Chicago Humanities Festival Announces Schedule For 26th Fall Festival

cRrbGSfiThe Chicago Humanities Festival (CHF) announced today the complete schedule for the 26th Fall Festival, 130 events which will explore the theme of Citizens, Oct. 24-Nov. 8, 2015 at venues across Chicago. This year’s presenters include Between the World and Me author Ta-Nehisi Coates, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Elvis Costello, TV personality and cookbook author Nigella Lawson, actor and former contributor to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Aasif Mandvi, Reading Lolita in Tehran author Azar Nafisi, comedian Patton Oswalt, The Wire actor and author Wendell Pierce, 2015 Chicago Tribune Literary Prize-winner Salman Rushdie, American history writer Sarah Vowell, Brown Girl Dreaming author and Newbery Honoree Jacqueline Woodson, and many more. To view a complete schedule, visit
Tickets to the 26th Chicago Humanities Festival range from free to $38 and go on sale to CHF members at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8 and to the general public at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 14. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling the CHF Box Office at (312) 494-9509 Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To learn more about CHF membership, visit
“What it means to be a citizen is changing before our very eyes,” said CHF Marilynn Thoma Artistic Director Jonathan Elmer. “It’s incredibly exciting to launch this festival now and think through the range of issues that face us–race in America, immigration, religious freedom, to name a few–in the company of today’s leading thinkers, writers, and artists.”
New this year, CHF will debut Pilsen Day in partnership with The Chicago Community Trust. The full day of events was curated with local partners like the National Museum of Mexican Art, Cultura in Pilsen, and Mana Contemporary, with programs exploring the immigrant experience, gentrification, local art, and more. The Festival will end with a closing celebration at Thalia Hall, featuring music by Sones de México Ensemble, Dos Santos, and Sonorama, and hosted by David Chavez of Sound Culture. CHF also debuted a new app, where audience members can access programs, maps, and tickets. The free Chicago Humanities Festival App can be downloaded in the Google Play oriTunes store.
Highlights for Citizens:
Walter Isaacson |

Tuesday, Sept. 15
Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago
Part of the CHF Gala Benefit |
President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC, Walter Isaacsonhas been chairman and CEO of CNN and editor of TIME magazine. His most recent book is The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution. Isaacson is also the author ofSteve Jobs and several other best-selling biographies.
Morris and Dolores Kohl Kaplan Northwestern Day
Saturday, Oct. 24 | Northwestern University

Azar Nafisi is the beloved author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, a personal account of teaching literary classics to students in Iran. Her newest work–
The Republic of Imagination–is a heartening tribute to reading in a democratic society. Part polemic, part memoir, it’s a reading of her favorite American novels: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Babbitt, and The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, among others.
The Chicago Community Trust Centennial Program
Norris University Center, McCormick Auditorium
Australian moral philosopher Peter Singer is a professor of bioethics at Princeton University and Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne. Included among the world’s 100 most influential people byTIME, his books include Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics, and his latest, The Most Good You Can Do.
A leading critic on race relations in the US, Ta-Nehisi Coates will speak about his new book, Between the World and Me. Coates is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and contributor to Time, O, and The New York Times Magazine. He has received the Hillman Prize, the George Polk Award for his cover story, “The Case for Reparations,” and hisAtlantic blog was named one of the 25 Best in the World by TIME.
Israeli-born, British-based cookbook author and chef Yotam Ottolenghiis the founder and co-owner of Ottolenghi delis and NOPI restaurant. He is also the author of four bestselling cookbooks: Plenty; Plenty More;Ottolenghi: The Cookbook and Jerusalem (both co-authored with Sami Tamimi). His latest project with Ramael Scully, NOPI (Oct. 20), celebrates a fusion of Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine.
Hyde Park Day | Sunday, Oct. 25 | University of Chicago
Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts
Lawrence Wright is a writer for The New Yorker and author of six previous books of nonfiction, including In the New World, Remembering Satan, The Looming Tower (winner of the Pulitzer Prize), Going Clear,and the novel, God’s Favorite. He is also a playwright and screenwriter. His latest book, Thirteen Days in September, details the Camp David negotiations among Jimmy Carter, Anwar Sadat, and Menachem Begin.
The Allstate Program | Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts
Chicago native Anthony McGill is Principal Clarinet of the New York Philharmonic. In January 2009, he performed alongside Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and Gabriela Montero at the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama. McGill returns home to perform and discuss his career, family, and the state of diversity in classical music.
Week of Oct. 26
Raj Chetty | Richard J. Franke Lecture in Economics
Tuesday, Oct. 27
Northwestern University School of Law, Thorne Auditorium
Raj Chetty studies core issues of American society–equality, education, and government policy–through the lens of economics. A recent winner of the John Bates Clark Medal for best American economist under 40, Chetty is a MacArthur Award-winner and is currently Bloomberg Professor of Economics at Harvard.
An Evening with Sarah Vowell | Thursday, Oct. 29
Art Institute of Chicago
Sarah Vowell is the New York Times best-selling author of nonfiction books on American history and culture, including Unfamiliar Fishes, The Wordy Shipmates, and essay collections Take the Cannoli and Radio On. She will discuss her new book, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States (Oct. 20), a portrait of Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette.
Elaine and Roger Haydock Humor Series | Friday, Oct. 30Northwestern University School of Law, Thorne Auditorium
A former correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Aasif Mandvi is an actor, writer, and producer on HBO’s The Brink. He won an OBIE for his one-man play Sakina’s Restaurant and appeared in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Disgraced at Lincoln Center. He will discuss his latest book No Land’s Man.
North Michigan Ave | Saturday, Oct. 31
National Endowment for the Humanities 50th Anniversary Program
Northwestern University School of Law, Thorne Auditorium
Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry, including the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning Citizen. She is co-editor of the American Women Poets in the Twenty-First Century series and The Racial Imaginary. She has received awards from The Academy of American Poets, The American Academy of Arts and Letters, The Lannan Foundation, Poets & Writers, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Robert R. McCormick Foundation Lecture
Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago
White House speechwriter and advisor Eric Liu is the founder of Citizen University–an organization dedicated to fostering a stronger culture of citizenship. He is the author of such acclaimed works as Guiding Lights,The Accidental Asian, The Gardens of Democracy, and his latest, A Chinaman’s Chance.
Northwestern University School of Law, Thorne Auditorium

Jon Ronson is the New York Times best-selling author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. The Welsh journalist and humorist’s works include The Psychopath Test and Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries; the international best-sellers Them: Adventures with Extremists and The Men Who Stare at Goats, as well as the screenplay for Frank, which debuted at Sundance 2014.
Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Marlon James is the author of The Book of Night Women, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle. His first novel, John Crow’s Devil, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. James’s latest,A Brief History of Seven Killings, explores the Cold War and gangster
politics of 1970s Jamaica and was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize.
Loop | Sunday, Nov. 1
Capturing the Hive | Art Institute of Chicago
Anand Varma started photographing natural history subjects while studying biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Varma is now a regular contributor to National Geographic, where his feature stories include “Quest for a Superbee” about the science behind honeybee declines. He will lead a visual journey–and important conversation–through the challenges that bees and our environment are facing today.
First United Methodist Church at The Chicago Temple
Jacqueline Woodson is the 2014 National Book Award Winner for herNew York Times best-selling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming. The author of more than two dozen books for young readers, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a recipient of the NAACP Image Award, a three-time National Book Award finalist, and a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner.
First United Methodist Church at The Chicago Temple
Wendell Pierce was born in New Orleans and is an actor and Tony Award-winning producer. He starred in the acclaimed HBO series The Wire and Treme. Since Hurricane Katrina, Pierce has been helping to rebuild the flood-ravaged Pontchartrain Park neighborhood in New Orleans. He will speak about his new book, The Wind in the Reeds: A Storm, A Play, and the City that Would Not Be Broken (Sept. 8).
Art Institute of Chicago
Jeff Chang is a journalist and leading voice exploring race, hip-hop, youth culture, and the arts. His books include Can’t Stop Won’t Stop,Total Chaos, and the recently released Who We Be: The Colorization of America, which tracks critical changes in art, music, and advertising. Chang will discuss the power and limits of contemporary multiculturalism
and his current work around culture and social change.
Week of Nov. 2
The William and Greta Wiley Flory Concert
Two Performances Monday, Nov. 2 | Francis W. Parker School
Actor/producer Rob Lindley and music director Doug Peck will create an evening exploring the lives and music of four iconic expatriates: Josephine Baker, Eartha Kitt, Nina Simone, and Tina Turner. This one-night-only cabaret, hosted by Lili-Anne Brown, will feature E. Faye Butler, Lynne Jordan, Dee Alexander, Bethany Thomas, and more.
Elvis Costello | Tuesday, Nov. 3 | Francis W. Parker School
Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Elvis Costello has been making music for the past 40 years. Now, he comes to CHF to discuss his forthcoming memoir, Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink (Oct. 13), with CHF Associate Artistic Director Alison Cuddy.
Little Girl on the Prairie | Friday, Nov. 6 | Francis W. Parker School
Pamela Smith Hill is the editor of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography and Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life. Her popular online course on Laura Ingalls Wilder, through Missouri State University, reached nearly 7,000 students last year. Hill is also the author of three award-winning young adult novels and has taught writing at universities in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado.
UIC Forum | Saturday, Nov. 7
2015 Chicago Tribune Literary Award | UIC Forum
Fiction writer Salman Rushdie’s work includes Midnight’s Children, Shame, and the forthcoming Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights (Sept. 8). In response to his novel The Satanic Verses, the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa on his life. Living under threat of death, Rushdie emerged as an outspoken advocate for freedom of expression.