The 11th annual festival, which runs through November 12, offers more than 100 lectures, readings, and discussions by scientists, writers, historians, and others organized around the theme of “Now!,” as well as movies and musical and theatrical performances (see listings in this section and in Section Three). Events take place at: Alliance Francaise, 54 W. Chicago; Art Institute of Chicago, Michigan and Adams (use east entrance); Chicago Historical Society, Clark at North; Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton; Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr. (use west entrance); First United Methodist Church, Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington; Francis W. Parker School, 330 W. Webster; University of Chicago’s Gleacher Center, 450 N. City Front Plaza Dr.; Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State; Loyola University, downtown campus, 25 E. Pearson; DePaul University, Merle Reskin Theatre, 60 E. Balbo; Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago; National-Louis University, downtown campus, 122 S. Michigan; Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton; Northwestern University Law School, 375 E. Chicago; Ogden Elementary School, 24 W. Walton; Chicago Academy of Sciences Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Dr.; Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan; Saint James Episcopal Cathedral, Wabash and Huron; and Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan. All programs are $6 unless otherwise noted. Tickets can be purchased by phone, 312-663-0339; at the Symphony Center box office, 220 S. Michigan; through the festival’s Web site (; or at the site the day of the event. For more information call the festival hot line at 312-661-1028, ext. 32. See next week’s listings for the second week of the festival.


Martha Peake

“Literary gothic master” Patrick McGrath reads from his latest novel, a saga set during the Revolutionary War. 1 to 2 PM: Newberry Library.


Elastic Time on Flexible Stages

British playwright Alan Ayckbourn talks about how his works play with time. 10 to 11 AM: Merle Reskin Theatre.

Once Upon a Time–Is NOW!

Storyteller Rives Collins presents a program for families. 10 to 11 AM: Ogden Elementary School.

The Twentieth Century: Were the Good Guys Bound to Win?

Oxford professor of history Niall Ferguson presents a “counterfactual interpretation of the past.” 10 to 11 AM: Newberry Library.

Comedy & Revenge

New Yorker theater critic John Lahr lectures on how high art has been influenced by popular comedians. 10:30 to 11:45 AM: Symphony Center, Armour Stage.

Taoism and the Arts of China

Chinese art curator Stephen Little discusses the current appeal of Taoism. 10:30 to 11:30 AM: Art Institute, Rubloff Auditorium.

“Might as Well Live”: Mining Humor From Tragedy in Women’s Literature

Lecture by Elissa Schappell, author of the novel Use Me. 11 AM to noon: Loyola University, Rubloff Auditorium.

SENZAZIONE! Public vs. Private Funding of “Offensive Art”: A Mock Appeal

A mock trial inspired by the controversy surrounding an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, which included a painting of the Virgin Mary partially decorated with elephant dung. Lawyers Richard Epstein, Burt Joseph, Michael Monico, and Lorna Propes argue the pros and cons of using public funding for the arts; judges Frank H. Easterbrook, Diane Wood, and Marvin Aspen make rulings. 11 AM to 1:30 PM: Chicago Historical Society. The cost of the program with lunch is $25; call 312-661-1028, ext. 24, to reserve tickets. Regular tickets are available without lunch.

Time May Not Exist

Physicist and author Julian Barbour puts forth the idea that attempts to unify Einstein’s general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics suggest that time doesn’t exist. 11 AM to noon: Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

Border Crossings: Literature & Cultural Translation

Writers and translators Peter Clark, Mohsin Hamid, Anton Shammas, and Ahdaf Soueif discuss ways literature can act as a translator between cultures. University of Chicago professor of Arabic studies Farouk Mustafa moderates. 11:30 AM to 1 PM: Newberry Library.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to This Poem

Poet Campbell McGrath talks about humor as a strategy in writing verse. Noon to 1 PM: Roosevelt University, Ganz Hall.

History NOW!

Historians Jonathan Clark, Linda Colley, Niall Ferguson, Linda Gordon, and Laura Hostetler discuss how our questions about the past reflect on the present time. Noon to 1:30 PM: National-Louis University.

Why Are Americans So Restless in the Midst of Prosperity?

British consul general Robert Culshaw, University of Illinois at Chicago professor emeritus Gene Ruoff, Metropolitan Planning Council president MarySue Barrett, and University of Chicago dean Daniel Shannon try to answer the question. Great Books Foundation president Peter Temes moderates. Noon to 1 PM: Gleacher Center.

Capturing the Now

Richard Cahan shows the work of photographers involved with the CITY 2000 project, which is documenting everyday life in Chicago over the entire year. 12:30 to 1:30 PM: Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

Magdalena Abakanowicz

The Polish sculptor discusses her work and her individual vision with Susan Drymalski Bowey, former chair of the Warsaw Sister Cities Committee. 1 to 2 PM: Museum of Contemporary Art.

Islam and Time

Georgetown University Arab studies scholar Barbara Stowasser looks into how time is understood and recorded in Islamic cultures. 1 to 2 PM: Alliance Francaise.

Mao Now

Historian Jonathan Spence considers Mao’s impact on China and the world. 1 to 2 PM: Art Institute, Rubloff Auditorium.

Saul Bellow: An American Life

James Atlas talks about his new biography of the writer. 1 to 2 PM: Gleacher Center.

What Now? When, Already

Actor and director Harold Ramis discusses comedy and what we find funny today. 1 to 2 PM: Symphony Center, Armour Stage.

Myths, Dreams, and Stories

Novelist and comic-book writer Neil Gaiman talks about where he finds inspiration and reads from his forthcoming novel, American Gods. 1:30 to 2:30 PM: Roosevelt University, Ganz Hall.

The Adventures of Sindbad: The World’s Most Extraordinary Sailing Stories

Ludmila Zeman reads from her children’s book and shows slides of her illustrations. 2 to 3 PM: Ogden Elementary School.

A Reading With Anita Desai

The writer reads from her work and talks about how her fiction blends Eastern and Western culture. 2 to 3 PM: Loyola University, Rubloff Auditorium.

Austin Pendleton

The Steppenwolf ensemble member discusses his work as an actor, director, and playwright. 2 to 3 PM: Harold Washington Library Center, auditorium.

Einstein’s Dreams

Physicist and novelist Alan Lightman explains Einstein’s theory of relativity and how it inspired his best-selling novel. Clock Productions performs excerpts from the stage adaptation. 2:30 to 4 PM: Chicago Historical Society.

I May Not Get There With You: Martin Luther King for the 21st Century

Political activist and DePaul University professor Michael Eric Dyson talks about the need to reevaluate King’s life and legacy. 2:30 to 3:30 PM: Saint James Episcopal Cathedral.

What’s Cooking? Food & Entertainment Now

Discussion with caterer George Jewell and others in the food business. 2:30 to 4 PM: Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

Education in the Age of the Internet

Andrew Rosenfield, founder of the on-line school Cardean University, explores educational opportunities offered by the Internet around the world. 3 to 4 PM: Gleacher Center.

The Language of Clothes

Novelist Alison Lurie discusses what clothes say about us. 3 to 4 PM: Museum of Contemporary Art.

Cairomania: Cairo as the “Always” City

Writer and Cairo resident Max Rodenbeck explores the city’s influence on Greek philosophy and the Renaissance in Europe as well as its state today. 3:30 to 4:30 PM: Alliance Francaise.

HUMANA-RAMA: Games, Voices, and Children’s Theater

Poet Juan Felipe Herrera reads from his work and leads improvised theater and bilingual word games. 3:30 to 4:30 PM: Ogden Elementary School.

What’s So Special About the Present? A Few Unfriendly Remarks About Modernism

Professor of British history Jonathan Clark looks at how 20th-century historians praised the present and derided the past, and the effects of their actions. 3:30 to 4:30 PM: Loyola University, Rubloff Auditorium.

A Good House

Bonnie Burnard reads from and talks about her novel about a multigenerational Canadian family. 4 to 5 PM: Roosevelt University, Ganz Hall.

The Manifold Now: A Poetry Reading

Li-Young Lee, Campbell McGrath, and Gerald Stern talk about how poetry documents the social and historical present and “preserves the eternal human presence.” 4:30 to 6 PM: National-Louis University.

A Double Writing

Novelist Ahdaf Soueif talks about the many cultural influences on her writing in a conversation with fellow novelist Rosellen Brown. 5 to 6 PM: Alliance Francaise.

Princess Mononoke

Writer Neil Gaiman introduces the Japanese animated film, for which he wrote the English narration. 7 PM: Facets Multimedia Center.


Clinton and Politics 2000

Political reporter and novelist Joe Klein presents the keynote address of the festival. 10 to 11 AM: Symphony Center, Armour Stage.

A Conversation With Jaume Plensa

The Spanish sculptor discusses his work. 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM: Museum of Contemporary Art.

Where History Is Headed

Writer Robert Wright discusses whether history has a direction and a purpose. 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM: Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

“The Dearest Freshness Deep Down Things”: The Humanities and the Concept of the New

Scholar Ralph Williams discusses the goal of artistic expression as a way to “freshen” the world rather than to re-create it. Noon to 1 PM: Symphony Center, Buntrock Hall.

Healing History

Menominee nation member Ada Deer, political activist James Hirabayashi, historian Barbara Ransby, and Spertus Institute president Howard Sulkin discuss how the humanities can help us understand and overcome events like slavery and genocide. Newberry Library vice president James Grossman moderates. Noon to 1:30 PM: Chicago Historical Society.

How Oceans Connect

Writers Fred D’Aguiar, Anita Desai, Aleksandar Hemon, and Danzy Senna

discuss how their dual cultural identities affect them. Noon to 1:30 PM: Newberry Library.

The Marriage of True Minds: Writers and Translators

Two husband and wife teams of writers and translators–Maryse Conde and Richard Philcox, and Hong Ying and Henry Zhao–talk about the extra challenges their marriages bring to the translating process. Noon to 1:30 PM: Alliance Francaise.

Richard J. Daley: American Pharaoh

Elizabeth Taylor and Adam Cohen talk with attorney Tom Geoghegan about the city’s response to their new biography of the elder Daley. Noon to 1 PM: National- Louis University.

Hostages to Empire: Now and Then

London School of Economics professor Linda Colley compares the British sense

of imperial destiny with U.S. imperialism. 12:30 to 1:30 PM: Loyola University, Rubloff Auditorium.

Baywatch: American Pop Culture Abroad

Gregory Bonann, creator and director of the TV show, talks about its popularity outside the U.S. 1 to 2 PM: Harold Washington Library Center, auditorium.

Theater and Politics

Playwright Warren Leight discusses the political commentary in his work with Chicago Sun-Times theater critic Hedy Weiss. Two of Leight’s one-act plays will be performed. 1 to 2:30 PM: Museum of Contemporary Art.

!WEN . . . Looking Back Along the Edge

Poet Tom Raworth discusses and reads from his work. 1 to 2 PM: Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

The Backlash Against the Americanization of Global Culture

Lecture by University of Chicago business professor Marvin Zonis. 2 to 3 PM: Roosevelt University, Ganz Hall.

A Celebration of Memory

Chilean Jewish poet Marjorie Agosin reads from her and other female poets’ work and discusses the poetry of human rights. 2 to 3 PM: Chicago Historical Society.

Families in Literature

Writers and critics Carolyn Alessio, Rosellen Brown, Jill Dawson, Kathryn Stern, and Michael Wood talk about the presence and absence of happy families in contemporary fiction. 2 to 3:30 PM: National-Louis University.

The History of the “Interracial”

Historian Linda Gordon talks about a vigilante kidnapping in the Wild West and what it teaches about race and other issues. 2 to 3 PM: Alliance Francaise.

Illustration Workshop

Led by writer and illustrator Ludmila Zeman; for all ages. 2 to 3 PM: Ogden Elementary School.

Moth Smoke

Mohsin Hamid reads from and talks about his debut novel, set in contemporary Pakistan. 2 to 3 PM: Loyola University, Rubloff Auditorium.

The Audience Now

Chicago Tribune critics explore the tastes of young, culturally diverse audiences. 2:30 to 4 PM: Harold Washington Library Center, auditorium.

The Past, Present, and Future of Maps

Discussion with The Island of Lost Maps author Miles Harvey, the Newberry Library’s Jim Akerman, and University of Chicago cosmologist and astrophysicist Michael Turner. 2:30 to 4 PM: Newberry Library.

A Celebration of the New Yorker’s 75th Anniversary

The magazine’s poets Philip Levine, Elizabeth Macklin, Paul Muldoon, Kay Ryan, Mark Strand, and Kevin Young read from their work. 3 to 4:30 PM: Museum of Contemporary Art.

The Question of Bruno

The Bosnian-born local writer Aleksandar Hemon reads from and talks about his book of short stories. 3:30 to 4:30 PM: Loyola University, Rubloff Auditorium.

Why Don’t Americans Vote?

Panel discussion with former presidential adviser Rahm Emanuel, Northwestern University journalism professor Ellen Shearer, Chicago Reporter editor and publisher Laura Washington, and Joyce Foundation vice president Lawrence N. Hansen. Moderated by Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism dean Ken Bode. 3:30 to 4:30 PM: Chicago Historical Society.

Great Books Discussion: Beowulf

Participants should read the Seamus Heaney translation before the event and bring it to the discussion. 4 to 5 PM: National-Louis University.

A Conversation With Donald Margulies

The playwright (Dinner With Friends) discusses his work with Chicago Tribune arts critic Richard Christiansen. 4 to 5 PM: Roosevelt University, Ganz Hall.

The Young Musician’s Survival Guide

Amy Nathan gives a talk based on her book; for ages ten and up. 4 to 5 PM: Ogden Elementary School.

Religion NOW!

University of Illinois at Chicago dean and Milton scholar Stanley Fish leads a discussion with University of California-Berkeley talmudic culture professor Daniel Boyarin, Cardinal Francis George, Duke University theological ethics professor Stanley Hauerwas, and others. 7 to 8:30 PM: Saint James Episcopal Cathedral.


Life in Lawyerland

Lawyers Leigh Bienen, Larry Joseph, and Scott Turow and judges Ilana Rovner and Ann Williams talk about their work as writers, litigators, and teachers. 5:30 to 7 PM: Northwestern University Law School.