Programs and Events | Newberry

Programs and Events

The Newberry offers programming in the humanities for scholars, teachers, and the general public. Unless otherwise noted, events are free, and no reservations are required. Many of our programs are recorded, and you can listen to them on our website.

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E.g., 08/24/2019
E.g., 08/24/2019
Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Led by Jill Gage. Six sessions 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
n the 300 years since it was first published, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe has never been out of print. Semi-based on a true story, the novel is one of adventure and contemplation, and Crusoe is by turns traveler and castaway; mariner and builder; slave and slave owner; hermit and companion. The novel has been endlessly adapted and abridged and has influenced writers…
Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Led by Douglas Post. Six sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
The sound and attitude of rock, pop, and hip-hop have helped reinvent and reinvigorate the American musical theater. This seminar will focus on six shows that shook the world of Broadway, starting with the brash and raucous songs of Hair and finishing with the bold, rich, and rap-infused score of Hamilton.
Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Led by Debra N. Mancoff. Four sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
The face of Pre-Raphaelite art was extraordinary: soulful eyes, pouting lips, and a magnificent crown of hair. Through paintings, primary documents, archival photographs, historic dress, and contemporary poetry and prose, this seminar explores the ideas and ideals of this image, as well as the fascinating women…
Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Led by Rachel Boyle, PhD. Five sessions. 2 - 4 pm.
“Biler Avenue” was the nickname for a two-block stretch of Pacific Avenue in late nineteenth-century Chicago made notorious by “women without husbands” who “got ‘biling drunk,’ and were in a state of constant riot and effervescence,” according to the Chicago Tribune…
Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Led by Riad Ismat. Six sessions. 2 - 4 pm.
In this seminar, we will study a selection of major Arabic fiction writers and dramatists whose writing tackles corruption and tyranny, the two motives for the Arab Spring uprisings that began in 2011 and continue to this day in countries like Sudan. We will focus especially on the work of Egyptian, Syrian, and Tunisian writers, including…
Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Led by Melinda Rooney. Six sessions. 2 - 4 pm.
This seminar has been cancelled.
The Face that Launched a Thousand Ships, half-mortal and half-divine, Helen of Troy is defined in myth and history by who and what she was to others. This class seeks to understand Helen by granting to her character a more complex humanity. Readings will include…
Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Led by Steven J. Venturino. Nine sessions. 2 - 4 pm.
To celebrate the Victorian author’s bicentenary, this seminar explores George Eliot’s masterpiece Middlemarch in manageable weekly installments—with no spoilers! The result will be an engaging in-depth look at Eliot’s literary technique and her insights into culture, science, art, and psychology…
Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Led by Frank Biletz. Ten sessions. 1 - 3 pm (Section A) or 5:45 - 7:45 pm (Section B).
The Russian Revolution of 1917 transformed world history, ending the Romanov dynasty and initiating an ideological struggle between communism and liberal democracy. Topics to be treated in this course include the reign of Nicolas II; the Revolution of 1905; Russian involvement in the Great War; the March Revolution and …
Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Led by Daniele Macuglia. Three sessions. 6 - 7:30 pm.
2019 is a special year for admirers of Leonardo da Vinci, as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death. This seminar will celebrate Leonardo by focusing on the wonderful machines documented in a selection of materials held at the Newberry. In particular, we will explore…
Wednesday, September 25, 2019
Led by Kathleen Murphy Skolnik. Four sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
Although the modern approach to design now known as Art Deco originated in Europe, it was soon embraced by American architects and designers. This seminar examines the expression of Art Deco in American design from architecture to furniture, decorative objects to fashion and jewelry, and graphic arts to industrial design…
Wednesday, September 25, 2019
Led by Esther Hershenhorn. Seven sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
This workshop will focus on how to create and write a children’s picture book that connects with today’s young readers as well as our ever-changing marketplace. Participants will be able to share and discuss their own manuscripts in order to highlight the variety of picture books, as well as the different structures, crafts, writing processes, and publishing opportunities…
Wednesday, September 25, 2019
Led by Mary Kettering. Two sessions. 2 - 4 pm.
Frida Kahlo’s life was steeped in political action, but her politics are often deemphasized in favor of standard female tropes like marriage and motherhood. This seminar focuses on the often-overlooked political content of Frida Kahlo’s work. Each session will contextualize the history and cultural influences that shaped Kahlo’s paintings…
Wednesday, September 25, 2019
Led by Nina A. Wieda. Eight sessions. 2 - 4 pm.
Russia remains an important, albeit enigmatic, player on the international stage. This seminar seeks to illuminate Russia’s relationship with its neighbors and other world powers from the point of view of regular Russians, whose perspectives sometimes clash with the interests of the ruling elites…
Wednesday, September 25, 2019
Led by Colleen English, PhD. Four sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
This year marks the bicentennial of the composition of John Keats’s greatest poems. From the Gothic tale of The Eve of St. Agnes, written in the winter, to the great odes composed during the spring, the year 1819 saw Keats creating many of the poems that established him as a major poetic figure. In this seminar, we will discuss…
Wednesday, September 25, 2019
Led by Richard Reeder. Six sessions 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
In this seminar, we will read, discuss, and analyze two of the greatest novels of crime and punishment set in Chicago: Richard Wright’s Native Son and Meyer Levin’s Compulsion. Although they differ in their treatments of race and class, both novels combine trenchant social commentary and psychological incisiveness with riveting courtroom drama…
Wednesday, September 25, 2019
Led by Lesa Dowd. Four sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
This course will explore the modern crossed-structure bookbinding. The soft covered book created in this class has flexible features that make it ideal as a journal or a sketchbook. Participants will create a leather-covered multi-section book…
Thursday, September 26, 2019
Led by BIll Savage. Six sessions. 6 - 7:30 pm.
Whether from Vienna, Bari, Mississippi, or Michoacán, immigrants have brought their foodways, along with their work ethic, to Chicago. In this seminar, we will explore the history of Chicago’s diverse street food cultures in order to discuss Chicago history more broadly…
Thursday, September 26, 2019
Led by Linda Levine. Eight sessions. 2 - 4 pm.
700 years after it first appeared, Dante’s Inferno still fascinates readers through its dramatization of the poet’s descent into Hell and its evocation of emotions like fear, anger, pity, and horror. In this course, we will read and discuss the Inferno, while seeking to understand the historical, religious, political, and artistic climates that influenced the work…
Thursday, September 26, 2019
Led by Todd Bauer. Eight sessions. 6 - 7:30 pm.
The present moment in American theater is one of its richest and most exciting. In this discussion- and lecture-based seminar, we will examine this moment by considering the plays of Tony Kushner, Martyna Majok, Tracy Letts, Paula Vogel, Neil LaBute, and others…
Thursday, September 26, 2019
Led by Eugene Newman. Six sessions. 6 - 7:30 pm.
The novels, plays, and short stories of the French existentialists have proven to be the most effective presentations of existentialist philosophy. In this course, we will undertake close readings of Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea, and Albert Camus’s The Stranger
Thursday, September 26, 2019
Led by Laurel Harig. Ten sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
This course will introduce students to the rich world of the Arabic language. At the end of the course, each student will be able to read and write short paragraphs (5-6 sentences) in grammatically correct Modern Standard Arabic describing themselves, their family, the weather, food, places, and simple actions in the past, present, and future…
Thursday, September 26, 2019
Led by Dr. Brian Oberlander. Six sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
Participants in this course will view three Mediterranean civilizations through the lens of their music and culture. We will see how the musical remnants of ancient Greece are deeply rooted in the culture’s philosophy and mythology, while the songbooks of medieval Castile and the courtly suites of Moorish Granada reveal the Iberian peninsula’s fabled religious diversity…
Thursday, September 26, 2019
Led by Stephen Kleiman. Eight sessions. 2 - 4 pm.
Leonard Bernstein once declared, “The 20th century has been a badly written drama from the beginning.” Devoted to one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century, this seminar follows Leonard Bernstein through the decades in his roles as composer, conductor, educator, philanthropist, and social activist…
Saturday, September 28, 2019
Led by Laurel Harig. Ten sessions. 1 - 3 pm.
This course is designed to deepen and advance students’ comprehension and composition abilities in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). By the end of the course, each student will be able to read and write full pages in grammatically correct MSA describing themselves and their hobbies, work, and studies. They will be able to express more complex actions in the past, present, and…
Saturday, September 28, 2019
Led by Alexis Culotta, PhD. Three sessions. 1 - 3 pm.
What explains the metamorphosis of the Gothic into the Renaissance style? In order to answer this question and others, this seminar offers an exciting look at the revolutionary figures of 14th- and 15th-century European art…
Saturday, September 28, 2019
Led by Margaret Farr. One session. 1 - 4 pm.
Joseph Cornell’s box constructions feature the most common of materials (marbles, clay pipes, newspaper and magazine fragments, and postage stamps, to name a few) and seem at first glance as if they are toys for children. Yet Cornell’s sophisticated combinations…
Saturday, September 28, 2019
Led by Marsha Peterson-Maass. One session. 9 am - noon.
The Newberry has one of the nation’s strongest genealogy collections. This one-session course will introduce you to accredited methods for tracing your family’s history in America. Learn about genealogical relationships, traditional family trees and charts…
Saturday, September 28, 2019
Led by Julia Kriventsova Denne. Nine sessions. 10 am - noon.
In this seminar, we will read the two best-loved humorous novels of the early Soviet Union—The Twelve Chairs and The Little Golden Calf, by Ilf and Petrov—in order to generate a detailed satirical panorama of everyday Soviet life in the 1920s. Our guide through this landscape will be the protagonist Ostap Bender…
Saturday, September 28, 2019
Led by Jean Iversen. Two sessions. 1 - 3 pm.
This walking tour will introduce you to the history and foods of Albany Park’s Kedzie Retail District, known for its Middle Eastern restaurants, bakeries, and groceries. You will spend the first session at the Newberry, learning more about the history of this culturally rich neighborhood. The second session will consist of a walking culinary tour of the Kedzie Retail District…
Saturday, September 28, 2019
Led by Marsha Peterson-Maass. One session. 1 - 4 pm.
Confused about how to organize your genealogical materials? Try getting started with the Fundamentals of Genealogy®’s “Organizational Challenge!” In this one-session course, you’ll first become acquainted with effective organizational and preservation techniques for your paper and digital research files…
Saturday, September 28, 2019
Led by Sarah Kernan. Five sessions. 10 - 12 pm.
Food and books have long been an enticing pairing. In this seminar, we will explore their convergence in early modern England. Focusing on print and manuscript primary sources, we will delve into the cookery genre through discussions of book production, the household, authorship and readership, ingredients and kitchen technologies, and the meal…
Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Led by June Sawyers. Five sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
Conor McPherson has been called the finest playwright of his generation. Many of his plays focus on three topics: loneliness, shame, and drinking. Just as many of his plays emphasize the paranormal, the magical, and the mystical. This course will concentrate on McPherson’s supernatural plays
Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Led by John Gibbons. Six sessions. 2 - 4 pm.
The towering spiritual and cultural achievements of the Baroque era are nobly reflected in the work of Bach and Handel (both born in 1685). From Bach, we are bequeathed secular masterpieces of intensity, poetry, intellectual rigor, and breathtaking spiritual achievement, such as the oratorios. More grandiose and yet remarkably direct and communicative, Handel’s art is represented by…
Thursday, October 3, 2019
Led by Margaret Farr. Six sessions 2 - 4 pm.
Beginning in 1900, the United States underwent a period of unprecedented social and technological change that would herald broad transformations in American society through the first half of the century. This course explores how American artists responded to explosive urban growth, industrial expansion, the Great Migration, the Depression, and the coming of European modernism…
Saturday, October 5, 2019
Led by Susanne Dumbleton and Fred A. Wellisch. Seven sessions. 1 - 3 pm.
In Dead Man Walking, Sister Helen Prejean memorably describes her challenging role as spiritual advisor to two death row inmates and witness to their executions. Her memoir was turned into an award-winning film (aided by a powerful soundtrack) starring Susan Sarandon. Composer Jake Heggie then shaped the story into a poignant opera…
Saturday, October 5, 2019
Led by Katrina A. Kemble & Rachel Michaels. One session. 1 - 4 pm.
In 1933, thousands from all over the country flocked to Chicago for the World’s Fair. One of the most popular attractions was Sally Rand’s infamous fan dance. Sally Rand and her fans are credited with saving the fair and the city from financial ruin during the Great Depression…
Saturday, October 5, 2019
Led by Elzbieta Foeller-Pituch. One session. 10 - 4 pm.
Sherlock Holmes has developed from a Victorian icon into a global phenomenon whose most recent incarnation is the hit TV series Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role. In this seminar, we will first trace the development of detective fiction before turning to Arthur Conan Doyle’s short stories and his best-known Holmes novel…
Saturday, October 5, 2019
Led by Frank Biletz. Ten sessions. 10 am - noon.
Political and social turbulence, as well as an architectural and artistic efflorescence, characterized late 19th-century Paris. Topics to be treated in this exploration of Paris during the Belle Époque include the Second Empire; Baron Haussmann and the remaking of Paris; the Paris Commune and the troubled foundations of the Third Republic…
Saturday, October 19, 2019
Led by Tom Irvine. One session. 9 am - noon.
Wherever there is commerce, there is fraud. Even so, America seems to do fraud bigger, more boldly, and with more flash than other countries. In this one-day session, we will trace American fraud from the simple oversell of the 19th century through some of the more complex instances of contemporary fraud…
Saturday, October 19, 2019
Led by Jeff Nigro & John Nygro. Three sessions. 1 - 3 pm.
This class has been cancelled.
Celebrate the glories of Venetian art and music from the city’s Renaissance heyday through its Baroque period and the cultural flowering of the late Republic. Each session of this course will involve presentations by the instructors and group discussions of select works of art and music…
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Led by Diane Dillon. Six sessions 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
Go behind the scenes of the Newberry’s Fall 2019 exhibition What is the Midwest? with curator Diane Dillon. This seminar will explore the history and culture of the Midwest region, examining how the Midwest has been defined over time and considering what makes it distinctive from a range of perspectives…
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Led by Brooke Heagerty. Eight sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
William Morris (1834-1896) is best known for his Victorian-era designs, textiles, and art work. But Morris was also a social visionary who advocated the right of everyone to meaningful work and a peaceful and cultured life. In this course, we will explore Morris’s artistic and political journey from Pre-Raphaelite romantic to pathbreaking designer to international socialist…
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Led by Dagmar Herrmann. Seven sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
From their debut in Berlin in the 1780s to their appearance in 1930s California, women’s salons served as welcoming havens where women of all classes and creeds could openly debate art, music, literature, and politics. In this seminar, we will explore the history of a selection of salons—including salons frequented by Americans in 19th- and early 20th-century Paris…
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Led by Tom Irvine. Seven sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
Spy novels date back to the early 20th century, but some of the best have been written about the Cold War. Perhaps this is due to the prevalence of espionage in the period: covert action was seen by the Soviet Union and the West as providing a less risky and more cost effective way to make gains in the Cold War…
Saturday, October 26, 2019
Led by Lee Minnerly. One session. 9 am - noon.
Since the fifth century BCE, Western philosophers, theologians, astronomers, literary figures, and many others have written about the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life. Where does it exist? What is it like? And what, if any, is its relationship to us, our world, and our beliefs? This one-day seminar will selectively survey the 2,500-year-old history of…
Saturday, October 26, 2019
Led by Harrison Sherrod. One session. 11 am - 4 pm (lunch break 1 - 2 pm)
The ghost is one of the most enduring motifs in storytelling, and is ubiquitous across epochs and cultures. Just in time for Halloween, this single-day interdisciplinary seminar will trace the history of the ghost in literature, film, and theater with an emphasis on examining how its symbolism has changed over time. We will unpack stories by…
Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Led by Lesa Dowd. Four sessions. 5:45 - 7:45 pm.
aste paper is an early form of decorative paper that has been used in bookbinding since the early 16th century. This course will explore historical designs and techniques while offering participants the opportunity to examine samples of bookbindings with paste paper features from the Newberry’s collection. Participants will create their own patterned paste papers…
Saturday, November 2, 2019
Led by Dr. Kevin Kaufmann. Four sessions. 10 am - noon.
Chicago boasts a rich and diverse history of music, which runs the gamut from Blues and Rock to Gospel and Folk. As the city grew from a small hamlet to a major metropolis, it was folk music especially that provided a sound track to the journey. This seminar will focus on the development of folk music in Chicago, focusing on…
Saturday, November 2, 2019
Led by Caron Primas Brennan. One session. 1 - 4 pm.
This course will review the largest online genealogical databases—Ancestry, FamilySearch.org, MyHeritage, and Find My Past—comparing their strengths and surveying ways to use them effectively. Additionally, it will review the electronic genealogical resources available through the Newberry…
Saturday, November 9, 2019
Led by John Nygro. Three sessions. 1 - 4 pm.
This class has been cancelled.
Whether you are a seasoned concert-goer or want to develop your nascent understanding of classical music, this seminar will expand your ability to get more out of the music you love. Everyone can become a better listener by using each of the five senses, increasing awareness of individual prejudices, and understanding the value of a pieces’ context, purpose, and production…

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