Session One

9:30 am – 10:30 am, unless otherwise noted

Explanations of Human Activity

Jason Bridges | Philosophy

Naturalism is the view that everything that happens or is so can be explained by the natural sciences. There are ongoing and familiar debates about the relationship between naturalism and religious worldviews. But there is a further and less often acknowledged question about the status of naturalism: do naturalistic explanations of human behavior compete with our everyday explanations of the actions of other people and ourselves? Such explanations typically operate by identifying a person's reasons for doing what he or she did, and in so doing, incorporate a justificatory dimension foreign to modern scientific accounts of the physical world. In this talk, Prof. Bridges explores some of the complicated issues that arise in trying to sort out this apparent conflict.

Stuart 105 (5835 S. Greenwood Ave.)

Nietzsche, Kafka, Bataille, and the Aesthetics of Violence

Robert Buch | Germanics

Prof. Buch explores the troubling preoccupation with scenes of suffering, violence, and cruelty in three major writers of modernity. His discussion focuses on the second and third essay of Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals and on Kafka's "In the Penal Colony".

Harper 135 ( 1116 E. 59th St.)

Chicago Review at 60

Chicago Review was founded at the U of C in 1946. On the occasion of its 60th Anniversary, Joshua Kotin (editor of CR) and Eirik Steinhoff (editor emeritus) join University librarian David Pavelich for a discussion of the Review's past, present, and future organized around the rich holdings in the Chicago Review archive at the University's Special Collections.

Regenstein Library, Special Collections (1100 E. 57th St.)

New Views of Islam's Origins

Fred Donner | Near Eastern Lang. & Civ.

Traditional views of Islam's beginnings in the 7th Century CE have been challenged in recent years by a variety of revisionist interpretations, some of which Prof. Donner reviews in this talk.

Stuart 104 (5835 S. Greenwood Ave.)

Asclepius: Ancient Greek Healing God or Deified Doctor?

Chris Faraone | Classics

Prof. Faraone discusses the myths and rituals associated with the ancient Greek god Asclepius and the healing experiences of the people who visited his sanctuary at Epidauros.

Classics 110 (1010 E. 59th St.)

Animals and Consciousness

David Finkelstein | Philosophy

It seems natural to attribute mental states (beliefs, intentions, hopes, etc.) to creatures without language-to dogs and cats, for example. But when we're talking about the mental states of such creatures, the distinction between conscious and unconscious doesn't seem to get a foothold. We never say things like, "While Fido consciously wanted a walk outside, unconsciously he...," or "Fifi harbored unconscious anger toward the mailman." Prof. Finkelstein attempts to explain why this is so and, in so doing, offers an answer to the question, "By virtue of what is a person's state of mind either conscious or unconscious?"

Harper 148 (1116 E. 59th St.)

Verdi's La Forza del destino in St. Petersburg

Philip Gossett | Music

Verdi wrote a major opera for St. Petersburg in 1861, but did not actually produce it until 1862. Prof. Gossett shares his research on this curious piece in a demonstration at the piano.

Fulton Recital Hall, Goodspeed Hall (5845 S. Ellis Ave., Fourth Floor)

Frank Lloyd Wright's Midway Gardens: UofC's Lost Performing Arts Center?

Sam Guard | Hyde Park Historical Society

Built in 1913, Midway Gardens was the nation's leading performing arts venue and the stunning precursor to Art Deco. Opera singers, modern sculpture, jazz orchestras, abstract murals, dance bands -- Midway Gardens was the Gehry Bandshell and the Harris Music and Dance Theater of its day. Intensely studied by the European avant-garde this was Wright's only major public work in Chicago. Only fifteen years after its construction it was demolished and replaced with a gas station. What did we lose? Why did we lose it? And could we get it back?

International House, Home Room (1414 E. 59th St.)

Vermeer's Music

Robert Kendrick | Music

This presentation examines the ways in which music is depicted in the paintings of Johannes Vermeer. Which kinds of actual music-making might be represented? Which kinds of music might the artist himself have known? And what might be the symbolic meaning of these domestic musical scenes?

Harper 103 (1116 E. 59th St.)

Babylonian Liver Divination

Seth Richardson | NELC

One avenue through which ancient Babylonians sought to discern the true nature of events was through various means of divination - by interpreting the movement of the stars, the symbols in dreams, and in the marks written on the livers of sheep. This reading group will look into the workings of these systems of knowledge by discussing a short selection of Babylonian omen texts.

Harper 141 (1116 E. 59th St.)

Before the Silk Roads

Edward Shaughnessy | East Asian Lang. & Civ.

Prof. Shaughnessy explores contacts across Eurasia during the millennium or so prior to the time when we usually think the Silk Roads were first being used.

Stuart 102 (5835 S. Greenwood Ave.)

Chaucer, his Miller, and the First Translation of the Whole Bible into English

Christina von Nolcken | English Lang. & Lit.

As Chaucer the Pilgrim reminds "every gentil wight" just before the Miller begins his tale in The Cantebury Tales, "Men shal nat maken ernest of game." But if we read the tale through the Miller's eyes, we find it taking a stand on some of the most controversial - and, for the Miller, dangerous - concerns of late fourteenth-century England. Prof. von Nolcken considers how such a reading might bear on our understanding of The Cantebury Tales as a whole.

Stuart 101 (5835 S. Greenwood Ave.)