The 13th annual Chicago Humanities Festival, this year themed “Brains & Beauty,” runs through November 10 and offers dozens of lectures, readings, and discussions by writers, artists, and scholars (see schedule below), as well as film screenings and theatrical and musical performances (see separate listings in this section and in Section Three). The following events take place at these locations: Alliance Francaise, 54 W. Chicago; Art Institute of Chicago, Michigan and Adams; Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington; Chicago Historical Society, 1601 N. Clark; DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl.; Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.; Harold Washington College, 30 E. Lake; Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State; Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago; Northwestern University School of Law, 375 E. Chicago; and Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. Programs are $5 in advance, $6 (if available and cash only) at the door, unless otherwise noted (students and teachers are admitted free, with advance reservations). Advance tickets are available by phone at 312-494-9509 or on-line at (handling fees apply to phone and Web site orders).

The schedule for November 2 through 7 follows. A complete schedule is available on-line at


Kenn Kaufman

The author of Birds of North America lectures on “Beauty and Imagination in the Dual Appeal of Birds.” 10 AM: Field Museum, Simpson Theatre.

“My Life in the City”

“Prominent Chicago female octogenarians and nonagenarians” share their experiences. Panelists include Hope Abelson, Ann Barzel, Margaret Burroughs, Marian Despres, Ruth Duckworth, Eliza Gleason, Ruth Horwich, Marion Lloyd, Kay Mayer, Marion Simon, and Doe Thornburg; moderated by CHF executive producer Eileen Mackevich. 10 AM: Chicago Historical Society.

“Audubon’s Beautiful Birds”

Presentation by librarian Ben Williams. 11 AM: Field Museum, Library Reading Room. Free; tickets required.

“Celebrating Ralph Ellison’s ‘Invisible Man”‘

Actor Freeman Coffey reads from the novel, followed by a panel discussion with William Ayers of UIC, Morris Dickstein of CUNY, Ken Warren of the University of Chicago, and journalists Salim Muwakkil and Laura Washington; moderated by former Great Books Foundation president Peter Temes. 11 AM: DuSable Museum.

“The Field Museum Collections: The Zoology of Birds”

Presentation by Field Museum staff members John Bates, Shannon Hackett, and Dave Willard. 11 AM: Field Museum, Ward Lecture Hall.

David Henry Hwang

The playwright (M. Butterfly) offers “A Second Flowering,” a discussion of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song. 11 AM: Harold Washington Library Center.

Donald Sassoon

The British historian (Becoming Mona Lisa: The Making of an Icon) speaks on “Mona Lisa: The Best-Known Girl in the Whole Wide World.” 11 AM: Art Institute, Fullerton Auditorium.

Rachel Shteir

The DePaul University dramaturgy professor and author of Grit, Glamour, and the Grind discusses “Gypsy Rose Lee and the Literary Striptease.” 11 AM: Harold Washington College.

David Allen Sibley

The writer and illustrator (The Sibley Guide to Birds) offers “Picturing Birds.” Noon: Field Museum, Simpson Theatre.

Field Museum Bird Walks

Guided tour. 1 PM: Field Museum, North American Birds Hall. Free; tickets required.

Antoni Libera

The Polish novelist and theater director discusses Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape in “Being Oneself: What Does It Mean?” Actor Nicholas Rudall performs excerpts. 1 PM: Alliance Francaise.

Daniel Margoliash

The University of Chicago neurobiologist presents “Bird Brains–Smarter Than You Think!” 1 PM: Field Museum, Ward Lecture Hall.

Tim O’Brien

The National Book Award-winning novelist (The Things They Carried) reads from July, July. 1 PM: Harold Washington Library Center.

“Poetry Magazine: A 90th Birthday Celebration”

Discussion and readings with poets Susan Hahn and Christian Wiman and Poetry editor Joseph Parisi. 1 PM: Harold Washington College.

Francine Prose

The novelist and critic (The Lives of the Muses) talks about “Brains and Beauty and the Muse.” 1 PM: Art Institute, Fullerton Auditorium.

“Starving Artist” Award Winners

Winners of last year’s juried competition present their work. 1 PM: Chicago Cultural Center, Randolph Cafe. Free.

Wendy Steiner

The author of Venus in Exile: The Rejection of Beauty in 20th-Century Art lectures on “The Trouble With Beauty.” 1 PM: Museum of Contemporary Art.

Scott Turow

The Chicago lawyer and novelist (Reversible Errors) presents “Confessions of a Death Penalty Agnostic.” 1:30 PM: Northwestern University School of Law, Thorne Auditorium.

“Audubon’s Beautiful Birds”

Presentation by librarian Ben Williams. 2 PM: Field Museum, Library Reading Room. Free; tickets required.

Field Museum Bird Walks

Guided tour. 2 PM: Field Museum, North American Birds Hall. Free; tickets required.

“Writing Women”

Panel with novelists Carol Anshaw (Lucky in the Corner), Cristina Garcia (The Aguero Sisters), and Dawn Turner Trice (An Eighth of August); moderated by novelist and poet Rosellen Brown. 2:30 PM: Chicago Historical Society.

Art Roundtable: “What Is Beauty?”

Discussion with art historians, artists, critics, and curators. Panelists include James Elkins, Richard Hunt, Eleonora Luciano, Pratapaditya Pal, Ed Paschke, Robert Rosenblum, Donald Sassoon, Simon Schama, and Wendy Steiner; moderated by Art Institute director James Wood. 3 PM: Art Institute, Fullerton Auditorium.

“Comedie Francaise: A Theatrical Journey From 17th-Century Paris to 20th-Century Chicago”

Presentation by Comedie Francaise directors Marcel Bozonnet and Olivier Giel; in French with English translation. 3 PM: Alliance Francaise.

Sue Grafton

The mystery writer reads from Q Is for Quarry. 3 PM: Harold Washington College.

International Writers: “Unchanging Beauty in Changing Times”

Panel discussion led by University of Iowa International Writing Program director Christopher Merrill. 3 PM: Harold Washington Library Center.

Wadad Kadi and Sally Metzler

Kadi, professor of Islamic thought at the University of Chicago, talks about “The Qur’an and Literature”; D’Arcy Museum of Art director Metzler discusses “Art Angels.” 3 PM: Museum of Contemporary Art.

Dennis Weller

The curator offers “Description and Meaning in 17th-Century Dutch Paintings.” 3 PM: Field Museum, Ward Lecture Hall.

Adam Zamoyski

The historian (Holy Madness: Romantics, Patriots, and Revolutionaries, 1776-1871) talks about “Beauty and Politics.” 3:30 PM: Northwestern University School of Law, Thorne Auditorium.

“Mozart and Messiaen: As the Bird Sings”

Indiana University psychologist Meredith West discusses imitation and improvisation in Mozart’s work; Winston Choi plays excerpts from Messiaen’s Catalogue d’oiseaux. 4 PM: Field Museum, Simpson Theatre.


Arthur Miller

The playwright, recipient of the inaugural Chicago Tribune Literary Prize, lectures on “Are We Placing Beauty Before Brains?” 10 AM: Symphony Center, Armour Stage.

Michael Holroyd

The author of Works on Paper: The Craft of Biography and Autobiography speaks on “Elgar and Shaw: Composer and Playwright.” 11:30 AM: Museum of Contemporary Art.

Simon Schama

The historian (A History of Britain) presents “The Poetics of TV History: Who Are We Kidding?” 11:30 AM: Art Institute, Fullerton Auditorium.

Margaret Atwood

The Booker Prize-winning Canadian novelist (The Blind Assassin) talks about “Growing Up Female . . . and Literate.” Noon: Field Museum, Simpson Theatre.

Shashi Tharoor

The Indian novelist (Riot: A Love Story) discusses “Globalization and the Human Imagination.” Noon: Chicago Historical Society.

Alice Sebold and Studs Terkel

The Chicago Tribune awards its 2002 Heartland Prizes to Sebold for fiction (The Lovely Bones) and to Terkel for nonfiction (Will the Circle Be Unbroken? Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith); the authors will read from their works. 1 PM: Symphony Center, Armour Stage.

Jonathan Rose

The author of The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes talks about “Common Readers and Classic Books.” 1 PM: Alliance Francaise.

Pratapaditya Pal

The curator presents “The Himalayas: An Aesthetic Adventure.” 1:30 PM: Art Institute, Fullerton Auditorium.

Robert Rosenblum

The critic and curator holds forth “On a Neoclassic Painting by Picasso.” 1:30 PM: Museum of Contemporary Art.

“Performing Women”

Actors Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Irma P. Hall, Jessica Thebus, and Mary Ann Thebus discuss stage and screen depictions of girls and women; moderated by Steppenwolf Theatre Company artistic director Martha Lavey. 2 PM: Chicago Historical Society.

Carole Angier

The biographer presents The Double Bond: The Life of Primo Levi. 3 PM: Alliance Francaise.

Jeffrey Eugenides

The novelist reads from Middlesex. 3:30 PM: Harold Washington Library Center.

Adam Zamoyski

The historian talks about “Leonardo’s Lady: A Question of Taste.” 3:30 PM: Art Institute, Fullerton Auditorium.


Genetic Engineering Roundtable: “How Far Is Too Far?”

Panel with Chicago-Kent law professor Lori B. Andrews, Northwestern University Center for Genetic Medicine director Rex Chisholm, SAIC professor of art and technology Eduardo Kac, Tufts University professor of urban policy Sheldon Krimsky, University of Chicago Institute for Mind and Biology director Martha McClintock, American Journal of Bioethics editor Glenn McGee, Lainie Ross of the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, Indiana University geneticist Kimberly Quaid, and Reproductive Genetics Institute director Yury Verlinsky; moderated by Chicago Tribune science writer Peter Gorner. 5:30 PM: Northwestern University School of Law, Thorne Auditorium.


Kirk Varnedoe

The MOMA curator discusses “Instinct and Intelligence in Modern Art.” 6 PM: Art Institute, Rubloff Auditorium.


“Crazy Brains, Insane Murderers”

Discussion with 14th Ward alderman Ed Burke, Chicago Tribune reporter Maurice Possley (Everybody Pays: Two Men, One Murder, and the Price of Truth), and Thomas P. Sullivan, cochair of the governor’s Commission on Capital Punishment; moderated by Northwestern University law professor Leigh Beinen. 5:30 PM: Northwestern University School of Law, Thorne Auditorium.

“Rodgers & Hart: With a Song in My Heart”

Presentation by writer Barry Day and theater historian Robert Kimball; with accompanying performances. 8 PM: Northwestern University School of Law, Thorne Auditorium. $10.


“Listen Up: Voices of Three Arab American Women”

Discussion with musician and poet Evelyn Accad, journalist and cabaret performer Roxane Assaf, and performance artist and scholar Laila Farah. 6 PM: Chicago Cultural Center, Claudia Cassidy Theater. Free.