True or False? What a UChicago Linguist Will Look for During the Presidential Debates

Chris Kennedy

On Sept. 29 in Cleveland, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will face each other on stage for the first time. 

The candidates could face more scrutiny than they have elsewhere on the campaign trail, as moderators, pundits and their opponent may fact-check them in real time. But will fact-checking make a difference in the way audiences receive the candidate’s messages?

That’s a question which University of Chicago linguist Chris Kennedy has thought about for years. The William H. Colvin Professor of Linguistics teaches a course on truth, examining the concept’s relevance in an age of “alternative facts” and “fake news.” In 2018, he also focused on the nature of truth in a keynote speech for Humanities Day, an annual UChicago tradition that began in 1980.

Controversial Classics Spur New Conversations for TCM Hosts

Jacqueline Stewart by Joe Mazza, Brave Lux

Most of the classic films that run on TCM are introduced by a single host. In March, some will require a whole team.

The WarnerMedia outlet on Thursdays this month will seek to put some popular but troublesome films in better context, part of an effort it calls “Reframed.” Teams will ponder cultural issues posed by films such as “Gone With The Wind,” “Psycho,” “The Searchers,” “My Fair Lady” and “Gunga Din,” among others. Some of the hosts hope the initiative will continue beyond the next four weeks.

“We are hearing more and more from audiences about moments they are really puzzling over, if not downright offended by, in light of all of the broader cultural and political conversations we are having,” says Jacqueline Stewart, who became TCM’s first Black host in 2019 and is a cinema-studies professor at the University of Chicago.

Neubauer Collegium's New Research Projects Signal Enduring Commitment to Inquiry

Curator Nina Sanders, a visiting fellow at the Neubauer Collegium, sits on horseback at a parade to open Apsáalooke Women and Warriors on March 12, 2020. The exhibition grew out of the Open Fields research project, one of 111 faculty-led collaborations the Neubauer Collegium has supported since its 2012 launch. Photo by Max Herman.

The University of Chicago has long championed collaborative research as a promising strategy for addressing complex questions. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, it was not clear how this form of inquiry might need to adapt. What new strategies would humanistic scholars adopt to share, develop and test new ideas online? What empirical data would social scientists be able to gather, and what insights could they glean from fieldwork dramatically constrained by new public health guidelines preventing close physical contact?

The challenges for scholars pursuing humanistic research collaborations at this moment are significant. But the 2021–22 cycle of research projects at the Neubauer Collegium are a clear sign that UChicago faculty remain committed to collaborative modes of inquiry—and creative in their approach to pursuing excellence in research.


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