Programs and Events | Newberry

Programs and Events

The Newberry offers programming in the humanities for scholars, teachers, and the general public. Unless otherwise noted, events are free, and no reservations are required. Many of our programs are recorded, and you can listen to them on our website.

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E.g., 01/25/2020
E.g., 01/25/2020
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Led by Natania Rosenfeld. Six sessions. 2 - 4 pm.
Focusing on the novels Jacob’s Room (1922), Orlando (1929), and Between the Acts (1941), we’ll examine the development of Virginia Woolf’s writing, tracing how a style made up largely of fragments and partly of flow gives way to a style that inverts this emphasis and ultimately synthesizes the two.
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Led by Frank Biletz. Ten sessions. 1 - 3 pm (Section A).
This seminar is full. Call or email be added to the waitlist.
The horrific experiences of the Soviet peoples during the regime of Josef Stalin continue to stagger the imagination. This seminar will explore the historical context in which Stalin emerged and gained dominance, and examine the extent of his crimes.
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Led by Christopher Hagenah. Four sessions. 2:30 - 4 pm.
Henry David Thoreau chronicled the benefits of a life lived in communion with the natural world and unearthed the radical insight that “all material things are in some sense man’s kindred, and subject to the same laws with him.” In this seminar, we will read Thoreau’s writings and discuss contemporary environmentalist conceptions influenced by Thoreau’s insights.
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Led by Susan Pezzino, M.A.. Eight sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
Whatever the passion that has made you an Italophile—whether for art, architecture, music, film, fashion, gastronomy, or bargain real estate shopping for $1 villas—this seminar is intended for you. By role playing typical travel situations and practicing high frequency language patterns . . .
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Led by Rachel Boyle. Five sessions. 6 - 7:30 pm.
Well before the infamous cases that inspired the musical Chicago, dozens of Chicago women on trial for murdering their husbands secured acquittal by casting themselves as respectable, vulnerable women victimized by their own hysteria. This strategy succeeded for many women until the 1910s . . .
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Led by Frank Biletz. Ten sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm (Section B).
The horrific experiences of the Soviet peoples during the regime of Josef Stalin continue to stagger the imagination. This seminar will explore the historical context in which Stalin emerged and gained dominance, and examine the extent of his crimes.
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Led by Tricia Smith Scanlan. Five sessions. 2 - 3:30 pm.
This seminar is full. Call or email be added to the waitlist.
This seminar explores American art during the tumultuous decades following the Civil War—a time of social upheaval, rapid urbanization, and growing industrialization.
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Led by Linda Downing Miller. Four sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
This four–week workshop is for writers of all levels interested in short fiction. We’ll read and discuss published short stories by authors with varied styles to deepen our understanding . . .
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Led by Steven J. Venturino. Six sessions. 2 - 4 pm.
This seminar is full. Call or email be added to the waitlist.
This seminar will present a lively survey of literary and film theory basics. Through literary excerpts, film clips, lecture, and discussion, our sessions will explore how writers, filmmakers, philosophers, and artists . . .
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Led by Laurel Harig. Ten sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
This seminar is designed to deepen and advance participants’ comprehension of and composition abilities in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA).
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Led by Tom Irvine. Six sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
More than just a national police force, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is tasked with collecting secret intelligence and combatting extra–territorial threats like terrorism. In this seminar, we will cover the uses and abuses of power . . .
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Led by Jill Gage. Five sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
Early modern letter writing spanned public and private, elite and popular culture, and helped to foster new literary genres like the essay and novel. By the sixteenth-century, the printing press had helped to democratize letter writing . . .
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Led by June Sawyers. Six sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
This seminar is full. Call or email be added to the waitlist.
When people think of Scotland, the images that come to mind are usually images of the Scottish Highlands: clans and tartans, mountains and glens, Gaelic language and Gaelic culture. This seminar will examine how the Highlands came to represent . . .
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Led by Susan Bazargan. Eight sessions. 6 - 7:30 pm.
Dublin, Trieste, Zurich, Paris: these cities were each home to James Joyce while he was writing Ulysses. In this seminar, we will follow the evolution of his fascinating text, from its genesis in Dublin to its completion in Paris.
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Led by Elzbieta Foeller-Pituch. Five sessions. 6 - 7:30 pm.
In stark contrast to the “soft–boiled” British whodunit, American “hard–boiled” or “noir” narratives of the 1930s–1950s offered detective fiction fans urban mysteries written in a gritty and “realistic” style featuring violence, sex, and organized crime against a dark American landscape.
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Led by Emma Furman. Six sessions. 2 - 3:30 pm.
The poem is a place writers go to transpose their inner life for the outside world and Chicago is a city that enables this process. This hybrid workshop and experiential writing seminar will challenge poets to write by rooting themselves in Chicago’s incredible cultural centers.
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Led by John Gibbons. Six sessions. 2 - 4 pm.
Before: grandiose, fervent, decadent pieces like the Firebird, Gurrelieder, and Heldenleben. After: the wit, detachment, and elegance of A Soldier’s Tale, La Valse, and Threepenny Opera
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Led by Laurel Harig. Three sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
Because of its location on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean and in between some of the most important regional actors, such as Syria, Turkey, Israel, and Palestine, Lebanon’s fate is inextricably tied to developments in the countries surrounding it.
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Led by Dr. Brian Oberlander. Six sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
Explore the origins and early development of opera in Western Europe. We begin with the courtly entertainments of the Renaissance, when music and theater were intertwined with myth, magic, and royal ceremony.
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Led by Ron Corthell. Six sessions. 2 - 4 pm.
Chaucer was master of a wide range of literary genres, from the chivalric romance to the fart joke. No matter the genre, he succeeded in representing a rich tapestry of human characters and actions solidly rooted in medieval England yet also strikingly compelling to twenty–first century readers.
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Led by Andrew Schultze. Four sessions. 2 - 4 pm.
The Buffoon War was a singular phenomenon in music history. Erupting in Paris in 1752, it pitted partisans of French Opera against supporters of Italian Opera, leaving a flurry of pamphlets and bruised egos in its wake.
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Led by Nina Wieda. Six sessions. 2 - 4 pm.
From spies in Bond movies to martyrs; from fearless revolutionaries and early feminists to mail-order brides: Russian women have long captured the popular imagination by either defying gender stereotypes or embodying them in an exaggerated way.
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Led by Dagmar Herrmann. Six sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
Kafka’s name has become synonymous with modernity and the near–collapse of twentieth–century European civilization in the wake of World War I. In this seminar, we will uncover a more personal side of Kafka’s writing by exploring his unconsummated loves: turn–of–the–century Prague and his beloved Czech translator, Milena.
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Led by Stephen Kleiman. Eight sessions. 2 - 4 pm.
Beethoven, Berlioz, Liszt, Brahms, Mussorgsky, Mendelssohn, Debussy, Schoenberg and virtually all the other great nineteenth-century composers were inspired to write music only after exposure to some extra-musical creation. Yet it was the plight of these composers to recreate in music that which inspired them in other art forms.
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Led by Mark Larson. Four sessions. 6 - 7:30 pm.
Learn how to capture an important story so that future generations can hear it in the words and voices of those who lived it. By the fourth session of this seminar, participants in this workshop will be on their way toward creating their own oral history.
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Led by Margaret Farr. Six sessions. 2 - 3:30 pm.
This seminar is full. Call or email be added to the waitlist.
What is a masterpiece? Defined centuries ago as the work a craftsman submitted to achieve the rank of master, the term has expanded to mean an artist’s most outstanding work.
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Led by Eugene Newman. Six sessions. 6 - 7:30 pm.
George Santayana (1863-1952) was more than the author of a famous quote about the lessons of the past. He was a great American philosopher. In The Life of Reason, he put forth a philosophy that harmoniously balanced the values of the material and ideal worlds.
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Led by Neil Blackadder. Four sessions. 2 - 4 pm.
In this seminar, we explore how theater works by focusing on the opposition between and interplay of realism and non-realism. We will examine plays by modern and contemporary naturalistic writers like Ibsen and Tracy Letts, as well as others by playwrights who rejected realism in part or whole, including Brecht, and Beckett.
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Led by Katrina A. Kemble. Six sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
Femme fatales, blood sucking vampires, and a multitude of other forbidden beings populate the pages of nineteenth–century British literature.
Thursday, February 20, 2020
Led by Todd Bauer. Eight sessions. 6 - 7:30 pm.
This seminar is full. Call or email be added to the waitlist.
After leading Newberry seminars for more than 20 years, Todd Bauer has announced his retirement. This special final seminar will feature legendary Chicago theater artists discussing their favorite plays
Thursday, February 20, 2020
Led by Rosie May. Four sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
Rome in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was a hub of artistic experimentation. Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Bernini were transforming the city from a crumbling medieval backwater into a religious and political capital.
Saturday, February 22, 2020
Led by Frank Biletz. Ten sessions. 10 am - 12 pm.
As a global cultural capital, Paris was central to the development of modernism in the arts. Topics to be treated in this exploration of Paris from the turn-of-the-century to the mid-twentieth century will include the emergence of Cubism and Fauvism . . .
Saturday, February 22, 2020
Led by Paul Gehl. One session. 10 am - 12 pm.
Jun Fujita’s poetry was published in a variety of little magazines and in a single book designed by prominent Chicago printer/designer Will Ransom. Although it is hard to establish direct, personal relationships with other printers or artists, Fujita was clearly surrounded by a circle of visually sophisticated book folk . . .
Saturday, February 22, 2020
Led by Dr. Brian Oberlander. One session. 10 am - 3 pm.
Sneak behind the scenes of Georges Bizet’s complex and enthralling opera Carmen (1875). We begin with the opera’s commission and the Paris premiere.
Saturday, February 29, 2020
Led by Melinda G. Rooney. Six sessions. 1 - 3 pm.
Helen: half–mortal, half–divine, the Face that Launched a Thousand Ships. Defined in myth and history by who and what she was to others, Helen often remains trapped like a fly in amber. This class seeks to understand her by granting her a more complex humanity.
Saturday, February 29, 2020
Led by Julia Denne. Six sessions. 10 am - 12 pm.
This seminar is full. Call or email be added to the waitlist.
This interdisciplinary seminar will provide an introduction to the riches of the Russian realist tradition, focusing on the dialogue and parallels between the Russian realist painters, especially the Wanderers and Ilya Repin, and the urban literary sketches and short works of Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky.
Saturday, February 29, 2020
Led by Dr. Jack Shreve. One session. 1 - 4 pm.
All surnames mean something. Studying English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish surnames can reveal everything from what European life was like in earlier times—what were those occupations, like Pointer, Fiedler, and Faucheur, that live on in surnames? —to the locations where families originated.
Saturday, February 29, 2020
Led by Sarah Kernan. One session. 1 - 4 pm.
Can you imagine Kansas without wheat, Italy without tomatoes, or India without chili peppers? These foods, so central to modern regional culinary identities, were adopted as a result of the Columbian Exchange—the transfer of plants, animals, populations, and diseases between the Old and New Worlds following Christopher Columbus’s first voyage to the Americas.
Saturday, February 29, 2020
Led by Erik Matsunaga. One session. 10 - 11:30 am.
Prior to World War II, Chicago counted roughly 400 persons of Japanese ancestry among its citizenry. By 1945, some 20,000 had resettled in the city from incarceration camps. Despite admonitions by the government for members of the community not to congregate together, two Japanese enclaves arose during this period . . .
Saturday, February 29, 2020
Led by Ginger Frere. One session. 9 am - 12 pm.
Records like birth certificates and marriage licenses are commonly used by genealogists, but knowing about a city’s unique records and where to find them can make tracking elusive ancestors even easier. This one-day seminar will cover records, research repositories, online tools, and strategies specific to tracking down former Chicagoans.
Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Led by Mary Kettering. Three sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
This seminar will evaluate the progress of female politicians in the United States by focusing on the life of Jeannette Rankin (1916-1973), the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress. Through an exploration of Rankin’s personal history, participants will gain a wider understanding of the issues at stake for American women . . .
Thursday, March 5, 2020
Led by Jasmine Alinder. One session. 6 - 7:30 pm.
What is the relationship between photography and truth? Do we understand photographs as windows that reveal reality or as a representational practice, like other forms of art, that gives us a mediated view of the world? How do we apply these questions to documentary photography and photojournalism?
Thursday, March 5, 2020
Led by Linda Levine. Six sessions. 2 - 4 pm.
A recent survey of writers and literary critics conducted by the New York Times found that Toni Morrison’s Beloved was widely considered the best work of American fiction of the past 30 years. An enthralling work of historical fiction, Beloved portrays a woman’s escape with her children from slavery and her attempts to build a life in its aftermath.
Saturday, March 7, 2020
Led by Caron Primas Brennan. One session. 1 - 4 pm.
In this one-day seminar, we will review and compare the four largest online genealogical databases—Ancestry, FamilySearch.org, MyHeritage, and Find My Past—looking at their strengths and exploring how to use them effectively.
Saturday, March 7, 2020
Led by Esther Hershenhorn. One session. 10 - 4 pm.
Hoping to realize your dream of writing a children’s book? Anxious to learn what to do once you write it? This workshop introduces newcomers to today’s children’s book world and offers some “rules of the road” to make navigating easier.
Saturday, March 7, 2020
Led by Caron Primas Brennan. One session. 9 - 12 pm.
Have you always wanted to post a genealogy tree online but been unsure which to use? In this one-day seminar, we will learn the pros and cons of using online tree sharing websites, discussing topics like ease of set–up, methods of sharing, and privacy.
Saturday, March 7, 2020
Led by Matthew Nickerson. Four sessions. 1 - 3 pm.
Family stories are the building blocks of history—so let’s start building! Participants in this seminar will learn to use interviews, archives, newspapers, history books, and images to discover their ancestors’ secrets.
Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Led by Mary Wisniewski. Six sessions. 6 - 7:30 pm.
A personal journal can be a secret record, for the author’s eyes only. But it can also be a “test kitchen” for trying out new ideas and ways of writing. This seminar will provide exercises and inspiration for those interested in developing and maintaining a creative journaling habit.
Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Led by Lawrence Axelrod. Four sessions. 2 - 4 pm.
Even those passionate about attending “classical” music concerts sometimes hit a stumbling block when it comes to music using a vocabulary beyond that of the late nineteenth century.
Thursday, March 12, 2020Thursday, April 2, 2020
Led by John Suiter. Four sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
The writers of the Beat Generation didn’t just blow through Chicago on their way to New York or San Francisco. In fact, much of the movement’s style and spirit, including the word “Beat” itself, can be traced to Chicago.

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