Session Three

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Edgar as Skeptic in King Lear

David Bevington | English Lang. & Lit.

How does Edgar's thinking change as he confronts his appalling destiny of being banished by his father, then coming upon his father blind? How does he go about trying to help his father? How does this relate to the rest of the play?

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

Why Write?: Concepts of Narrative Engagement

Robert Bird | Slavic

"Why Write?" is the title of a short essay by Jean-Paul Sartre, the thinker most closely associated with the concept of "engaged" or "committed" writing. However it is not so easy to work out what makes a narrative "engaged" or not. I hope that reading this short text together will allow us not only to answer this question but also to learn about many aspects of the modern theory of narrative.

Harper 141 (1116 E. 59th St.)

Mapping the Silk Road

Theodore N. Foss | Assoc. Director, Center for East Asian Studies

Kenneth Nebenzahl | Life Trustee, University of Chicago

There were no historical "touring maps" of the Silk Road. Mr. Nebenzahl's recent book Mapping the Silk Road and Foss' work on travelers in Eurasia illustrate the Silk Road is a concept rather than a definite mapped route. The Silk Road has many threads. Through an illustrated historical analysis, Mr. Nebenzahl and Dr. Foss examine the cartographical depiction of interaction throughout the Eurasian and African continents.

Harper 103 (1116 E. 59th St.)

Occult Manuscripts from Medieval China Found on the Silk Road

Donald Harper | East Asian Lang. & Civ.

Numerous examples of medieval Chinese manuscripts on occult subjects - divination, astrology, demonology, and the like - were discovered in 1900 at the Buddhist caves near Dunhuang, Gansu Province, on the Silk Road. In that year an itinerant Daoist master by happenstance unblocked the opening to a cave that had been sealed since the early eleventh century to reveal a cache of over 40,000 documents, mostly Buddhist texts and mostly in Chinese. The occult manuscripts command our attention as realia - real objects once held by ancient and medieval readers - and provide insight on the experience of everyday life and on medieval literacy and readership. As sources for cultural history, history of religions, and history of science they are invaluable.

Harper 148 (1116 E. 59th St.)

Bodiless Voices in Classical Fairy Tales

Armando Maggi | Romance Lang. & Lit.

Some of the most mysterious fairy tales of Western European tradition include a unique character: an anonymous voice that seems to be coming from nowhere and that disappears leaving no trace. This voice usually haunts or warns the main character and its presence is limited to one or two sentences. To the usual list of imaginary characters (ogres, fairies, witches, etc.) we should add this fleeting presence that has no name and no body. Among other texts, I will discuss stories from Basile's Pentamerone and from the first versions of the Brothers Grimm's Kinder und Hausmaerchen.

Stuart 104 (5835 S. Greenwood Ave.)

The Art of Dying: Games and Gladiators in Ancient Rome

Emanuel Mayer | Classics

Games and gladiators dominate the popular image of Roman society. Movies like Ben Hur and Gladiator portray these spectacles as cruel and degenerate buying into the idea of Roman decadence. This perception is based on ancient polemics but neglects the religious, social, and political aspects of Roman games. As the culmination of religious and political festivals chariot races and gladiatorial fights expressed fundamental values of Roman society and provided an important occasion on which the people communicated with their political leaders. Prof. Mayer discusses how Roman games were staged in amphitheatres and circuses, carefully choreographed through elaborate machinery and equipment, and finally perceived by contemporaries who more often than not saw gladiators as examples of virtue and the arena as an image of the world.

Stuart 105 (5835 S. Greenwood Ave.)

Recent Trends in the Literatures of the Portuguese Speaking World

Pedro S. Pereira | Romance Lang. & Lit.

Despite being the fifth most widely spoken language in the world today, and the second most widely spoken Romance language (after Spanish), Portuguese has not been able to secure the status of a literary and cultural language. And yet, however determining these geopolitical circumstances may be, they did not prevent some very vibrant literatures to emerge in the countries that have been speaking this language since the 12th-Century. In this presentation I will discuss some of the most recent trends emerging from Portugal, Brazil, and some of the Lusophone or Portuguese-speaking African countries. How do recent publications in fiction and poetry reflect or challenge the established literary canons? How do these literatures interact among themselves, if they do it at all? Is there a distinct Portuguese literary aesthetic?

Stuart 102 (5835 S. Greenwood Ave.)

Tour of Promontory Point: Its History, Design, and Significance

Built during the 1920's and '30's with help from the WPA, Promontory Point is an outstanding example of a "prairie-school" public park. Designer Alfred Caldwell created a graceful and humane transition from the raw power of Lake Michigan to the complex energy of Chicago's built environment. Government agencies have proposed replacing the limestone block revetment with a new concrete/steel structure and for five years the local community has fought for the preservation of its beloved and historic park.

Bus tour begins outside Walker Hall (1115 E. 58th St.)

The Many Lives of Love Songs: Themes from South Asian Poetry, from Antiquity to the Web

Valerie Ritter | South Asian Lang. & Civ.

Prof. Ritter's presentation addresses the imagery of love in poetic texts and songs from South Asia, especially from regions now part of the nation-state of India. Love poetry from the many Indian languages had complex and sometimes overlapping systems of signification, often involving allegories to nature or mythical lovers, and often presented in song or through dance. These older types of love poetry, especially their images of women, inform much of the South Asian arts. We will survey the relation of the poetic traditions to art, nationalism, Indian poetry on the web, and popular Bollywood music.

Stuart 101 (5835 S. Greenwood Ave.)

Reading: Mark Slouka

Mark Slouka, chair of the University's Creative Writing Program, reads from his work, which includes the story collection Lost Lake and the novel God's Fool.

Classics 110 (1010 E. 59th St.)