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Michael Bourdaghs’s New Book Traces Japanese Pop Music from post-WWII to 1990s

Michael Bourdaghs, Associate Professor in East Asian Languages and Civilizations, reveals the history of previously unrecorded concerts of iconic Japanese artists such as Misora Hibari and Yamaguchi Yoshiko in his new book, Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon: A Geopolitical Prehistory of J-Pop. As the article details, the source material for this work was discovered in 2009, when a Canadian collector contacted Bourdaghs after procuring unmarked wire recordings from eBay that they suspected were of Yamaguchi and Misora.

This discovery enriched Bourdaghs’s book, which tracks Japanese pop music from 1950–the first year Japanese performers were permitted to travel overseas since the end of World War II–to the early 1990s. In his work, Bourdaghs argues that pop music became a way of working through tensions between Japan and the United States. To listen to music clips or watch video samples, check out the book’s online companion.

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New Oriental Institute Exhibit Curated by Graduate Student

Rozenn Bailleul-LeSuer, a PhD candidate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations studying Egyptology, curated “Between Heaven and Earth: Birds in Ancient Egypt,” which is on display at the Oriental Institute Museum until July 28, 2013. A variety of events accompany the exhibit, including a free public symposium on November 10 and a free guided tour with Bailleul-LeSuer on November 14.

From the article:

The exhibit includes several mummified birds along with 40 artifacts that emphasize how omnipresent birds were in ancient Egyptian culture. Those birds included ducks, ibises and other waterfowl as well as eagles, vultures and falcons, as well as more exotic birds such as ostriches. Some birds lived in the wild along the Nile while others were domesticated.

The exhibit primarily showcases objects from the Oriental Institute, many of which have never been exhibited, such as the legs for a folding stool that are beautifully inlaid in ivory in imitation of duck heads, the mummy of an eagle with remains of gilding, and a small bronze coffin topped with a figure of a falcon wearing a crown.

To learn more about the exhibit and register for affiliated events, please visit the Oriental Institute’s Special Exhibit Events website.

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Invisible Man Adaptation among Honors for Court Theatre

Court Theatre won three awards at the 44th annual Equity Jeff Awards ceremony on October 15. From the theatre’s fifteen nominationsInvisible Man (in association with Christopher McElroen Productions) earned the New Adaption (Play) award, Larry Yando won the award for Actor in a Principal Role (Play) for his portrayal of Roy Cohn in Angels in America, and Timothy Edward Kane received the Solo Performance honor for his work in An Illiad. Ken Warren, the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor in English, served as adviser to this first-ever stage production of Invisible Man.

From the article:

“I’m also thrilled that Court’s world-premiere adaptation of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, adapted by Oren Jacoby, was awarded a Jeff for Best New Adaptation. A product of close collaboration between Court Theatre’s artists and University scholars like Ken Warren, Invisible Man’s continuing success in Chicago and beyond is a testament to what Court and the University of Chicago can achieve in partnership,” Newell added.

Read the full article here.

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UChicago to Host Conference on Algonquian Studies

The University of Chicago will host the 44th Annual Algonquian Conference at the Gleacher Center from Friday, Oct. 26 to Sunday, Oct. 28. Sixty-five papers on all aspects of the Algonquian peoples represent fields such as linguistics, language revitalization, history, anthropology, sociology, music, and art, and a third of the papers have an Algonquian author or co-author. Participants come from the U.S., Canada, Germany, Switzerland, and Japan.

The conference is sponsored by the Division of the Humanities, the Franke Institute for the Humanities, the Adolph and Marion Lichtstern Fund of the Department of Anthropology, the Division of the Social Sciences, the Department of Linguistics, the Center for the Study of Race, Culture and Politics, the Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture, and the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma Cultural Resources Office. The Newberry Library and the Chicago Field Museum are also hosting affiliated events.

The full schedule and paper abstracts can be found here.

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Laura Letinsky’s Food Photography Featured in the New York Times

Laura Letinksy, Professor in Visual Arts and the College, was recently featured in the New York Times discussing her work as it relates to “the problem of the illusion of perfection.” Letinksy’s food photography, which depicts meals and place settings in varying states of chaos and has been featured in magazines such as Bon Appétit and Martha Stewart Living, departs from the “perfectionist aesthetic” that viewers might expect designers such as Martha Stewart to promote.

From the article:

Ms. Letinsky, who grew up in Manitoba, said her interest in food sprouted from her fascination with still lifes, which she said were overlooked and considered as “B movies” of their time. Her book Hardly More Than Ever, which features photographs taken from 1997 to 2004, presents images of scattered cake crumbs; rinds of a blood orange whose juices have caked onto porcelain; and a chocolate bunny whose turquoise wrapping has been peeled off and his head bitten off. They are incomplete stories, and viewers are left longing to meet Ms. Letinsky’s missing revelers.

“I want the pictures to have a kind of tension,” she said.

Read the article here. Letinsky’s latest exhibition of photos will run at the Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York City until October 20.


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Clifford Ando Receives Research Prize

Clifford Ando, Professor of Classics and the College, has received the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Prize from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Winners of the €45,000 prize are invited to spend a year collaborating with a colleague in Germany. Ando is an expert on law, religion and government in the Roman Empire and plans to collaborate with Jörg Rüpke, a professor of comparative religion at the University of Erfurt’s Max Weber Kolleg.

From the article:

During his stay at the University of Erfurt, Ando plans to finish Roman Social Imaginaries, a book exploring cognition and metaphor in Roman social thought. In collaboration with Christopher Faraone, the Frank Curtis Springer and Gertrude Melcher Springer Professor in the Humanities and the College, and Chicago’s Center for the Study of Ancient Religions, Ando and Rüpke are also organizing a conference on the notion of public and private in ancient Mediterranean law and religion.

More about the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation can be found here.

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Three Faculty Members Recognized with Named Professorships

Thirteen University of Chicago faculty members were recognized for their outstanding service with named professorships, including three from the Division of the Humanities.

  • Frances Ferguson was named the Ann L. and Lawrence B. Buttenwieser Professor in English Language and Literature and the College. Her research interests include 18th- and 19th-century literature, as well as 20th- and 21st-century literary theory. Ferguson, who comes to the University from Johns Hopkins University, is currently at work on a project that explores the rise of mass education and how it affects our conception of both individuals and society.
  • David J. Levin has been appointed the Addie Clark Harding Professor in Germanic Studies, Cinema and Media Studies, Theater and Performance Studies, and the College. His latest book, Unsettling Opera: Staging Mozart, Verdi, Wagner and Zemlinksy, (University of Chicago Press, 2007), explores how radical stagings impact one’s understanding of classic operas. Levin, an expert on German opera, theater, cinema and performance theory, serves as executive editor of Opera Quarterly and as the director of the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry.
  • Eric Santner, was named the Philip and Ida Romberg Distinguished Service Professor in Germanic Studies and the College. Santner is a leading scholar of German literature, history and culture, and works at the intersection of literature, political theory, philosophy, psychoanalysis and religious thought. His most recent book, The Royal Remains: The People’s Two Bodies and the Endgames of Sovereignty, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2011.

Read faculty biographies and learn about all of the named professorships here.

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Martha Nussbaum to Speak on Religious Intolerance, Oct. 9

Martha Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law, Philosophy, Divinity, and the College, will give a talk Tuesday, Oct. 9 as part of the World Beyond the Headlines lecture series, a project of the Center for International Studies. The talk will focus on her book The New Religious Intolerance: Overcoming the Politics of Fear in an Anxious Age, which explores how fears about terrorism in the United States and Europe have spiraled into irrational suspicion of Muslims in the West, and will take place at the International House from 6:30-8 p.m.

From the Center for International Studies’ website:

What impulse prompted some newspapers to attribute the murder of 77 Norwegians to Islamic extremists, until it became evident that a right-wing Norwegian terrorist was the perpetrator? Why did Switzerland, a country of four minarets, vote to ban those structures? How did a proposed Muslim cultural center in lower Manhattan ignite a fevered political debate across the United States? In The New Religious Intolerance, Martha C. Nussbaum surveys such developments and identifies the fear behind these reactions. Drawing inspiration from philosophy, history, and literature, she suggests a route past this limiting response and toward a more equitable, imaginative, and free society. Nussbaum challenges us to embrace freedom of religious observance for all, extending to others what we demand for ourselves. With this greater understanding and respect, Nussbaum argues, we can rise above the politics of fear and toward a more open and inclusive future.

More information about The New Religious Intolerance can be found here and here.

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President Zimmer Discusses the Arts on Campus in the Wall Street Journal

University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer recently discussed the ongoing integration of artistic practice and theory on campus in the Wall Street Journal, citing examples such as the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts and the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry to illustrate the “rich environment” available both to students and surrounding neighborhoods. “We have a great research university sitting in the middle of a great city,” he explained. “Arts are a natural place where a university can contribute to and benefit from the city.”

From the article:

Great American universities study art, they analyze and critique it, but do they take the creation of it seriously?

Several of our great universities are beginning to rethink their aloof attitude toward the making of art, but the University of Chicago may be ahead of the game. It has recently spent millions of dollars on recruiting top artists for its faculty and on a bricks-and-mortar project to support the integration of art into the curriculum. One coup was to attract artist and former Yale professor Jessica Stockholder. Although Yale’s School of Art was founded in 1869, and it has since added schools of drama, music and architecture, “those are graduate professional schools,” Ms. Stockholder explained to me. “They aren’t integrated into the liberal-arts curriculum in the humanities alongside philosophy, art, history and literature.”

Click here to read the full article.


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Logan Center for the Arts to Celebrate Grand Opening with Three-Day Festival

The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts is celebrating its grand opening this month with the three-day Logan Launch Festival, October 12-14.

“The Logan Launch Festival will highlight the breadth of arts study and performance opportunities currently taking place across the University, from theater to visual arts to music to the written word. The festival represents the unique mix of professional, student, and community programming that we anticipate at the Logan Center for years to come,” said Bill Michel, Executive Director of the Logan Center.

Highlights include:

  • The New Budapest Orpheum Society, an eight-member ensemble in the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago, performing Jewish Cabaret music and political songs from the turn of the century to the present (1:30-2:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 12)
  • UChicago Visual Arts Professors Laura Letinsky and Geof Oppenheimer, along with students from the MFA class of 2013, discuss their recent trip to China that sought to investigate and develop cross-fertilization across geo-political and cultural arenas (2:30-3:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 12)
  • Creative Writing showcases its thesis students with a multi-genre reading of their work (2:30-4:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 12)
  • Architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien in conversation about the Logan Center, their first Chicago commission (6-7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 12)
  • Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry presents The Project, a year-long collaboration between Professor Patrick Jagoda and Visiting Mellon Fellow in Arts Practice & Scholarship Sha Xin Wei to launch an alternate reality transmedia game (8-10 p.m., Friday, Oct. 12)
  • Interactive performance and discussion moderated by composer Augusta Read Thomas, featuring pianist Daniel Schlosberg, UChicago graduate student composer Andres Carrizo, and a panel of active UChicago composers (2:30-3:30 p.m. and 3:30-4:30 p.m., Saturday Oct. 13)
  • “Wall Text,” an exhibition exploring the relationship between text and space, featuring works by UChicago alumni and current and past faculty (ongoing)

A full calendar of events can be found at the Logan Launch Festival website. The festival is free and open to the public.


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Chicago Demotic Dictionary Featured in the New York Times

The New York Times recently featured the completion of a dictionary of ancient Demotic Egyptian, a language named by the Greeks to denote its use by the demos, or common people. Janet Johnson, the Morton D. Hull Distinguished Service Professor at the Oriental Institute and editor of their Demotic dictionary, explains that the language “was used for business and legal documents, private letters and administrative inscriptions, and literary texts, such as narratives and pieces of wisdom literature” and that the 2,000-page dictionary is “an indispensable tool for reconstructing the social, political and cultural life of ancient Egypt during a fascinating period of its history.”

From the article:

The Demotic dictionary, begun in 1975, supplements and updates a more modest glossary of Demotic words published in German in 1954 by Wolja Erichsen, a Danish scholar.

The new Demotic-English work includes new words not in that glossary, as well as new uses of previously known words and more extensive examples of compound words, idiomatic expressions, place names, reference to deities and words borrowed from other languages. Completed chapters have been posted online from time to time in recent years.

“What the Chicago Demotic Dictionary does is what the Oxford English Dictionary does,” said James P. Allen, an Egyptologist at Brown University. “It gives many samples of what words mean and the range and nuances of their meanings.”

The dictionary is available free online. Eventually there will be a published edition, primarily for research libraries. Read more about the Chicago Demotic Dictionary here.

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Augusta Read Thomas to Premier Four New Compositions During 2012-13 Season

The world premiere of Resounding Earth by Augusta Read Thomas, University Professor in the Department of Music, will  be performed on September 30, 2012 by Third Coast Percussion at the University of Notre Dame’s Debartolo Performing Arts Center. This is the first of four major worldpremieres this season. Earth Echoes will premier on October 11, 2012, at Carnegie Hall featuring the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, and baritone Nathan Gunn. Harvest Drum will be performed on December 20, 2012, featuring the National Centre for the Performing Arts Symphony Orchestra, Beijing, China. Lastly, Cello Concerto No. 3, will debut on March 14-16, 2013, featuring the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach, featuring cellist Lynn Harrell.

For more information, please visit the webpage of the Department of Music.

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Four Faculty Members Win ACLS Fellowships for 2012-13

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) awarded fellowships to four faculty members in the Division of the Humanities for 2012-13. ACLS fellowships and grants are awarded to individual scholars for “excellence in research in the humanities and related social sciences.”

Lauren Berlant, George M. Pullman Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature, was awarded a fellowship for a study that charts the emergence of a generation of queer and “independent” aesthetics from the mid-1980s. Victor Friedman, Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, was awarded for his project on Balkan languages and identities. Richard Jean So, Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature was awarded for his study reconstructing the history of the vibrant U.S.-China literary network that emerged in the 1930s and 1940s, and Hung Wu, Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor in Art History and East Asian Languages and Civilizations for his study on the art of the Northern Qi (550–577).

Since 1919, the ACLS has granted scholars in the humanities and social science fellowships for major research projects. For more information visit the ACLS website.

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Conversation with Jonathan Lear

Excerpts from a conversation between Jonathan Lear, John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor at the Committee on Social Thought and in the Department of Philosophy, and Alasdair McIntyre, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Contemporary Aristotelian Studies in Ethics and Politics (CASEP) at London Metropolitan University and Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, are now available online. The discussion took place last April at the Oriental Institute in a program entitled “Irony and Humanity” presented by the Committee on Social Thought and the Department of Philosophy and co-sponsored by the Lumen Christi Institute. The Harvard University Press has made passages of that conversation available on their website along with excerpts from Lear’s latest book, A Case for Irony.  To view the discussion, visit the Harvard University Press website.


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Civic Knowledge Project program featured in the Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Tribune featured the Civic Knowledge Project’s “Winning Words” program, a project that brings philosophy students into local Chicago public schools to engage students in critical thinking. The Civic Knowledge Project (CKP) is the office for community engagement within the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago. Established in July of 2003, The Civic Knowledge Project aims to build programs and institutional affiliations that enhance the circulation of knowledge on the South Side of Chicago across lines of race, ethnicity, class, and religion.

From the Tribune:

While discussing classic texts and critical thinking are second nature at U. of C., where Socrates and Plato reign supreme, Winning Words is bringing the same process of lively give-and-take and critical thinking to Chicago Public Schools students at 15 South Side elementary and middle schools. The U. of C. tutors serve as philosophy coaches, adapting the ideas of classic and contemporary philosophers and authors like Socrates, William Shakespeare and educator John Dewey to provoke spirited debate among nearly 120 students enrolled in Winning Words.

Last February fourth graders led by a philosophy student presented at the annual American Philosophical Association conference. Earlier this year, Bart Schultz, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy and Director of the Civic Knowledge Project, received the Faculty Initiative Award for 2012 from the Office of Civic Engagement’s Neighborhood Schools Program. The award is in recognition of his work in building community connections through such programs as the Winning Words as well as the Poverty, Promise, and Possibility initiative.

To read the Tribune article, click here. Learn more about the Civic Knowledge Project by visiting their website, and read a Chicago Maroon article here.

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Neubauer Collegium to Expand Humanistic Scholarship

The University of Chicago announced the creation of the Neubauer Family Collegium for Culture and Society, a landmark initiative aimed at expanding the boundaries of humanistic study. Founded with the aid of a $26.5 million gift from Joseph and Jeanette Neubauer, the Neubauer Collegium will draw leading scholars from around the nation and around the world.

From the University News office:

Jeanette and Joseph Neubauer

The Neubauer Family Collegium for Culture and Society will create a destination for outstanding visiting scholars in the humanities and humanistic social sciences from around the nation and the world, who will come to collaborate with their peers in Chicago. The Neubauer Collegium will fund research into large-scale questions that require the expertise and perspectives of many disciplines, while pioneering new efforts to share that work with a wider public.

In a separate announcement, Martha Roth, dean of the Division of the Humanities, and Mark Hansen, dean of the Division of the Social Sciences, welcomed the initiative and lauded the generosity of the Neubauers. “The Neubauer Collegium, we believe, will make the University of Chicago a meeting point for humanistic scholarship and the creator of a new, bold, collaborative model of humanistic inquiry.”

David Nirenberg, the Deborah R. and Edgar D. Jannotta Professor of Medieval History and Social Thought, has been appointed the Neubauer Collegium’s founding faculty director.

Read the full story at the University News office website.

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Library to Add Videogame Collection

The University of Chicago Library will soon make available a collection of videogames in response to “an emerging research interest on campus in game programming, the sociology of games, videogame music, and other areas that touch on videogames, gaming and gamers,” according to the Library’s announcement. Patrick Jagoda, Assistant Professor in English, helped shape the Mansueto Library’s new videogame collection along with the student group Ludic Union for the Investigation of Gaming Interfaces (LUIGI). According to the Library news office, the collection was assembled with “faculty and students working on transmedia, new media, or comparative media studies” in mind.

Jagoda taught an English course in the winter quarter of 2012 called “Critical Videogame Studies” that drew students from departments throughout the University. Jagoda and LUIGI students wrote an introduction to the collection and provided a sampling of  games in the collection. In his introduction, Jagoda addresses the question: “Why should a university library add videogames to its holdings?”

In recent years, the humanities and social sciences have started attending increasingly to the historical, technological, and artistic properties of videogames. There are many ongoing debates among scholars and game designers about which properties of digital games derive from other forms, including novels, films, theater, and sports contests. There are discussions about which components of digital games — interactivity, networked communities, hypermediated interfaces, and so on — make them unique. Cultural studies has also raised critical questions about the ways in which race, gender, class, and sexuality are represented (or often go underrepresented or misrepresented) in popular games, as well as the ways in which players negotiate these categories during play. Increasingly, the overarching question of “Why should we study videogames?” is yielding to more refined questions and significant research projects that are shaping a rich field of study.

Read the rest of Jagoda’s story and notes from the LUIGI group on some of the games in the collection here.

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Jessica Stockholder’s “Color Jam” Opens in Loop

An installation by Jessica Stockholder, Professor and Chair in the Department of Visual Arts, opened this week as part of the public art initiative sponsored by the Chicago Loop Alliance. Color Jam, a large-scale public art installation covering the intersection of State and Adams, opened last week and will be on display until September 30. The art work involves 76,000 square feet of colored vinyl that covers portions of the street, sidewalk, and sides of building and is the largest contiguous vinyl project in the U.S, according to The New York Times.

From The New York Times:

By wrapping the four corners of State and Adams Streets (and parts of buildings there) in swaths of burnt orange, lime green and turquoise — think of Christo meets Hans Hofmann — she deconstructs this slice of the business-as-usual world and transforms it into a playful and imaginative realm. Ms. Stockholder, whose work has been shown at Dia Art Foundation in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Pompidou Center in Paris, is the chairwoman of the visual arts department at the University of Chicago and is known for multidimensional, site-specific works that merge painting and sculpture.

MSNBC interviewed Stockholder and filmed the installation process; you can watch the video here. Read The New York Times article here, and a Chicago Tribune review here.

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James K. Chandler Reappointed as Franke Director

James K. Chandler

James K. Chandler, Barbara E. & Richard J. Franke Professor in the Department of English Language & Literature, the Department of Cinema & Media Studies, and the College, has accepted reappointment for a third term as Director of the Franke Institute for the Humanities, effective July 1, 2012. The announcement came from Martha Roth, Dean of the Division of the Humanities, who lauded Chandler’s leadership over the last decade.

“Jim’s collaborative efforts with foundations and with other universities, and his vision for the role of the humanities within a contemporary research university have all made the Franke Institute one of the premier humanities institutes in the world and one of which we are all rightly proud,” said Roth in her announcement.

“I know that you all join me in congratulating Jim on his accomplishments to date and in expressing our confidence in a successful and ambitious future for the Franke Institute for the Humanities.”

The Franke Institute for the Humanities was founded in 1990 with a mission to foster the development of innovative advanced research across the various disciplines of the humanities. To read more about the Franke Institute visit their website.

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Dean Announces Two New Deputy Dean Positions

Bill Brown

Bill Brown

Dean Martha Roth announced the addition of two new academic positions to the Division of the Humanities. Bill Brown, Karla Scherer Professor of American Culture in the Department of English Language and Literature, the Department of Visual Arts, and the College and a past Master of the Humanities Collegiate Division (HCD), has agreed to serve as the first Deputy Dean for Academic and Research Initiatives for a three-year term beginning July 2013. The second position, Deputy Dean for Languages, will be filled by Mario Santana, Associate Professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and the College and past Master of the HCD (as well as current interim Master). Santana will serve for an initial one-year term in the 2012-13 academic year.

Brown and Santana will join the Deputy Dean and Master of the Humanities Collegiate Division as senior academic officers in the Division of the Humanities.

In the announcement, Dean Roth noted “The Division has accomplished great successes in recent years – hiring and retaining stellar faculty members at all levels; recruiting, supporting and graduating our students; and launching innovative research and pedagogical initiatives. With these new Deputy Deans, we will have the leadership team in place to realize our ambitions and to ensure the success of the humanities in the upcoming campaign.”

As Deputy Dean for Academic and Research Initiatives, Brown will work with faculty throughout the Division to develop and articulate new initiatives that advance humanistic inquiry. He will coordinate with the directors and chairs of the master’s programs in the Division (MAPH, CMES, CLAS, DOVA) and help develop new graduate programs and tracks.

Mario Santana

Mario Santana

As Deputy Dean for Languages, Santana will oversee language instruction, appointments, and reviews; ensure appropriate graduate student language pedagogy training; oversee the appointment of the Director and the academic mission of the Center for the Study of Languages; and interface with the College and the Master of the HCD/Deputy Dean, the College’s Study Abroad programs, with the University of Chicago global Centers in Paris, Beijing, and the soon-to-open center in New Delhi, with the offices of the Deputy Provost for Graduate Education and the Center for Teaching and Learning, and with Departments and Area Centers.

The two new Deputy Deans will join Thomas Christensen, the Avalon Foundation Professor in the Department of Music and the College, who will return from his year of research leave in Berlin to a second three-year term as Master of the Humanities Collegiate Division and Deputy Dean (formerly Associate Dean) on 1 July 2012.

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