Faculty Publications

Ancient Civilizations

Archaeologists uncover ancient civilizations in the Middle East.

A century ago, UChicago scholars argued a controversial idea: Western civilization had its roots in the ancient Middle East—not in Greece or Rome. Today, scholars at the OI and across the University continue shaping the study of the early civilization through archaeological work and their research on the world’s most ancient languages.

In 1919, UChicago Egyptologist James Henry Breasted formed the Oriental Institute (OI)—a world-renowned museum and interdisciplinary research center dedicated to the study of early civilizations in Western Asia and North Africa.

OI archaeologists carried out large-scale expeditions in modern-day Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, Iran and Israel, unearthing massive temple complexes as well as objects of everyday life. For over 100 years, these items have helped researchers sketch a portrait of life in the some of the world’s oldest cities.

Janel M. Mueller, Formidable Intellect and Pioneering Figure at UChicago, 1938–2022

Janel M. Mueller

Janel Mulder Mueller, the William Rainey Harper Professor Emerita in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago and former dean of the Humanities Division, died Oct. 21 in Chicago. She was 83 years old.

The first woman to lead an academic division at UChicago, Mueller combined a formidable intellect with an awareness of her role as a pioneer in higher education.

“Janel’s teaching was rigorous and inspirational at all levels,” said UChicago colleague James K. Chandler, the William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor in the Departments of English Language and Literature and Cinema and Media Studies. “She trained generations of young scholars in and beyond early modern studies who are now, in their turn, leaders in their fields.”

Media Mentions October 2022

The latest media mentions, quotes, profiles, and writings from Division of the Humanities faculty, students, staff, and alumni. Visit us on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Facebook for more updates.

Looking (and Looking Again) at Black Film History
Library of Congress
Allyson Nadia Field (Cinema and Media Studies) and Cara Cadoo (Indiana University) discovered the earliest surviving fragment of Black-produced cinema—made four years before the earliest known surviving footage.

Local Color on View in Show About Modernism and Monochromatic Art
Christine Mehring (Art History) featured in this video about Monochrome Multitudes, an exhibition she co-curated, now open at the Smart Museum of Art.

Seven poems that make you stop and appreciate Chicago
WBEZ Chicago
Rachel DeWoskin (English Language and Literature) was  invited to the WBEZ studios to read her poem "chance, chicago," which was included in the poetry anthology “Wherever I’m At.”

The Literary Aesthetic and Reading for the Other
The Wire
Martha C. Nussbaum (Law and Philosophy) and Sianne Ngai (English Language and Literature) are mentioned in this article about literary aesthetics, literary studies, literature's possibilities and what it can shape or generate.

Meet the Staff: Molly Heiler

Molly Heiler

More than 100 staff members work in the Division of the Humanities. We’ll introduce you to our staff in this continuing series.

Molly Heiler
Director, Human Resources
Office of the Dean

What do you like most about your job?

I get a great deal of satisfaction developing relationships with diverse populations at all levels and positively impacting the employee experience, from the moment a candidate considers applying for a position, to staff engagement, and offboarding staff as they transition out of their role.

We spend so much time at work, and it’s exciting for me to help make that time as rewarding as possible. I like to help people see their value and understand how they contribute to the success of the institution. I truly believe people are the heart of every organization, and individuals bring unique talents and perspectives that, when allowed to thrive, contribute to a highly engaging workplace.  I also enjoy putting resources together, establishing best practices, enhancing processes, and more. The field of HR allows me to do all of this. I especially like working in higher-education because it is an environment of learning and growth.

What was the last good book you read?

I enjoyed reading The Four Agreements: The Practical Application of Don Miguel Ruiz's Second and Third Agreements.

You might work with me if …

you have questions about the employee lifecycle and/or people operations including recruitment, hiring, onboarding, offboarding, strategic planning, employee relations, organizational effectiveness, change and performance management, employee engagement, performance management, leadership coaching, succession planning, payroll, benefits, finding ways to foster a culture of growth, high-performance, wellbeing, and belonging, and more.

Is there something you’ve been learning about that’s been an exciting or unexpected discovery?

Two UChicago Humanities Scholars Receive the International Balzan Prizes

Martha C. Nussbaum and Philip V. Bohlman

UChicago Prof. Philip V. Bohlman and UChicago Prof. Martha C. Nussbaum were awarded the International Balzan Prizes for their seminal and sustained contributions respectively to ethnomusicology and music research and wide-ranging philosophical topics.

The annual Balzan Prizes honor “scholars and scientists who have distinguished themselves in their fields on an international level.” Bohlman has received the first Balzan Prize in ethnomusicology—a relatively new field—and only one of five awards in music scholarship ever granted. Of the four Balzan Prizes awarded in 2022, UChicago faculty received an unusually high 50 percent share.

Franklin D. Lewis, Prolific and Dedicated Scholar of Persian Literature, 1961-2022

Franklin D. Lewis

Franklin D. Lewis, a distinguished scholar of Persian literature at the University of Chicago for nearly 20 years, passed away on Sept. 19 in Chicago after a long illness. He was 61 years old.

Throughout his prolific career, Lewis published multiple books and articles. According to his colleagues, his masterpiece was Rumi: Past and Present, East and West, The Life Teachings of Jalāl al-Din Rumi (2008), which reassesses all previous research on the life of Persian’s foremost Sufi poet and navigates the complex history of the poet’s later reception worldwide.

“The book will serve as a touchstone for any future research on Rumi and has been translated into Persian, Arabic, Turkish, and Danish,” said Paul Losensky, professor of Comparative Literature at Indiana University. “Frank’s work, however, went beyond the mystical poets. His articles and chapters contribute to collected volumes and offer insights into other major figures in the classical tradition such as Ferdowski, Sa’di, and Hāfez.”

Prof. Kenneth Warren to Address How Unprecedented Income Inequality Affects Literature in Humanities Day Keynote

Kenneth W. Warren

How do novels mirror society? Prof. Kenneth W. Warren’s scholarship addresses the relationship between literature and the public sphere, particularly African American literature during the Jim Crow era.

The author of a number of transformative books about literature, Warren said since the 18th century, novelists have wrestled with the question of whether the idea of character—both as a moral quality and a representation of individuality—can withstand the pressure of extreme wealth.

Warren will further that conversation Oct. 15 in his keynote address during Humanities Day—a revered tradition since 1980 that highlights UChicago research to the public and underscores the power of art, literature, philosophy, music, linguistics, media, and languages.


Is a book hidden inside a decades-old piece of concrete? Scientists seek answers to art mystery

The Advanced Photon Source

When is a book not a book?

This seems like a simple question, but in the case of one curious piece of art, researchers have enlisted the resources of one of the world’s leading X-ray facilities at Argonne National Laboratory to answer it. What they find might end up rewriting a chapter of modern art history, and might shine new light on one of the pioneers of an artistic movement.

Media Mentions September 2022

The latest media mentions, quotes, profiles, and writings from Division of the Humanities faculty, students, staff, and alumni. Visit us on Twitter and Facebook for more updates.

Two Critics, 13 Favorite Booths at The Armory Show
The New York Times
Jessica Stockholder (Visual Arts) was mentioned in this article about the Armory Show’s Mitchell-Innes & Nash Booth, where she presented some of her sculptures.

Roberts Lecture ‘22 with Agnes Callard
The Dickinsonian
Agnes Callard (Philosophy) delivered the annual Christopher Roberts Lectures on Sept 23, and 24, titled “What is Free Speech?” and “Socratic Love.”

Ling Ma’s Continual State of Return
Vanity Fair
Article favorably reviews Ling Ma's novel, Severance, and her recent book of short stories, Bliss Montage.

Meet the Staff: Rosemary Cook

Rosemary Cook

More than 100 staff members work in the Division of the Humanities. We’ll introduce you to our staff in this continuing series.

Rosemary Cook
Assistant Director, Academic Affairs

What do you like most about your job?

Academic Affairs has a window into the research and growth that is happening in each department that I wouldn't otherwise see. I like the variety of tasks, people, and subject matter that this position allows me to interact with; we're never bored! I'm also a process-oriented person, so it is satisfying to participate in both the micro- and macro- operations that occur throughout the division and see the results of long-term efforts.

What was the last good book you read?

Two novels I read recently both were set in locations that really made an impression: "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson is a worthwhile read, especially while you're in Hyde Park! It details the simultaneous stories of the construction of the 1893 World's Fair right here on Midway Plaisance and the crimes committed by H.H. Holmes in his "Murder Castle" in Englewood. As a mystery and architecture enthusiast, it was tailor-made for me, and so well written it's hard to remember it's non-fiction! Secondly, "East of Eden" by John Steinbeck. A favorite author of mine, his writings about Salinas and close-knit families always make me nostalgic for where I grew up in Northern California.

You might work with me if …

...you have questions about divisional or University policies, are conducting a search for an academic position, are recommending an appointment for a visitor or new hire, are completing a review, or are undergoing personnel processes such as promotion, retirement, or leave.

If you could live anywhere, where would you choose? 

Wherever I live I hope I’m always near a Broadway theater, an airport, a baseball stadium, and a coastline. Chicago checks all the boxes! Recent favorites: Moulin Rouge!, MDW to OAK, White Sox, Promontory Point.


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