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Humanities Fest: Knowing Your Place

By Justin Sondak in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 1, 2005 7:52PM

logo-adult.gifA smorgasbord for the mind, the 2005 Chicago Humanities Festival has rolled into town. This year’s theme is Home and Away, concerning “the role that ‘place’ serves in the creation of our sense of rootedness and belonging.” Sounds like Pretentious-English-Major-speak, but an impressive slate of writers, musicians and performers are addressing such hot button issues as globalization, mobility, national identity, and bridging regional differences.

Most tickets are $5, a bargain that ensures many sold out programs. You might be lucky enough to snag a turn back at the door, but try to plan ahead.

For the Eggheads:

Richard Florida positions himself as the Milton Friedman of New Urbanism, urging cities to foster a vibrant culture to retain massive talent pools and stay competitive. As far as we’re concerned, they’re both sucking from the same hot air tank. Nov 3, noon at the Chicago Temple.

Why those American jobs keep disappearing will be debated by U of C Professor Daniel W. Drezner and AFL-CIO Economist Thea Lee. Nov 5, 10am at Northwestern Chicago Campus’s Thorne Auditorium.

On second thought, let’s blame it on China. Ted Fishman explains how the Asian economic juggernaut is reshaping our own economy. Nov. 13, 1pm at Loyola University’s downtown Rubloff Auditorium.

For the Film Buffs:

Facets presents a dozen films tackling this sense of place, including screenings of the bizarre futuristic spectacle The World, and Lamerica, a Cannes Festival winner about Albanian liberation. (Nov 5, 5pm and Nov 6, 3:30pm, respectively)

Local wunderkind Kartemquin Films followed American immigrants over four years. Their stories aren’t always what you’d expect. See an excerpt of their documentary The New Americans, Nov 13, noon at Depaul’s Student Center, Lincoln Park.

For those who want music with their words:

Cedille Records is a fabulous Classical record label we’re just learning about. Learn more at their artist showcase Nov 11, 7pm at Thorne Auditorium. Then hightail it to the Royal George Theatre for pianist Hershey Felder’s (George Gershwin Alone) take on Chopin’s world (8pm).

For the Drama Queens and Kings:

Remy Bumppo Theatre Company presents the classic Twain satire of dislocation: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court in a staged reading, Nov 5, 11am at Roosevelt U’s Ganz Hall. Timeline Theatre previews excerpts from Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom, which itself excerpts interviews with Guantanamo detainees. Nov 12 at Loyola’s Rubloff Auditorium.

A renowned musical for only $5? Believe it. David Henry Hwang and Bright Sheng present excerpts from Silver River, musically bridging Eastern and Western customs. Nov 5, 7:30pm at Northwestern’s Thorne Auditorium.

For the Celebrity Stalkers:

Didionpic.jpgJoan Didion’s haunting memoir The Year of Magical Thinking may be a lock for the National Book Award. See her Nov. 12, 2:30pm at the Harold Washington Library, before the media circus erupts.

Scott Turow trades the legal speak for infantry speak in Ordinary Heroes, based on his father’s service in WWII. He’s interviewed by WTTW celeb John Callaway, Nov 7, 7pm at Northwestern’s Thorne Auditorium.

Salman Rushdie’s closing lecture has long been sold out. If you manage to get a return or scalped (?) ticket, he’s at the Merle Reskin Theater, Nov 13 at 5pm.

For those of us trying to understand the war on terror:

Packerpic.jpgIn Assassins Gate, George Packer brings painstaking nuance to the agonizing debate over the Iraq invasion, tackling the hard questions surrounding military operations and reconstruction. He’ll illuminate as much as possible over his allotted hour at Thorne Auditorium, Nov 5 at noon.

While the September 11 attacks profoundly reshaped America, they exposed major fault lines in the Islamic world. Mahmood Mamdani explains, drawing a timeline back to the Cold War. Nov 13, 11am at the Newberry Library.

For those of us who really should get out more:

Lonely Planet authors provide their tips on fun, socially responsible travel, Nov 5, 4pm at the Cultural Center. Susan Orlean talks about her world beyond the orchids, Nov 13, 1pm at Harold Washington Library. Tim Cahill injects a shot of Hunter Thompson into travel writing, he recounts some of his wacky and highly literate travel stories, Nov 6, 11:30am at the Cultural Center.

Images via The Chicago Humanities Festival.