Today we find ourselves in what seems to be a new historic moment. COVID-19 has not only taken lives, but its menace has spawned profound changes in social and cultural practices across the globe, from wearing facial coverings to social distancing. But coronavirus is not the first pathogen to threaten the human species.
Check out Graham School liberal arts courses
In this series, Michael Rossi, Assistant Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Chicago, will explore four pandemics—bubonic plague, cholera, influenza, and HIV-AIDS—that have likewise challenged human beings and transformed the ways that we have lived, worked, loved, and clashed.
Investigating these historical episodes will offer participants a new vantage point to reflect upon the novelty of our present circumstances, as well as to consider the ways we are traveling well-trodden pathways that have long linked disease to the human experience.
Michael Rossi is a historian of science and medicine at the University of Chicago. He teaches about medicine, disease, and society from the 1500s to the present. His research focuses on the historical metaphysics of the body: how different people at different times understood questions of beauty, truth, falsehood, pain, pleasure, goodness, and reality vis-à-vis their bodily selves and those of others. He is the author of The Republic of Colour: Science, Perception and the Making of Modern America, which deals with; color theory, politics, and aesthetics at the turn of the century. His newest project examines ways in which linguistics, physiology, and philosophy came together to make new forms of medicine in the twentieth century. He has written for the London Review of Books, Isis, and Cabinet, among other publications.
Offered remotely and free of charge by the University of Chicago Graham School, these four Wednesday sessions will combine live lectures by Professor Rossi with moderated discussions on short, pre-distributed readings. Pre-readings will be made available on each event’s page.
Registration is required. Curiosity and good will is expected. A certain sobering enrichment is anticipated, as is an appreciation for the hope and will to live that have guided people through time.
Lectures will be held from 6:30-8:00 PM CST, Wednesday evenings on May 20, May 27, June 3, and June 10.
Download the pre-readings on each lecture's registration page.
Register for the events below.
Powerful stories are emotional journeys with unforgettable characters who struggle and grow. We’ll focus on establishing internal, cohesive story logic and controlling audience experience with unanswered questions, surprises, and satisfying payoffs.
Sigmund Freud once described himself as an “archeologist of the human psyche.” He sought to identify psychic sites for “excavation, analysis, and interpretation.” Analogously, this summer's course will attempt to locate seminal focal points contributing to the creation and enjoyment of filmic expressions of that which we call “Human.” We wi
This course is a discussion of films that address social issues such as wealth, poverty, family, gender, ethnicity, etc. For the first and last class we would view one film prior to class.
The third great scripture of the Abrahamic tradition and the foundation of Islam, we will discuss the Qur'an from a secular, literary perspective to gain an initial understanding of it and its relationship to the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.
Four thousand years ago, the eastern Mediterranean world was united by international cultural diplomacy. Within thirty years these systems collapsed though environmental and political factors, underscored by the invasion of the mysterious "Sea People."
Basic Creative Writing at the University of Chicago Graham School is a broad and engaging introduction to fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Over eight weeks, students will combine study of canonical and contemporary writing with their own creative practice.
Through the lens of some of Rome's best-known monuments by Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio, Bernini, and others, this course explores the Eternal City's art, architecture, and urbanism from the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries.
There is a long and varied history of the writer as flanuer - the passionate wanderer. Sometimes the writing is transformed by the very act of walking or deepened by discoveries made along the way, but it is always changed by looking at one’s environment anew.
In this class we will encounter two of Rushdie's early but important novels, starting with Midnight's Children and then moving to Shame (the novel considered an important precursor to The Satanic Verses and one that remains pertinent today).
"Every plague novel is a parable," Harvard historian Jill Lepore recently remarked. If so, what lessons are to be learned?
Buddhism has played an important role in shaping the imagination of the "Orient" in modern Europe and North America, providing a mirror to rethink both oneself and the other.
In this course, we consider Greek myth as mythology, as a body of tales organized as a system. We will examine three main groups of myth: gods and cosmic myths, myths about heroes, and myths about Heracles. Some attention will be paid to monsters.
Borges is an acknowledged master of the short story. In just a few pages he creates a fictional world that often revolves around a thought experiment or philosophical question: What would happen if you couldn’t forget anything? What if you told the Theseus myth from the point of view of the Minotaur?
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead foregrounds those two friends of Hamlet's whose interactions with the principals and plot moments question: what is real? What is meaning? The novel Lord Malquist and Mr. Moon is a comic, grieving absurdist fantasy.
The focus of this course is to explore the depths of the human condition by illuminating central realms of human experience using the tools of imagination, beautiful language and a compassionate heart.
This class will take up one of the most important figures in Japanese Zen, Ekaku Hakuin, by reading his spiritual autobiography, Wild Ivy, and two of his short but key texts, "Essential Teachings of Zen Master Hakuin" and "Zen Words for the Heart."
A classic of modern Italian literature, Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s masterpiece, The Leopard (1958), tells the fascinating story of the decline and fall of Don Fabrizio’s aristocratic line.
Who or what am I, and what kind of world do I inhabit? What explains why some of us prosper while others fail? Am I really obliged to do this, that, and the other thing just because my culture says so? How can I face the inevitable pains and miseries that seem to sap my life of meaning—many of which I’m dealing with precisely
We will use the resources of the Landmark edition of Julius Caesar's writings to explore the Roman Civil War from Caesar's perspective. The Landmark edition, with its support structure of maps and timelines, will give us a set of tools and context to allow us to focus more closely on the text itself. We will supplement our reading with
This course celebrates a high point in western musical culture around the orbit of two iconic cities between 1790 and 1830. From the London of Haydn's symphonies and oratorios to the Vienna of Schubert's astounding final year, this course features listening, live performance, and in-class analysis.
Hobbes's Leviathan considered a political landscape influenced by ancient Greek and medieval Christian thought and attempted to construct a new commonwealth that would be immune to both, giving birth to the modern approach to politics.
This course will explore the built legacy of Chicago, from the 1893 World's Fair to the global tourist city.
Stoicism, a popular philosophy in ancient Greece and Rome, is making a comeback in the twenty-first century. We examine the beliefs of prominent Stoics, from the slave Epictetus to the emperor Marcus Aurelius, and assess their modern relevance.
The Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults offers a rigorous, noncredit liberal arts curriculum that draws on the strong Socratic tradition at the University of Chicago and covers the foundations of modern Western political and social thought.
This class will be devoted to key works by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, starting with the groundbreaking 100 Years of Solitude and supplementing with a selection of short stories, to include "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" and "The Autumn of the Patriarch."
The late, great Toni Morrison's Paradise renders the often blighted and sometimes healing relations between towns in rural Oklahoma from the 1870s to 1970s. A Mercy is an exploration of family dynamics and slavery in seventeenth century America.
Long works such as memoirs and novels must sustain voice, action, and reader interest for the duration. This course will address the unique challenges and opportunities of long-form prose, both fiction and creative nonfiction.
This course will now take place online.
In this course, we will take up a close reading of Plato’s dialogue, Phaedrus.
The composers of the Russian Revolution generation (Scriabin, Medtner, Rachmaninov) produced an output of uncommonly rich post-romanticism. Their Soviet successors (Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Khatchaturian, Weinberg), faced with new difficulties for artists, extended this tradition with a perhaps surprisingly enduring repertoire.
In this seminar, we will perform a close reading of Nietzsche's most dynamic work of 1888, his final and arguably most productive year in philosophy. Twilight of the Idols, subtitled How One Philosophizes With A Hammer, is a powerful distillation of Nietzsche's thought.
In this course, we will take up a close reading of Tolstoy’s landmark novel War and Peace, looking at it both from a novelistic perspective and as a work of philosophy.
Where do ideas come from? Maybe from a half-remembered image from a dream. Or a sentence that forms in your head while you’re choosing apples in the grocery store. In this class, we will concentrate on chasing and catching such glimmers in our days and nights.
For millennia, China has centered its literature on politics and government more thoroughly than any other major civilization, and its tradition of political thought poses significant challenges to Western concepts and assumptions. In this class we’ll examine the three most influential theories of government that took shape in
This course offers a survey of essential films tracing Rock 'n' Roll's cultural impact, from early features that introduced the music, to the documentaries that followed the highs and devastating lows of the music's confrontation with 1960s America.
En route to the turning-post of the poem, our multi-year exploration of the Iliad likely picks up near the end of book 11 at a critical moment: Achilles, in a striking point-of-view turn by the poet, watches the battle woes of his fellow Greeks from the comfort and safety of his ship.
From smallest fragments through long forms, across wide distinctions—eras, nationalities, sexualities, we will explore form, matter, and voice in Sappho through Phyllis Wheatley, Emily Dickenson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, Sylvia Plath, Gwendolyn Brooks, Adrienne Rich, Nelly Sachs, Ingeborg Bachmann, and Louise
This is the first of two six-week classes devoted to the reading of a number of short stories by Flannery O'Connor, together with various pieces of her critical essays and one of her two novels—The Violent Bear It Away.
The Writer's Studio Monthly Writing Group is designed for students working in creative nonfiction or fiction. Focused on monthly workshops, the group also provides writers a sense of community as well as an outlet for discussion of both practice and form.
What is philosophy and what is it for? The ancients did not regard philosophy as ideas as much as a way of life. The Greek Epictetus was born a slave but by his teaching became the most respected and admired philosopher in the Roman empire.
A critical reading of Camus's novel, The Plague, and several contemporaneous essays, including "The Wind at Djemila," "Helen's Exile," and "Return to Tipasa"—collectively representing a profound meditation on the themes of rebellion, exile, and love.
This discussion/lecture course will focus on the early history of Chicago, from its origins to around 1920, emphasizing the major events, politics, and peoples that make up one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world.
Ten-minute play festivals are happening all over the country. In this course, we will explore the fundamentals needed to write solid short plays by identifying fascinating characters in complex situations where they find themselves in conflict with others and perhaps themselves.
Contemporary readers and audiences expect today’s heroes to operate in a morally ambiguous universe and be themselves flawed. We are fascinated when these broken heroes rise above their situation and their flaws to demonstrate unexpected nobility.
The towering spiritual and cultural achievements of the Baroque era are nobly reflected in the work of Bach and Handel (both born in 1685). From Bach, we are bequeathed secular masterpieces of intensity, poetry, intellectual rigor, and breathtaking spiritual achievement, such as the oratorios.
Stay motivated while writing your novel! This online class will offer craft discussions, intensive study of a mentor text, instructor feedback on a synopsis and eighty pages of work, and opportunities for revision.
Your story's beginning must capture and commit your audience to your tale. We'll explore how to launch your story unforgettably into audience imaginations through crafting deeply written characters and devising structure that satisfies and snares.
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