Keynote Address

11 A.M.–Noon

Presenter: Jacqueline Najuma Stewart

Home Movie Day: Personal Archives Lost and Found

In our digital age, we generate and share a tremendous volume of still and moving images. But how long will we have access to these proliferating, born-digital pictures of our intimate and social lives? This year's Humanities Day coincides with Home Movie Day, an international effort to preserve amateur films. What can analog personal archives, like mid-20th century home movies, teach us about how we create, and lose, cultural memory?

Session 1

9:30–10:30 A.M.

Presenter: Christopher Faraone

Ancient Greek Body Amulets

This session focuses on the mainly visual evidence—on vase paintings and votive statues—that Greek women and male children wore knotted cords and strings of amulets to protect their bodies in Athens, on Cyprus, and in West Greece, and argues that the absence of similar amulets on naked adult males points to a restriction of use to females and immature males. Since textual evidence suggests that sick adult males also used amulets, this presenter argues that the category of amulet users embraces the weakened male adults and other cultural equivalents, such as women and children. This session shows how the wearing of childhood amulets by boys, especially on Cyprus and in Athens, seems intertwined with assertions of citizenship and other forms of status.

Presenter: Seth Brodsky

Beyoncé vs. Jay-Z, or Art Between Regimes


When the video for Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s single “Apeshit” dropped in June 2018, it divided its audience. One side marveled at the couple’s solo evening tour through the Louvre, its “masterpiece theater” overturning a millennial taboo on Black bodies centered by White museum exhibition frames. At the same time, another faction emerged, for whom the video was an epic act of capitalist triumphalism. In this talk, this presenter suspends this canonical pop antagonism and considers “Apeshit” emblematic of current “interregnum art” in the sense famously articulated by Antonio Gramsci nearly a century ago: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”

Presenter: Catriona MacLeod

Critical Crafting: Women with Scissors


Stitching, piercing, cutting: from knit pussy hats to the Tiny Pricks embroidery project women’s craft has become an expression of 21st century dissent. Is this critical edge really a new aspect of craft? In this presentation, we take a look back at domestic crafts in the 19th century, with a particular eye to German creators of silhouettes and other paper cut-outs, to reconsider the history and critical potency of these so-called genteel or minor arts.

Presenter: Anne Flannery

Guided Tour of "Discovery, Collection, Memory: The Oriental Institute at 100" at Special Collections in the Regenstein Library


On the University of Chicago's Campus at 58th Street and University Avenue is one of the world's premier institutions for the study of the Ancient Middle East, the Oriental Institute. The OI has its roots alongside the very founding of the University of Chicago when President Harper mentored a young scholar named James Henry Breasted to pursue a degree in Egyptology. Breasted went on to direct the Haskell Museum around 1900 and secured funding from John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in May 1919 to begin the Oriental Institute. The OI has conducted 100 years of excavation, research, and scholarship. Focusing on the geographical areas of Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Afghanistan, OI scholars have worked rigorously to discover cultural heritage, decipher ancient languages, and to reconstruct the histories of long-lost civilizations. This exhibit remembers the OI's past through a collection of archival fragments, artifacts, and ephemera.

**This tour is sold out.**

Presenter: Patrick Jagoda, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Sarah Fredericks, Kristen Schilt, Ashlyn Sparrow

Imagining Climate Change Futures

Climate change has quickly become one of the most important and urgent issues of our time. This panel gathers humanities researchers who are seeking to better to understand and combat climate change. Patrick Jagoda (Cinema & Media Studies and English) moderates this multidisciplinary conversation of experts Dipesh Chakrabarty (South Asian Languages & Civilizations and History), Sarah Fredericks (Divinity School), Kristen Schilt (Sociology), and Ashlyn Sparrow (Weston Game Lab at the UChicago Media Arts, Data, and Design Center). In addition to their respective research projects, these panelists discuss their collaboration on the Terrarium project, which was designed for the incoming UChicago class of 2023 to address the futures of climate change across multiple media platforms.

**This presentation is full.**


Presenter: Bart Schultz

Justice for Future Generations


Understanding justice for future generations has emerged as one of the most significant challenges in ethical and political philosophy, particularly given the rapidly escalating environmental crises confronting the world. Unfortunately, many of the best-known traditional and modern accounts of justice fail badly when addressing the environment. The asymmetrical power relations between present and future generations render familiar notions of reciprocity, fairness, and reasonable agreement difficult to apply. Based on his recent book The Happiness Philosophers: The Lives and Works of the Great Utilitarians (Princeton University Press, 2017), Bart Schultz highlights several reasons why the views of the classical utilitarians, who championed the “greatest happiness of the greatest number,” may hold more promise in this area than rival ethical and political approaches.

Presenter: Claudia Brittenham

Locating Landscape in Ancient Maya Painting


This presentation examines the ways that the ancient Maya of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize understood and represented their surroundings during the first millennium CE. While there was a rich hieroglyphic vocabulary for talking about local, foreign, and supernatural places, surprisingly few images of landscape are to be found in Classic Maya art. What are the reasons for this absence? And what changed in the 10th century CE, when painters at Chichén Itzá developed an entirely new vocabulary for representing the surrounding world?

Presenter: Salikoko Mufwene

Social Dynamics Drive Language Evolution


Since their primordial beginnings about 200,000 years ago, human languages have always been at the mercy of the populations that speak them as their heritage vernaculars, have shifted to them, or have adopted them as their lingua francas. Using the history of English as the example, this session looks at why even the same language has not evolved uniformly over time and space.

Presenter: Nadine Di Vito

Teaching Culture Through Language


Even though we all know that language is a part of culture, it is common practice to study a new language by learning its grammar separately from the culture of the people who speak it. This presenter shows why this approach is problematic, and why teaching the language through authentic discourse samples is, in fact, a window to culture. Additionally, it can combat cultural stereotyping and more effectively lead to interactional and intercultural competence.

Presenter: Noel Blanco Mourelle

The Divine Cube and the Theory of Everything

In the last decades of the 16th century, while directing the construction of a monastery sponsored by King Philip II of Spain, architect and humanist Juan de Herrera immersed himself in the theories of medieval Majorcan preacher and philosopher Ramon Llull. Herrera was looking for a universal epistemological construction, a figure that could serve as matrix for all existing knowledge. As a result of his research, he settled on the cube, producing a new theory of the geometrical figure that crossed historical boundaries and combined science and religion.

Presenter: Haun Saussy

When China Was at the Center of the Literary World


Contemporary discussions of world literature usually start from Goethe’s proclamation—first published in 1837—that “national literature is meaningless now, and the era of world literature is at hand.” The assertion was prompted, as Goethe’s secretary Eckermann observed, by the reading of a Chinese novel. And these same contemporary discussions of world literature usually present the topic as the spread of literary models from Europe to the Americas and thence to Asia, Africa, and ever remoter points of the globe. But this is a narrow view of the topic based on the history of European commercial expansion and contemporary globalization. What if we were to reset our Wayback Machine to the time when China and India were the center of world commerce, and Chinese models of literary style had currency across the known world (the world known to the Chinese, at any rate)? An Asia-centered history of literature promises both surprises and familiarity; it prompts us to rethink what we thought we knew.

Lunchtime Tours

Noon-2:00 p.m.

Presenter: University Staff

Guided Tour of "Martha Rosler: Passionate Signals" at the Neubauer Collegium, 12–1 p.m.


Guided tour of Martha Rosler: Passionate Signals. Exhibit details to be announced September 4.

**This tour is sold out.**

Guided Tour of "Martha Rosler: Passionate Signals" at the Neubauer Collegium, 1–2 p.m.


Guided tour of Martha Rosler: Passionate Signals. Exhibit details to be announced September 4.

**This tour is sold out.**

Guided Tour of the "Oriental Institute at 100: A Laboratory for Exploring the Middle East" at the Oriental Institute, 12–1 p.m.


Explore the OI Museum as we celebrate 100 years of pioneering research and study of the earliest civilizations in the ancient Middle East. In this tour, we will uncover the history of the OI through the artifacts in the galleries. We will also look at some of the more than 500 new objects from the museum collection that have never been on permanent public display, including an Islamic exhibit featuring a fragment that contains the oldest known text of the famous A Thousand and One Nights.

**This tour is sold out.**

Guided Tour of the "Oriental Institute at 100: A Laboratory for Exploring the Middle East" at the Oriental Institute, 1–2 p.m.


Explore the OI Museum as we celebrate 100 years of pioneering research and study of the earliest civilizations in the ancient Middle East. In this tour, we will uncover the history of the OI through the artifacts in the galleries. We will also look at some of the more than 500 new objects from the museum collection that have never been on permanent public display, including an Islamic exhibit featuring a fragment that contains the oldest known text of the famous A Thousand and One Nights.

**This tour is sold out.**

The Visual Record: An Introduction to the South Side Home Movie Project, 1–2 p.m.


Long ignored in both film histories and social studies, home movies capture a range of details about everyday life that elude textual evidence as well as still photographs. As records created by everyday people, home movies are ripe for interpreting nuances of cultural expression, from fashion to foodways to the ways people walk down the street. Home movies also provide unique evidence of the ways in which people represent themselves on camera, precursors to the “selfies” of today. Join the South Side Home Movie Project for an introduction to this unique initiative to collect, preserve, digitize, and exhibit amateur films from Chicago’s South Side neighborhoods. Featuring film clips from the 1920s–1980s, this session invites attendees to imagine new ways of activating and preserving community knowledge through home movies.  Families who have donated their films to the SSHMP will be on hand to narrate their films and share the experience of preserving their home movies and seeing them on screen for the first time in decades.

Presenter: Laura Steward

Guided Tour of "The Chicago Sound Show" at the Smart Museum, 12–1 p.m.


Join exhibition co-curator Laura Steward for a tour of this outdoor sound art exhibition, which presents site-specific works by nine Chicago artists exploring thresholds, passageways, and common spaces across the University of Chicago’s campus.

**This tour is sold out.**

Presenter: Alyssa Brubaker

Guided Tour of "Tufting Gun Tapestries" at the Logan Center for the Arts, 12–1 p.m.


Tufting Gun Tapestries presents textile experiments produced by the art and architecture collective Assemble, and multidisciplinary artist Duval Timothy in collaboration with staff and students from the Material Institute in New Orleans. Exploring alternative education and spatial practices, this project transforms the Logan Center Gallery into an active site of learning and production through the investigation of an ancient carpet making technique that is reimagined with contemporary tufting equipment.

**This tour is sold out.**

Session 2

2–3 P.M.

Presenter: Benjamin Saltzman

From Divine Scrutiny to Corporate Surveillance


Much as the idea of God as an all-knowing force shaped behavior in the early medieval period, we are now entering an era when a new form of mysterious omniscience—the global data economy collecting and harnessing human information in pervasive ways most of us are incapable of comprehending—could have a profoundly similar effect on human social behavior. By looking back to the early Middle Ages, this session discusses how we might be in a better position to understand the cultural and legal implications for the future of privacy.

**This presentation is full.**

Presenter: Anastasia Giannakidou, Alain Bresson, Jonathan M. Hall, Stefanos Katsikas, Sofia Torallas Tovar

Greece in Space and Time

The study of Greek has always been integral to the instructional and research mission of the University of Chicago. This presentation seeks to convey a vision on Greece as a multidimensional intellectual space which can inform, engage, and inspire contributions from a multitude of research areas, methodologies, and audiences. The panelists introduce the newly founded University of Chicago Center for Hellenic Studies, which aspires to become a forum for highly interdisciplinary and diverse works on Greece, and to offer innovative ways to cross-fertilize research across paradigms, fields, and frameworks.

Presenter: Victoria Saramago

Imagining Conservation and Deforestation


This talk investigates the growing rift between environments preserved in fictional works, and the changes these same environments face in real life. How do fictional works and other cultural objects dramatize, resist, and interfere with deforestation processes and conservation initiatives? How can the perception of pristine forests in Latin American be changed into the reality of deep ecological change? This session shows how novels have inspired the development of conservationist initiatives; how they have offered counterpoints to and dialogues with modernization projects and their environmental consequences; and how environmental aspects have composed the agendas of novelists as activists, politicians, and public intellectuals.

Presenter: James Chandler

Keats's Odes at 200


Two hundred years ago, between April and September of 1819, a young John Keats managed to compose all of his so-called Great Odes, a half-dozen poems that rank among the finest lyrics in English. What entitles these poems to their claims of greatness? How did an ex-pharmacology student without advanced education, not yet 24 years of age, manage to compose them? In what sense do they add up to something that coheres as a series or as a narrative? In pursuit of these questions, this session looks at four of these poems in chronological order: “Ode to Psyche,” “Ode to a Nightingale,” “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” and “To Autumn.”

**This presentation is full.**


Presenter: Rachel Cohen, Tina Post, Daniel Raeburn, Vu Tran

Migration Across Genres

Migration is a human experience that is at the forefront of both the news and literature at the moment. How do writers take up ideas and experiences of migration, home, and displacement in different genres? What combinations of documentation and imagination grow into novels, reportage, memoirs, poetry? Join writers of fiction and nonfiction, who are also contributors to the University of Chicago’s Migration Stories Project, for this discussion of reading, writing, and teaching around migration.

Presenter: Allyson Nadia Field

Recovering Black Love in Film

In 2017, a hitherto lost film from 1898 was discovered. The film showed an African American couple laughing and embracing repeatedly in a naturalistic and joyful manner, a radical departure from the racist caricatures otherwise prevalent in early cinema. After some detective work, this presenter identified it as “Something Good—Negro Kiss,” directed by William Selig and starring well-known vaudeville performers Saint Suttle and Gertie Brown. Since then, the film has been named to the National Film Registry and received widespread attention from African American media celebrities, who were drawn to its moving depiction of Black love. This talk describes this process of rediscovery, and details its significance. “Something Good—Negro Kiss,” along with other rediscoveries of early films featuring African Americans, forces a systemic rethinking of the relationships between race, performance, and the emergence of American cinema. These films provide new insights about the cinematic expression of African American affection, and how it can serve as a powerful testament to Black humanity at a time of rampant misrepresentation. This forgotten archive speaks to problems of politics and cinematic representation that are relevant today.

Presenter: Erik Zyman

Syntactic Movement in Language


A crucial task for linguistics is to determine what syntactic operations are made possible by the human capacity for language. What are their properties, and why? One pervasive operation is movement: a phrase can move from one position in a sentence to another (“I wouldn’t invite those people” → “Those people, I wouldn’t invite”). The presenter argues that movement is subject to a previously undiscovered restriction: if a phrase X is buried within the edge of a Major Domain (roughly, a grammatically important chunk of structure), X can move only if it crosses a certain minimum distance. The session concludes by considering what this restriction reveals about the underlying architecture of syntax in human language.

Presenter: Rebecca West

The Tangled Web of Deceit in Two Italian Novels


In today’s world of post truth and alternative facts, it is illuminating to read and ponder fiction that takes as its main theme duplicity, lies, and deception. Two recent Italian novels, Roman Ghosts by Luigi Malerba and The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco, are tied up with deceit in both their form and their content. In very different—yet always highly entertaining and engaging ways—these intricate novels give us the opportunity to consider the pernicious effects of falsehood, not only on individual lives but also on the fabric of collective social and political life.

Presenter: David Wellbery

Thoughts on Thomas Mann's "Magic Mountain"


On December 28, 1949, a precocious 16-year-old University of Chicago student, along with two companions, visited Thomas Mann in his Pacific Palisades home. Mann later noted in his diary: “Afternoon, an interview with three Chicago students about The Magic Mountain.” The student, Susan Sontag, wrote that same evening in her diary: “I interrogated God this evening at six.” To be sure, Sontag later shed her adolescent idolatry, but Thomas Mann’s great novel of 1924 nonetheless remained a source of inspiration for her, as her book Illness as Metaphor (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1978) richly illustrates. But what can Mann’s encyclopedic account of European culture, fictionalized as his hero’s seven-year sojourn in a tuberculosis sanatorium in the Swiss Alps, tell us today? This lecture offers an answer to that question by exploring three leading themes of the novel: morbidity, paternity, and eros.

**This presentation is full.**


Presenter: Benjamin Callard

Three Paradoxes of Pleasure


Pleasure is taken to be central to human life, both as a motive and as a justification. Indeed, some thinkers (psychological hedonists) have gone so far as to claim that pleasure is the only reason we ever do anything (Epicurus: “from pleasure we begin every act of choice and avoidance”); others (ethical hedonists) hold that pleasure is the only good, and that we ought to spend our days maximizing our own pleasure. This presenter discusses three contradictions in our everyday conception of pleasure, with a view to better understanding the role pleasure can and should occupy in our lives.

Session 3

3:30–4:30 P.M.

Presenter: Matthew Jesse Jackson

Art in the 21st Century

It could be argued that the most compelling visual art is no longer defined primarily by particular media (painting, sculpture, photography, video), or by particular subject matter (portraiture, landscape, still life, devotional image), or by particular strategies of representation (Cubism, Surrealism, Pop Art, Appropriation). Instead, it might be most accurate to say that the crucial art of the 21st century imagines everything to be its medium, subject matter, and means of realization. We consider what this development means for artists and art viewers.

Presenter: Richard Strier

Happy Hamlet


Hamlet is not the most painful of the great or mature Shakespearean tragedies. Othello and King Lear compete for that honor. There are reasons why Hamlet can, however, be seen as the saddest of the great tragedies. Part of this sadness springs from the fact that—unlike Lear, Othello, or Macbeth—Hamlet did nothing at all to initiate the tragic situation in which he finds himself. But what intensifies this sadness, this presentation argues, is the sense the play gives us that there was an alternative life for Hamlet. This discussion will focus on this aspect of Shakespeare’s play.

**This presentation is full.**


Presenter: Catherine C. Baumann

Innovating Teaching by Innovating Testing

Washback is a pedagogical term that describes the effect of testing on teaching. When assessment methods and instructional approaches are aligned, pedagogy is most effective. This session demonstrates how different assessment formats can have an effect on how languages are taught, and even on how learners prepare for tests. Have you taken a multiple choice test lately? You might be surprised to learn how ineffective that format can be when it comes to assessing second language learning.

Presenter: Kay Heikkinen

Modern Arab Women Writers


The modern Arabic novel is said to have originated with the work of women writing at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. Since then, and increasingly since the middle of the last century, a diverse group of women have made significant contributions to modern Arabic literature. This presenter looks briefly at the lives and concerns of some of these writers, as well as samples passages from a few of them, in translation, for a first-hand experience of their work.

Presenter: W. J. T. Mitchell

Present Tense: An Iconology of Time


The question, “What is time?” always turns out to be unanswerable. A better question might be: “How do we picture time?” This presentation examines the ancient figures of Kronos (clock time), Aion (cyclical time), and Kairos (the moment), applying them to the present, specifically to the notion of an epoch or turning point in history. What is the affective temporality of our moment? Or, more plainly, why is the epoch of Donald Trump so often described in the language of mental disorders? This presentation is an illustrated lecture, including classical images of time and contemporary images from mass media.

Presenter: William Nickell

The Fall of Communism, 30 Years On


In 1989 the reforms initiated under Mikhail Gorbachev reached a climax as, one by one, members of the Soviet bloc broke off their former relations with the USSR. Two years later, the Soviet Union would itself crumble. This session takes a systematic look at how Russia today compares to the Soviet Union of 1989. The presenter compares measurable factors, such as income distribution, economic development, and life expectancy, alongside more complicated metrics like the environment, freedom of expression, cultural life, politics, and the building of civil society.

**This presentation is almost full.**

Presenter: Niall Atkinson

The Roving Eye of Early Modern Travelers


As complex systems with multiple institutional, civic, and religious topographies, early modern cities presented the foreigner with a beguiling series of mysteries. What tools, therefore, were available for gaining some kind of understanding of a foreign society that would allow travelers to connect their experience to home? This session explores the ways in which Italian travelers in the Renaissance built mental maps of cities by moving around and through them, using architectural description as a mode of penetrating the barriers that separated cultures. Such descriptions, based on habits of mobile viewing necessary for comprehending the dynamic nature of urban environments, deployed a common cross-cultural vocabulary (counting and measuring walls and streets) through which understanding the design of cities could lead to insights into the social identities of their inhabitants.

Presenter: Julie Orlemanski

Understanding Medicine in Medieval England


In the period just prior to medicine’s modernity—before the rise of Renaissance anatomy, the centralized regulation of medical practice, or the consolidation of scientific empiricism—England was the scene of a remarkable upsurge in medical writing. Thousands of medical texts were produced, perhaps surprisingly, for readers outside of universities. What was medical learning like for this readership? How did they negotiate the conflicting claims of material causation, divine power, and their own agency and control? This presenter explores the tensions between medieval medicine and understandings of selfhood in the century after the Black Death.


**This presentation is full.**

Presenter: Agnes Callard

What Good Is Public Philosophy?


Wikipedia, online magazines and newspapers, social media, and the podcast have, in a short time, rapidly increased the level of intellectual engagement the public wants and expects. More than ever, those outside academia want to know what is happening in it—and, unsurprisingly, many of us on the inside are moved to cater to that desire. Is that always a good thing? What are the perils and pitfalls of being a “public intellectual”—both for the intellectual herself and for the public she serves? And what is the distinctive good that public philosophy, in particular, can achieve?

**This presentation is full.**

Presenter: Petra Goedegebuure

Wine and the Origins of Drunkenness


The ancient Middle East was the home of many kingdoms and cultures. While these kingdoms differed in language, literature, clothing, and buildings, they all were steeped in wine and beer. This session starts with the paleolithic origins of drunkenness, moves on to the controlled production of fermented beverages in 6th millennium BC Georgia, explores the spread of wine and words for wine through the Middle East, and ends in 1st millennium BC Anatolia with the archaeological discovery of mixed beer-wine.

**This presentation is almost full.**

Presenter: Jennifer Scappettone, Lina Ferreira, Edgar Garcia, Stephanie Soileau

Writer and Citizen

In times of political contestation teeming with misinformation and fraught with charges of fake news, when the very notion of truth seems to be up for grabs, it is compelling to seek out writers whose work addresses politics, yet exceeds the constraints of journalism and the halls of public policymaking. It’s a good time to revisit and test Percy Bysshe Shelley’s 1821 claim that “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” This discussion about the social reach of writing in such arenas as environmental catastrophe and indigenous representation ponders the responsibility of the writer to act as citizen, extending the domain of citizenship beyond conventional legal and political realms, and to test the limits of citizenship as discourse, as its protections are being denied to increasing numbers of persons.

**This presentation is full.**