Donald Whitcomb, renowned scholar of Islamic archaeology, 1944‒2024

Donald Whitcomb, renowned Islamic archaeologist, 1944‒2024

Donald Whitcomb was a pioneering scholar in the field of Islamic archaeology, who investigated its history through numerous excavations across the Middle East while also training generations of University of Chicago students in archaeological fieldwork.

A member of the University of Chicago community for more than four decades, he was also a trusted mentor who created master’s and doctoral programs in Islamic archaeology at UChicago. Whitcomb, PhD’79, a research associate at the Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures (ISAC) and associate professor at the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC), died on Feb. 8 in Chicago at age 79.

Two UChicago scholars awarded 2024 Guggenheim Fellowships

Two Humanities Scholars Receive 2024 Guggenheim Fellowships

Two University of Chicago scholars have earned 2024 Guggenheim Fellowships, honored in recognition of their innovative work and exceptional promise as scholars.

Profs. Sianne Ngai and Robyn Schiff are among the 188 fellows selected in this year’s class from nearly 3,000 applicants to the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Their respective fellowships will include a monetary stipend to support projects under “the freest possible conditions.”

“Humanity faces some profound existential challenges,” said Edward Hirsch, president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. “The Guggenheim Fellowship is a life-changing recognition. It’s a celebrated investment into the lives and careers of distinguished artists, scholars, scientists, writers and other cultural visionaries who are meeting these challenges head on.”

What eclipses have meant to people across the ages

The total solar eclipse of 2017, viewed from Jefferson City, Mo. Photo courtesy of NASA/Rami Daud, Alcyon Technical Services

Eclipses have fascinated people since the earliest days of recorded history.

These rare astronomical events have helped explain the world around us—from ancient Mesopotamia to medieval Islamic tradition all the way to the 20th century, when they helped prove Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

Such interest hasn’t dimmed. People across the United States will have an opportunity on April 8th to see a total solar eclipse—the last opportunity for the contiguous U.S. until 2044. UChicago faculty, students and alumni are among the hordes of enthusiasts traveling across the country toward the area of “totality,” the 70-mile-wide stripe stretching from Texas to Maine in which the moon will fully block the sun.

Author and "Odyssey" translator Daniel Mendelsohn to deliver Berlin Family Lectures, beginning April 23

Daniel Mendelsohn, the Berlin Family Lecturer 2024

Daniel Mendelsohn enjoys interpreting Homer’s "Odyssey" for modern readers. Drawn to the ancient tale since his teens, for six years he took on the challenge of translating and reanimating the book. His translation of Homer’s "Odyssey" is scheduled for release in the spring of 2025 by the University of Chicago Press.

On April 23 and 30, Mendelsohn will deliver lectures on the epic poem. Both lectures will be held at the Rubenstein Forum—in person—from 6 to 7:30 p.m. CDT. Registration for the series is free and open to the public.