Former University of Chicago Staffer Publishes New Biography of Oriental Institute Founder

Archaeologist James Henry Breasted founded the Oriental Institute at the University in 1919, and was a beloved figure around the world. Jeffrey Abt, a former Special Collections exhibits coordinator and former acting director of the Smart Museum, has written a biography of Breasted called American Egyptologist: The Life of James Henry Breasted and the Creation of His Oriental Institute, out this month from University of Chicago Press.
Abt discussed the book on Wednesday, December 14, at 7 p.m. at Breasted Hall in the Oriental Institute.
From the University News Office:
Originally, Abt wanted to write about teaching museums and decided to start with the Oriental Institute Museum because of its close proximity. In going through its archives, however, he quickly discovered the wealth of materials on Breasted and became fascinated with the archaeologist’s multi-faceted career.
Breasted, who received his Egyptology PhD in Germany, was the first formally trained American Egyptologist. While he was dashing and adventuresome, he also brought to the University the formidable intellectual gifts and ambitions that helped to fulfill William Rainey Harper’s vision of a research university.
Read the University News Office story here.

Time Out Chicago Unveils “Who’s-Who Inventory” of Chicago’s Cultural Curators

TimeOut Chicago recently compiled a who’s-who snapshot of Chicago’s top cultural curators. The list included the University of Chicago’s own Emily Teeter, Research Associate and Special Exhibits Coordinator at the Oriental Institute; Hamza Walker, Associate Curator and Director of Education at the Renaissance Society; and the entire team at Doc Films.

To read more about Chicago’s top cultural curators in TimeOut Chicago, please click here. Click on the following links to learn more about the Oriental Institute, the Renaissance Society, and Doc Films.

'Scrappers' Currently Screening at Siskel Film Center, Receives “Two Thumbs Up”

Directors Ben Kolak, Brian Ashby, and Courtney Prokopas’s documentary film Scrappers has received rave reviews across Chicago, including “two thumbs up” from film critic Roger Ebert as well as awards for “Best Documentary Feature” and the “Audience Award” at the 2010 Chicago Underground Film Festival. Kolak, Ashby, and Prokopas are graduates of the College, and Ashby currently works as a Program Assistant with the South Asia Language and Area Center (SALAC) and the Committee on Southern Asian Studies (COSAS) within the Division of the Humanities.

From the Chicago Underground Film Festival:

Set in Chicago’s labyrinth of alleys Scrappers is a revealing portrait of Oscar and Otis, two metal scavengers searching for a living with brains, brawn, and battered pickup trucks. Shot in vérité style, the film focuses on work: finding metals, raising children, understanding the city. A close examination of the men’s daily lives raises questions about popular notions of poverty, race-relations, personal self-sufficiency, and urban sustainability. Scrappers tackles the geography of a still-segregated city, the hidden lives of undocumented people, and the far-reaching effects of the 2008 financial collapse.

To read Ebert’s review in its entirety please click here, and to read an interview with directors Ben Kolak, Brian Ashby, and Courtney Prokopas on Gaper’s Block please click here.