Oct. 7, 1999
Vol. 19 No. 2

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    Humanities Division marks 20th year of celebrating scholarship and the arts at Chicago

    By Arthur Fournier
    News Office

    Listen to rare recordings by some of this century’s greatest female jazz innovators, consider the future of ancient Greek theater and reflect on some of the moral consequences of humanist thought as the University’s Humanities Division presents the 20th annual Humanities Open House, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23.

    Fifty-five lectures, symposia, tours and performances are scheduled for this year’s open house, which will feature a keynote address in the form of a dialogue between Michael Green, Assistant Professor in Philosophy, and Martha Nussbaum, the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor in Law, Philosophy and the Divinity School. Their presentation is titled “Toward Global Justice: Personal and Institutional Responsibility in an Interlocking World.”

    “We give lip service to the idea that respect for human dignity is a fundamental moral requirement,” said Nussbaum. “And yet, we daily allow human dignity to be violated by poverty, illiteracy, unequal liberty and other nation-based inequalities.” Nussbaum and Green will discuss the responsibilities that individuals and institutions in privileged communities have to the less privileged.

    Other events related to the theme of human rights include a talk on the implications for civil rights of recent Chinese economic reforms, a slide lecture on the revival of a traditional Tibetan pilgrimage involving Buddhist teachings of death and rebirth, and a look at the role of poetry in bridging gaps between cultures.

    “We’re very pleased with the response to our two thematic clusters of presentations: human rights and the future of the humanities,” said Chris Perrius, coordinator of the open house. “These give the public coherent snapshots of particular issues in the humanities today along with our usual rich offering of sessions. We’ll have more of these in future open houses.”

    Visitors this year will have two special opportunities to explore the Odyssey. First, James Redfield, the Edward Olson Professor on the Committee on Social Thought, shares his thoughts on the action of the poem’s second half by asking whether the Odyssey is a love story, a story of property or a story of honor. Secondly, Mary Zimmerman, who has enthralled audiences with theatrical adaptations of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Journey to the West and The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci at the Goodman Theater, will present an account of her adaptation of Homer’s epic poetry titled “Taking the Odyssey from Page to Stage.” Both events will be given in conjunction with the University Basic Program’s Works of the Mind lecture series.

    Presentations also will include an a cappella performance by the Motet Choir, a tour of The Renaissance Society’s latest exhibition of drawings by architect Helmut Jahn and a hands-on introduction to the rudiments of representation at Midway Studios titled “Drawing as Thought.” Seminar and lecture topics range from the changing use of language in everyday life to an examination of Western perceptions and misperceptions of the Islamic world.

    Docent-led tours of the Joseph and Mary Grimshaw Egyptian Gallery in the Oriental Institute Museum also will be offered. The University of Chicago Troupe Palymyra have planned a multimedia presentation on the evolution of Middle Eastern dance, from its introduction at the Paris Exhibition of 1893 to its current popularity in the Western world.

    Participants will be able to choose one presentation in each of three sessions: 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. The keynote address is scheduled to take place from 11 a.m. to noon in Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th St.

    Although the keynote address does not require registration, participants must reserve their seats for all other events. Registration opens at 8:30 a.m. in Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St. Events will take place at various locations across campus.

    The Humanities Open House is free and open to the public. For more information and a full list of presentations, see the Humanities Web site at http://humanities.uchicago.edu/openhouse/ or call (773) 702-4847.