Programs and Events | Newberry

Programs and Events

The Newberry offers programming in the humanities for lifelong learners, students, teachers, scholars, and genealogy researchers. Please visit the individual program pages below for information about how to register in advance.

Watch or listen to past programs on the Newberry’s YouTube channel.

Sign up for our e-newsletter to receive updates on Newberry programming.

E.g., 10/24/2021
E.g., 10/24/2021
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
In-person
Not confined to America, Britain, or Scandinavia, great murder mysteries can be found across the world—including Latin America. In this seminar, we will read a new mystery from a different country every week, discussing how location and culture add to the nature of the mystery
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Led by Frank Biletz
In-person
Between 1760 and 1815, Britons experienced, either directly or indirectly, the Industrial Revolution, the American and French Revolutions, and the Napoleonic Wars. This turbulent period also saw the emergence of Romanticism in the arts, a strong anti-slavery movement, and modern feminism. This seminar focuses on the responses of five significant Britons to these transformations
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Led by Ginger Frere and Matt Rutherford.
Virtual
Chicago commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Great Fire this fall, and it’s easy to assume that nothing has survived. This is anything but true. In this course, we’ll uncover a gold mine of treasures that survived the fire and illustrate what life in Chicago was like before the disaster.
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Led by Steven Venturino.
Virtual
George Eliot’s novel, Daniel Deronda, is ambitious, challenging, and astonishingly multidimensional. Eliot blends a provocative examination of marriage and personal aspiration with a meditation on Jewish identity in Victorian Britain.This seminar invites participants to immerse themselves in the world of the novel by reading and discussing it in consecutive parts.
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Led by Bryan LeBeau. Four sessions.
Virtual
In this course, we will explore the history of witch-hunts. Because they left an indelible mark on our history, the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 will serve as a focus of this course. We will investigate this extensive history, as well as the impact of 1692 and why “witch-hunts” continue long after we stopped believing in witches.
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Led by Tony Papanikolas.
Cancelled
Recently, the language of illicit conspiracy has returned to mainstream political debates in the US. Though seemingly a digital phenomenon, the origins of these themes date back to at least the nineteenth-century. In this seminar, we will approach the idea of “conspiracy” through the lens of literature.
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Led by Susan Bazargan.
Virtual (Full - Register for Waitlist on Learning Stream)
February 2, 2022, marks the centennial of the publication of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses, a landmark event that altered the aesthetics of modern literature. To celebrate, we will read the entirety of the book, focusing on the first ten chapters during fall 2021 and the last eight in winter/spring 2022.
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Led by Jill Howe.
Virtual
Beginning to advanced students are welcome in this intimate workshop examining vulnerability, personal storytelling, performance, and craft. Along with the art, science, and psychology of vulnerability as it relates to the art of storytelling, participants will learn the elements of good stories, how to mine our lives for resonant tales, and how to shape them for the page and stage
Saturday, September 25, 2021
Led by Diane Dillon.
In-person
This seminar will explore some of Chicago’s “best addresses”—residential streets known for significant domestic architecture, notable residents, or historical events—through a series of walking tours.
Saturday, September 25, 2021
Led by Frank Biletz.
Virtual (Full - Register for Waitlist on Learning Stream)
This seminar will survey the Roman foundations of London and its evolution during the first 1500 years of its history. We will study the principal architectural monuments of the Roman and medieval periods, as well as key events in the city’s history, including the Norman Conquest and the Black Death
Saturday, September 25, 2021
Led by Anca Szilágyi.
Virtual
This class uses visual art as a springboard for new prose writing. Exercises, readings, and discussions will cover process, character, story, and landscape (internal and external). Students will lightly workshop one short story or essay, gaining feedback from classmates and the instructor
Saturday, September 25, 2021
Led by Julia Kriventsova Denne.
Virtual
In this course, we will focus on a close analysis of Bulgakov’sThe Master and Margarita, as well as his shorter satirical work, supplementing our discussion with background and contextual information.
Saturday, September 25, 2021
Led by Jeff Nigro.
Virtual
Why do we believe that the Renaissance both began and reached its supreme artistic achievements in the city of Florence? Through slide lectures by the instructor and group discussions of imagery and readings, we will explore the political, social, economic, and cultural that combined to make Florentine Renaissance art the glorious phenomenon that continues to inspire us to this day.
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Led by Cindy Juyoung Ok.
Virtual (Full - Register for Waitlist on Learning Stream)
This course focuses on the genre of the short story, with readings ranging in style and scope. We will share responses to a variety of in-class prompts, read a selection of published contemporary stories, and workshop one story from each writer intensively.
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Led by Lawrence Axelrod
Virtual
This seminar will examine eight works of twentieth- and twenty-first- century classical music that can be hard to approach, focusing on composers from traditionally underrepresented populations, including Ruth Crawford Seeger Kaija Saariaho, Alberto Ginastera, Toru Takemitsu, and George Lewis.
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Led by Joseph Heininger.
Virtual
Contemporary Irish poetry is among the richest and most diverse in the world. Irish poets write from the perspectives of rural, suburban, and urban lives, portraying familial ties, intimacies, and disturbances, and addressing the influx of new people and ideas to Ireland.
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Led by Esther Hershenhorn.
Virtual (Full - Register for Waitlist on Learning Stream)
This workshop focuses on how to create and write a successful children’s picture book that will connect with today’s young readers and our ever-changing marketplace.
Thursday, September 30, 2021
Led by Annalese Duprey, PhD
Cancelled
In the ancient and medieval worlds, certain forms of love were diagnosed—and treated—as medical illnesses.In this seminar, we’ll examine how the idea of love-as-sickness gives us insight into cultural assumptions about this nearly universal experience and provides a springboard to examine the rise and fall of diseases as medical and cultural phenomena.
Thursday, September 30, 2021
Led by Lin Batsheva Kahn.
Cancelled
Students will take a historical trip through time to learn about the important contributions of choreographers and dance companies in our cultural city. This seminar will also relate to theChicago Avant Garde: Five Women Before Their Time exhibition in the Newberry.
Saturday, October 2, 2021
Led by Sarah Kernan.
Virtual
Sugar was one of the most precious and luxurious commodities in premodern Europe. In this seminar, we will explore the sugar industry in Europe and its colonies, including farming and processing, culinary uses, trade networks, and the widespread use of slave labor in sugar colonies.
Sunday, October 3, 2021
Led by Paul Durica and Justin Amolsch.
Virtual
This seminar takes you on a four-part 40-year journey through the various spaces that make up the Chicago’s musical history.In addition to archival recordings, live performance, and lectures, each session puts you “In the Mood” (apologies to Glenn Miller) by sharing a recipe for a period-appropriate cocktail made by an expert mixologist.
Tuesday, October 5, 2021
Led by Brian Lynch
Virtual
In this discussion-based seminar, we will explore the role of distinct Chicago neighborhoods in contemporary American fiction, asking whether 1940s Bronzeville, 1980s Pilsen, and 1980s Boys’ Town provide more than literary stages for narratives and act as key players in their own right
Wednesday, October 6, 2021
Led by Zorimar Rivera Montes.
Cancelled
In the 1960s, Puerto Rican poets in the U.S. created an important poetry movement called “Nuyorican poetry,” which combined the innovative use of jazz, salsa, hip-hop, and spoken word in poems with a commitment to social justice that called out the disenfranchisement of Puerto Ricans in the United States.
Wednesday, October 6, 2021
Led by Julie Ellen Benesh.
Virtual
This workshop will help us improve the quality of our attention to our dreams and inform us of the many ways our dreams can feed our writing. Through reading others’ dreamy and dream-ish works and writing and sharing our own, we will explore the numerous ways that dreams can inspire our creative writing.
Thursday, October 7, 2021
Led by Caron Primas Brennan
Virtual
Take this whole three-part series and build your genealogy research toolbox. Register below for all three seminars or select the individual seminars that appeal the most to you.
Thursday, October 7, 2021
Led by Caron Primas Brennan
Virtual
Take a tour of the underutilized FamilySearch.org website to see what is has to offer genealogy researchers. This course will include a review of this free resource and all the research opportunities it offers, along with other tools useful for genealogists and family historians.
Saturday, October 9, 2021
Led by Wendy Castanell and Amy Mooney
Cancelled
This seminar will consider the role of portraiture in the construction of modern subjectivity. Participants will have the opportunity to explore the work of Helen Balfour Morrison (1900-1984), a relatively unknown photographer active in the 1930s through the 1960s, who sought to reveal the inner character of her subjects.
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Led by Richard Reeder.
Virtual
We will read, discuss, and analyze three of Philip Roth’s novels: American Pastoral, I Married a Communist, and The Human Stain.This trilogy explores the complexity of the American character in ways that continue to resonate stingingly today, as our nation deals with difficult, and sometimes painful, moral and political challenges
Thursday, October 14, 2021
Led by Margaret Farr.
Virtual
This seminar focuses on the artwork and milieus of Thomas Cole, Georgia O’Keeffe, Joseph Cornell, Archibald J. Motley, Jr., Andy Warhol, and Faith Ringgold to probe the conceptual and thematic links between these artists and ultimately to consider what defines American art.
Saturday, October 16, 2021
Led by Sarah Buchmeier.
In person (Newberry and off-site)
The company town of Pullman was full of “troublemakers,” from factory employees and union leaders to George Pullman himself. This seminar will peel back the layers of trouble to examine what makes Pullman’s history unique and how that history echoes in today’s discussions of labor relations.
Saturday, October 16, 2021
Led by Rosie May.
Virtual
Over the course of three weeks, this seminar will explore some of the major rivalries that transformed Rome. It will follow the stories of Michelangelo and Raphael, Caravaggio and Carracci, and Bernini and Borromini. We will also take a closer look at the patrons who fanned the fire of the competition to serve their own personal vendettas
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Led by Stephen Kleinman
In person
In this course, we will listen to, analyze, and discuss four masterpieces of orchestral music from the prolific Romantic era. Each piece demonstrates unique characteristics: the composer’s musical style, its impact on Romantic concepts, its national heritage, and how it manifests the complexities that form the enormous repertoire of Romantic orchestral music
Thursday, October 21, 2021
Led by Caron Primas Brennan
Virtual
So, you think you know Ancestry? In this course, we will take a tour of the Ancestry.com website to reveal all it has to offer genealogy researchers„ focusing especially on tips and tricks for getting the most from the site.
Saturday, October 23, 2021
Led by Laurel Harig-Khan
Virtual
Jerusalem has been a city of worship, a destination for pilgrims, and a political flash-point for millennia. Why is Jerusalem so significant to the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam? We will watch documentary footage from different eras of Jerusalem’s history, read primary source material, and discuss the rich heritage of Jerusalem over the past five thousand years
Saturday, October 23, 2021
Led by Mark Pohlad.
In person
Katharine Kuh (née Woolf, 1904-1994) was one of the most famous twentieth-century art world figures in this country. Over the course of her long, rich life, she was a gallerist, a curator at a major museum, author, critic, art educator (her most treasured role), and friend and supporter of many of the most renowned modern artists of the twentieth century.
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
Led by Andrew Schultze.
Virtual
This seminar traces the development of American music from the American Revolution to the admission of California to the Union. We will explore the influence of English and European music, as well as French, Spanish, Native American, and African American cultural influences.
Wednesday, October 27, 2021
Led by Jill Howe.
Virtual
Beginning to advanced students are welcome in this intimate workshop examining vulnerability, personal storytelling, performance, and craft. Along with the art, science, and psychology of vulnerability as it relates to the art of storytelling, participants will learn the elements of good stories, how to mine our lives for resonant tales, and how to shape them for the page and stage
Thursday, October 28, 2021
Led by Kellie D. Brown
Cancelled
In this course, we will focus on the stories of orchestras, composers, and musicians who stubbornly clung to music, wherever and however they could, to preserve their culture, to uplift the human spirit, and to triumph over oppression, even amid incredible tragedy and suffering.
Thursday, October 28, 2021
Led by Harrison Sherrod.
Cancelled
Conspiracy theories, secret histories, fake news—paranoia seems to have permeated mainstream culture as the prevailing affect of our strange, uncertain times. Cinema has provided us with many textbook illustrations of paranoia, from portrayals of delusional psychosis to mysteries in which everyone is a suspect.
Saturday, October 30, 2021
Led by Toby Altman
Cancelled
This one-day course will supplement the Newberry’s new exhibition, Chicago Avant-Garde: Five Women Ahead of their Time, by looking at a selection of key figures of Chicago’s avant-garde today.
Saturday, October 30, 2021
Led by Mark Pohlad
Cancelled
This course examines how Abraham Lincoln has been represented in American films (rather than documentaries or television productions) through in-class viewing of select scenes and informed discussion.Throughout, we shall discuss how all aspects of these productions—their direction, actors, costumes, musical scores, etc.—contribute to the treatment of Lincoln
Tuesday, November 2, 2021
Led by Maggie Taft.
Virtual
Why do the Shakers, a utopian sect founded in the eighteenth century, matter today? This seminar explores the Shakers as radicals who imagined an alternative way to live, outside of conventional American culture.
Wednesday, November 3, 2021
Led by Toby Altman.
Virtual
This workshop is designed to get you thinking about new ways to write poetry. Over the course of the seminar, we’ll encounter a range of methods for writing poems—some experimental, some traditional.
Wednesday, November 3, 2021
Led by Sara Černe.
Virtual
Over the span of a hundred years, Chicago grew from a town of a few thousand people to a quintessentially American metropolis. Whose voices define the city, which narratives have been forgotten in public memory, and how does this tapestry of different histories, origins, and perspectives contribute to the vision of the city in the popular imagination?
Wednesday, November 3, 2021
Led by Judith M Wilks
Virtual
In this six-session course, we will sample five works by three major figures in medieval Islamic mysticism. We will explore these mystics’ different approaches to spirituality and the quest for nearness to the divine. While our main emphasis will be on the content of their work, we will also devote attention to literary form.
Thursday, November 4, 2021
Led by Caron Primas Brennan
Virtual
If you have exhausted your old standby resources and need some new records to review, there are some other databases to check out. In this two-session seminar, we will learn about frequently overlooked online genealogy resources like Fold3.com, a primarily military site; Newspapers.com; American Ancestors; and FindMyPast.
Saturday, November 6, 2021
Led by Emilie M. Brinkman.
Virtual
Have you ever wondered about the origins of today’s high heel? Did you know that high heels were once a male style in the Western world, worn by warriors, aristocrats, and kings? Explore the rich cultural history of heeled footwear and discover how the high heel was transformed into a thoroughly female fashion and symbol of sexualized femininity by the late nineteenth century.
Saturday, November 6, 2021
Led by Tara Betts.
In person
Imagine five dramatically different women creating in several artistic disciplines the same vibrant city at the same time. In this seminar, we’ll consider the work of poet Gwendolyn Brooks, visual artist Gertrude Abercrombie, choreographers Katherine Dunham and Ruth Page, and art critic, curator, and collector Katherine Kuh.
Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Led by Margaret Denny.
Virtual
Over the course of photography’s relatively short history, certain photographs have become iconic, revealing compassion, love, unrest, controversy, and innovation in fleeting moments.This seminar will introduce you to photography’s most iconic images and the stories behind them.
Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Led by Brian Oberlander. Four sessions.
Virtual
Explore the sound, construction, and social significance of musical instruments in this global survey: from the bone flutes of the Upper Paleolithic to Tutankhamun’s trumpets, we examine musical instruments as archaeological artifacts.

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