Faculty members at Humanities Day are not only presenters but also audience members. We asked four presenters what Humanities Day sessions most interest them this year.
There’s a great lineup of fun and exciting talks this year, so I am having a hard time deciding what I will attend. Of course all the topics on language and linguistics are of immediate interest to me, but I do like to take advantage of the chance to learn about something new, something less in my comfort zone.
John Muse, Theater and Other Social Media: This strikes me as fascinating and immediately relevant to understanding how social media, and the internet more generally, are connecting people and shaping our culture and our lives.
Laura Letinsky, What Photographs Mean: This session is also intriguing to me, especially in a time when we people photograph everything (themselves, their meals, and so on). What photographs actually “mean” is a good question I’ll be interested to learn more about.
Reginald Jackson, Slavery, Performance, and the Question of Personhood in Medieval Japanese Drama: Reggie is great on medieval Japanese drama; I have invited him in previous years to come to my class in the history of drama where he makes a great hit.
Neil Harris, Carter Brown and his role in transforming Washington's National Gallery of Art: I have heard Neil on the subject and know how remarkably witty and well informed he is about this.
Larry Rothfield, Antiquities Under Siege, Again: Larry will be talking about antiquities endangered or ruined by the Iraq war and other conflicts in the Middle East in his session, a subject of grave concern to all of us except Donald Rumsfeld, who, when asked about this problem as Secretary of Defense, said, 'Well, there are a lot of old pots in the Middle East!' His witticism was met with laughter by the reporters who were interviewing him.
When I was a kid, we went out to dinner at most twice a year. And when we did, my mom would solemnly counsel us not to order anything on the menu that we could have at home. “It’s a special thing, going out to dinner!” she would say, “so choose something you don’t already know!”
I think of Humanities Day in the same spirit.
But of course, since it’s the University of Chicago, there are inevitable complications. One real complication derives from the amazing but true fact that faculty members at the UChicago attend each other’s classes. And of course, we attend each other’s lectures. So, keeping those facts and my mom’s admonition in mind, I review the menu of humanities day with an eye to hearing from those whose lectures or classes I haven’t yet attended — after all, it’s a special thing and I’m keen to choose something I don’t already know! So I’m very much looking forward to:
John Muse, Theater and Social Media: I’m an avid consumer of both, but had never thought of the connection between them. We often hear about how electronic and digital media are replacing other forms of art and supplanting human interaction, so I’m excited to learn more about the creative and productive coexistence of the theater with its more recent rivals.
Register for these sessions and more at humanitiesday.uchicago.edu.