News

How Lauren Berlant's Cultural Criticism Predicted the Trumping of Politics

Lauren Berlant photographed by Whitten Sabbatini for The New Yorker

The followin was first published in The New Yorker online on March 18, 2019.

In October, 2011, the literary scholar and cultural theorist Lauren Berlant published “Cruel Optimism,” a meditation on our attachment to dreams that we know are destined to be dashed. Berlant had taught in the English Department at the University of Chicago since 1984. She had established herself as a skilled interpreter of film and literature, starting out with a series of influential, interlinked books that she called her “national sentimentality trilogy.” A sense of national identity, these books argued, wasn’t so much a set of conscious decisions that we make as it was a set of compulsions—attachments and identifications—that we feel.

Author and Photographer Teju Cole to Deliver a Series of Talks at UChicago

Teju Cole by Stephanie Mitchell

Teju Cole feels a sense of responsibility in coming to the University of Chicago this spring for the 2019 Berlin Family Lectures. Not only does the acclaimed author, photographer, and critic appreciate the opportunity to speak, he relishes the sustained, serious engagement he’ll receive from the audience and UChicago community. Beginning on April 8 and continuing on April 15 and 22, Cole will explore what it means to be a sensing being through experience, epiphany and ethics. Registration for the series, which will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Logan Center Performance Hall, is free and open to the public.

How Jewish Refuges Found a Wartime Home in Shanghai

Karin Zacharias (right) and her brother Hans Peter Zacharias, pictured in 1941 on the day of his bar mitzvah in Shanghai.

Asst. Prof. Rachel DeWoskin has visited Shanghai every summer for nearly a decade, walking along streets that more than 18,000 Jewish refugees once called home. Her years of research culminated in the January publication of Someday We Will Fly, her fictionalized account of a young Jewish girl fleeing war-torn Poland. In writing her novel, DeWoskin also relied in part on the family possessions of UChicago staff psychiatrist Jacqueline Pardo, whose German mother Karin Pardo (née Zacharias) lived in Shanghai as a child. A selection of those objects and photographs are displayed on the third floor of Regenstein Library.

Register Today for the 2019 Berlin Family Lectures: Award-Winning Author Teju Cole

Teju Cole by Stephanie Mitchell

During the course of three lectures focused on "Coming to Our Senses" in UChicago's Logan Performance Hall, acclaimed author, critic, and photographer Teju Cole explores what it means to be a sensing being. Through personal accounts and literary examples, Cole will examine how the physical senses—and not only the traditional five of sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch—inform our experiences, open us up to epiphany, and shape our ethics. Register for the three lectures April 8, 15, and 22 today.

Gates Cambridge Scholar to Study Science Behind Art Conservation

Ellen Purdy

Ellen Purdy has always been passionate about art, inspired by childhood trips to the museum, but the fourth-year student wasn’t sure how to incorporate that lifelong interest into her chemistry coursework. It wasn’t until she studied abroad in Spain—and learned about the science behind art conservation—that her unique academic path began to take shape.

Eric P. Hamp, Renowned Scholar of Indo-European Linguistics, 1920-2019

Eric P. Hamp

During his 41-year career at the University of Chicago, Professor Emeritus Eric P. Hamp became one of the world’s foremost scholars of Indo-European linguistics. Not only did he base much of his scholarship on lesser-known languages and dialects, but his colleagues said he rescued many of the obscure ones. Hamp, who passed away on Feb. 17 at age 98, compared modern languages to reconstruct how our common ancestors spoke thousands of years ago—long before language was recorded. 

Frank E. Reynolds, Leading Scholar of Buddhism and Revered Teacher, 1930-2019

Frank E. Reynolds

Prof. Emeritus Frank E. Reynolds, who died on Jan. 9 at age 88, was a leading expert in Theravada Buddhism, a religion predominantly practiced in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. He is remembered not only for his lasting impact on the field, but for his work as a teacher and mentor during his 34 years on the UChicago faculty.

Eric Slauter Discusses Solitude in America for a BackStory Podcast

Eric Slauter

Division of the Humanities Deputy Dean and Associate Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature Eric Slauter discusses the history of solitude in America in a recent BackStory podcast. He contends yearning for solitude is integral to American culture and provides examples from Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and James Madison.

David Wellbery to Receive the Golden Goethe Medal

David Wellbery

Through his interdisciplinary approach to analyzing the work of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, David E. Wellbery has transformed scholarly understanding of a pivotal cultural period in Europe surrounding the dawn of the 19th century. In recognition of his groundbreaking research, Wellbery will receive the Golden Goethe Medal from the Goethe Society on June 13, 2019, at the National Theater in Weimar, Germany. “During the last decades David Wellbery’s scholarship has transformed our understanding of Goethe’s work in fundamental ways,” said Daniel Diermeier, Provost at the University of Chicago. “The Golden Goethe Medal is a wonderful recognition of his seminal contribution.”

Visual Arts Scholar Theaster Gates's Art Basel Exhibition Draws Celebrities

Theaster Gates by Elizabeth Lippman for the New York Times

Well-regarded sculptor and scholar of urban planning, Theaster Gates, professor in Visual Arts at UChicago, excels at discovering art in ordinary objects. His enthusiasm and skill at creating unusual exhibitions drew high-visibility celebrities such as Kanye West, Emma Roberts, and Venus Williams to his Art Basel exhibition “The Black Image Corporation” a Prada-sponsored art installation in Miami this month. Gates is “that rare artist who seems to fill the space between art and ordinary life,” said Miuccia Prada, a fashion icon.