'The Classics Are Everywhere; Most of Us Are Likely Just Not Looking for Them'

The Weeknd and Metro Boomin sit near a statue of the Three Graces in Las Vegas in the “Heartless” video. "In my classes on classical reception in modern and contemporary society, my students find classical references across music, literature and theater, and video games, and inquire into their significance," Prof. Patrice Rankine says.

Patrice Rankine is a professor in the Department of Classics and the College and a writer. In addition to the reception of classics in current times, Rankine is interested in reading literature with insights from various theoretical approaches, including race and performance, queer theory and social history. His forthcoming book is “Theater and Crisis: Myth, Memory, and Racial Reckoning in America, 1964-2020.” The following interview has been edited and condensed.

Q: As a classics professor, how do you make the classics accessible and relevant for students?

Locating the classics might be like the game we play as children on summer road trips or long car rides: Find a red car. You might not normally notice red cars, but once they are raised to your awareness, they’re everywhere. The same goes for what we might call the relevance or accessibility of the classics. Once we realize that they are everywhere, we cannot unsee them.

Five Questions for Author Linda Seidel about van Gogh and Summer Reading

Places that Vincent van Gogh painted and frequented while in Arles, including the Place du Forum, have become major tourist attractions in the ancient city. Copyright: Shutterstock.com

In “Vincent’s Arles,” art historian and University of Chicago Emerita Prof. Linda Seidel takes readers on a tour of Arles, France, where Vincent van Gogh spent 15 months, beginning in 1888. The artist produced several of his best-known and most striking paintings during this time. The following interview has been edited and condensed.

Q: Van Gogh’s stay in Arles was productive and resulted in bold art. How was his time there transformational for him?

Vincent had connected with the Impressionists in Paris and was inspired by their brighter colors and technique; this began a transformation in his work that came to fruition in Arles. Once settled there, he came to regard the Impressionists as too rooted in the optical and, in Seurat’s case, as overly constrained by scientific color theory. He began to appreciate the value of the imagined or reflected upon, something that Gauguin’s short visit with him reinforced, despite its grim end. Gauguin preached rumination rather than spontaneity in painting.

Two Humanities Faculty Receive Named Professorships

Spring on the University of Chicago campus

Sixteen University of Chicago faculty members have received distinguished service professorships or named professorships.

Profs. Michael Franklin, Chang-Tai Hsieh, Dan Nicolae, Lubos Pastor, Robert Shimer and Lisa Wedeen have been named distinguished service professors. Profs. Scott Ashworth, Orit Bashkin, William Baude, Sarah Hammerschlag, Julia R. Henly, William Hubbard, Jonathan Lyon, Jennifer Nou, C. Riley Snorton and Tara Zahra have received named professorships.

UChicago Teaching Award Winners Share their Summer Reading Recommendations

UChicago students reading books

Looking for your next summer read? Look no further. Here's the books the University of Chicago faculty who were honored in the 2023 Quantrell and Graduate Teaching Awards found interesting, useful, or meaningful. Two Humanities Division scholars, Paola Iovene and David Wellbery, recommend books as varied as a memoir, poetry collections, and canons in literary criticism.