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Three Faculty Members Win Teaching Awards

Three faculty from the Division of the Humanities were honored for their excellence and commitment to teaching.  Elaine Hadley, Professor and Chair in the Department of English Language and Literature, received the Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring, along with Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions in the Divinity School, the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, the Committee on Social Thought, and the College.

Jason Merchant, Professor and Chair in the Department of Linguistics, will receive the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

From the University New Office:

Although each award has a distinct history and traditions, they all speak to the University’s dedication to fostering a culture of teaching innovation. That idea dates to University founder William Rainey Harper, who saw excellence in teaching as essential to maintaining a globally preeminent research university.

To read the full story and interviews with prize winners click here.

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Martha Roth reappointed to five-year term

Dean Martha Roth, Chauncey S. Boucher Distinguished Service Professor of Assyriology, has accepted reappointment as Dean of the Humanities Division for a five-year term, effective July 1, 2012, The announcement came from President Robert Zimmer and Provost Thomas F. Rosenbaum, who pointed to the growth of the Division of the Humanities since she was first appointed five years ago, as well as her dedication to working to “refine the intellectual and educational directions of the Division for the future.”

During her first term as dean, the Division realized a twelve percent increase in the Humanities faculty, including two University Professors and four Neubauer Family Assistant Professors. The Center for Jewish Studies was also re-conceptualized and revitalized, and a new chair in Indian Studies commemorates the legacy of the Hindu spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda. Further, the Division has taken the lead in the burgeoning field of digital humanities. The president also lauded Dean Roth for being “an essential partner in the development of the Mansueto Library and the Logan Arts Center.”

From the University News Office:

“It is an honor to serve as dean of the Division of the Humanities at this visionary institution,” Roth said. “Throughout the University, our work is supported and advanced by the administration and staff at every level, by the dedicated faculty, and by the outstanding students. I look forward to working with my colleagues during my next term to keep our culture of rigorous inquiry, scholarly debate, and inspiring pedagogy alive and vibrant.”

Read the article from the University News Office here.

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Comics Conference Makes Headlines

Despite competing with the NATO summit for attention, the recent Comics: Philosophy and Practice conference received wide acclaim in local and national media. Held May 18-20 at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, the free conference was organized by Hillary Chute, Neubauer Family Assistant Professor in English, and sponsored by the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center For Arts and Inquiry. The three-day conference was the first in an annual series of conferences sponsored by the Gray Center as part of a major new arts initiative aimed at fostering creative innovation at the intersection of academic inquiry and artistic practice.

The seventeen comic luminaries in attendance included Alison Bechdel, R. Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Chris Ware, Lynda Barry, and Daniel Clowes. Among the panelists at the conference was W.J.T. Mitchell, Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor in the departments of English, Art History, and Visual Arts. Mitchell and Spiegelman shared the stage during a discussion called “What the %$#! Happened to Comics?”

From the Chicago Reader:

Mitchell and Spiegelman covered an enormous amount of ground during their conversation, holding forth on everything from William Blake’s poetry and comics in the digital age to New Yorker covers. Both men illuminated a fascinating history of images.

From the Chicago Tribune:

The rock scene had Woodstock. The jazz world famously gathered on the steps of a Harlem brownstone in 1958 for Esquire photographer Art Kane. In the 1920s, New York literati met at the Algonquin Round Table.

“It feels historic,” Bechdel said. “I realize how grandiose that might sound to someone who doesn’t know much about comics, but that’s the word that keeps coming to me. The whole thing just blows my mind.”

The Huffington Post covered the conference, and praised Professor Chute, who:

“did an amazing job of bringing together 17 of some the biggest names and influences in cartooning.”

Time Out Chicago covered the conference as well, giving a peek behind the scenes of pulling conference together.

How did Chute assemble this particular league of heavy hitters? Herself an author of a book and numberous articles about comics, she already had a number of close contacts in the field; most notably, she’d worked with Spiegelman as associate editor for MetaMaus. And she was friends with hometown hero Ware before moving to Chicago in 2010; through him, she began hanging out at Quimby’s and met Ivan Brunetti. “These people had all talked to me before, and they trusted me to put on an event that they’d want to be a part of,” she says. Because of their friendships, Ware and Brunetti committed early, and then it just began to flow: “Once some people started saying yes, other people started saying yes too, because they were excited to see those people.”

Read stories from the Chicago Tribune herehere, and here.

Read the Chicago Reader story here.

Read the Huffington Post story here.

Read the Time Out Chicago story here.

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Faculty Members Receive Recognition from International Scholarly Societies

Two faculty members from the Division were among the eight from the University to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 2012 class of fellows. Martha Feldman, the Mabel Greene Myers Professor of Music and the Humanities in the College and Chair of Music, and Augusta Read Thomas, University Professor of Composition in Music and the College joined this prestigious group of scholars.

Read the University News Office story and find complete list of new fellows from University faculty here.

Wu Hung, Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor of Art HistoryEast Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the College, has been elected to membership in the American Philosophical Society.

Wu Hung specializes in early Chinese art, from the earliest years to the Cultural Revolution. His special research interests include relationships between visual forms (architecture, bronze vessels, pictorial carvings and murals, etc.) and ritual, social memory and political discourses.

Muzaffar Alam, the George V. Bobrinskoy Professor in South Asian Languages and Civilizations, has been awarded the Sir Jadunath Sarkar gold medal by the Asiatic Society in Kolkata in recognition of his contributions to Mughal and pre-modern history.

Alam’s research interests also include the history of religious and literary cultures in pre-colonial northern India, history of Indo-Persian travel accounts, and comparative history of the Islamic world as seen from an Indian perspective.

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Armando Maggi Featured in The University of Chicago Magazine

Armando Maggi, Professor of Italian Literature in Romance Languages and Literatures, discusses the revitalization of myth, fairy tales, and his forthcoming book in the current issue of The University of Chicago Magazine.

Maggi’s forthcoming book, tentatively titled, Preserving the Spell, examines the evolution of fairy tales over several centuries and at the same time calls for “a new mythology.” According to Maggi, most people are drawn to fairy tales even though they have lost their resonance and meaning in modern times.

From the article:

Still, he can’t help asking that same question: where are the new stories? “There is a longing for reality that has something to do with our frustration with fairy tales. We want stories that we can relate to, stories that seem real, that seem complicated, that are messy, but also stories of confronting danger or difficulty, as memoirists do, and overcoming them. Stories of triumph.”

Several hundred people attended Maggi’s Humanities Day lecture on October 22 entitled, “Preserving the Spell: Fairy Tales and the Future of Storytelling.” To view a video of this lecture visit the Humanities Day website. To read the article in the magazine, click here.

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Live Webcast for Conference: “Comics: Philosophy and Practice”

A live webcast will be available for this weekend’s conference, “Comics: Philosophy and Practice,” which runs from May 18-20. The conference brings together 17 world-renowned cartoonists to discuss the past and future of graphic narrative.

From the University News Office:

“This is a historic gathering of the generation of cartoonists who defined the contemporary field, and I’m so pleased it is taking place at a university that has been a longtime location for word and image studies,” said Hillary Chute, the conference organizer.

Chute, the Neubauer Family Assistant Professor in English Language and Literature, is a leading expert on the study of comics and the associate editor of Art Spiegelman’s MetaMaus. She is the author of Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics, which analyzes the work of conference participants Lynda Barry, Alison Bechdel, Phoebe Gloeckner and Aline Kominsky-Crumb.

The free webcasts will be available via UChicago Live on Friday, May 18 from 6 to 7 p.m.; Saturday, May 19 from 9 a.m. to 7:15 p.m.; and Sunday, May 20 from 10:30 a.m. to noon. “Lines on Paper” will be webcast on Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

The conference is the first in an annual series of conferences sponsored by the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, a major new arts initiative aimed at fostering creative innovation at the intersection of academic inquiry and artistic practice.

Learn more about the conference, participants, and the schedule of events here.

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MFA presentations at Logan Center

Graduate students will be exhibiting their 2012 MFA thesis projects, a requirement and rite of passage for every student who completes the master of fine arts program in the Department of Visual Arts. The presentations began May 2 and will continue to May 26, 2012 at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts. This is the first time MFA presentations will take place in the newly opened Logan Center.

Read about “The Making of an MFA” in the fall issue of Tableau. To see a schedule of exhibits and openings visit the DOVA calendar.

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Arts and Science Graduate Students Collaborate

For the second year, the Arts | Science Initiative has allowed graduate students in the arts and in the sciences to come together and work across disciplines on innovative research projects through the Arts | Science Graduate Collaboration Grants. A university-wide effort, the Arts|Science Initiative was established in partnership with the Office of the Provost and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, and with the support of the Divisions of the Biological and Physical Sciences, Humanities, and the Office of the Vice President for Research and for National Laboratories.

The initiative seeks to encourage cross-disciplinary dialogue and the pursuit of new connections in research and teaching at the nexus of art and science.

The following 2012 grant recipients presented their projects at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts on April 26.

Nicole Baltrushes, medicine, Carmen Merport, English, and Sravana Reddy, computer science, “Trauma Under the Microscope: Collected Perspectives on PTSD.” Baltrushes, Merport and Reddy are creating a website that will offer a nuanced picture of trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, one that includes interactive space for a variety of perspectives, including the art and writings of survivors.

Stacee Kalmanovsky and Clare Rosean, visual arts; and Philippe Tapon, medicine, “El Shaddai.” Kalmanovsky, Rosean and Tapon are creating a book that tells the story of two real individuals, Manoj and Shannon, each of whom have endured trauma. The story will integrate a scientific medical narrative with interpretive collage and drawings.

Chris Eastman, visual arts, and Markus Kliegl, mathematics, “Archetypes of Reasoning.” In this project, mathematical proofs become the subject of art. Eastman and Kliegl are fabricating sculptures through 3-D printing technology that communicate mathematical reasoning by way of shape, material, texture, color and opacity. Each sculpture will identify with a specific method of proof.

Jared Clemens, biology, and Marco G. Ferrari, visual arts, “Opening.” Clemens and Ferrari will explore the nature of neuroscience through a nighttime video projection onto the Surgery-Brain Research Pavilion at 5812 S. Ellis Ave. The project will include a montage of original and archival materials relating to various brain processes. (See video below.)

Sukanya Randhawa, chemistry, and Artemis Willis, cinema and media studies, “Performing the Night Sky: Heavenly Bodies, Microcosms, and the Moving Image.” Randhawa and Willis are examining the centuries-long connection between cinema and the sciences. How do scientists balance accuracy and aesthetics in their visual presentations, and how have their representational strategies changed over time?

William McFadden, molecular genetics; Heather Harden, psychology; and Mariusz Kozak, music, “The Music of Movement: Harnessing Motion Capture Technology to Measure Synchronization in Dance.” This team is using accelerometers to study gestures, especially those of dancers. The project involves experiments of rhythmic movement as well as the live feed of accelerometer data into a novel motion-based musical instrument.


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Multi-University Team Launches “Alternate Reality” Game

Patrick Jagoda, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow of New Media (2010-12) and Assistant Professor (beginning 2012) in the Department of English Language and Literature, is one of a trio of scholars directing a transmedia game project called Speculat1on, launched earlier this month.”Transmedia games,” also known as “alternate reality games,” are played across multiple platforms and media, providing an immersive experience that can weave itself into the player’s daily life.

According to Jagoda, “Transmedia games are an emergent art form and storytelling practice that taps into contemporary convergence culture.” Speculat1on is an eerie game about the culture of finance and the recent economic crisis. It is an immersive experience, and may have players looking over their shoulders in good-natured conspiratorial paranoia.

Jagoda directs the project with Katherine Hayles, a literature professor at Duke University, and Patrick LeMieux, a Ph.D. student in Art History and Visual Studies, also at Duke University. The interdisciplinary team is made up of participants from University of Chicago, Duke University, and University of Waterloo.

Learn more about the game at  the Speculat1on website or watch the trailer;  join the mystery by friending Nex Noitaluceps on Facebook here.

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Praise for Letinsky Exhibit from Tribune, WBEZ

Department of Visual Arts professor Laura Letinsky’s exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art received high marks from a Chicago Tribune reviewer who called Letinsky “a seductress of remains …. luring viewers to gaze intently at those pictures, finding in them the richness of detail and metaphor that once clung to the painted vanitas of Dutch minor masters.”

The exhibit, “Ill Form and Void Full,” is on view at the MCA until April 17.

From the Chicago Tribune:

If there could be such a thing, Letinsky would be a Dutch master of the present, employing a 4×5 camera instead of paintbrushes to capture the bittersweet scent of life crumpling away, into the remains of food eaten but also food cooked simply for the sake of a Bon Appetit photo shoot. The drippy, crackly gorgeousness of what results never fails to surprise. But what doesn’t glow more as a memory?

To read the entire review, visit the Tribune website.  Letinsky was also interviewed by WBEZ’s Julie Rodriguez as part of their Culture Catalyst series after the exhibit opened on Feb. 14.  You can listen to the interview and  view a video of Letinsky at work on WBEZ’s website.

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Israeli Ambassador Guest of Global Voices

“The U.S.-Israeli Relationship” was the topic of a discussion held at International House on April 9, with the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren the featured speaker.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest, and the International House Global Voices program, the discussion was part of the Global Voices Lecture series, which brings prominent speakers to Chicago and organizes round table discussions and seminars.

A graduate of Princeton and Columbia, Ambassador Michael Oren has received fellowships from the U.S. Departments of State and Defense, and from the British and Canadian governments. Formerly, he was the Lady Davis Fellow Hebrew University, a Moshe Dayan Fellow at Tel-Aviv University, and the Distinguished Fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Yale, and Georgetown.

The program was moderated by Fred Donner, professor in Near Eastern History and the Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Donner is also the President the  Middle East Studies Association (MESA), a national, non-political association that fosters the study of the Middle East.

View Donner’s interview with Michael Oren here.

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Author John D. Kuhns Speaks at I-House

John D. Kuhns, author of China Fortunes: A Tale of Business in the New World, will be at International House on Thursday, April 5 at 5:15 p.m.

China Fortunes is the fictional story of the opportunities that accompanied the opening of China to Western investors. The novel is based on Kuhns’s twenty-five years of experience in China as a financier and industrialist.

Kuhns founded the Catalyst Energy Corporation in 1984 and was the first American to acquire commercial hydroelectric generating equipment from China. He powered the company to its successful IPO and listing on the New York Stock Exchange and followed with four more companies. He serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for China’s largest owner of small hydroelectric projects.

Kuhns received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Chicago in 1975. He was also the art and culture critic for the Chicago Maroon.

A reception will follow the event. For more information on Kuhns and his book click here.

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Lauren Berlant’s Cruel Optimism Garners Honors

Lauren Berlant’s latest book, Cruel Optimism, has been the focus of considerable attention. The book won the 2012 René Wellek Prize, has been featured in The New Inquiry and Bitch magazine, and on BBC Radio’s “Thinking Allowed.”

Berlant, the George M. Pullman Professor in the Department of English, was awarded the Wellek Prize by the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA). The Wellek Prize recognizes an outstanding work in the field of literary and cultural theory.

From the ACLA website:

In this trenchant analysis of the affective dimensions of the precaritization of life under neoliberalism in the late 20th- and early 21st centuries, Berlant gives us the conceptual tools to understand how and why extended crisis becomes indistinguishable from the rhythms of daily survival. She argues eloquently that trauma is a genre for viewing the historical present. Her scrupulous readings of contemporary art, film, and literature render visible the slow time of undramatic attrition and absorption—the temporality of our perseverence in attachments that do us no good.

From The New Inquiry:

Berlant doesn’t leave us with the instructive “Life sucks, eat some snacks,” but rather urges us to find our way out of the psychological burrow. How do we extricate ourselves from the irreparable and “cramped” fantasy of the good life, toward a “better good life?” How do we get out of relationships of cruel optimism, out of this prolonged sense of crisis, this sustained and boring code red? It is not a cul-de-sac of excess fat, blackened lungs, or wandering eyes but rather the structural impasse of capitalism we must fantasize our way out of.

From Bitch magazine:

Cruel Optimism is less brutal analysis than a dark, lush still-life of American fantasies and our Quixotic lunges toward them. An affective portrait of the 99%.

Berlant and her book were also featured on BBC Radio’s “Thinking Allowed” with host Laurie Taylor.

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Reva and David Logan Art Center Opens

The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts opened its doors on Monday, March 26, kicking off a six-month preview period as construction is completed on the innovative building. The campus community and wider public will get a first look at a facility that represents a milestone for the arts at the University of Chicago. Many portions of the facility have begun to host classes and exhibitions, while other parts will be finished in the coming months. Artists and scholars across disciplines will make use of the Logan Center, providing opportunities for students, faculty, staff, visiting artists, and the public to experience the arts.

From the University News Office:

“The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts will enrich and inspire arts education, scholarship, and creative practice at the University of Chicago,” said President Robert J. Zimmer. “We are now seeing the fruits of the vision of the late David Logan, whose commitment to the arts and culture made an historic impact on the University. The Logan family’s legacy is manifest in this new facility, and in the creativity and collaborations that will unfold there.”

Arts programming already is beginning, with select classes and more than 40 performances, exhibitions, and conferences scheduled for the preview period.

The arts critic for the Chicago Tribune suggested that “the Logan Center could become an important catalyst for the performing and fine arts in Chicago . . . . and you can see the potential for arts activity in practically every corner.”

To learn more about the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, read the University News office article here. To read the Chicago Tribune article, click here. For a schedule of upcoming events at the center visit the Uchicago arts website.

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Chicago Tribune Praises “Picturing the Past”

A review of the Oriental Institute Museum’s latest exhibit Picturing the Past: Imaging and Imagining the Ancient Middle East was called “compact, well-edited, and engaging” by the Chicago Tribune. The article features interviews with the exhibit’s co-curators Jack Green, who is also the museum’s chief curator, and special exhibits coordinator Emily Teeter.

The exhibit opened February 7 and continues through September 2. It presents paintings, architectural reconstructions, facsimiles, casts, models, photographs, and computer-aided reconstructions that show how the architecture, sites, and artifacts of the ancient Middle East have been documented. The show also examines how the publication of those images have shaped our perception of the ancient world, and how some of the more “imaginary” reconstructions have obscured our real understanding of the past.

From the Tribune article:

… [the] exhibit at the Oriental Institute Museum asks visitors to think twice about the images they see of ancient worlds. A painting or a model may look authoritative, but before you accept it as truth, ask yourself what assumptions the artist or archaeologist is making to complete the image, what gaps might he or she be filling in? And then, bigger picture, consider how much of what we think we know about earlier times might be based on images that blend the factual and the fanciful.

“Picturing the Past: Imaging and Imagining the Ancient Middle East” is up at the University of Chicago’s splendid temple to Middle Eastern research and culture through Sept. 2, and it is a compact, well-edited and intellectually engaging show.

Read the Tribune article here.

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Norma Field featured on WBEZ

Update – The University of Chicago News Office has a video of Field’s February 8 talk at the Chicago Humanities Forum, “From Stagg to Fukushima: A History of Nuclear Power”

Norma Field, the Robert S. Ingersoll Distinguished Service Professor in Japanese Studies in East Asian Languages and Civilizations, was interviewed on WBEZ’s Worldview Thursday, March 8. In anticipation of the one year anniversary of the earthquake in Japan, Field was questioned on the impact and lessons of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Field spoke with Worldview‘s about how the disaster has altered life in Japan.

To listen to Norma Field’s interview on Worldview, click here.

This weekend, a two-day symposium honoring Field – who is retiring this year – will be held in Swift Hall. What March 11 Means to Me takes place March 10-11 and will feature five public intellectuals and activists from Japan, each speaking about the personal and social impact of last year’s earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster.

For more information on the symposium, visit the The Center for East Asian Studies’ website.


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Richard Strier Wins Robert Penn Warren-Cleanth Brooks Award

Richard Strier, the Frank L. Sulzberger Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of English, has been awarded the 2011 Robert Penn Warren-Cleanth Brooks Award for Literary Criticism for his book The Unrepentant Renaissance: From Petrarch to Shakespeare to Milton.

From the University of Chicago Press:

The Unrepentant Renaissance counters the prevalent view of the period as dominated by the regulation of bodies and passions, aiming to reclaim the Renaissance as an era happily churning with surprising, worldly, and selfassertive energies. Reviving the perspective of Jacob Burckhardt and Nietzsche, Strier provides fresh and uninhibited readings of texts by Petrarch, More, Shakespeare, Ignatius Loyola, Montaigne, Descartes, and Milton. Strier’s lively argument will stir debate throughout the field of Renaissance studies.

This marks the second consecutive year that the prize has been awarded to a faculty member in the Division of the Humanities. Mark Payne received the 2010 award for his book The Animal Part: Human and Other Animals in the Poetic Imagination.

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Jessica Stockholder Chosen for Art Loop 2012 Installation

Jessica Stockholder has been selected to create a dynamic art installation in the Chicago Loop this summer.

Stockholder, Professor and Chair of the Department of Visual Arts, is the third artist commissioned by the Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) for this prestigious annual project. Titled Color Jam, her three-dimensional piece will fill an intersection – including buildings, sidewalks, and roadways – with colorful geometric shapes.

“My idea is to fill an intersection with color,” Stockholder told the Chicago Tribune of the installation. “That will include the road and the sidewalk and up the building so there’s a cubic volume of color in the intersection wedged between four corners and four buildings.” Stockholder says the work is meant to create a landscape that looks like an animated film.

The installation will be unveiled in June.

Read the Chicago Tribune’s article here, and to view the CLA’s video on Color Jam click here.


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Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer Receives New Named Professorship

Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer, the Ann L. and Lawrence B. Buttenweiser Professor in Classics and the College, has been named the Helen A. Regenstein Distinguished Service Professor in Classics and the College.

Bartsch-Zimmer has written four books and has three edited volumes.

From the University News Office:

Bartsch-Zimmer, whose research focuses on Roman literature and culture, has been honored for her teaching and scholarship with a Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching, a Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007.

Bartsch-Zimmer is a graduate of Princeton University and received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, where she taught before joining the UChicago faculty in 1998.

Read the University News Office story, which features six other University of Chicago faculty members who also received named professorships, here.


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eighth blackbird Takes Home Third Grammy

eighth blackbird photo by Luke Ratray

eighth blackbird, the University of Chicago Music Department’s ensemble-in-residence since 2000, was honored with a third Grammy on February 12 in Los Angeles.

The ensemble won Best Small Ensemble Performance for its recording of Steve Mackey’s “Lonely Motel: Music from Slide.”

The sextet won two Grammys in 2008 for Best Chamber Music Performance and Best Producer of the Year with their CD strange imaginary animals.

The group is named for the Wallace Stevens poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” Steven’s stanza for the eight blackbird reads:

“I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.”

Read the University News office story here.

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