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Humanities Day 2011 features Shadi Bartsch as Keynote Speaker

Shadi Bartsch, the Ann L. and Lawrence B. Buttenwieser Professor of Classics, will deliver the keynote address for Humanities Day on October 22, 2011 at 11am in Mandel Hall.

“The Wisdom of Fools: Christianity and the Break in the Classical Tradition” will explore features of the clash of classical philosophy and the Christian doctrine from late antiquity to the Renaissance and the long-lasting effects of the idea Credo quia absurdum est: “I believe, because it is absurd.” The triumph of Christianity by the time of Constantine created a radical break with many of the beliefs and practices of the classical past. In the Christian world, classical texts were still read, Greek and Latin were still spoken; but the claims to knowledge found in classical philosophy were not only disowned but even (by some zealots) considered a form of temptation held out by the devil. “The whole idea,” says Bartsch, “that we were rational creatures and that reason is our greatest attribute—the thing that makes us more like gods and not animals—was discarded.”

Now in its 33rd year, Humanities Day is the oldest event of its kind in Chicago and inspired the citywide Chicago Humanities Festival. The University’s Humanities Day will  feature more than 35 faculty members presenting lectures, conducting tours, and leading discussions across the Hyde Park campus. “We open the doors of our seminar rooms and lecture halls in order to make the work we do accessible to a broader audience,” says Martha Roth, Dean of the Division of the Humanities. “The presentations, a small sampling of the many projects undertaken by our faculty, offer a glimpse into the breadth of scholarship that constitutes the humanistic enterprise at UChicago.”

Three sessions throughout the day—at 9:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.—will showcase outstanding faculty in the Division of the Humanities. Tours of the exhibitions at the Oriental Institute, the Smart Museum of Art, and the Special Collections Research Center will also be featured, as well as a tour of the newly completed Mansueto Library and the Logan Center for the Arts (still under construction). Topics include practices of the self in Buddhism, Hamlet in recent films, a survey of new operas from around the world, and dreams and anxiety in the Freudian unconscious.

For a complete schedule of events, program descriptions, and registration information, please visit


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