Chicago Humanities Forum brings scholars to alumni, friends in cityBy Arthur Fournier
With a series of provocations designed to unsettle his audience at the February meeting of the Chicago Humanities Forum, Wayne Booth, the George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in English Language & Literature, confronted the troubling differences, which are sometimes obvious to us, between the worldly appearances we project and the more critical self-appraisals that belong to our inner souls.
Using humor and an eloquent reference to his own experience with the process of authoring a self, Booths presentation, How We Create Our Selves: Living and Lying About It, defended what he sees as the spiritual benefits of hypocrisy upwardthe habit of pretending to be better than one knows oneself to be.
Booth asked his audience: Does hypocrisy always disfigure the soul and wrongfully deceive its victims, or might it not sometimes allow us to assume roles that lead us toward better versions of ourselves? Paul Hunter, the Barbara E. and Richard J. Franke Professor in English Language & Literature and Director of The Franke Institute for the Humanities, said he asked Booth to present his thoughts on the topic for the inaugural session of this winters forum. I knew we could count on Wayne to start this quarter with an inventive and thought-provoking talk, he explained.
During the course of this academic year, on the first Wednesday of every month, scholars in the Humanities Division have been meeting downtown in the sixth-floor conference rooms of the Universitys Gleacher Center, 450 N. Cityfront Plaza Drive, to discuss their research with cohorts and invited guests who live and work in Chicago.
This is really our chance to reach out to friends and alumni who live outside of the Hyde Park neighborhood. There are so many people in the Loop who are engaged with the humanities and the life of the mind who are unable to attend lectures and conferences because of their daily schedules, explained Hunter. The forum provides a convenient means for them to indulge their interests, and it also gives our faculty an opportunity to impact the public life of the city, he continued.
Typically beginning at 5:15 p.m. with a talk by a member of the Universitys humanities faculty, the forums usually end by 7 p.m.
During the fall, Philip Gossett, former Dean of the Humanities Division and the Robert W. Reneker Distinguished Service Professor in Music, and John Goldsmith, the Edward Carson Walter Distinguished Service Professor in Linguistics, each took part in the series, attracting opera lovers and those curious about recent applications of linguistics within the computer industry.
At 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday, March 1, Martha Roth will present a talk titled Dictionary-Making and the Making of The Assyrian Dictionary.
Although for completely different reasons, I expect that Martha Roths talk will be as challenging and mind-expanding as Booths take on hypocrisy, said Hunter. Thats been one of the great things about being involved with this seriesthe absolute variety of interests and the uncompromising seriousness of our participants.
Reservations are requested, as space is limited. For more information or to reserve a seat, call the Franke Institute at (773) 702-8274. Directions and information about discounted parking also are available.