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October 2004 Archives

October 1, 2004

Arresting images


“Omigod!” gasped the young woman in the U of C sweatshirt as she caught sight of Feng Feng’s Shin Brace (1999–2000). The Gulliver-sized bodyscape—a metal apparatus drilled into the leg of a Chinese workman, who wore it for 18 months—fills an entire wall of the Smart Museum, where Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China had its opening reception Thursday night.

Feng Feng’s photograph is not the only larger-than-life aspect of the new exhibition, presented jointly at the Smart and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA). Curators Wu Hung, the Harrie H. Vanderstappen distinguished service professor of art history, and Christopher Phillips, curator at the International Center of Photography in New York, have divided the 130 works by 60 artists into four themes: “History and Memory” and “Reimagining the Body” at the Smart, and “People and Place” and “Performing the Self” at the MCA. The October 2–January 16 exhibition includes a range of special events, kicking off a two-day scholarly symposium this weekend.

Many of the photographs and videos have never been seen in the U.S.—and rarely in mainland China. Indeed, as he led reception-goers, who’d earlier munched veggie wraps, cashews, and Moroccan-style chicken, on a tour of the 13 artists represented in “Reimagining the Body,” Wu Hung, dapper in shades of browns and black, confessed, “I sometimes feel a bit uneasy to see these works in this environment because I first saw them in a Shanghai warehouse,” exhibited in unofficial shows, “underground.”


Photo: Sheng Qi’s “Memories Me” (2000) is a photograph of the artist’s hand—minus the finger he cut off and buried when he left his homeland.

October 4, 2004

Soul sisters


A photo of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, embracing in their toddler Full House days, decorates a U of C sorority-recruitment handout. “Friendships last forever when sisters come together,” the flyer says. And though the sorority women working the Reynolds Club booth have left toddlerhood far behind, they echo the sentiments in their own words. “Your sisters are there for you,” says Joelle Shabet, ’06, who tells of a sister who stayed at the Reg all night with her, and next morning woke her up in time to turn in a paper.

Joining the handouts at the booth are colorful, tissue-lined cups filled with candy—the sororities’ giveaway to women who pay $15 to sign up for formal recruitment. Since last Thursday, when the two-week registration began, 17 potential sisters have enrolled to attend information sessions and then the main event October 14–17, when the three National Panhellenic Conference sororities on campus hold formal parties. “It’s a mutual selection process,” Shabet says—the recruits pick their top choices, and if their favorite sorority picks them too, they’re in. Each of the three sororities—Alpha Omicron Pi, Delta Gamma, and Kappa Alpha Theta—should have 55 total members when recruitment’s done. Despite the old stereotypes, “it’s not a superficial thing,” says Shabet, who studies modern Hebrew. “You take a pledge to commit yourself to these women.” And at Chicago, where “there are no stupid people,” she notes, “it’s an incredible way to meet smart, vibrant, articulate women.”


Photos: third-years Kim Alvarez, Joelle Shabet, and Sarajohn Kerins work the sorority-recruitment booth in the Reynolds Club (top); a potential sister signs up (bottom).

October 6, 2004

Racism's still strong, theologian argues


“There is no place one can go to escape racism in America,” argued James Cone, Union Theological Seminary professor and self-proclaimed “theologian activist,” addressing a packed Mandel Hall Tuesday night. The inaugural speaker in the University’s Workshop on Race and Religion: Thought, Meaning, and Practice, Cone attacked America’s persistent—and sometimes, he said, hidden—“white supremacy” and the notion that the ’60s civil-rights movement had erased inequalities.

In a deliberate, scathing tone, he challenged the audience to “speak openly and often” and to “listen to one another,” advising them to be guided by empathy, or “living in someone else’s skin.” Although his ideals are based on Christian values, he said, “One does not have to be a Christian as I am to see the grave threat that white supremacy poses.”

The lack of communication and understanding in the United States—including both whites refusing to learn black spiritual and existential history and blacks not grasping their own—troubles Cone, who garnered crowd applause and responses of “amen” and “don’t hold back; tell us.” Blacks should not blame today’s whites for current segregation, he argued, but they should take whites to task for not challenging a government that refuses to consider the problem.

Despite the University’s recent progressive efforts, Cone criticized its history as a “university that benefited from injustices in this society,” suggesting it should have “put back what it unfairly took” (but without citing specifics.) Building off his critique, political-science professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell closed the event by urging community members to call the University in times of need and to speak up when it encroaches on them.

After his talk Cone stayed to sign his books and discuss his arguments. The workshop series continues Tuesday, October 19, with University of California, Santa Barbara, Professor Ines Talamentez discussing Native American religions.


October 8, 2004

Religion makes economic sense


As bowls of salad and balsamic dressing get passed around the cafeteria-style tables in Swift Common Room, the lunchtime group members, mostly Divinity School professors and students, make introductions, joking and guessing each other’s denominations.

It sounds like typical banter at the Div School’s Wednesday lunch series. Less commonplace within these walls, however, is the talk’s topic: economics. Which is why speaker Luigi Zingales, abandoning his $4 vegetarian meal to discuss religion’s impact on economic attitudes, concedes up front: Religion “is not our area of expertise. We should give up.”

The admission earns laughs before Zingales, the Robert C. McCormack professor of entrepreneurship and finance, continues, explaining his team’s approach: “Mostly we can draw correlations.” Using data from the World Values Survey, a collection of questionnaires on values and beliefs, the researchers examined attitudes toward equality and incentives, private and government ownership, and competition. They even found some links between religiosity and support of the free-market system.

Religion, he argues, is good for economic development, meaning churchgoers are generally more promarket. Among religions, he says, Muslims are more pro-state and antimarket; Christians and Buddhists are less pro-state and more promarket.

While Zingales calls the level of interest in the study “overwhelming,” he has moved on to new projects, including a look at cultural biases in economic exchange. Further analysis of the religion findings will have to wait. “Actually,” he says to the crowd of 50, “this is more for you guys to do.”


October 11, 2004

Domesticated poet


Forrest Gander did not stand like a poet lauded many times over. Winner of a Whiting Award, two Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative North American Writing, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for Arts, the Brown University English professor took to the podium hunched beneath his jacket, as if he were simply stopping by to have a drink with the 70 or so audience members before slipping out the door.

But he soon put on his poetry-reading cap, beginning with works by Jaime Saenz, which Gander translated with Kent Johnson. He highlighted the evening, the first of the University’s 2004–05 Poem Present series, with three poems from his 2001 book Torn Awake.

That he teaches a Brown course on phenomenology is appropriate for Gander, whose evocative diction engaged the Classics 10 listeners with everyday images from “air vibrant with mosquitoes” to a girl whose shyness “sits at the edge of her plate like a fly.” He told the audience, “I am not given a subject, but I am given to a subject; I am in it.”

Economical with his commentary, he let his work speak for him. Only once did he look up from his verse to warn, “I seem to be increasingly becoming a poet of domesticity”—hinging on themes of love in its playful, erotic, and paternal forms—an evolution he attributed to his teenage son.

Meredith Meyer, ’07

October 13, 2004

Maroons come home

On a sunny, 70-degree homecoming Saturday a couple hundred alumni returned to Hyde Park to tailgate, play catch, and watch the Maroons football team take on conference foe Washington University (St. Louis). The event started with a pregame picnic, where graduates chatted about their personal and professional lives and the University's rapidly changing campus—reflected in the picnic’s location on the year-old Ratner Athletics Center front lawn.

Some alumni skipped the food to watch the now-13th-ranked women’s soccer team take on Carnegie Mellon at 11 a.m. Two key Maroons—third-years Diana Connett and Jacqui DeLeon—returned from injuries, DeLeon playing with a cast on her broken arm. Despite their on-field presence, Chicago (7–1–2) struggled in the scoreless, double-overtime match. The now-14th-ranked men’s soccer team duplicated the 0–0 score immediately afterward.

Fans moved from picnic and soccer game to the day’s main attraction, football’s clash against perennially strong Washington University. Though it was a sloppy, 11-turnover affair, the Maroons (1–4) made the game interesting in the fourth quarter. Trailing 24–3, second-year quarterback Marc Zera hit first-year wide receiver Mike Albian on two touchdown passes, raising the score to 24–16. The crowd roared when Chicago recovered a fumble at the Washington 6-yard line with 2:58 left. But one play and four seconds later, Zera’s pass was intercepted in the end zone, and Washington won 24–16.

Though Chicago’s three games were thrillingly close, the weekend’s focus was taking a look back at past student-athlete contributors. Friday night’s second annual Hall of Fame Dinner, held at the Quadrangle Club, honored the six 2004 inductees: Patricia R. Kirby, William A. Lester Jr., SB’58, SM’59, James D. Lightbody, PhB’12, John J. Schommer, SB’09, Courtney D. Shanken, AB’42, and Helen Elizabeth Straus, Lab’80, AB’84, MD’90. Like last year's inaugural class, those recognized spanned men’s and women’s athletics, Big Ten and Division III eras, and included both administrators and students.


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Photos by Kristine Khouri.

October 15, 2004

Suspension accord


In the School of Social Service Administration lobby, the window walls behind him revealing the Midway’s yellowing trees, Martin Marty, PhD’56, took the podium. His Wednesday afternoon talk, “America: Still Gadget-filled, No Longer Paradise: Providing Human Services Today,” spanned the 1890s origins of modern social work, 1967 predictions about American religiosity in the year 2000, America’s post-9/11 insecurity, and current debates over displaying the Ten Commandments, funding faith-based initiatives, and repealing the federal estate tax. The winding discourse concluded with his argument that religious institutions and social services are poised for unprecedented partnerships.

Sporting a red plaid bowtie, Marty, the Fairfax M. Cone distinguished service professor emeritus in the Divinity School, noted that in 1980, the last time he lectured at the SSA, there was “a necessary difference between the social-work way of doing things and the clergy’s way of doing things.” Indeed, each entity often perceived the other as imposing on its turf. But now, especially after September 11, 2001, that view has changed.

Taking his lecture’s title from theologian Reinhold Niebuhr’s Cold War–era comment that America was “a gadget-filled paradise suspended in a hell of global insecurity,” Marty contended that after 9/11 “the suspension cord was broken, and we joined the rest of the human race,” no longer feeling sheltered by two oceans and friendly neighbors. The resulting trend toward intense religiosity, though threatening in its militant forms, also can have positive effects, he said: “In a world of insecurity, there is more friendliness between the secular and the religious,” creating “a larger amplitude of resources on which to draw.” Secular and religious social-service providers share a common vocation, he argued. And in such a world, where the Divinity School and the SSA have joined forces, “we will be much better off than when it was just turf battles.”


Photo: Martin Marty, PhD'56, sits with SSA senior lecturer William Borden, AM'83, PhD'88, before Borden introduces Marty's lecture (top).

October 18, 2004

Sweet home falafel


“A dazzling extravaganza of great, free food and even better music,” according to Council on University Programming (COUP) posters, Blues n’ Ribs hit 59th and Woodlawn last Friday from 9 p.m.–1 a.m.—the organization’s first major party of the year. In Ida Noyes Hall’s third-floor lounge a DJ spun contemporary tunes, in a first-floor room singer-keyboardist Charlie Love played soul-filled music, and on the first-floor Cloister Club’s temporary stage students danced to Willie Kent and the Gents’ upbeat offerings. The estimated 1,500 participants also devoured the snacks—1,000 ribs cooked behind Ida Noyes, 1,000 samosas, 2,000 chicken pieces, four trays of hummus, eight trays of falafel, and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale for those of legal drinking age—by the event’s midway point.

COUP—which also organizes Dance Marathon, winter celebration Kuviasungnerk Kangeiko, and Summer Breeze—will host Fall Formal November 5 at Soldier Field.


October 20, 2004

Funny pages


Favoring floppy hair, Converse, and ironical T-shirts, a 100-plus hipster crowd gathered in the International House Monday night to take a peek inside the Onion, an irreverent newspaper spoof popular with the 18- to 35-year-old set. Firmly in the youth bracket themselves, Onion editor-in-chief Carol Kolb and associate editor Amie Barrodale spoke about the paper, joking and clicking rapidly through some of their favorite front-page stories (“Women: Why Don’t They Lose Some Weight?”, “Jesus Demands Creative Control Over His Next Movie”, and “Irrelevant Pop Stars Unite Against Bush”).

After launching into a phony history—in 1756 a man named Zweibel traded a sack of yams for a printing press—Kolb revealed that, in fact, the Onion was born in 1988 at UW–Madison and has clung to its Midwestern roots despite a recent move to New York City. To write for the paper, she joked, you have to have lived in Wisconsin in 1995—that and wait for one of the current staff (a Midwestern group of 10) to die.

Though the Onion creates fake news in the line of Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, sometimes, the editors admitted, it gets taken pretty seriously. Papers from Michigan to Beijing have picked up stories and spread them (including “Report: Al-Qaeda Allegedly Engaging in Telemarketing”). They also got a flood of e-mail thanking them for revealing that Harry Potter books do indeed incite Satanism in children.

And, while their fake news makes great fun of the powers that be (“Cheney Vows to Attack U.S. if Kerry Elected” headlines a recent edition), Kolb and Barrodale claimed that the paper is “not too lefty or too righty.” Their job, they argued, is to “point out stupidity wherever it happens,” a charge they fulfill even with the paper’s brief motto: You are dumb.


October 22, 2004

Leaves of grass


When perfect autumn days arrive like Thursday’s 57-degree sunscape, Chicagoans fall in love with their city all over again. Coats and scarves—only recently dug out of closets—get spurned in favor of shades. In the quads students lounged on the grass one last time, red, yellow, brown, green leaves peppering their views of the blue sky. Some loungers even braved flip-flops and short sleeves.

Lucky for the Magazine, photographer Dan Dry captured the all too fleeting moment on campus. When winter blows in and breaks our hearts, his photos can serve as love letters from a happier season.


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October 25, 2004

Families bring kisses, clean clothes


Showering students with hugs and food, parents and siblings arrived in droves last weekend for the College Programming Office’s (CPO) Family Weekend 2004. Participants flocked to the food (“They sure know how to feed us well,” remarked one father wearing an “I’m a proud U of C parent” button at the Sunday dean’s brunch), neighborhood and campus museum tours, and mock classes spanning the undergraduate divisions.

Saturday morning presented a little confusion as two other major events crowded Hyde Park: the Second Annual Comer Kids’ Classic 5K Run, Walk, and Kids Dash and the Humanities Open House. While parking spots were at a premium, some families chose those alternatives over the CPO’s offerings.

For those who stuck to the schedule, their daytime hours were filled. In the evenings students—now in prime midterm mode—got decent meals outside the dining halls. And for the luckiest young scholars, eager parents washed their laundry and cleaned their rooms. Now that’s a study break.


October 27, 2004

Global Chicago


In International House’s flag-lined Assembly Hall, four authors of the new book Global Chicago (University of Illinois Press) spoke Monday about the city’s evolution from a swamp to a worldly metropolis.

Richard C. Longworth, executive director of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Chicago Center, discussed Chicago under the 1950s–70s reign of former Mayor Richard J. Daley. It was a time, he said, when mobsters carried machine guns in violin cases and the Democratic Machine was a paternalistic force, providing new immigrants jobs in return for votes.

Chicago’s global character, continued Chicago Tribune urban correspondent Ron Grossman, is much older than Daley’s time. Considered the Wild West even after the Industrial Revolution, the city was advertised throughout poor parts of Europe as a place where anyone willing to work could make a living, Grossman said: “Chicago imported human beings like some countries imported raw materials.”

William Testa, vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, attributed the region’s worldwide influence to the railroads, constructed in 1848. And immigration’s rise the last 20 years, he said, is evidence of Chicago’s continuing international legacy. The 2000 census reported that in 51 percent of Chicago’s non–African American households, English is the second language. An Italian restaurateur, Grossman recalled, said recently, “These days you can’t run an Italian restaurant without Mexicans in the kitchen cooking.”

Far from the days of political machines, the current Mayor Richard M. Daley’s biggest brag, Longworth noted, is that “he’s planted more trees than any other mayor.” Daley’s beautification efforts, demonstrated in projects like Millennium Park and flower baskets lining Lake Shore Drive, are not frivolous, Testa added. They represent Daley’s continued efforts to maintain international acclaim. Chicago, he argued, must be attractive to intellectuals and entrepreneurs to remain competitive in the global economy.

Many corporate headquarters have left Chicago in the past decade, Chicago sociology professor Saskia Sassen reminded the audience. The global role, she said, is one Chicago cannot take for granted.

The panel, part of the Center for International Studies’ World Beyond the Headlines program, was the second such event this quarter.

Meredith Meyer, ’07

October 29, 2004

A bioethical upstart just in time for election


“There were already protests at Princeton when I arrived,” reminisced Peter Singer, known for triggering the modern animal-rights movement and supporting human euthanasia and abortion, about his 1999 appointment to Princeton’s Center for Human Values. Selected to give the Law School’s 2004 Dewey lecture, the bioethics professor drew a mélange of students, professors, and academics there Thursday afternoon to speak on “America’s Responsibilities as a Global Citizen.”

“Right now American ethical pursuits are concentrated within national self-interest,” said Singer, whose recent books include One World: The Ethics of Globalization (Yale University Press, 2nd ed. 2004). “Instead, America’s responsibility as a global citizen should be to help international law gain substantial ground.” America’s role under the Bush administration, he argued, has hindered global solidarity and welfare rather than improve it. Bush’s reluctance to sign the Kyoto Protocol hinged on his belief that overstated environmental dangers would disturb the American economy and way of life. “Bush argues that the U.S. cannot carry the burden of cleaning up the world, especially when China and India are not asked to sign the Kyoto Protocol,” Singer said. “But the polluter must pay.” Industrialized nations should be the first to assume responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions, he contended. “America cannot claim to be a good global citizen by conferring the costs of the global environmental welfare to other nations who are less equipped to deal with them.”

Further, Singer said, America’s violation of the Geneva Conventions, its exemption from the International Criminal Court, and its efforts to challenge the ICC’s legitimacy threaten to undermine the rule of law. Urging America to sincerely support the United Nations, he said, “If we allow preemptive strikes to become international law, we allow war to occur more easily. We must work with the UN to advance global cooperation.”

Bianca Sepulveda, AB’04

About October 2004

This page contains all entries posted to UChiBLOGo in October 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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