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Works of the Mind Lectures

These lectures are offered on selected Sundays at 1pm, October through May, in the Claudia Cassidy Theatre at the Chicago Cultural Center, (Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street). See below for a list of the lecture descriptions and to register.

Click a course title to read the course description and register for the course.

Courses

Works of the Mind Lecture Series Works of the Mind: Why Pious Renaissance Scholars Read and Defended the Infamous Roman ‘Atheist’ Lucretius 04/9/2017

BPWOTM | Works of the Mind: Why Pious Renaissance Scholars Read and Defended the Infamous Roman ‘Atheist’ Lucretius

The Roman Epicurean poet Lucretius is often celebrated (or condemned) as a key figure in the development of modern secular thought. His scientific epic poem On the Nature of Things (De Rerum Natura) contains many radical ideas, including a physics based on atoms and vacuum, the first fully mechanical account of nature, ideas of species development and natural selection, and it denies divine creation, Providence, and the immortal soul. Because of the threat these ideas posted to Christianity, Lucretius and Epicureanism were much attacked by early Church Fathers, and throughout the Middle Ages ‘Epicurean’ appeared as a term of abuse, interchangeable with heretic, atheist, even sodomite. When Lucretius’s poem was rediscovered in 1417, the first readers to study his work all knew his sinister reputation, but chose nonetheless to read, copy, and eventually publish this most infamous ancient. Close examination of surviving Renaissance manuscripts reveals that most of the scholars who risked their reputations to read and Lucretius also believed that his radical ideas were completely wrong. The notes and thoughts Renaissance readers scribbled in the margins of their copies of Lucretius reveal how and why comparatively orthodox scholars studied and defended this infamous author, and thus how the book survived to reach more receptive audiences in later centuries.

Ada Palmer, Assistant Professor of Early Modern European History and the College; Associate Faculty of Classics; and Member of the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge, the University of Chicago

Prerequisite(s):
none
Instructor:
Course Code: BPWOTM
Section: 17S1
Location: Chicago Cultural Center
Dates: Apr 09
Tuition: $0.00
Days/Times: Sun
1:00 PM



Unlimited slots available

Online Registration Close Date:
April 9, 2017
Online registration closes at 11:59 PM the day before the posted close date.

Works of the Mind Lecture Series Works of the Mind: Baudelaire, the Poet Proud to be Insane 05/7/2017

BPWOTM | Works of the Mind: Baudelaire, the Poet Proud to be Insane

The lecture will center on a prose poem by Baudelaire, a work that that mentions two “alienists” — contemporaries of his. Alienists were early psychiatrists. The two mentioned in the poem argued (among other things) that Socrates, Pascal, and Joan of Arc were insane. Why does Baudelaire feel happy in his conviction that he too is insane? Among other things, the talk will include historical aspects of early psychiatry, descriptions of famous people dubbed “insane,” Baudelaire’s own situation, the self-help books (that Baudelaire is making fun of) popular after the revolution of 1848 in France, and the culture surrounding these issues.

Françoise Meltzer, Edward Carson Waller Distinguished Service Professor, Chair - Department of Comparative Literature, Professor in the Divinity School and the College, Co-editor of Critical Inquiry, the University of Chicago

Prerequisite(s):
none
Instructor:
Course Code: BPWOTM
Section: 17S2
Location: Chicago Cultural Center
Dates: May 07
Tuition: $0.00
Days/Times: Sun
1:00 PM



Unlimited slots available

Online Registration Close Date:
May 7, 2017
Online registration closes at 11:59 PM the day before the posted close date.