Faculty

MLA Prize Awarded to Larry Norman

Larry Norman, Professor in Romance Languages and Literatures, Theater and Performance Studies, and the College, recently received the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for French and Francophone Literary Studies from the Modern Language Association for his book The Shock of the Ancient: Literature and History in Early Modern France. According to the selection committee’s citation for the book, “Probing early modern reactions to the classical age, Norman’s compelling analysis highlights the value of art in bridging distance in human consciousness in any era.” Norman currently serves as Deputy Provost for the Arts at the University, and has curated exhibitions at the Smart Museum of Art and the Special Collections Research Center. The Scaglione Prize is “awarded annually for an outstanding scholarly work in its field—a literary or linguistic study, a critical edition of an important work, or a critical biography—written by a member of the association.”

More information is available about the MLA 2012 prizewinners.

Steven Rings Wins Emerging Scholar Award

Steven Rings, Associate Professor in Music, was recently awarded the Emerging Scholar Award from the Society for Music Theory for his book Tonality and Transformation. The Emerging Scholar Award is given to books or articles published within five years of the author's receipt of their PhD. Rings, who received his PhD from Yale in 2006, focuses his scholarship on transformational theory, phenomenology, popular music, and questions of music and meaning. Tonality and Transformation uses transformational music theory to examine diverse aspects of tonal hearing, focusing on the listener's experience. For more information on the Society for Music Theory, please visit their site.

UChicago Composers Share Creative Processes

Shulamit Ran, Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor of Music, Augusta Read Thomas, University Professor of Composition in Music, and Marta Ptaszynska, Helen B. and Frank L. Sulzberger Professor of Music, recently shared what inspires them to create music and their composing processes. Ran, who recently composed a piece inspired by the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts which was performed at the building's launch festival, said “Life informs my music in every possible way, through the people I meet, the sounds I hear, things I see or read, life’s events and passages, its awe and adventure. This feeds into everything I am, and thus everything I compose.”

Ptaszynka and Thomas both commented that ideas for their compositions usually come to them fully-formed, rather than in fragments. “I never start a piece if I don’t know how the piece will end,” Ptaszynska says. “It’s like buying a train ticket without knowing where you’re going.”

Thomas' process echoes this theme of travel. “I usually draw maps—a timeline of the piece, the shapes it’s going to take, its harmonic fields,” she says. “If you’re going to build a huge building or cathedral, you can’t just go to the hardware store and start hammering nails. I actually draft the beginning, middle, and end of absolutely every sound. I want to know, what’s the inner life? Where is it going, why is it going there? How does it relate to what comes next, and why? Gestalt is everything to me.”

All three composers underscored that none of their creativity would be possible without diligent work, which makes the University of Chicago a particularly fruitful setting. “Many people have a talent but don’t develop their craft,” Ptaszynska says. “And talent without craft is nothing.”

Read the full article here.

Connection between Magic and Medicine in Ancient World Discussed during Recent Lectures

In October at the Oriental Institute, several professors participated in the lecture series "Medicine and Magic in the Ancient World, A Search for the Cure", which sought to explore the connection between the physical and the psychological aspect of healing within ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece. Robert Ritner, Professor in Egyptology, opened the series with his talk titled “The Theory and Practice of Medicine and Magic in Ancient Egypt”, Christopher Faraone, the Frank Curtis Springer and Gertrude Melcher Springer Professor in the Humanities, and the College, and Elizabeth Asmis, Professor in Classics, presented "Medical Healing in Ancient Greece". Walter Farber, Professor of Assyriology, discussed how people came to understand and fight against contagious diseases in his lecture titled "Diseases and Epidemics in Ancient Mesopotamia: Medical Conceptualization and Responses", while Robert Biggs, Professor Emeritus in Assyriology, focused on Mesopotamian religious practitioners and their approach to illness and misfortune in his talk "Religious and Magical Elements in Babylonian Medical Practice." The series closed on October 27 with a presentation by John Wee, a postdoctoral scholar in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, titled "Mesopotamian Texts and the Knowledge Assumptions of Medical Diagnosis". To find out about upcoming lectures at the Oriental Institute, please visit their Events and Programs web page.

Pages