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Chicago Humanities Festival Blog

A History of "Body and Soul"
This fall’s festival is going to offer you the unique chance to explore one the great American popular compositions, Johnny Green’s “Body and Soul,” in at least five different versions. Pianist Bill Charlap and singer Sandy Stewart will do the piece in its most intimate setting, on the last day of the Festival, and I’m guessing (hoping) that Bill will do something along the lines of this masterpiece by bop pioneer Bud Powell, who is one of Bill’s strong influences. Our Benefit Gala,... Continue Reading >>
Welcome Back Educators!
Our mission at the Chicago Humanities Festival has always been to offer the most exciting and engaging programs for Chicago-area teachers and educators. Since the launch of the new CHF website last August, where we were able to provide our general audiences with easier searching and more audio and video from past Festival programs, we've known that we wanted (and needed!) to match that quality on our education page. And, I think, we've done it! We're excited to share with you our new... Continue Reading >>
I had a moment while programming our fall Festival when I realized that most of all that I know about neonatology, the niche within medicine that focuses on the care of the tiniest of babies, is from the writer Perri Klass’s The Mystery of Breathing; a book I read in manuscript form as an editorial associate at Houghton Mifflin as an assistant to Klass’s then-editor, Janet Silver. Klass was on my mind because she was the first doctor-writer we lighted upon when conceiving of a program we’re... Continue Reading >>
Nandipha Mntambo
Some of the most striking standouts at the recent Biennale in Sydney, Australia (which I was attending, in part, in my sometime role as the Festival’s traveling scout), were the powerfully enigmatic resin cast figures by the young Swaziland-born (1982), Capetown-based Nandipha Mntambo: headless figures cast, that is, out of vast swaths of richly colored untreated cowhide, pelts which in turn had originally been draped over casts of the artist’s own body, whose various... Continue Reading >>
Frank Shorter
A couple of months back, I was getting advice from the Festival’s intrepid accountant, Tony—who loves the Humanities even more than he loves the tax code, which is saying quite a bit—when, completely without warning, he paused right in the middle of expounding on the question of whether the cash cost of online archives can be capitalized and depreciated, and said “Stu, I see you are having Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at the Festival this fall.” “Yea,” I explain, adjusting to the non sequitur. “Our... Continue Reading >>
Hayes's Anatomy
One of my strongest visual and olfactory memories of my graduate studies in dance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was the afternoon that my “anatomy & physiology of dance” class visited the UIUC College of Medicine’s cadaver lab.   Up until that day, we’d been studying anatomy in books and putting to test that book-knowledge in the dance studio. Probably more than many med students, we dancers were eager to palpate the origins and insertions of as many muscles as we... Continue Reading >>
Ourselves as Others See Us
Like so many people, I have a pretty steady routine when I start work in the morning. I go over my calendar, have a coffee, check e-mail, have another coffee…and then, I spend a good amount of time reading the news. I start with the website of Austria’s public broadcasting company, move on to Der Standard, Vienna’s broadsheet of record, and, after some detours through Germany and Great Britain, end with Ha’aretz, Israel’s great quality paper. Only then do I turn to the American press. ... Continue Reading >>
More Dancing!
I have a bit of unfinished business from my last post. There are even more fabulous dance offerings this Fall: two more very exciting programs that are coming at dance from very different directions and moving it into some exciting new territory. Ananya Chatterjea, who runs the Dance Program at the University of Minnesota and is a committed fighter for social justice, will consider the ways in which dance can be a creative bridge from ideas to action. Two members of her company, Ananya... Continue Reading >>
CHF Youth Advisory Council
CHF's Youth Advisory Council is looking for new members for the 2010-11 school year. Council members weigh in with ideas for CHF programs, promote the spring and fall festivals, and gain an understanding of arts and nonprofit administration. The council is open to students who will be in grades 9-12 during the 2010-11 year. The commitment is approximately 1 hour per month, September through May, and students can receive school or community service credit for time served on the council. ... Continue Reading >>
Empowering the Student Scholar
CHF's dynamic collection of audio and video recordings from the past 21 years is a remarkable resource for young scholars and teachers. With more than 200 lectures and panel discussions on the web, CHF provides tremendous primary source materials that encourage student researchers to discover new perspectives and dvelop essential critical skills that will prepare them for college and beyond. CHF has also developed lesson plans that help you bring past CHF presenters into your classroom... Continue Reading >>
Tania Bruguera
I am really passionate about the visual arts, in part, I think, because the field has few, if any, rules at this point. Long gone are the times when artists were restricted to oil paint on canvas or marble on pedestal. Even Alfred Barr’s famous 1936 diagram, charting modern art’s movements in a more-or-less orderly succession of discrete paradigms, seems hopelessly outdated as a means of representing the creative landscape. Today’s artists mix and match at will, readily combining the modernist... Continue Reading >>
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
So the cat’s out of the bag! One of the biggest (in every sense) stars of this year’s CHF will be Kareem Abdul-Jabbar!! Kareem Abdul-Jabbar--> Some people may think that we invited him because he is one of the most transcendent athletes of all time. And they would be right. The inventor of the sky hook, six-time NBA champion, six-time MVP, and highest scoring player of all time is one of those near-mythical persons who inspire sheer awe. Fitted with an unworldly body and... Continue Reading >>
Dan Savage
If you’re stuck in a relationship quandary, or if you’re looking for sexual harmony…da, da, da…well, there’s nothing you can’t ask – on Savage Lovecast… Dan Savage is coming back to sex up his hometown. How could we not invite America’s favorite relationship advice columnist to this year’s Festival? He is frank, outspoken, and so funny it hurts (in a good, giving, and game way). But as one of my students rightly said, he is mainly just “wise.” Indeed, in his long-running... Continue Reading >>
Jill Lepore
I love The New Yorker. To me, it’s a real national treasure. I grew up in Europe, continue to spend time there every year, and read the media from several countries on a regular basis. And quite simply – nothing like The New Yorker exists in the Old World. Founded in the mid-1920s and fusing aesthetic modernism and American democratic culture, The New Yorker remains a unique combination of journalism, commentary, and criticism – and, lest we forget, some of the most cutting-edge literature... Continue Reading >>

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