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Upcoming Chicago Interest Seminars

This list is of upcoming seminars only. Since most seminars meet more than once in a term, if a class has already met at least once, it will no longer show up on this list. To find a seminar that has already started or has finished, use the calendar and set the date range to include the seminar's starting date.

Starting: Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Tuesdays, September 16 – November 18
Upstate–Downstate: Chicago in Illinois, the Midwest, and the World
Led by Tim Lacy

This discussion-based seminar will survey the “Upstate-Downstate” divide in Illinois history. Is it a reality? If so, how powerful is the trope? If mythical, what undermines the idea? If half true, what topics transcend the divide? Readings include Spinney’s City of Big Shoulders, Biles’ Illinois: A History of the Land and Its People, and Longworth’s Caught in...


Starting: Thursday, September 18, 2014
Thursdays, September 18 - October 16 (class will not meet October 9)
It Didn't All Go Up in Flames: Exploring Pre-Fire Chicago at the Newberry
Led by Ginger Frere and Matt Rutherford

Worried that the Fire burned your chances of discovering what Chicago was like in its early days? Think again! Join us as we explore a gold mine of pre-Fire treasures, many drawn from the Newberry’s collections, including maps, diaries, church records, newspapers, and sheet music. Selected primary source readings will further inform our discussions about what life was really like for early...


Starting: Thursday, September 25, 2014
Thursdays, September 25 - November 6 (class will not meet October 16)
Writing the City
Led by Carol LaChapelle

This workshop will give Chicagoans the chance to capture the essence of their city in words. Using personal essays, blog posts, opinion pieces, and short memoirs, we will write about those aspects of urban living that most captivate us: the rich and varied cultural offerings; the architecture, community gardens, and green spaces; our vast network of vibrant and struggling neighborhoods. New...


Starting: Saturday, October 4, 2014
Saturdays, October 4 - November 8
Chicago Women's History, 1880-1930
Led by Joan Johnson

Between 1870 and 1930, Chicago was home to some of the nation’s most important women reformers, including Jane Addams, Frances Willard, and Ida B. Wells. Seminar participants will gain a deeper understanding of the lives and times of six influential Chicago women. This biographical approach uses their lives and writings to discuss issues including progressive reform, cross-class coalitions,...


Starting: Saturday, October 4, 2014
Saturdays, October 4 - November 15 (class will not meet October 11)
Rahm Emanuel: An Historical Perspective
Led by Keith Koeneman

Rahm Emanuel is best known for his three years as mayor of Chicago. His lesser-known past, however, reveals a complex personality and a suave politico who has successfully played the game of Democratic politics for the last 30 years. We will examine Emanuel from an historical and biographical perspective as well as explore questions about how and why political leaders are successful. We will...


Starting: Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Wednesdays, October 15 – November 19
Richard J. Daley: Man and Myth, Life and Legend
Led by Bill Savage

In this seminar, we examine the many ways in which Richard J. Daley shaped modern Chicago, both physically (expressways, universities, public housing) and metaphysically (in how Chicagoans understand each other and create their sense of identity). We will read Mike Royko’s Boss, excerpts from American Pharaoh, and media coverage of Daley in order to see the impact, both good...


Starting: Saturday, November 15, 2014
November 15 - 22 (November 22 session will meet at the Garfield Park Conservatory)
Tour of Garfield Park Conservatory
Led by John Raffetto

The Garfield Park Conservatory on Chicago’s West Side was the concept of Prairie School landscape architect Jens Jensen. At the time of its completion in 1908, the conservatory was considered revolutionary for the presentation of its plant collection, including its themed rooms such as the beautifully designed Fern Room. We will focus on the history, as well as the current and future usage, of...