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Chicago Humanities Festival Blog

Cognitive Connections: Dolphins, Dogs, and Us!
Ken Ramirez, executive VP of animal care and training at the Shedd Aquarium, will speak at the 2013 Chicago Humanities Festival on Saturday, November 2. As humans we are fascinated with the topic of animal intelligence. How smart is a dog? How smart is a dolphin? These are questions asked frequently by visitors to Shedd Aquarium, but these questions do not have easy answers. Generally speaking, I have always suggested that animals are as smart as they need to be to survive in their world.... Continue Reading >>
James Kennedy on Lemony Snicket (or rather, VICE VERSA)
Friday, November 1 will be the LAST PUBLIC APPEARANCE of Lemony Snicket, a.k.a. Daniel Handler—and, I am frankly relieved to add, MYSELF. After Mr. Handler finishes his presentation for the Chicago Humanities Festival about his latest (indeed last) book in his “All The Wrong Questions” series, and I follow up with my own presentation while he autographs books, Mr. Handler and I will both be WHISKED BY ARMORED AMBULANCE to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where a... Continue Reading >>
Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? Not Deke Weaver
From his world-shaping monologues to his immersive, cinematic performance productions, one thing is clear: no one can tell a story like Deke Weaver. (Photo by Valerie Oliveiro) I had the joy of attending Elephant, Weaver's second installment of his Unreliable Bestiary series, at the stock pavilion in Urbana, Illinois in 2010. As I was ushered into the dimly lit barn and asked to take a seat on a hay bale, I knew this wasn't going to be any typical theater-going experience. Emerging from that... Continue Reading >>
Northwestern Day Sketchblog
All drawings are done on site during the event. Most of the time, I'm pretty far from the speaker and drawing in the dark, so I apologize to all my subjects for the resultant wild inaccuracies. Deborah Cohen: Shame's History One of the remarkable things about Deborah Cohen's talk (watch it on YouTube) was the way she gave a sense of the actual lives of cognitively-impaired children who had grown up in pre-war British psychiatric institutions. So often, disabled people just appear as examples... Continue Reading >>
Frans de Waal and the Evolution of Morality
This year's festival will feature primatologist Frans de Waal in two separate events, a panel discussion on Saturday, Nov 2, and a solo lecture on Sunday, Nov 3. We invited Rebecca M. Stumpf, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, to share some background on de Waal and his work. As I sit here typing this, I am trapped in a small seat surrounded by 350 people in a large metal cylinder 32,000 feet in the air. I am en route to my research site in Uganda... Continue Reading >>
Hyde Park Day 2013 - A Hyde Park State of Mind
Every October when the leaves start to change, I find myself in a Hyde Park state of mind. The crisp autumn air makes me want nothing more than to throw on my University of Chicago sweatshirt, wander the gothic campus, and be challenged by new ideas. That's why I'm excited for Hyde Park Day of the Chicago Humanities Festival on Sunday, Oct 20.  For those of you who didn't spend the better part of the last decade on the UChicago campus, let me lay out how to spend the perfect Sunday... Continue Reading >>
The Age of Living Alone?
An extraordinary social change is taking place. In 1950, only 22% of American adults were single, and only 9% lived alone; in 2012, nearly half were single and 27% lived alone. Speaking at the 2012 Chicago Humanities Festival, sociology professor Eric Klinenberg called this “the biggest modern social change that we've yet to name or identify.” “If you look at the record of how we have lived as a species… until the 1950s, you literally cannot find a single society in... Continue Reading >>
Northwestern Day 2013 - A Guide to Evanston
On Sunday, October 13, the Chicago Humanities Festival will come roaring through Evanston. During the Morry and Dolores Kohl Kaplan Northwestern Day, you will have the opportunity to let your mind run wild with notable scholars, thinkers, and writers. In case you are unfamiliar with the uncharted territories just north of Chicago, this short guide will help you map out your perfect start to our 2013 Fall Festival, Animal: What Makes Us Human. The Northwestern University campus is a short walk... Continue Reading >>

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