Humanists on Humanities Day: Suggestions From Bevington, Grenoble, Levin, and Rokem

Humanists on Humanities Day: Suggestions From Bevington, Grenoble, Levin, and Rokem

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. 

Lenore Grenoble, Keynote Speaker: Languages in Danger: Why Should We Care?   

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 MuseTheater 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 LetinskyWhat 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.

Anubav VasudevanHow to Expect a Surprise ExamI am a great fan of paradoxes and so may go to see what a philosopher has to say about paradoxes and how our beliefs can be, and are, mistaken.


David Bevington, Presenter: The Tempest as Utopia

Lenore GrenobleLanguages in Danger: Why Should We Care?: The keynote on the danger of disappearances of language in our commercialized world—and the efforts to keep them alive—should be wonderful. 

Steven CollinsThe Varieties of Buddhist Wisdom: I'd love to hear this talk; we all need to learn what Buddhism has to offer.

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 HarrisCarter 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. 

David Wellbery, The Aphorism: Condensation and Surprise: The session should be learned, witty, informative, well worth listening to.

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.


David Levin, Presenter: Collaboration 2.0: Preparing “Jephta’s Daughter” for the Stage

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: 

Alison LaCroix and Jason MerchantThe Use and Abuse of Linguistics at the US Supreme Court

Patrick Crowley, Understanding Roman Portraiture in the Age of Photography 

Anubav Vasudevan, How to Expect a Surprising Exam.  


Na’ama Rokem, Presenter: Bilingual Knowledge, Bilingual Stories

John MuseTheater 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.



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September 30, 2014