Session II

2-3 p.m.

Between Heaven and Earth: Birds of Ancient Egypt

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.

Awash in Color: French and Japanese Prints

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.

Survival of Multilingualism in the New Economy in India

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.

The Midnight of Mankind: Nietzsche and Mahler

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.

Reason and the Freudian Unconscious

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.

Dreaming and Waking: Sanskrit Stories of Delusion and Freedom

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 i

“Hooliganism” and the Art of East European Dissent

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.

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

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 Emergence of Language as Communicative Technology

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.

What Comes After Contemporary Art?

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.


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