Chicago Humanities Festival announces additional presenters for 2016 Speed Fallfest October 29 – November 12

With the 2016 Fallfest, Speed, fast approaching, the Chicago Humanities Festival is eager to announce the addition of several newsmakers, cultural commentators, and tastemakers to its line-up of more than 100 programs. The presenters include public intellectual Melissa Harris-Perry, appearing in conjunction with Illinois Humanities, New York Timesbestselling writer Mary Roach, Invisible Man Got the Whole World Watching author Mychal Denzel Smith, Fat Rice partners Abraham Conlon and Adrienne Lo, and a David Bowieand Prince-themed musical tribute.
“The moment we’re in right now–after Orlando, after the horrific shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana and Dallas, in the midst of a volatile and upsetting presidential race–this moment cries out for us to exercise empathy and reflection,” says Marilynn Thoma Artistic Director Jonathan Elmer. “One of our goals when programming a festival is for every person to achieve some semblance of empathy with each other,” Elmer continues, “whether this involves imagining human beings at war, recreating the shared experience of a David Bowie and Prince show, or adopting the perspective of a young black writer adding his voice to the effort to ‘make invisible men visible’.”
A complete line-up for the festival will be released on September 8 and available Photos for the announced presenters are available in our press room.
Tickets to the 2016 Chicago Humanities Festival’s two kick-off events featuring Thomas Friedman’s Franke Lecture in Economics and Ellen Stone Belic Presents Gloria Steinem and go on sale to CHF Members on Tuesday, August 16 and to the general public onTuesday, August 23. Tickets for the rest of the 2016 Chicago Humanities Festival go on sale to members Tuesday, September 20 and to the general public on Tuesday, September 27. Tickets are available by phone or online at
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Additional Speed presenters include:
Melissa Harris-Perry | Illinois Humanities
A public intellectual and the former host of Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC, Melissa Harris-Perry comes to CHF as part of a partnership with Illinois Humanities’ People-Powered Publishing Conference, to host a live version of Nerdland Forever. In the midst of a presidential election unlike anything in American history, Perry will bring her wit and knack for conversations that go beyond the 24-hour news cycle.
Mychal Denzel Smith
A contributing writer at The Nation and an Alfred Knobler Fellow at the Nation Institute, Mychal Denzel Smith brings his first book, Invisible Man Got the Whole World Watching, to CHF this fall. In Invisible Man, Smith reflects on his experience as a black millennial and his effort to “make invisible men visible.”
Mary Roach | Elaine and Roger Haydock Series
A New York Times best-selling author and acclaimed science writer, Mary Roach is known for her works Bonk, Stiff, and Gulp. Her latest, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, explores the reality and mysteries of human beings in armed conflict.
Abraham Conlon and Adrienne Lo
Even in the midst of upheaval, frustration, despair, and outrage, there needs to be culinary escape and libations. The partners behind Logan Square’s Fat Rice, Abraham Conlon and Adrienne Lo, offer a respite from the world with the recent opening of their new bakery, the Bakery at Fat Rice, and their first bar, The Ladies’ Room. The pair will debut their first cookbook, The Adventures of Fat Rice, with CHF this fall.
“We Can Be Heroes” | The William and Greta Wiley Flory Concert
With the world still reeling from the deaths of two larger than life musicians, David Bowie and Prince, noted Chicago theater veterans Rob Lindley and Doug Peck, have dedicated the annual William and Greta Wiley Flory Concert to the recently departed artists. This year’s Flory concert, “We Can Be Heroes,” will feature the talents of JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound front man Jayson Brooks, The Voice alumnus Mark Hood, Jeff Award-winning musical theater artist Bethany Thomas, and Neo-Futurist ensemble member Malic White.
Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016 – Full Speed line-up announced
Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016 – Ellen Stone Belic Presents Gloria Steinem Speed kick-off program
Monday, Oct. 17, 2016 – The 27th Anniversary Gala Benefit honoring John W. McCarter, Jr. and Ariel Investments, featuring a public program with Thomas Friedman for the Richard J. Franke Lecture in Economics
Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016 – Morris and Dolores Kohl Kaplan Northwestern University Day
Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016 – 10th annual Hyde Park Day on the University of Chicago campus
Monday, Nov. 1, 2016 – Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016 – The 2016 Fallfest: Speed
About the Chicago Humanities Festival
For more than 25 years, the Chicago Humanities Festival has celebrated the questions that shape and define us as individuals, communities, and cultures. For the curious at heart, CHF’s vibrant year-round programming and robust Fallfest offer the opportunity to engage with some of the world’s most brilliant minds. Collaborating with leading arts, cultural, and educational organizations, it presents scholars, artists and architects, thinkers, theologians, and policy makers that change how we see the world, where we’re from, and where we’re going. Under the leadership of Executive Director Phillip Bahar, Marilynn Thoma Artistic Director Jonathan Elmer, and Associate Artistic Director Alison Cuddy, CHF is one of Chicago’s most vital presenting organizations. Visit for more information.