Animal: What Makes Us Human
Are humans animals? Not long ago, the question produced a predictable standoff. Now it is the start of a fascinating conversation.

The 24th Chicago Humanities Festival will take this new exchange of ideas out of the academy and into the public. We will explore what it means to think about culture biologically, about biology culturally, and about the human-animal relationship beyond the science/humanities divide. In presenting the most cutting-edge work on this subject, Animal will give us a whole new perspective on our world and ourselves. Most important, though, it will give us new answers to the oldest and most fundamental question in the humanities: What makes us human?

Explore Your Passions

Knowledge defies easy categorization, especially today when ideas flow so readily between disciplines. With this in mind, we have created six pathways for you through the Festival, each showcasing the vibrancy, breadth, and depth of a given area of inquiry. We hope these groupings help you make novel, and perhaps surprising, connections among our events—forging new avenues that are yours alone.

The Natural

is the world that belongs to animals of the nonhuman variety.

The Cultural

celebrates our species' accomplishments in the visual and performing arts.

The Fictional

is the domain of novelists and other creative types who invent the worlds we visit in our minds and dreams.

The Factual

includes journalists, historians, scholars, and others who explain the world as it was and is.

The Personal

is the realm of memoir and the recounting of extraordinary lives.

The Political

encompasses policy, politics, and public affairs.