Session 3

3:30–4:30 P.M.

Tour of Carved, Cast, Crumpled at the Smart Museum of Art – 3:30 p.m.

The immersive exhibition Carved, Cast, Crumpled investigates the essential qualities of three-dimensional art across historical and cultural contexts, questioning what it means to be in the presence of an object. The exhibition is the first in a series of special projects celebrating the Smart Museum of Art's 40th anniversary. Comprised entirely of three-dimensional works and a handful of drawings by sculptors, it showcases a foundational component of the Museum’s collection, one that can be traced back to the Joel Starrels Jr.

How to Expect a Surprising Exam

In this talk, I will present a new solution to the well-known paradox of the surprise exam. Despite its apparent triviality, the paradox turns out to touch upon a number of substantial philosophical issues, including that of how we can coherently accept the fact that a great many of our most deeply held beliefs may be (and at least some of them most certainly are) mistaken. In addition, I will offer some general remarks concerning the role that paradoxes play in philosophical reflection.

Rethinking Minstrelsy: Spencer Williams, Ed Williams, Bert Williams

Our respective research projects on Black comic actor/writer/director Spencer Williams (1893–1969), and on African American collector of turn-of-the-century “negrobilia” Ed Williams, raise a shared set of questions about the usefulness and limits of minstrelsy as the dominant framework for understanding histories of Black representation and performance. We consider their work through the lens of preeminent Black vaudevillian Bert Williams (1874–1922), whose blackface stage and screen performances leave a richly ambivalent legacy of Black objectification and virtuosity.

Standards, Styles, and Signs of the Social Self

In our kind of language community, using—or not using—what is termed “standard” English positions an individual as a social person according to a cultural logic of verbal “registers.” But the register phenomenon is not peculiar to language and its standardization; language reflects a more pervasive experience of cultural style and self-fashioning that links us to institutions that aspire to set the values of society as people come to define themselves by orientation or non-orientation to them.

Philosophy in Difficult Circumstances: A Civic Knowledge Project Discussion

The Civic Knowledge Project uses philosophy to facilitate the building of connections between the University of Chicago and its neighboring South Side communities. Although philosophy is not often identified as an area with rich service-learning and experiential learning opportunities, the Civic Knowledge Project is engaged in a series of innovative educational experiments designed to expand the reach of philosophy in precisely such areas, and to highlight the vital role that philosophy can play in contributing to educational reform at all levels.

Bilingual Knowledge, Bilingual Stories

What do bilinguals know? There are multiple answers to this question, from multiple disciplinary points of view. Linguists, psychologists, anthropologists, and literary scholars use different tools to account for bilingualism. As collaborators at the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, Anastasia Giannakidou (Linguistics), Sayed Kashua (Israel-Palestinian novelist and 2014–2015 Fellow at the Gray Center), and Na’ama Rokem (NELC) plan to bridge these different approaches and experiment with bilingual storytelling.

From Sochi to the Crimea: Episodes in the Rise of a New Cold War

Russian authorities had high hopes that the Sochi Olympics would serve as the international debut of a new Russia, freed from the stigma of the Soviet period and the difficult years of transition that followed. Instead, the Games and subsequent performances in Ukraine have reinforced old identities on the world stage. William Nickell, who is writing a book on Sochi, will examine the roles and rhetoric adopted by Russia in 2014, as well as the interpretations they have received in the west.

Winter Soldiers: Veterans and the State in the Spanish Empire

In the 16th and 17th centuries the relationship between the state and its soldiers was as conflictive as it has been in our own age. Mutiny, desertion, protest, and subversive writing contributed to shape a radical political culture among the rank-and-file that oftentimes challenged the very institutions and values they were expected to defend. This presentation explores the connections between some of these practices and the social and cultural activism of contemporary veterans.

Art in Public Spaces: A Walking Tour of Sculptures on the University of Chicago Campus

Siting outdoor sculpture is a critical factor to the artwork’s meaning and the artistic intention, but how can this be navigated within an active and developing university campus? During this walking tour of public artwork on the University of Chicago campus we will discuss issues of landscaping, architecture, and conservation. Key sculptures will include Nuclear Energy by Henry Moore, Construction in Space and Time and in the Third and Fourth Dimensions by Antoine Pevsner, and Black Sphere by Jene Highstein.

Lost Stories? Indigenous Narratives of Australia

Culture, religion, narrative, land, and language are deeply intertwined in the Australian indigenous context. The Dreamtime Narratives are of timeless importance as creation stories, explanations for landscape and animal features, and as landmarks of orientation. As such, they are an essential part of everyday life used for multiple purposes that go beyond storytelling. This talk, using original material from MalakMalak, a highly endangered language of Northern Australia, and Kriol, an English-lexified Creole, asks what happens when a language slowly disappears.


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