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Alumna Publishes Personal Look at Gender Politics in Figure Skating

Erica Rand, AM’81, PhD’89, published a book of essays–part cultural critique, part memoir–last year titled Red Nails, Black Skates: Gender, Cash, and Pleasures On and Off the Ice. The idea for the book began when Rand, a professor in women’s and gender studies and art and visual culture at Bates College, started figure skating and noticed the numerous ways in which the sport intersected with her academic interests: strict gender rules, class distinctions, and heavy emphasis on popular culture. For example, both male and female skaters must follow strict guidelines for apparel, such as white skates and short skirts for women, black skates and spandex–clingy, but still masculine–for men. The book contains Rand’s observations about the skating world from the point of view of a “self-identified queer femme in a heavily sequined sport.”

Read more about Rand’s research and the work of other UChicago alumni here.

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Package Addressed to Indiana Jones to be Displayed at The Oriental Institute

In December, the College admissions office received a mysterious package addressed to Henry Walton Jones, Jr.–better known as Indiana Jones (AB’22), one of the University’s more famous, albeit fictional, alumni. The package, which included a handwritten journal as well as notes and photographs from Raiders of the Lost Ark, attracted quite a bit of media attention until the mystery was solved. Paul Charfauros, who makes replica journals, sold the prop to a collector on Ebay, and while in transit the outer envelope was separated from the package addressed to Indy. Believing the package to be real, the post office added the correct zip code and sent it to the University. Upon learning of the mix-up, Charfauros donated the prop.

The package and its contents will be on display at the Oriental Institute. Chief curator Jack Green joked that the collectible belonged in a museum because, after all, “Maybe it contains information our scholars need.” The exhibit, dubbed “Raiders of the Lost Journal,” will run until March 31, when the package will be retired to the archives.

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Augusta Read Thomas Awarded Order of Lincoln

Augusta Read Thomas, University Professor in Music and renowned composer, was recently awarded the Order of Lincoln by the Lincoln Academy of Illinois for her many contributions to the world of music. The Order of Lincoln was established in 1964 to recognize Illinois natives or current residents for their professional achievements or public service, and in 1989 was declared the state’s highest honor. Past recipients of the award include Maria Tallchief, Benny Goodman, Mahalia Jackson, Sherrill Milnes, and Ardis Krainik.

For more information on the Order of Lincoln, including past recipients, click here.

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MFA Alumnus Turns Circuitous Career Path into Engaging Fiction

John Kuhns, MFA’75, didn’t begin his career with the endgame of becoming a novelist. However, as he was taking sculpture classes at the university, he couldn’t picture himself as a professional artist, either. Kuhns, an investment banker specializing in hydroelectric energy and CEO of three companies, has taken his unlikely career path and used it as fodder for his first novel, China Fortunes: A Tale of Business in the New World, which details the highs and lows of the semiautobiographical character Jack Davis. As Kuhns explains, his varied career is less unique than it may seem: “I read recently that the average person has seven jobs in three different industries during their career. The idea that you would get out of school with a practical education and have a job for life is gone with the wind.” Much like his recent turn towards writing though, Kuhns says you have to follow your heart when it comes to work: “Pursue a career in something that you’re good at, and never make a career decision based on the money…if you do something you’re good at, the money will come.” Kuhns’ second novel, South of the Clouds, is forthcoming.

To read more about Kuhns’ varied professional pursuits, click here.

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Forged in the Fringes, Peter Selz, AM’49, PhD’54, Reflects on his Career in Modern Art

In the recently-published biography Peter Selz: Sketches of a Life in Art, author Paul J. Karlstrom details Peter Selz’s illustrious career as an art historian, which Selz states “has consisted of looking at art that I think is excellent–whether German expressionism then or Morris Graves now–that deserve to be seen and is on the periphery.” Selz, now 93, has written over fifty books and articles on art and art history, and befriended artists such as Mark Rothko and Sam Francis. He also formed friendships with several artists he met during his time as a graduate student at the University of Chicago.

After escaping Nazi Germany at the age of 17, Selz attended the University on the GI Bill, studying Art History under professors Ulrich Middeldorf and Joshua C. Taylor. In 1954, Selz earned his PhD with a 600-page dissertation that examined the work of artists such as Kandinsky, Beckmann, and Emil Nolde within social and political contexts. It became an extremely influential book within the field, German Expressionist Painting, and is still in print.

In the 1960s, Selz became a professor of art and founding director of the Berkeley Art Museum at the University of California. His home in Berkeley is a testament to his long and thriving career–it contains works such as a Beckmann self-portrait and the painting Iris (pictured), a gift from Sam Francis. Far from retiring, Selz remains dedicated to writing, teaching, and curating.

More information about Selz’s work, including his connections to the University, can be found in the fall issue of Tableau.

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Michael I. Allen Donates Rare Manuscripts to Honor University Librarians

To honor University Librarian Judith Nadler’s “leadership and careful guidance for researchers”, Michael I. Allen, Associate Professor in Classics, donated the fifth-century military science text De re militari or On Military Matters by Flavius Vegetius Renatus to the Special Collections Research Center. Because the book was shunned by the Church, it is extremely rare–approximately a dozen copies exist in North American and European libraries.  Allen was pleased to present his gift “in honour of Judith Nadler in recognition of her long, varied, and important contributions to the University through the Library.”

Earlier in 2012, Allen also donated Vita D. N. Jesu Christi, by Ludolphus of Saxony, in honor of James Vaughan, Associate University Librarian for User Services. This rare 17th-century text presents the life of Christ through meditations and prayers. Upon donating the book, Allen said: “I’m pleased to offer a special book in honor of Jim Vaughan.  Like all the library staff, he makes positive things happen.”

For more news on events and exhibitions at the Special Collections Research Center, click here.

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Jason Grunebaum Shortlisted For South Asian Literature Award

The Walls of Delhi, written by Uday Prakash and translated by Jason Grunebaum, Senior Lecturer in South Asian Languages and Civilizations, has been shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. For prize consideration, as the site explains, authors could belong to this region through birth or be of any ethnicity but the writing should pertain to the South Asian region in terms of content and theme. The prize brings South Asian writing to a new global audience through a celebration of the achievements of South Asian writers, and aims to raise awareness of South Asian culture around the world. The winner will be announced in January 2013 during the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival in India, which Grunebaum and Prakash will attend.

To view the 2012 longlist and learn more about the 2012 prizewinner, click here.

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MLA Prize Awarded to Larry Norman

Larry Norman, Professor in Romance Languages and Literatures, Theater and Performance Studies, and the College, recently received the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for French and Francophone Literary Studies from the Modern Language Association for his book The Shock of the Ancient: Literature and History in Early Modern France. According to the selection committee’s citation for the book, “Probing early modern reactions to the classical age, Norman’s compelling analysis highlights the value of art in bridging distance in human consciousness in any era.” Norman currently serves as Deputy Provost for the Arts at the University, and has curated exhibitions at the Smart Museum of Art and the Special Collections Research Center. The Scaglione Prize is “awarded annually for an outstanding scholarly work in its field—a literary or linguistic study, a critical edition of an important work, or a critical biography—written by a member of the association.”

For more information about the MLA 2012 prizewinners, please click here.

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Patrick Jagoda Discusses Time Travel, Video Games During Interdisciplinary Panel

On November 7 at the Field Museum, a multidisciplinary panel composed of University of Chicago faculty together with Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory researchers and engineers convened to discuss the topic of time. “Playing with Time” was the sixth in a Joint Speaker Event series organized by the Office of the Vice President for Research and for National Laboratories. Questions discussed by the panel included, “Did humans invent time to help explain everything around us? Was there time before the origin of the universe?” and “How does a virus experience time?”

Patrick Jagoda, Assistant Professor of English, noted the ways humanities fields like literature and new media grapple with the notion of time, such as in the novel Einstein’s Dreams. “Clock time makes ordered schedules possible, but bodily time is shaped by moods, desires and whims,” he said. “Another scheme imagines time as a current of water occasionally displaced by passing breezes.” Video games, he noted, have developed ways to allow users to manipulate time.

The question of time travel fascinated the panel. Joseph Lykken, a particle theorist at Fermilab, explained that travel to the future has been observed with particle accelerators. “Muons (subatomic particles), for example, usually survive for a microsecond, but when we speed them up they can survive a thousand times as long. They have traveled to the future.” For the humanities, time travel may involve fewer subatomic particles and more creativity. Jagoda noted that reading an old book or playing a video game can be an imaginative way to put oneself in another time.

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Anthony Elms, MFA’95, to Co-Curate Whitney Museum’s 2014 Biennial

Anthony Elms, associate curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, has been selected to curate one floor of the Whitney Museum of American Art for its 2014 Biennial. The Biennial acts as a platform to present shows that illustrate the state of contemporary art in the country. He joins two additional curators who will also have creative control over their own floors. Elms, a 1995 MFA graduate, was selected by the museum’s director and staff members to participate in what Donna DeSalvo, the Whitney’s chief curator, calls an experiment: “By slicing the museum up like a layer cake and seeing how it will look collectively, it gives the curators the opportunity to express their own points of view, each on a different floor.” The 2014 Biennial will be a historic one for the museum, as it is the last time the event will take place in the Whitney’s Marcel Breuer building before the museum moves to its new location in the meatpacking district.

Elms recently contributed to “Wall Text“, an exhibit that was on display throughout the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts.

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Steven Rings Wins Emerging Scholar Award

Steven Rings, Associate Professor in Music, was recently awarded the Emerging Scholar Award from the Society for Music Theory for his book Tonality and Transformation. The Emerging Scholar Award is given to books or articles published within five years of the author’s receipt of their PhD. Rings, who received his PhD from Yale in 2006, focuses his scholarship on transformational theory, phenomenology, popular music, and questions of music and meaning. Tonality and Transformation uses transformational music theory to examine diverse aspects of tonal hearing, focusing on the listener’s experience.

For more information on the Society for Music Theory, please visit their site.

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UChicago Composers Share Creative Processes

Shulamit Ran, Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor of Music, Augusta Read Thomas, University Professor of Composition in Music, and Marta Ptaszynska, Helen B. and Frank L. Sulzberger Professor of Music, recently shared what inspires them to create music and their composing processes. Ran, who recently composed a piece inspired by the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts which was performed at the building’s launch festival, said “Life informs my music in every possible way, through the people I meet, the sounds I hear, things I see or read, life’s events and passages, its awe and adventure. This feeds into everything I am, and thus everything I compose.”

Ptaszynka and Thomas both commented that ideas for their compositions usually come to them fully-formed, rather than in fragments. “I never start a piece if I don’t know how the piece will end,” Ptaszynska says. “It’s like buying a train ticket without knowing where you’re going.”

Thomas’ process echoes this theme of travel. “I usually draw maps—a timeline of the piece, the shapes it’s going to take, its harmonic fields,” she says. “If you’re going to build a huge building or cathedral, you can’t just go to the hardware store and start hammering nails. I actually draft the beginning, middle, and end of absolutely every sound. I want to know, what’s the inner life? Where is it going, why is it going there? How does it relate to what comes next, and why? Gestalt is everything to me.”

All three composers underscored that none of their creativity would be possible without diligent work, which makes the University of Chicago a particularly fruitful setting. “Many people have a talent but don’t develop their craft,” Ptaszynska says. “And talent without craft is nothing.”

Read the full article here.

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UChicago Writers Include University in Cast of Characters

Many University of Chicago alumni who go on to publish fiction—such as Philip Roth, AM’55, Saul Bellow, X’39, Andrew Greeley, AM’61, PhD’62, Sara Paretsky, AM’69, MBA’77, PhD’77 , and Georg Mann, AB’35—find the University irresistible as a source of setting, conflict, or in some situations, character. Authors have chosen to use the University as a backdrop for characters stalled on dissertation work, as a site of social or political progress, and often as a comfort and inspiration to characters looking to live, in Philip Roth’s words, a life that is “enormous.” These “enormous” lives are fraught with a number of failures and successes, but for alumni, current faculty members, and even non-alumni, the University as a character or setting is a captivating concept. For some authors though, the captivation turns to intrigue as Alzina Stone Dale, AM’57, reveals in her 1995 book Mystery Reader’s Walking Guide: Chicago, which weaves readers in and out of the campus and the Hyde Park neighborhood to retrace the paths of fictional sleuths.

If you want to brush up on the fictional happenings at the University, consult this article and read the reflections of twenty-one novelists and poets with connections to the University in An Unsentimental Education: Writers and Chicago, by Molly McQuade, AB’81 For those simply hoping to tour the locations that inspired these authors, a literary map of campus can be found here.

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MA Program in the Humanities Launches Digital Publication

The Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (MAPH) recently launched the first issue of its digital magazine, Colloquium, which aims to showcase critical and creative work from current MAPH students as well as alumni and staff. The first issue focuses on the theme of “Chicago,” and features fiction, photography, critical essays, creative non-fiction, video, poetry, and more. Through its digital platform, Colloquium hopes to continue to feature multimedia content such as video, sound, and games, as well as writing.

Submissions to Colloquium are accepted on an ongoing basis from contributors with ties to the MAPH program. Students, alums, faculty and preceptors past or present are encouraged to submit.

For more information about the MAPH program including admissions, courses, and alumni news, click here.

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National Prize for Historic Music Awarded to Alumni-Led Ensemble

Schola Antiqua of Chicago, a professional vocal ensemble dedicated to the performance of music composed before the year 1600, was recently awarded the 2012 Noah Greenberg Award by the American Musicological Society. The Artistic Director of Schola Antiqua, Michael Alan Anderson, earned his PhD from the University of Chicago in the History and Theory of Music in 2008. About the winning project, “Sounding the Neumatized Sequence,” he says, “The year 2012 marks the 1100th anniversary of the death of the most important sequence composer, Notker Balbulus of St. Gall, and scholars of the sequence have turned renewed attention to the curious, widespread musical practice of ‘neumatization’ in particular. Early music ensembles however have scarcely kept pace with these latest developments in medieval music scholarship.”

The Noah Greenberg award aims to “stimulate active cooperation between scholars and performers by recognizing and fostering outstanding contributions to historical performing practices.” Schola Antiqua served as an Artist in Residence in the Department of Music in 2006-2007, making this the second consecutive year that an artist connected to the University has won this prestigious award. Last year’s winner was the New Budapest Orpheum Society, an Ensemble in Residence in the Division of the Humanities, for their project “Representing the Holocaust, Resounding Terezín.”

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Civic Knowledge Project’s Winning Words Program Wins Prize for Innovation

The Civic Knowledge Project recently received the Prize for Excellence and Innovation in Philosophy Programs for its program Winning Words: Thinking, Speaking, and Acting Philosophically. Winning Words introduces students on Chicago’s South Side to philosophical practices such as considered self-expression, reasonable and cooperative conversation, collaborative inquiry, and thoughtful self-examination through sessions with University of Chicago students who bring the program to local schools. By combining these sessions with on-campus opportunities for class discussions and theatrical performances, young students are able not only to expand their philosophical knowledge but also to interact with college students and the campus itself, illustrating the rewards of a college education.

The annual prize, sponsored by the American Philosophical Association and the Philosophy Documentation Center, aims “to recognize programs that risk undertaking new initiatives and do so with excellence and success.” The winning institution receives campus-wide online access to a variety of philosophy resources in order to strengthen interest in the program.

For more information on the Civic Knowledge Project and its programs, including how to get involved, please visit the project’s website.

To learn more about the types of conversations students participating in Winning Words are having, be sure to read the excellent, in-depth article that appeared in The Core magazine.

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Exhibit Honors Campus Veterans through Display of Original Work and Artifacts

A one-day exhibition of poetry, pictures, letters, and donated ephemera from campus veterans at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts on Monday, October 12, seeks to encourage discourse among the University community while honoring veterans for their service. When asked to share items that illustrated their experience serving in the armed forces, many veterans added schrapnel, uniforms, and empty cartridges to the exhibition. Josh Cannon, a third-year PhD student in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, assisted fellow veterans in submitting their stories to the exhibit by conducting story-telling workshops in the fall. “The stories are very eclectic,” Cannon said. “They are funny, happy and sad—they should display to the public the diverse ways that people experience their life in the military.”

Associate Provost Aneesah Ali, who organized the exhibition and a luncheon for the vets, explains, “This is the first time that we’re inviting the broader University community to recognize the veterans on campus. The long-term hope of outreach events like this is to attract more talented veterans to join our community.” The exhibition will be in the main lobby of the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts and will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For the full article, click here. To read more about campus veterans and their work in the Division of the Humanities, click here.

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Doctoral Student Discusses Symbolism of Korean Art at Smart Museum

Eleanor Hyun, a PhD candidate in Art History, shared her expertise in Korean and Chinese art during a lecture at the Smart Museum of Art on calligraphy and brush-and-ink painting from Korea’s Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910). The lecture was part of a Smart Museum exhibition titled “From the Land of the Morning Calm.”

From the article:

While Western artists frequently depicted the human figure, in East Asia calligraphy was considered the highest art form, Hyun said. But calligraphy did incorporate the body: the brush was thought of as an extension of the arm, and the precise strokes were likened to martial arts. Characters were often described in corporal terms, such as “meaty” or “skinny.” Referring to Yi’s calligraphy of a poem by renowned Joseon-dynasty writer Sin Heum, Hyun pointed out the vigorous, semicursive characters: “If anybody here has ever touched ink and brush, you know how easy it is to make a stray mark, a drop here or a drop there.” To achieve the sort of balance and rhythm displayed in Yi’s work required intense concentration and mastery of the discipline.

For more information about the Smart Museum and upcoming exhibitions, click here.

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Connection between Magic and Medicine in Ancient World Discussed during Recent Lectures

In October at the Oriental Institute, several professors participated in the lecture series “Medicine and Magic in the Ancient World, A Search for the Cure”, which sought to explore the connection between the physical and the psychological aspect of healing within ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece.

Robert Ritner, Professor in Egyptology, opened the series with his talk titled “The Theory and Practice of Medicine and Magic in Ancient Egypt”, Christopher Faraone, the Frank Curtis Springer and Gertrude Melcher Springer Professor in the Humanities, and the College, and Elizabeth Asmis, Professor in Classics, presented “Medical Healing in Ancient Greece”. Walter Farber, Professor of Assyriology, discussed how people came to understand and fight against contagious diseases in his lecture titled “Diseases and Epidemics in Ancient Mesopotamia: Medical Conceptualization and Responses”, while Robert Biggs, Professor Emeritus in Assyriology, focused on Mesopotamian religious practitioners and their approach to illness and misfortune in his talk “Religious and Magical Elements in Babylonian Medical Practice.” The series closed on October 27 with a presentation by John Wee, a postdoctoral scholar in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, titled “Mesopotamian Texts and the Knowledge Assumptions of Medical Diagnosis”.

To find out about upcoming lectures at the Oriental Institute, please visit their Events & Programs web page.

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Grant Awarded to UChicago to Preserve Endangered Urdu Periodicals

The University of Chicago recently received a £52,247 grant from the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme to preserve sixty rare and endangered Urdu periodicals through digitization. The digital images will be produced at the Mushfiq Khwaja Library and Research Centre in Karachi, Pakistan, and will be available through the University of Chicago Library as well as the British Library.

C.M. Naim, Professor Emeritus in South Asian Languages and Civilizations, will participate in the panel of Urdu scholars responsible for selecting the magazines and journals to be archived. “Thanks to the easy technology and low cost of litho printing, the only accepted form for Urdu script texts across South Asia, Urdu weeklies and monthlies began to appear in the 1870s,” Naim explains. “It was in the periodicals that all major modern writers and political and social figures made their debuts and gained popularity. And it is only in the periodicals that we can discover the full extent of many literary and political controversies that are only now beginning to gain the attention of scholars.”

To read the full article, click here.

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