Faculty Publications

Martha C. Nussbaum Honored with the Norman Maclean Faculty Award

Martha C. Nussbaum

Martha C. Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, appointed in the Law School and the Philosophy Department, is one of two University of Chicago scholars named a recipient of this year’s Norman Maclean Faculty Award.

The awards, established in 1997 and presented by the Alumni Association and Alumni Board, are named in honor of Professor Norman Maclean, PhD ’40, the critically acclaimed author of "A River Runs Through It" who taught at the University of Chicago for 40 years.

“Martha Nussbaum is a scholar of immense range and influence, and she is also an outstanding and dedicated teacher,” said Dean Thomas J. Miles. “I am thrilled that the Alumni Association and Board are recognizing her incredible impact on students – on both sides of the Midway – with this prestigious award.”

A UChicago Composer Finds Inspiration in Rome

Baldwin Giang, Photo by Stephan Brigidi

Each morning Baldwin Giang wakes up, walks to the window and looks out over Janiculum Hill, the highest point in Rome. Though his day will surely involve composing music, the University of Chicago graduate student isn’t interested in staying locked inside a studio when the city is at his fingertips.

“Rome is really exciting because it's the kind of place where you can be constantly surprised if you open yourself up to it,” Giang said.

In 2023, Giang was awarded the nationally competitive Samuel Barber Rome Prize, granting him a year of “time and space to think and work” at the American Academy in Rome.

Music and Medicine Foster Creativity and Belonging at South Side School

Humanities Assoc. Prof. Jennifer Iverson leads the Music Sociality program.

UChicago’s eight partner programs with City Elementary allow student volunteers to foster creativity and belonging for neurodiverse students who often feel left out in conventional classroom settings.

The Music Sociality program, led by Jennifer Iverson—an associate professor in the Department of Music and board chair of City Elementary—leverages collaborative and discussion-based activities to improve social skills in a fun and welcoming environment.

For Iverson, discussing musical tastes or collaborating on a song can be perfect ways for autistic children who struggle with turn-taking to practice reciprocal communication and listening.

Serious Gaming in China: Humanities Professor's Journey to the No. 1 Mecca of the Gaming Industry

Patrick Jagoda presented several lectures about gaming and game design in China.

Globally, digital games of all types and persuasions are big business. Industry experts report in 2023 that approximately 3.38 billion people worldwide play games. The global market for the gaming industry in 2023 was expected to reach $187.7 billion in revenue, according to Newzoo. To place this in perspective, movies worldwide generated $26 billion in revenue, and streaming services revenue was approximately $1.1 billion in 2023, according to Grand View Research. In order of their size, China, the U.S., and Japan are the top markets for the gaming industry.

“We’ve seen a growing difference between the size of the gaming and film industries,” said Patrick Jagoda, the William Rainey Harper Professor in the Departments of English Language and Literature, Cinema and Media Studies, and Obstetrics and Gynecology, and faculty director of the Weston Game Lab and the Media, Arts, and Design major at UChicago.

In November 2023, Jagoda traveled to Shenzhen, Hong Kong, and Beijing in China to deliver several lectures about game studies and game design for climate change, host a creative worldbuilding workshop with local peers, and give several interviews to the prominent Chinese news outlets.

News on Gifts

Anastasia Giannakidou

Gift Amount: $1.25 million

Funds for: Division of the Humanities at UChicago, the Center for Hellenic Studies,

Summary: The Alexander S. Pissios Family Foundation Fund for Teaching of the Greek Language gave $1.25 million to support the study of Greek language at UChicago. This generous gift is supported by Alexander Pissios, UChicago College ‘26 parent. This gift will support the overall teaching of the Greek language in support of the Division of Humanities and the Center for Hellenic Studies.

Impact of the Gift: "What unifies Greek identity through time and space is the Greek language, which presents a rich repertoire of continuous, unbroken tradition that stretches back for more than three thousand years. The generous gift will allow the Center for Hellenic Studies to continue offering Modern Greek at the University of Chicago, extend its academic initiatives, and further its engagement with the historical Greek community in Chicago by supporting the teaching of Modern Greek, which is currently a small minority language is the U.S. in need of revitalization. At the UChicago, we want to offer an interdisciplinary forum for students and faculty who want to study the rich Hellenic tradition within the unified framework of Hellenic Studies. We hope to be able to establish a dialogue between disciplines in the direction of illuminating how relevant and useful Greek ideas continue to be today, and how transformative it is to study them as we address major current problems in society and try to find solutions.”—Anastasia Giannakidou, founder and inaugural director of the Center for Hellenic Studies and the Frank J. McLoraine Professor in the Department of Linguistics at UChicago

Humanities Division to Elevate the Study of South Asian Art and Media

Dr. Afzal and Dr. Shireen Ahmad

UChicago’s Division of the Humanities launches a new visiting professorship in South Asian Art and Media in 2025‒2026 thanks to generous funding from Dr. Shireen and Dr. Afzal Ahmad. Their $1.5 million gift will provide for a visiting professor for one quarter annually, expanding the university’s visibility and expertise in South Asian art.

“The Ahmad’s gift will bring new attention to the visual arts and media of South Asia,” said Deborah L. Nelson, Dean of the Division of the Humanities and Helen B. and Frank L. Sulzberger Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature and the College at UChicago. “Hiring a faculty member of great distinction will enhance our already top departments in South Asian Languages and Cultures, Art History, and Cinema and Media Studies and bring them into closer partnership.”

Vera Klement, Painter Who Saw Both Beauty and Evil, Dies at 93

UChicago Photographic Archive, [adf1-10271], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collection Research Center, University of Chicago Library

Ms. Klement, a Holocaust survivor who was known for paintings that combined elements of Abstract Expressionism and figurative art, died on Oct. 20 in Evanston, Ill. She was 93.

Her death, at a retirement home, was confirmed by Max Shapey, her son. It was not widely reported outside Chicago.

Ms. Klement’s paintings — of basic subjects like trees, landscapes and human figures — were influenced by her love of music and literature.

Perspective: An Ode to my BYU Major

Martha C. Nussbaum

My college days of studying humanities almost 20 years ago sprang to mind this week when I read Martha Nussbaum’s essay about her visit to Utah Valley University last year.

Nussbaum, a philosopher and professor at the University of Chicago, had been invited to give a lecture on justice for nonhuman animals, the topic of her new book “Justice for Animals: Our Collective Responsibility.” She wrote in The Chronicle of Higher Education that at UVU, she witnessed “one of the most heartening scenes in higher education that I have ever witnessed in my long career.”

Setting the Scene

From left: Production designer Curt Beech, art director Jordan Jacobs, and Rich Murray, AB'94, with their Emmys for "Only Murders in the Building." (Amy Sussman/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images)

Growing up in Kankakee, Illinois, Rich Murray was a Star Wars fan—and not just a casual one. He knew the movies beginning to end. He bought the books. And he especially loved the action figures, which he collected diligently and still owns today.

But there was a problem. “Loved the figures,” says Murray, “disliked the play sets”—the plastic backdrops that accompanied the toys. To his exacting eye, they were never quite right and often didn’t function as advertised. So Murray, AB’94, took matters into his own hands, rebuilding the play sets out of cardboard so he could create the perfect scenery for Luke, Leia, and Han’s adventures.

It was, in retrospect, Murray’s very first gig in set design (unpaid, nonunion). In the years since, he’s swapped scissors and cardboard for paint and furniture, but he’s still chasing the same goal: scenery that makes a story feel real.