The Humanities, Civic Knowledge, and Chicago’s South Side

Harold Leonard Stuart Hall, Room 105, 5835 South Greenwood Avenue
The Civic Knowledge Project at the University of Chicago aims to make the knowledge of the University of Chicago community available to other communities on the South Side and to draw the wealth of knowledge that exists in other South Side communities into the intellectual world of the University. The long-term goal is to weave together the cultural fabric of the South Side’s diverse communities, among them the University community, and by so doing to enhance democratic practice. Please join us for a lively, thought-provoking panel discussion featuring representatives from various South Side arts and education organizations – including the Odyssey Project and the Neighborhood Writing Alliance – in dialogue with the CKP about the vital role the humanities can play on the South Side of Chicago, especially for people in difficult circumstances.


Taking Stock of Film Music

Film Studies Center, Cobb Lecture Hall, Room 307, 5811 South Ellis Avenue
Stock music for films has been available through so-called production music libraries since the silent era. These libraries contain a treasure-trove of musical common places and clichés and thus offer a fascinating window on the evolution of music in the movies and other media, such as television, advertisements, or the Internet. This class will look at early and recent examples of stock music in order to chart a brief history of movie music and to explain some of its aesthetic premises and commercial principles.


Bamboo Annals: The Earliest Histories of China

Harold Leonard Stuart Hall, Room 104, 5835 South Greenwood Avenue
The earliest histories in China were annalistic accounts written on bamboo strips. One of these, the Spring and Autumn Annals, is supposed to have been edited by Confucius and ranks as one of the five Chinese classics. Others have been found buried in ancient tombs, including both the first such tomb ever found (in A.D. 279) and also one of the most recently opened (unfortunately, by tomb-robbers, not archaeologists). In this talk, I will introduce some of these texts and discuss their significance.


Others and Brothers: Iraqi Jews, Arab Nationalism, Islam, and Gender, 1921-1951

Harold Leonard Stuart Hall, Room 101, 5835 South Greenwood Avenue
My talk presents a historical ethnography based on essays published in newspapers and cultural magazines, poetry collections and novels, which were all written by Iraqi Jews in the years 1921-1951. The talk seeks to uncover the ways in which Iraqi Jewish intellectuals cultivated national Arab-Iraqi identities, and to highlight the socio-cultural problems these processes entailed. I likewise study how these Jewish intellectuals sought to both reform and modernize religious Jewish practice in the light of the changes occurring in Iraqi society. Finally, I consider phenomena relating modernity that shaped the thinking about the role of Jewish women in modern Iraqi society and the ways in which Jewish Iraqi women defined their roles and social commitments.


Olympian Art: (Inter)national Proposals for Munich ’72

Harold Leonard Stuart Hall, Room 102, 5835 South Greenwood Avenue
Leading up to the 1972 Olympic Games, a number of German and American artists proposed site-specific art projects for the Olympic buildings and grounds that critically addressed a series of vexed historical questions: What did it mean for the Games to return to Germany, which had last hosted the event under National Socialism? What was the relationship between the architectural designs and their site, a hilly landscape that contained the rubble of much of the architectural fabric of prewar Munich? And how could German and American artists collaboratively address their joint history, the allied bombings of German cities? This talk will present these proposals and begin to answer some of these questions.


Teachable Moments: Race, Media, and Visual Culture

William Rainey Harper Memorial Library, Room 130, 1116 East 59th Street
I am teaching a new course on “Race, Media, and Visual Culture” in the fall of 2009. It is difficult to say at this point exactly what will be covered in this session, but we will surely take up the famous episode of the arrest of Henry Louis Gates by a Cambridge policeman in the summer of 2009, and the subsequent “beer summit” at the White House. I would like to think about this moment in relation to other “teachable moments” in the history of race and racism (e.g. the Rodney King video; Spike Lee’s film, “Bamboozled”; the election of Barack Obama). In short, almost anything could come up!


The Stoic Path to Happiness (or, An Ancient Philosophy on How to Live)

Social Science Research Building, Room 122, 1126 East 59th Street
Not every culture has thought individual happiness should be the aim of life, but for the ancient Greeks and Romans, attaining this elusive goal was the main purpose of practicing philosophy. What might be surprising to us is the way one school in particular—the Roman Stoics—proposed going about it. Were they out of touch with reality? Or all too sane? We’ll discuss their unique perspective on getting to your “happy place” and its feasibility for ordinary human beings (like us).


A Mummy Comes to Life: Science and Art Resurrect an Ancient Egyptian Priestess

Breasted Hall, Oriental Institute,1155 East 58th Street
More than 2,000 years ago, an ancient Egyptian musician-priestess named Meresamun was mummified and buried in a beautifully decorated coffin in the belief that this process would allow her spirit to live forever. Join us to discover how an Egyptologist, a radiologist, and a forensic artist have collaborated to reveal the life story of an ancient Egyptian woman in ways never before presented by an American museum. This program is presented in conjunction with the special exhibit “The Life of Meresamun: A Temple Singer of Ancient Egypt.” Emily Teeter, an Egyptologist at the Oriental Institute and the curator of “The Life of Meresamun” exhibit, will discuss Meresamunʼs life and career. Dr. Michael Vannier, Professor of Radiology at the UC Hospital, will explain how he used the very latest CT technology to study Meresamunʼs health. Finally, Chicago forensic artist Joshua Harker will demonstrate the process he used to recreate Meresamunʼs facial features.


Guided tour of Heartland Exhibition

Richard and Mary L. Gray Gallery for Special Exhibitions, Smart Museum of Art, 5550 South Greenwood Avenue
Throughout the vast interior of the United States, contemporary artists are responding to the world around them and reshaping it in unexpected ways. Organized by the Smart Museum and the Van Abbemuseum, this exhibition includes photography, drawings, and video as well as site-specific installations and performances by a diverse assembly of artists who are redefining the cultural terrain of the American Heartland. Join a University of Chicago student docent for a special guided tour of the exhibition.