From very early times China’s encounters with the world beyond its borders involved the commercial exchange of goods. The Chinese attitude has consistently been that trade was desirable but could have unfortunate and unforeseeable consequences unless carefully structured and regulated.
The Civil War occupies a prominent place in our national collective memory. The war is often portrayed as a battle over the future of slavery, often focusing on Lincoln’s determination to save the Union, or highlighting the brutality of brother fighting against brother.
One hundred years ago Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle captured the nation’s imagination with its gripping depiction of immigrant workers’ lives in Chicago’s slaughtering and meatpacking industry.
Often considered the “first modern novel,” Miguel de Cervantes’s masterpiece is, among other things, a supreme example of how fiction can serve as a testing ground on which to explore the problems of nonfictional representation. In this seminar we will examine how Don Quixote explores the acts of reading and writing history.
Maps played a crucial role in shaping the American West, literally and figuratively, from the sixteenth through the early twentieth centuries. Explorers, government officials, railroad companies, emigrants, land developers, tourists, and teachers made and used a wide variety of maps to comprehend the West’s geography and exploit its resources.
In this seminar, we will analyze how the war affected conceptions about battle, the human body, identity, nationalism, and collective memory, as revealed through American visual culture. Further, we will explore its profound impact on journalistic and artistic practices through careful readings of objects and primary source documents.
Robert Bone, who launched the study of the what he termed the Chicago Renaissance in a 1986 article, “Richard Wright and the Chicago Renaissance” argued that in the decades from 1930 through 1950 Chicago writers and artists had produced a cultural reawakening rivaling the better known and much-chronicled Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s.
The presence of African culture in Brazil and in Caribbean countries has long been and remains a fundamental topic in the construction of their national identities. This seminar will examine how Brazilian and Caribbean intellectuals and artists have, in different ways, imagined and celebrated the African heritage of their countries.
Motivated by concerns about resource scarcity and the quality of urban life, in the early twentieth century conservationists succeeded in creating a national park system and extensive urban parks. This seminar examines this crusade, particularly its unexpected environmental and social impacts.
This seminar is sponsored by Peoples Gas.
The American West has at times functioned as a mythical space as much as a geographic one. Among the many associations we may have with the West are the conflict between American settlers and various Indian nations, the figure of the cowboy, the notion of Manifest Destiny, and the lore of the frontier. This seminar will ask us to critically engage these familiar themes that run thro
The American experience has been defined by the promise of mobility, the freedom to go anywhere and become anyone. The two have often been linked: spatial mobility has often been understood as a way to achieve a range of other mobilities, from the social and economic to the psychological and sexual. But how does this promise hold up when women are the ones on the move?
“The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African” is an autobiographical chronicle. Initially published in 1789 while debates over the transatlantic slave trade raged, aspects of Equiano’s identity sparked interest and questions first among his contemporaries and again, more recently, among scholars.
Shakespeare’s Roman tragedies Coriolanus and Julius Caesar feature larger than life heroes, both troubled and troubling, whose stories raise political and ethical questions still important today: what are the costs and benefits of charismatic individual leadership? Is political constancy a strength or a liability? What is the virtuous government’s responsibility toward poverty?
This third session of the Teachers as Scholars seminar, Art and Exporation in 19th and Early 20th Century American Culture will give participants the opportunity to share the lessons and classroom experiences with material from the April session. A stipend will be paid for attendance at this third session.
Defiant daughters and wayward sons, domineering dads and absent mothers, scheming sisters and backstabbing brothers—Shakespeare’s plays are filled with all manner of problematic and contentious family relationships.
Cities represent spatial and temporal transformations of the physical environment. Their location and subsequent patterns of growth are dependent in part on the characteristics of the physical environment.
In January of 2011, hot on the heels of the Mark Twain centennial celebrations and the 125th anniversary of the publication of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a publisher announced a new edition of the text that would solve the problem of using the book in the classroom by replacing the words that were considered offensive with words that were deemed less so. Problem solved? Not even close.
Abraham Lincoln is among the most iconic figures in American history and also among the most complex. This seminar will focus on Lincoln’s views on slavery and racial equality as they evolved from his early days in public life through his wartime presidency. Does Lincoln deserve his reputation as “the Great Emancipator”? Was he racist?
This special, three-day seminar will take advantage of the Newberry’s extraordinarily rich holdings to focus on the art and visual culture of exploration.
In 2012 Americans will commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812, which pitted the United States against Great Britain for the second time in a generation.
This seminar explores the central role played by urbanism and its representations in the Latin American colonial enterprises of Spain from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries.
This Teachers as Scholars seminar will focus on one of the world’s most remarkable ventures in confronting past human rights abuses: the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). We will analyze a variety of nonfiction texts, particularly the poet Antjie Krog’s compelling memoir of covering the TRC as a white South African journalist.
Medieval Europe is often thought of as a “dark age” when all women were powerless and oppressed.Yet Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine maintained personal control of most of southern France through two marriages, a divorce, and a separation; the peasant girl Joan of Arc led an army and crowned a king; the nun Hildegard of Bingen—who wrote treatises on medicine, science, music, and mystical visions—was...
In this Teachers as Scholars seminar, participants will explore the variety of backgrounds and experiences of American workers during the heyday of the industrial revolution, the “Long Gilded Age” that stretched from the rail road riots of the 1870s to World War I.
This seminar will offer a crash course in the vocabulary and the interpretive skills involved in making meaning out of film style and form, including lighting, framing, camera angles, editing, and sound. These lessons will be conducted in two specific classroom contexts in which teachers are likely to assign films to their students.
This Teachers as Scholars seminar will examine how we might effectively include lessons on American Indian history and culture by starting with local history and branching out. We will attend to American Indian cultures as they were before European colonialism and after.
Previous generations of historians often treated the European Renaissance as a cultural utopia: a time of artistic flourishing, economic development, scientific and geographical discovery.
The location of cities and their patterns of growth are dependent in part on the characteristics of their physical environment. In this seminar we will explore how Chicago’s physical environment – in particular its geology, geography and hydrology - influenced its founding and subsequent growth from an isolated fur trading outpost on the western frontier into a major commercial metropolis .
Aphra Behn’s brief 1688 prose narrative “Oroonoko” is a key text in histories of slavery, race, and the novel. Recounted in the first person by a young white British woman (and perhaps partly reliant on Behn’s own experiences), “Oroonoko” tells the tragic story of an African prince and his wife forced to move to Surinam in the West Indies to work as slaves. In this seminar we will c
Reflecting in 1949 on the horrors of recent history, exiled philosopher Karl Löwith argued that the image of the universe as one guided by moral order and divine purpose “is now past because it has conscience against it.” Though few Americans shared his bleak assessment of modern moral waywardness, thoughtful observers agreed that the horrors of the “Good War” required Americans’ to reconsider...
The “Age of Enlightenment” in the West has been alternatively praised as the cradle of human rights, religious toleration, and reason, and excoriated as the crucible of scientific racism, immorality, and totalitarianism. Scholars on both sides of the debate commonly point to eighteenth-century Europeans’ reflections on locales and cultures beyond Europe.
In December 1969, the Chicago police raided the apartment of Fred Hampton, the young leader of the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party. Hampton was shot to death; the police claimed he and other Panthers opened fire first. Subsequent investigation by the Chicago-based People’s Law Office, however, proved that the police, using FBI intelligence, killed Hampton without warning.
This seminar will begin examining the effects that the Mexican and Cuban revolutions had on insurgent groups in Latin America. It will focus on the Zapatistas in Mexico, the Montoneros in Argentina, and the Shinning Path in Peru.
Shakespeare’s tragedy “Othello” is widely consider to be among his greatest plays, in part because the issues at the heart of it remain so compelling to us still. We will discuss the complex intersection of the themes of race, religious difference, and gender in this play and the challenges we might face in teaching this play. By exploring the historical context we will become
In this seminar, we will read and discuss key texts which attempt to define Chicago in two ways: through deep examination of a known space, and through movement through the urban landscape. We will read poetry and creative nonfiction by Carl Sandburg, Gwendolyn Brooks, Nelson Algren and Tony Fitzpatrick to see how Chicago writers define the city and the way the city shapes the identities
Making sense of the wars for Vietnam has had a long history.
By the dawn of the twentieth century, the United States was regularly described as a “melting pot” of ethnic groups or as a “nation of immigrants.” Yet this description of the nation was contested vigorously during the Progressive Era.
Although originating in Britain, the gothic has taken root in American literature with fiction that exposes the underbelly of culture by presenting worlds teeming with the (un)buried and the unmentionable. In this seminar, we will consider the usefulness and limitations of reading Toni Morrison’s novel “Beloved” in relation to the genre of the American gothic.
In Chicago, as in cities across human history, water has been a central part of everyday life.
This seminar will allow participants to explore for themselves Walt Whitman’s notion that the “real war will never get in the books.” Was the American Civil War was an event of such enormity and complexity as to prevent it from ever truly being understood by later generations?
Students love, and arguably deserve, having their own lifetimes placed in historical context. And while some call such attempts to place the current moment in historical context mere journalism, scholars have already done quite sophisticated work on events such as the election of 2000, 9/11, Katrina, and even the financial crisis. We will explore some of this work, and some of these
In the Middle Ages, priests and poets alike were obsessed with sin, devising a variety of tools to teach their audiences about moral transgressions. Ecclesiastic and literary authorities formulated a number of different models for defining, representing, categorizing, and cataloguing sin in all of its various manifestations. The most popular and most long lasting of these models was
Viewed as everything from an extension of frontier ideology to the expression of counter culture, the American road narrative has been understood as the story of an individual who embraces the geographical freedom and flexibility represented by the automobile to achieve a range of other mobilities—from the psychological and sexual to the spatial, social and economic—seemingly put in motion by...
Between 1808 and 1824, the Spanish viceroyalty of New Spain experienced a massive, violent, complicated political and social “revolution” that led to the creation of the Republic of Mexico. Unlike most other Latin American countries, the Mexican wars for “independence” were dominated by popular armies and guerillas—which shaped the resulting nation-state in crucial ways.
In these two perennially popular, short, and sensational (i.e., teachable!) books, we are confronted with two of literature’s most enduring and chilling tales of a hidden or repressed self. Just what does the painting of Dorian Gray (hidden away in his closet and decaying while Dorian himself remains ageless) represent? And what is the relation of Stevenson’s hideous Mr.
People in the Caribbean have posed questions of collective identity (“who are we?”) in many ways; because of shared historical experiences such as plantation slavery, migrations and colonial rule, themes of identity and even answers to those questions of collective identity show similarities. An essay about the meaning of sugar plantations in Cuban life may echo a book about the meaning o
This seminar examines Shakespeare’s popular late romance the /Tempest/ in light of current scholarly and critical debates. How are we meant to view this play – as a universal meditation on the themes of revenge and reconciliation or as an early critique of England’s nascent imperialism? For centuries, readers and playgoers alike saw the /Tempest/ as a tale using the romance elements
At the turn of the 20th century, an extraordinary generation of reformers, business leaders, architects, and city planners reimagined American cities. The visionary /Plan of Chicago/, published in 1909 by Chicago architects Daniel H. Burnham and Edward H. Bennett, stood at the heart of this movement.
Team-taught by two scholars with specialties in Chinese history and French literature respectively, “Exchange before Orientalism” aims to introduce seminar participants to the degree and variety of exchange between Europe and other parts of the world from c.
The canonical period identified by the label “American Renaissance” has enjoyed a durable place in American literary history. However, its origins and its particular shape are peculiar to say the least. F. O.
On the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth, seminar participants will consider what we choose to remember and what we choose to forget about our sixteenth president. We will consider many topics that influenced Lincoln as a man and a politician, with a special focus on race, slavery, and the Civil War.
The story of sugar’s transformation from luxury product to ubiquitous commodity in the modern Western diet offers a rich vantage on transatlantic and world history. It also prods students and scholars to deeper consideration of the myriad social, cultural, and economic processes within which even the most seemingly banal substances can be enmeshed.
Since Shakespeare’s time it has been recognized that Macbeth is a play about ambition accompanied by ambivalence, and about the intersection between human desires and other forces that might motivate historical events, whether providential or demonic. What relation does the play propose between dramatic action and the self?
In this seminar, we will explore several ways of teaching graphic narratives in the language arts classroom. Some of the most popular graphic narratives in recent years have been memoirs (e.g., Art Spiegelman’s Maus: A Survivor’s Tale and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis), while many more graphic narratives take the form of novels, histories, and journalist pieces.
Fifteenth-century heretics whose secret reading communities appropriated “authoritative” texts, fourteenth-century peasants who both attacked and manipulated official textual culture, unruly women who challenged the idea of the authorized textual apparatus by creating glosses of their own, and subversive poets who circulated illicit texts- these are some of the figures whose textual...
The United States is often described as a “melting pot” of ethnic groups or as a “nation of immigrants.” Though most of us could easily find references to the melting pot in popular culture today, few realize that the concept has a long and contested history.
Constructed around an online “toolbox” of texts and documents collected at the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, participants in this seminar will discuss four themes that are central to the Gilded Age: City and Country, focusing on Arcadian mythology, urban realism, and nostalgia, Citizens and Others, especially immigrants, African Americans, and children,...
While Luther has rightly been credited with leading the first successful reform effort that broke with the institutional church, there is a darker side to Luther’s life and writings that is often suppressed.
The United States fought in World War I to make the world safe for democracy. After victory, African Americans carried on that mission—at home. But the defenders of white supremacy did not make way for the rights and equalities of African Americans.
The history of slavery, antislavery, and slave emancipation, considering both classic and new scholarly approaches, as well as illustrative primary documents will be the topics explored during this seminar.
The Medieval Mediterranean world consisted of a complex set of diverse and overlapping religious, linguistic, economic and ethnic communities. Contemporary authors viewed their surrounding world from perspectives bound by those categories and others.
Nineteenth-century Brazil exhibited a wide variety of forms and degrees of freedom in a slave society. By 1872, three quarters of the population of African descent were free, but slavery was intensifying in some regions, and Brazil would only abolish slavery in 1888, the last nation in the Western Hemisphere to do so.
Planet earth has been experiencing increasing environmental assault from adverse human activities. The consequences of these hazards are already at a critical mass, but if left unchecked, the continual assault on the environment will produce a point of no return. In short, global environmental change will be our main challenge of the twenty-first century.
Gingerbread men and ghosts; accordion players and architecture; monkeys and mesmerism; photography and prisons; puritans and politicians. These are just a few aspects of the cultural world of antebellum America that Nathaniel Hawthorne visited in his second novel, The House of the Seven Gables (1852).
During the Fall of 2008, we will be coming to the end of the longest, and perhaps the most exciting, presidential campaign in recent American history. Surveys indicate an extraordinarily high level of public interest in this election, especially among younger people. This seminar will provide an overview of what political scientists know about presidential elections.
Artistic creativity in literature and visual art as it is understood by combining the perspectives of the humanities with those of the sciences will be explored in this seminar. We will consider, for example, ideas about how language originated in humankind, and how literary creativity may arise in individuals.
This seminar will explore the diversity of Latino experiences in the United States from 1492 to the present. We will examine numerous themes, including early narratives of conquest and exploration, the nature of regional differences, and the identities that stem from locale, race mixture and racial purity in the ideologies of settler elites.