Atkinson and Leonard).

Presenter: Staff

Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts - 1:15 Tour

Presenter
Logan Arts Center

Students and staff will lead guided tours of the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, offering the opportunity to experience firsthand the groundbreaking work of architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. Building highlights include the 474-seat Performance Hall, DelGiorno Deck and Mezzanine, Terrace Seminar Room, Gidwitz Lobby, a gallery space, fourteen arts classrooms, a film screening room, and over 90 individual arts studios, rehearsal rooms, and digital media labs.

Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts - 12:30 Tour

Presenter
Logan Arts Center

Students and staff will lead guided tours of the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, offering the opportunity to experience firsthand the groundbreaking work of architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. Building highlights include the 474-seat Performance Hall, DelGiorno Deck and Mezzanine, Terrace Seminar Room, Gidwitz Lobby, a gallery space, fourteen arts classrooms, a film screening room, and over 90 individual arts studios, rehearsal rooms, and digital media labs.

Presenter: Alan Yu, Jason Riggle, Ming Xiang

Open House in the Karen Landahl Center for Linguistics Research

Landahl Center, Social Science Research Building, Room 010

The faculty of the Department of Linguistics will give presentations on their current experimental and computational research on language. Meets from 12.30 p.m. to 2p.m.