Nov. 4, 1999
Vol. 19 No. 4

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    Actor John Hurt portrays Winston Smith in the film 1984, which was adapted from George Orwell’s book of the same title.

    Conference to revisit Orwell’s message from 1984

    By Arthur Fournier
    News Office

    The University’s Law School will hold a conference to mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of George Orwell’s most widely known novel, 1984.

    The three-day conference, 1984: Orwell and Our Future, will begin at 3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 11, with a screening of the film 1984, followed by a panel discussion with Marvin Rosenblum, the film’s producer, and Thomas Gunning, Professor in Art History and the Committee on Cinema & Media Studies. Presentations and panel discussions will take place both Friday, Nov. 12, and Saturday, Nov. 13.

    Published during the dark years directly after the catastrophe of the Second World War, George Orwell’s 1984 presents a distopian vision of immediate historical relevance. Owing to the short interval of its futuristic imagination, Orwell’s novel presents an opportunity for contemporary readers to consider how the author’s predictions for our era illuminate today’s politics and culture. “Orwell’s 1984 presaged the challenges of late 20th-century life more than any other work of literature,” said Martha Nussbaum, the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor in Law & Ethics and conference co-chair. “The purpose of this conference is to think again about what 1984 has to say about our present and our future,” she explained.

    Toward that end, Nussbaum and conference co-chair Jack Goldsmith, Professor in the Law School, have organized a group of distinguished scholars from the fields of history, philosophy, literary studies, political science, international studies, gender studies, psychology, communications, religious studies and law to participate in the conference discussions.

    Among the sessions and presentations scheduled for Friday, Nov. 12, are “Orwell and the Regulation of Information and Privacy,” which will take place from 9:30 to 11:45 a.m. and include among other speakers scientist, novelist and author of The Transparent Society, David Brin, and Lawrence Lessig of Harvard University. A session titled “Orwell’s Legacy” will take place from 1:15 to 2:45 p.m., followed by “Orwell and the Regulation of Sexuality” at 3:15 p.m., which will include a presentation by Michael Warner, a faculty member at Rutgers University and author of The Trouble with Normal.

    From 9:30 to 11:45 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 13, the conference organizers have planned “Orwell, Torture and Resistance.” Robert Kirschner, Clinical Associate in Pathology and Pediatrics and a participant in the University’s Human Rights Program, will be among the presenters.

    Saturday afternoon sessions on “Orwell and Social Theory” and “Orwell and Human Nature” will feature presentations by Chicago faculty members, including Richard Epstein, the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School, who will speak about “Orwell: The Transition from Literature to Social Science.”

    Novelist Margaret Drabble also will speak Saturday afternoon, delivering a presentation titled “Of Beasts and Men: Orwell on Beastliness.”

    The 1984: Orwell and our Future conference is free and open to the public. All sessions will be held at Chicago’s Law School, 1111 E. 60th St. More information may be obtained by visiting the conference Web site: www.law.uchicago.edu/orwell or by calling (773) 702-9486.