Chicago Humanities Festival Announces Additional Fall Speakers

Layout 1The Chicago Humanities Festival (CHF) announced today confirmed speakers added to the 2013 Fall Festival, which will explore the theme of Animal: What makes us human?Speakers announced include Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler), author of A Series of Unfortunate Events;Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Everything is IlluminatedExtremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and Eating AnimalsAnne Carson, poet and fiction writer; Ana María Martínez, Latin Grammy® Award-winning soprano;Mark Dion, pioneering conceptual artist; Tracey L. Meares, Yale Law Professor and authority on crime prevention and community capacity building; Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers, authors of Zoobiquity: The Astonishing Connection between Human and Animal Health; and Craig Packer, leading expert on African wildlife and founder of the Serengeti Lion Project.

The announcement comes on the heels of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Congressionally-commissioned, bipartisan study entitled The Heart of the Matter: The Humanities and Social Sciences for a vibrant, competitive, and secure nation. The study identifies three primary goals: to educate Americans in the knowledge, skills, and understanding they will need to thrive in a twenty-first-century democracy; to foster a society that is innovative, competitive, and strong; and to equip the nation for leadership in an interconnected world. It approaches these goals from a variety of perspectives, including early literacy, K-12 education, college, and lifelong learning opportunities.


The Chicago Humanities Festival was one of only a handful of organizations recognized by name in the report, identified as a “powerful model for humanities and social sciences programming…the Chicago Humanities Festival invites academics and artists to share their passions and expertise with new audiences.”


“We’re exceptionally proud that the Chicago Humanities Festival’s contributions to our civic and cultural community were recognized,” said CHF Executive Director Phillip Bahar. “The humanities and social sciences are vital to the ongoing success of our nation, and central to our personal understanding of ourselves, our communities, and our world. We’re privileged to offer all Chicagoans serious, smart culture, year after year.”

Confirmed speakers for the 2013 CHF Festival include:

·         Daniel Handler is an American author, screenwriter, and accordionist. Best known under his nom-de-plum Lemony Snicket for his work on A Series of Unfortunate Events (which was made into the 2004 film starring Jim Carrey)Handler will discuss his latest book When Did You See Her Last?, the second in his All the Wrong Questions series.

·         Named by The New Yorker in 2010 as one of the “20 Under 40” who “capture the inventiveness and the vitality of contemporary American fiction,” Jonathan Safran Foer is a celebrated author well-known for his novels Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Foer comes to the festival to discuss his 2009 bestseller Eating Animals—hailed as an instant classic of the new food writing along with Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

·         Lannan Literary Award-winner Anne Carson is a genre-defying Canadian poet and fiction writer. Her original training as a classicist reverberates through her extensive work, which includes: Autobiography of RedGlass, Irony, and GodNox, and her latest work, Red Doc>. Carson will perform a reading from Red Doc>, the long awaited sequel to Autobiography of Red.

·         Ana María Martínez is a Latin Grammy® Award-winning soprano who has graced the stages of the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and this fall will star as Desdemona in The Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Verdi’s Otello. Hailed by The New York Times as “luminous” and “fierce and committed,” Martinez will discuss the joys and demands of opera singing in conversation with opera dramaturge Colin Ure.

·         Profiled on the PBS series art:21Mark Dion is a pioneering conceptual artist best known for installations that mine – and mime – the museum as an institution. A widely exhibited artist, Dion has taken a page from zoology in such projects as The Department of Marine Animal Identification of the City of New York (China Town Division) and Roundup: An Entomological Endeavor for the Smart Museum. Dion will discuss his art with Lisa Graziose Corrin, director of the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University.

·         Tracey L. Meares is a Yale University law professor and criminal justice scholar who also serves on the Science Advisory Board of the Department of Justice. Presented in partnership with the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics (IOP), this program features Meares’ perspective on the realities driving violence and policing in Chicago—and why much of the popular discourse about Chicago’s murder rate misses the mark. The program will be moderated by Steve Edwards, deputy director of IOP and former WBEZ program director.

·         Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers are the authors of Zoobiquity: The Astonishing Connection between Human and Animal Health. Natterson-Horowitz, a cardiologist and professor at U.C.L.A.’s David Geffen School of Medicine, discovered the tremendous overlap in care provided by physicians and veterinarians when she was summoned to the aid of an ailing emperor tamarin at the Los Angeles Zoo. The experience opened her eyes to a surprisingly unremarked phenomenon: animals suffer from some of the same maladies as humans—cancer, heart attacks, sexually transmitted diseases, and more—and treatments developed by vets can have direct implications for the ways we combat them in human patients. Natterson-Horowitz and co-author Bowers, a science writer and former staff editor of The Atlantic, will discuss their best-selling book and the physiological and psychological similarities between humans and animals.

·         Ecologist and leading expert on African wildlife Craig Packer is the founder of the Serengeti Lion Project. He has been doing fieldwork with the lions in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park for more than 30 years. Packer is the author of Into Africa, which won the 1995 John Burroughs Medal, and more than 100 scientific articles. Packer will discuss his work and his devotion to lions’ survival.

More than 100 programs will take place in October and November 2013:

·         Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013 on the Northwestern University campus (third annual Evanston Day)

·         Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013 on the University of Chicago campus (seventh annual Hyde Park Day)

·         Friday, Nov. 1–Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013 in and around downtown Chicago

Tickets to the 24th annual Chicago Humanities Festival go on sale to CHF members on Tuesday, Sept. 3 and to the general public on Monday, Sept. 16. Tickets range from $5–28, with free and reduced-price tickets available for students and teachers (with valid ID). The full schedule and a listing of all programs will be available at in August.