News

UChicago Composer Reigns as Matriarch Among Creative Women on Chicago's Music Scene

Augusta Read Thomas by Anthony Barlich

If winning a Grammy is a sign of creative achievement then Chicago could well be described as the contemporary classical music epicenter of the world. Year after year for the past two decades, a Grammy ceremony doesn’t pass without the name of a Chicago musician, producer, or ensemble etched on one of its gilded trophies.

The unique story of women at the helm on Chicago’s art music scene is a lineage that begins with Grammy award winning composer and UChicago University Professor Augusta Read Thomas, and passes to Lisa Kaplan, the pianist, founding member and Executive Director of Eighth Blackbird.

Humanities Emeritus Professor Receives Lifetime Achievement Award for Advancing Persian Literature and Linguistics

John R. Perry

A seminal figure in the historical sociolinguistics of Iran, UChicago scholar John R. Perry recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Association of Teachers of Persian at the Middle East Studies Association Conference in New Orleans. Fluent in several languages including Persian, Tajik, and Russian, he wrote about changes to the Persian language over the centuries, Persian and Tajik linguistics and culture, and Persian literature and folklore.

Trump's Threat to Attack 52 Iranian Sites Draws Criticism, Concern from Humanities Professor Emeritus

This image of Persepolis is provided by Wikipedia.

An expert on Iranian culture says he was “appalled” by President Donald Trump’s threat to attack dozens of Iranian sites should Iran retaliate against a U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Friday.

Beyond his years of research and teaching, professor emeritus Matthew Stolper of the University of Chicago’s Near Eastern Languages and Literatures and Oriental Institute has traveled to Iran numerous times to excavate Persepolis, an ancient city deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

“I don’t know what the sites are,” Stolper said. “But of course, all of us who work on cultural heritage are fairly appalled by this.”

Two UChicago Scholars to be Honored by Modern Language Association

Kerry Park in Seattle, Washington, courtesy of unsplash.com

For her perceptive interpretations of American literature, politics and culture, Berlant will receive the 2019 Hubbell Medal for Lifetime Achievement, making her one of two UChicago faculty members to be honored this week by the Modern Language Association.

On Jan. 11 at the MLA Conference in Seattle, Berlant will be joined by Asst. Prof. Edgar Garcia, who will be recognized for his recent article on Native American pictography.

Six Humanities Faculty Receive Named, Distinguished Service Professorships

Six faculty members in the Humanities received named or distinguished service professorships.

Of the twenty-three University of Chicago faculty members who have received named professorships or have been appointed distinguished service professors, seven were from the Division of the Humanities. Daniel Brudney (Philosophy), Martha Feldman (Music), Frances Ferguson (English Language and Literature), Armando Maggi (Romance Languages and Literatures), Christine Mehring (Art History), Mark Payne (Classics, Comparative Literature, and the John W. Nef Committee on Social Thought), and Robert K. Ritner (Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations) were recognized.

UChicago Humanities Professor Robert Kendrick Is Honored as Knight of the Italian Republic

Robert Kendrick

For his rigorous scholarship of previously unknown Italian sacred music from the Renaissance and early Baroque eras, Robert L. Kendrick was honored as Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, class VI, on Dec. 10 at the Italian Consulate in Chicago. This achievement is the highest ranking honor of the Italian Republic, and it is awarded for “merit acquired by the nation” in the fields of literature, the arts, economy, public service, and social, philanthropic, and humanitarian activities and for long and conspicuous service in civilian and military careers.

Theaster Gates: "Liverpool Has the Complexity of Race In Its DNA"

Theaster Gates

A work by Theaster Gates might be a performance, or a film, or a sculpture, or a song. It might also be a housing development, or a cinema or a library; in the South Side of Chicago where Gates lives (he’s a professor of visual arts at the University of Chicago), he has pulled off a remarkable transformation, taking over old buildings near his studio – including a former crack house – and transforming them into cultural hubs that celebrate and preserve black culture and its history. It breathed new life into his block, then his neighbourhood, then his city. “We brought some heat,” as Gates put it in his 2015 TEDTalk (for which he received a standing ovation).

Jacqueline Stewart Helps to Add More Diversity to Films in the National Film Registry

Jacqueline Stewart by Joe Mazza brave-lux

The National Film Registry board strove to make the list of 25 new films added annually more representative of a wider spectrum of American life, and two years ago formed a task force on diversity, equity and inclusion.

“The board has been asking, ‘How many more John Ford or Albert Hitchcock films do we put on the registry?,” said Jacqueline Stewart, University of Chicago Professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies, who was tapped to chair the task force, told TIME. “It seems like we’ve covered a lot of those bases—and because of the sheer number of films on the registry, we absolutely have to broaden our horizons, and engage with archives and film critics and scholars and the American public to help us bring a wider variety of films into view.”

Humanities Scholar Edgar Garcia to Receive MLA's William Riley Parker Prize Honorable Mention

Edgar Garcia

Edgar Garcia’s scholarship focuses on cultural practices and literatures of indigenous people in the Americas, which historically have not been considered literature. For his article “Pictography, Law, and Earth: Gerald Vizenor, John Borrows, and Louise Erdrich” published in the March 2019 issue of PMLA, the Modern Language Association’s literary journal, he will receive the William Riley Parker Prize Honorable Mention at the MLA Conference in Seattle on January 11, 2020.

Humanities Scholar Lauren Berlant to Receive 2019 Hubbell Medal for Lifetime Achievement in American Literature

Lauren Berlant photographed by Whitten Sabbatini for The New Yorker

Driven by an immense pedagogical curiosity, Lauren Berlant has spent more than three decades studying, analyzing, and writing about what sentimentality means in American culture for gender, sexuality, and politics. For her perceptive interpretations of American literature, politics, and culture, Berlant will receive the 2019 Hubbell Medal for Lifetime Achievement from the American Literature Section of the Modern Language Association at the MLA Conference in Seattle on January 11, 2020.

Beatboxer Finds New Sound in Opera by UChicago Composer

Augusta Read Thomas (left) and Nicole Paris (right) rehearse for the opera "Sweet Potato Kicks the Sun."

The following was published and broadcast by Chicago Tonight on WTTW on December 2, 2019.

by Angel Idowu

For years, beatboxer Nicole Paris and her dad Ed Cage have awed audiences with their beatboxing battles as Nicole and Popz. Paris recently broke from that duet to take on a feat of her own: beatboxing in an opera. When composer and University of Chicago professor Augusta Read Thomas had the idea to incorporate nontraditional sounds into her opera, Sweet Potato Kicks the Sun, she knew just who to reach out to: beatboxer Nicole Paris.