Archive and News Articles for the Sawyer Seminar at the University of Chicago, 2011-2012
The Sawyer Seminar at the University of Chicago, "Around 1948:
Interdisciplinary Approaches to Global Transformation," which was sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, has made a project archive available featuring audio-recordings of events, the year's program, information about speakers, and related courses. For news articles about this Sawyer Seminar, please see:
- UChicago News (10/13/11)
- UChicago Tableau (Spring 2012)
Fellowship Awards Announced
We are very pleased to announce the fellowship awards at the Franke Institute for the Humanities for 2012-2013. More info >>
Reception for Publications by Humanities Faculty in 2008 and 2009
The fruit of years of research, collaboration, creation, and writing, the publications of Humanities faculty members - books, CDs, musical scores - are celebrated every year at a special reception for them and their colleagues, toasted by the Dean of the Humanities and the Provost of the University. For this occasion, the publications are also gathered together and displayed at the Institute. The event takes place each spring quarter for the previous year's publications, and a bibliography is prepared annually that lists these new publications by department.
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Peter Sellars, “Aesthetics and the Bomb”
Click here to see the video.
Click here to listen to this talk.
On January 10, 2008, in the wake of his recent work as director and librettist of John Adams’ Doctor Atomic, University of Chicago 2008 Artspeaks fellow Peter Sellars appeared at the Franke Institute for a seminar with approximately 50 graduate students and faculty from across the university to discuss the role of theater (and the arts) in today’s culture. He began the discussion by turning to the age-old relationship between theatre and democracy. In ancient Athens, he pointed out, people went to the theatre to see contemporary issues enacted on stage. Within the walls of the theatre, audience members were free to shed the responsibilities of everyday life and engage in a kind of collective self-reflection. In today’s world, Sellars argued, theatre’s role is less obvious but no less important. It is one of the last remaining spaces—in a culture that is ever more bureaucratized and homogenized—where people can abandon the immediate concerns of their working lives and engage in civic reflection.
Sellars’ libretto for Doctor Atomic deploys nightmares, surreal memories, fears, neuroses, spasms, and regrets (produced through a collage of historical documents, poems, and other source materials) to assault the audience’s psychological defenses. Sellars described the libretto as, “4:00 in the morning stuff. That 4:00AM where the world is unbearably clear and you have no defense from your worst thoughts.”
When a graduate student asked about future projects, the discussion turned toward Sellars’ artistic method. Sellars pointed out that it is important not only to create new works that reflect our current conditions and current perspectives and that will resonate with future generations, but that it is equally important to participate in a dialogue with our ancestors by engaging with texts from the past as a way of deepening our understanding of the contemporary world. Thus, Mozart and Shakespeare serve Sellars (and us) as a way of measuring where we are now. For Sellars, these classics serve “as a yardstick to see where we fit and where we don’t.” Sellars uses these pieces as a way of posing anew the age-old question of what divides us and what draws us together.
"The Fate of Disciplines" Audio Is Now Available Online
Listen to audio from the 2-day event that was at once the culmination of a three-year project on "New Perspectives on the Disciplines: Comparative Studies in Higher Education" and the conference for the annual meeting of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI). Speakers included: James Chandler, Don Michael Randel, Robert Post, Judith Butler, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Tom Gunning, Gertrud Koch, Yuri Tsivian, Sheldon Pollock, François Hartog, Richard Neer, Miriam Hansen, Robert Pippin, Mario Biagioli, Lorraine Daston, Adrian Johns, Amy Hollywood, Saba Mahmood, Bruce Lincoln, Rivka Feldhay, Arnold Davidson, David Wellbery, Marshall Sahlins, Marshall Sahlins, Lisa Wedeen, Helen Mirra, W.J.T. Mitchell, Bill Brown, and Laura Letinsky.
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On March 14, a conversation about plagiarism in literature, music, art, film, and academia took place at the Art Institute. Speakers included Judge Richard Posner, author of "The Little Book of Plagiarism," novelist Jonathan Lethem, and co-moderators Lawrence Weschler and Françoise Meltzer. C-SPAN2 is offering video of the event on its website. You can watch the broadcast with RealPlayer. More info >>
“Instance the determination”
An on-site installation in buildings on the main quadrangle
Helen Mirra, Visual and Environmental Studies, Harvard
As part of a three-year Mellon Project that concludes with the conference, “The Fate of Disciplines,” The Franke Institute for the Humanities at the University of Chicago is pleased to announce a public art project by Helen Mirra. The work will be up from April 27, 2006 through June 2009.
Mirra's project, Instance the determination, takes the form of 30 brief segments of text, each painted directly on the wall in locations dispersed throughout the academic buildings on the main quadrangle of the University of Chicago campus. These texts are derived from indexes that Mirra has created from two books by authors closely connected to the histories of the University of Chicago and the City of Chicago: John Dewey's Experience and Nature (1929) and Jane Addams' Newer Ideals of Peace (1907).
"The humanities can never be pinned down. The term has almost always been used to distinguish the study of the human spirit in its implicit and expressed values."
Wayne C. Booth
Professor, English Language and Literature
Photo Credit: Mai Vukcevich