East Asian Languages & Civilizations

Ancient Chinese Bronzes from the Shouyang Studio: An Introduction to the Upcoming Special Exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago

Franke Institute

This talk will preview the upcoming exhibit on ancient Chinese bronzes scheduled to open at the Art Institute of Chicago in November. The exhibit will feature about 70 bronzes from the 18th century B.C. through the first century A.D. that provide evidence for ritual beliefs, historical events, and one of the world’s earliest writing systems.

Romance Languages & Literatures

Dante's Right of Way through Hell

Stuart 101

This lecture will explore Dante's right to travel through Hell unharmed. Why do the demonic guardians, sworn enemies of God's realm, respect his divine grant to traverse the underworld? More importantly, why at the gates of Dis, do they unexplainably cease to honor this writ? The devil's obstruction of Dante and Virgil at the gates of the infernal city brings to light various contemporary theological and political problems of the day, including the question of divine impotence and the limits of empire.


Excavating Traditions in Ancient Rome: Romulus and St. Peter

Social Sciences 122

To what extent can archaeological investigations prove or disprove the historicity of traditions? Or is it misguided to assume that traditions will be reflected in the material record? This presentation will consider the arguments that have been made in support of the literary traditions concerning Romulus’ foundation of Rome and the apostle Peter’s execution and burial in the Eternal City.


How Young People Should Listen to Animals: Stories of Nonhuman Communication from Ancient Greece and the American Plains

Harper 140

In the hunting cultures of ancient Greece and the American Plains, there are many accounts of communication with animals. This talk examines the meaning they held for the original participants as well as the scholarly interpretations that have been used to explain them.


Montezuma: The Conquest of Mexico in Baroque Opera

Fulton Recital Hall

In homage to the 2010 bicentenary of Mexican independence, this talk examines several Baroque operas that treat the story of the Spanish conquest of Mexico. These pieces, by Purcell, Vivaldi, and others, take a good deal of freedom from the historical record in order to project Enlightenment concepts of love, honor, and political sovereignty.


Nōlō Contendere: American Legal Advocacy and the Verbal Agōn

Stuart 105

This lecture pays close attention to the exquisite interactional choreography in a Perry Masonic moment (professionally termed “nailing down an answer”) of a top defense lawyer’s cross-examination of a prosecution witness. We see how he maneuvers the hapless witness before the jury, and how the witness becomes the living “reality” of the very character and motive asserted by the defense in their ‘theory of the case’, materially contributing to a defense victory. In the verbal agōn or contest that is the Q&A of courtroom lawyering, we contemplate the balance of seeking “truth” from witnesses and causing them to perform as culturally recognizable characters.

Oriental Institute

Tour of the New Exhibition "Visible Language: Inventions of Writing in the Ancient Middle East"

Oriental Institute

This guided tour of the new exhibition at the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago will show visitors how scribes in the ancient Middle East invented writing, thus transforming prehistoric cultures into civilizations.

South Asian Languages and Civilizations

Women in Modern South and Southeast Asian Buddhism

Stuart 102

This talk will focus on the position of women in modern Theravada Buddhism, and in particular, the debate over the question of reviving the Monastic Order of Nuns, which has been non-existent since the medieval period. For technical reasons, most people say it is not possible to revive the Order, but there is a growing movement in favor of doing so. This is an example of the wider issue of the modernization of tradition in Buddhism.