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Watch Kate Zambreno, AM’02, Read from Her Memoir, Heroines

Kate Zambreno, AM’02, visited the Logan Center to give a reading from her newest work HeroinesWatch the video of the reading here.

The Rumpus called Heroines “relentless and reflective” and “a genre-defying battle cry about forgotten and suppressed women in literature (as well as her role in the gendered story of her own life).” Heroines developed in part from Zambreno’s blog Frances Farmer is My Sister, where she meditates on the voices and biographies of writers like Vivienne Eliot, Jane Bowles, Jean Rhys, and Zelda Fitzgerald.

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Humanities Faculty Members Recognized with New Professorships

Two faculty members from the Division of the Humanities received new professorships. Clifford Ando has been appointed the David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor in Classics and the College. Ando studies law, religion, and government in the Roman Empire, and is the co-director of the Center for the Study of Ancient Religions. He joined the UChicago faculty in 2006.

Richard Neer has been named the William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor of Art History, Cinema & Media Studies, and the College. Neer studies intersections of aesthetics, architecture, and history, with emphasis on phenomenology and theories of style in classical Greek sculpture, neo-Classical French painting, and mid-20th-century cinema. He is currently the executive director of Critical Inquiry, and joined the UChicago faculty in 1999.

Fourteen UChicago professors received named professorships, and six have been named Distinguished Service Professors. Read more about the honored Humanities faculty members here.

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PhD Candidate Paul Durica’s Historical Tours and Reenactments Highlighted in The Chicago Tribune

firstwardball_flyer_v1Paul Durica, PhD candidate in English Language and Literature, was featured in The Chicago Tribune, discussing his company Pocket Guide to Hell and how his engagement with Chicago history has informed his scholarly work (and vice versa). On his motivation for founding Pocket Guide to Hell, which regularly sponsors events such as reenactments of the 1886 Haymarket Riot, Durica explains, “As I was doing research for my dissertation (about tramps, hobos and transients in American literature), I kept coming upon all of this good material that didn’t fit into my academic work. I wanted to share what I was learning with the broader public.”

On Sunday, March 17, Pocket Guide to Hell will recreate “Bathhouse” John Coughlin and Michael “Hinky Dink” Kenna’s 1908 First Ward Ball at the Hideout (1354 W. Wabansia Ave.) at 8 p.m. According to the article, “Coughlin and Kenna conceived the First Ward Ball as a way of further stuffing their pockets, already bulging with graft, through imposed ticket and liquor sales…by 1908 it attracted 20,000 drunken, yelling, brawling revelers to the Coliseum on South Wabash Avenue. The guests slopped up 10,000 quarts of champagne and 30,000 quarts of beer. It was very messy.” Durica will portray Kenna.

Learn more about Pocket Guide to Hell here.


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Arnold I. Davidson Named Officer in the Ordre des Palmes Académiques

Arnold I. Davidson, Robert O. Anderson Distinguished Service Professor in Philosophy, Comparative Literature, Romance Languages and Literatures, and the Divinity School, was promoted to the rank of Officer in the Ordre des Palmes Académiques, recognizing his contribution to the promotion of French culture. The Ordre des Palmes Académiques is a French Order of Chivalry for academics and cultural and educational figures, comprised of three ranks (Knight, Officer, and Commander). Other notable recipients include literary scholars Roger Pearson and Lionel Gossman.

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Four Innovation Grants Awarded to Humanities Graduate Students

Graduate Student Affairs has announced the winners of the 2012-2013 Innovation Grant, which provides funds for projects created by students “that encourage graduate students’ academic progress, professional development, or personal growth.” The winning projects below were proposed by graduate students in the Division of the Humanities.

  • Chicago Art Journal Website: Proposed by Solveig Nelson, the Chicago Art Journal Website project aims to use the Innovation Grant to create a website for The Chicago Art Journal, a student-run, peer-reviewed journal located in the Department of Art History, in order to expand the journal’s content and expose it to a wider audience.
  • Essential Graphic Design for NELC Students Workshop: Proposed by Tytus Mikolajczak, the goal of the Essential Graphic Design for NELC Students Workshop is to expose graduate students in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations to graphic design software necessary for the preparation of digital images, a requirement for scholarly careers in the field.
  • Open Source Tools for Writing Dissertations and Professional Documents in the Humanities: This two-hour session, proposed by Sarah Iker and Peter Shultz, aims to introduce graduate students to open-source tools that will allow them to create properly formatted and professional academic documents across a variety of operating systems.
  • University of Chicago Move and Shake Women Retreat: Proposed by Alisha Jones, this two-day retreat offers a reflection on work-life balance for graduate student women, particularly women of color. Through the guidance of mentors, the retreat will allow women of color a safe space to discuss their experiences in the academy, while also providing an exchange among women on many different academic career paths.

Read all of the awarded proposals here.


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Humanities Faculty Members Well-Represented in Inaugural Neubauer Collegium Research Projects

800px-Yuon_New_Planet_1921_FINALThe Neubauer Family Collegium for Culture and Society announced eighteen inaugural faculty research projects to begin in the 2013-2014 academic year, creating teams of faculty members with the goal of fostering and sustaining collaborative interdisciplinary research. Many of the large-scale, seed, and faculty fellows projects have principal investigators from the Division of the Humanities:




  • Cinemetrics Across Boundaries: A Collaborative Study of Montage: Yuri Tsivian
  • History, Philology, and the Nation in the Chinese Humanities: Judith Farquhar, Haun Saussy
  • Material Matters, A project of the Neubauer Family Collegium for Culture and Society, in partnership with the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry: Christine Mehring

Founded in June 2012, the Neubauer Family Collegium for Culture and Society was named for Joseph Neubauer, MBA’65, and Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer. David Nirenberg, Deborah R. and Edgar D. Jannotta Professor of History and Social Thought, and director of the Neubauer Collegium, said of the projects, “Our faculty members have set their sights on areas of great complexity and deep importance, and reached out to their colleagues across the University in hopes of discovering newly collaborative ways of thinking about these questions.”

Learn more about the Neubauer Collegium here.

Read the UChicago News coverage of Neubauer Collegium projects announcement here.

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William Nickell’s Digital Mapping Project Featured in The Washington Post

William Nickell, Assistant Professor in Slavic Languages and Literatures, was featured in The Washington Post‘s recent, front page article on Sochi, site of the 2014 Olympic games. Nickell is currently developing Sochi in Six Dimensions, a digital cultural mapping project that will chart Sochi’s “transformation from a model Soviet city into an elite resort and Olympic site.” According to the article, Sochi was once famed for its sanatoriums, where workers could partake in trade union-sponsored rest cures akin to those enjoyed by the aristocrats. With the Olympics approaching, Sochi is now being turned into a resort town, which Nickell describes as “Russian Dubai, with high-rise residential apartments and an elite resort, more like a contemporary spa than Soviet sanatoria.”

Sochi in Six Dimensions aims to “capture all of these layers, with particular attention to the projection of this new, elite city over the surface of the former egalitarian and proletarian one.” Read more about the Sochi mapping project here.

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UChicago Faculty Members Included in Newcity Art’s “Art 50: Chicago’s Artist’s Artists”

Several faculty members of the Department of Visual Arts were featured on Newcity Art’s list of “Chicago Artist’s Artists.” Newcity Art is devoted to coverage of visual arts in Chicago, and includes news, reviews, and features. Jessica Stockholder, Professor and Chair, was praised for the way that Chicago has featured in and informed her work, particularly with “Color Jam,” her summer 2012 installation. Laura Letinsky, Professor, was noted for her innovative “constructions,” which combine the notions of reproductions and originals, as well as William Pope.L, Associate Professor, for the ways he explores “the abject fantasies underpinning the absurdity of black male identity—and, by extension, all American identities.”

Read the full profiles here.

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David Nirenberg on Anti-Judaism in The Chronicle of Higher Education

David Nirenberg, the Deborah R. and Edgar D. Jannotta Professor of History and Social Thought, wrote an article titled “Anti-Judaism as Critical Theory” for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Nirenberg, who studies “the ways in which Jewish, Christian, and Islamic cultures constitute themselves by inter-relating with or thinking about each other,” echoes Hannah Arendts The Origins of Totalitarianism when he asks in the article, “How and why do ideas about Jews and Judaism become convincing explanations for the state of the world in a given time and place?” Utilizing theorists like Arendt, Marx, and Hegel, Nirenberg traces the history of thinking about Judaism and how that thought has shaped our view of the world.

Read the full article here, and find his latest book Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition here.

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Lauren Berlant Interviewed in Xtra! Canada

berlantXtra! Canada recently featured a Q&A with Lauren Berlant, George M. Pullman Professor in English, and 2013 Northrop Frye Professor of Literary Theory at University of Toronto’s Centre for Comparative Literature. In the Q&A, Berlant discusses her most recent book, Cruel Optimism, as well as U.S. politics, same-sex marriage, and teaching. On her goals as a queer scholar, Berlant says:

I’m all for training my students in curiosity. One thing we talk about is what an LGBTQ teacher’s job is these days. How much is the project of a queer pedagogy not just the project of distributing more fabulousness, or learning more history, but also of learning to have curiosity about the objects that sustain us intimately and politically? For me, not taking the object for granted – not assuming that someone’s erotic patterns are a clear and coherent story about who they are, for example – is a fundamental contribution of queer work.

Read the full Q&A here.

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Jessica Stockholder, Current Students, and Alumni Discuss Color at Logan Center

NCQ_G-SMACPNDj4Ayo6Bj78c5mNfivNzMljBNcolwLMOn February 8, Jessica Stockholder, Chair and Professor in Visual Arts,  Jonathan Ullyot, PhD’10 and instructor in the College, and Nicholas Wong, a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature, and others gathered at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts to discuss the concept of color. This dialogue, presented by the Arts|Science Initiative, is part of The Cabinet, a monthly series seeking to explore multiple perspectives surrounding a particular theme, such as color, narrative, silence, and many more. Stockholder discussed how she uses color in her work and how we experience color as viewers, while Ullyot and Wong presented a video on color and read a poem about color, respectively.

This month’s installment of The Cabinet on Thursday, March 7 at 7 p.m. will focus on models and how they are used in both the arts and the sciences. More information can be found here.

photo courtesy of Jennifer Smoose, MFA’13

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Master Class: Graduate Students Discuss Teaching Methods with Peers

Arriving on campus before classes begin might seem like an activity limited to first-years. However, the 300 graduate students that headed to the Center for Teaching and Learning this past fall were in for their own kind of orientation–an intensive two-day instruction workshop to prepare them for teaching College courses. Students took part in large-scale discussions about classroom ethics and attended smaller group sessions devoted to topics ranging from teaching in the American classroom to the role of the teaching assistant. Martin Baeumel, a PhD candidate in Germanic Studies and consultant at the Center for Teaching and Learning, co-taught a session alongside Britni Ratliff, SM’07, PhD’11 and Jessica Robinson, AM’05 titled “Pedagogical Self-Assessment: How Do You Know Your Students Are Learning?”, which argued that self-assessment is one of the most important aspects of teaching. Beaumel says: “When you start teaching, if you notice a class isn’t going well, you might tend to prepare more content. And 99 percent of the time, this particular class will go even worse, because you’re so focused on content you lose touch with what students need.”

For more information on professional development opportunities through the Center for Teaching and Learning, click here.

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Contemporary Music Ensemble CUBE Performs at Fulton Hall

On Feb. 3, 2013, Chicago-based contemporary chamber music ensemble CUBE marked its 25th anniversary with a concert, titled “Hanging From the Edge,” at Fulton Hall. CUBE has strong ties to the University of Chicago community: Patricia Morehead, the founder of CUBE, received her PhD in composition from the University, and John Eaton, Professor Emeritus in Music, serves on its advisory board along with Augusta Read Thomas, University Professor in Music. The concert was presented by the Renaissance Society and combined computer-generated sounds, even incorporating “an uninvited telephone ringing from a nearby office,” with more traditional arrangements. The program also included an untitled piece, performed by Howard Sandroff, Director of the Computer Music Studio and Senior Lecturer in Music, and Ben Sutherland, PhD’01, that involved rapping on two metallic sculptures with various objects including wooden sticks and a violin bow.

More information on CUBE, including audio samples, can be found here.

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A-J Aronstein, AM’10, Featured in Paris Review Daily

It’s a balmy 38 degrees today in Chicago, but an article by A-J Aronstein, AM’10, in the Paris Review Daily reminds us not to get too comfortable. Aronstein, an alumni of the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (MAPH), meditates on how the unique cold of February in Chicago affects our bodies and brains, leading us from Lacan to Netflix and from selfish survival to the promise of OKCupid. He writes:

It’s a tenuous period during which one skates between euphoric invigoration (induced by the body’s deployment of emergency reserves of natural stimulants to keep one’s system from shutting down) and cataclysmic despair. To survive it requires the assignment of some kind of meaning to the weather: to consider it not in the idiom of ordinary conversation (“Boy, it sure is cold out there today!”), but rather as a philosophical problem, an existential threat, a constant companion on otherwise lonely nights. Only in this way can we take something useful from winter.

More work from MAPH alumni can be found here or in MAPH’s newly created digital journal, Colloquium.

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William Pope.L Profiled in Interview Magazine

In the February 2013 issue of InterviewWilliam Pope.L, Associate Professor in Visual Arts, discussed his upcoming exhibition at the Renaissance Society and his “crawl” pieces. The most famous of these “crawl” works consisted of crawling on his hands and knees from the beginning to the end of Broadway street in Manhattan, a 22-mile journey that took him nine years to complete, “with each installment lasting as long as Pope.L could endure the knee and elbow pain (often about six blocks).” He also considered questions surrounding whether he defines his work as activism, his upcoming Pull! project (in which he and a group of local participants will pull an eight-ton truck through the streets of Cleveland by hand), and his thoughts on authorship in community-based art.

The community is, in fact, one of the most important parts of Pope.L’s work. When asked whether he enjoys making the work he does, he responded:

No, I did not enjoy crawling. Overall, I enjoy making work with others. I enjoy the small moments of revelation that are only possible in the company of others. I enjoy making a clear puzzle. I realize more and more that making is unmaking. To make something is to undo it. To make something is to make it less mysterious, that is, in the process of removing a veil, one of many. You gain more intimacy, but it may not be very pleasant.

Pope.L’s show at the Renaissance Society, titled Forlesen, will run from April 28 to June 23. It will be his first solo exhibition in Chicago since joining the University faculty.

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With Valentine’s Day Approaching, Why Not Try an Ancient Greek Love Spell?

We live in an era of convenience, and trying to make someone fall in love with you using only your personality is time-consuming. It might be time to try a different kind of charm: ancient Greek magic! The Core spoke with Chris Faraone, Frank Curtis Springer and Gertrude Melcher Springer in Classics, about the kinds of love spells described in his book Ancient Greek Love Magic. Faraone explained that men and women typically used different kinds of spells, an eros spell for men and a philia spell for women. The eros spell was used as more of a curse, designed to cause the woman an unbearable amount of torture which could only be relieved by the man who cast the spell. The philia spell was designed to bind the man closer to the woman, and was related more to healing magic than to torture (which presumably comes in the later stages of the relationship). Below is a sample philia spell from Ancient Greek Love Magic, reproduced by The Core, with sample names included:

A spell for inducing affection (Philia):

Take a silver tablet and inscribe with a bronze stylus the following spell:

“Give to me, Madison, whom Tammy bore, advantage over men and women, especially over Benjamin, whom Barbara bore, forever and for all time.”

Wear it under your garment and you will be victorious.

And if that doesn’t work, we have magic the Greeks didn’t: internet dating.

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Richard G. Stern, 1928-2013

stern obitRichard G. Stern, the Helen A. Regenstein Professor Emeritus in English, died January 24 at age 84. Stern joined the University of Chicago faculty in 1955 and wrote over twenty books of fiction and nonfiction in his lifetime. He was friends with many distinguished writers, including Saul Bellow, X’39, and Philip Roth, AM’55, who credits Stern for the idea to write his novella Goodbye, Columbus. During his time at the University, Stern received the Award of Merit from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He was also a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Heartland Prize. The Paris Review describes him as “…a nurturing teacher and a powerful force in literature at the University of Chicago.”

On teaching at the University, he wrote:

It’s important at the University of Chicago, where the Great Works loom monumentally, to free students from the paralysis of intimidation by them. I don’t hesitate to compare the best student work with the work of masters. This is not meant to cheapen the marvelous but to evoke it. The hope is to make students fall in love with sublimity and to show them it’s not out of reach.

Stern is survived by his wife, poet Alane Rollings, BA’72, MA’75; four children from his first marriage, Christopher, Andrew, Nicholas and Kate; and five grandchildren.

Read a tribute from a former student and friend of Stern’s here.

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Valerie Snobeck, MFA’08, Creates Piece for Smart Museum Courtyard

Snobeck_525pxValerie Snobeck, MFA’08, has created a piece titled American Standard Movement as part of the annual Threshold series sponsored by the Smart Museum of Art. The site-specific work, presented in the Vera and A.D. Elden Sculpture Garden, re-uses debris netting that was previously part of a construction project on the University of Chicago campus in order to open up questions about environment, the passage of time, and progress.

From the Smart Museum description:

Such netting serves a function—to catch debris let loose by construction activities—and also behaves as an aesthetic marker of the construction site itself. Snobeck’s work takes this duality as a point of entry. Netting marks the absence of a wall, but is, unlike a wall, woven and hung, permeable. In American Standard Movement, the netting is co-opted, but not necessarily displaced.

The painting on the netting references tools used in watch repair in order to measure internal components, which, given the banner’s outdoor setting, draws the viewer’s attention to the body and the environment as component parts situated in larger systems.

American Standard Movement will show until October 2013. For more information on current exhibitions at the Smart Museum, please click here.

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Alumna Traces History of Bowl Belonging to Cleopatra Through 20th Century AD

Cultural historian Marina Belozerskaya, AM’92, PhD’97, has published the first book-length account of the Tazza Farnese, a libation bowl dating to Ptolemaic Egypt that once belonged to Cleopatra. The book, titled Medusa’s Gaze: The Extraordinary Journey of the Tazza Farnese, charts the renowned artifact’s journey through history, from Rome and Constantinople to the Holy Roman Emperor’s court at Palermo and the French Revolution. It inspired artists such as Raphael and Botticelli and was owned by Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Mongol rulers. The Tazza Farnese‘s adventure continued even after it came to rest at the Naples National Archaeological Museum–it was nearly destroyed there in 1925 by a deranged guard.

For more information on alumni publications, visit the University of Chicago Magazine, or check out the catalog of alumni books on the magazine’s Goodreads page.

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Philosophy Alumnus Named Distinguished Professor at University of Southern Maine

Robert Louden, AM’76, PhD’81, is the fifth person to be named distinguished professor at the University of Southern Maine, one of the highest honors a tenured professor can receive at the university. Louden, whose interests include the history of ethics, ethical theory, Kant, and the history of philosophy, arrived at USM in 1982 as an assistant professor. He became a professor in 1996 and has served as the department chair four times since then. In 2009 he also received the University of Southern Maine Faculty Senate Award for Excellence in Scholarship in the Humanities. He has published four books with the Oxford University Press and edited one, titled The Greeks and Us: Essays in Honor of Arthur W. H. Adkins, with the University of Chicago Press.

More alumni news can be found in the most recent edition of the University of Chicago Magazine.

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