Chicago Humanities

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Best Episodes of Chicago Humanities

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Our Inside Belief podcast this week asks, "How do our fictional narratives interact with our real, lived experiences?" . . . . . . . . "Easygoing" Music by Podington Bear |
Our Inside Belief podcast this week asks, "how do you maintain a space for utopian thinking -- or the possibility of change -- in a world that feels kind of...dystopian?" . . . . . . . . "Easygoing" Music by Podington Bear |
Can faith, in a spiritual sense, be separated out from trust in the societal sense?
2015 MacArthur Fellow and writer for The Atlantic Ta-Nehisi Coates discusses his latest book, “Between the World and Me.” Taking the form of a series of letters addressed to his teenage son, the book explores what it means to inhabit a black male body in contemporary America. Natalie Moore of WBEZ joins Coates to discuss his work, the history of Chicago’s housing policies, white plunder, and more. This program was recorded on October 24th, 2015.
Amy Klobuchar is a trailblazer. As the first woman elected from Minnesota to serve in the United States Senate, the Democrat is known for her commitment to bringing together politicians from both sides of the aisle. A graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, Klobuchar worked to create a bipartisan debt commission and championed the most sweeping ethics reform since Watergate. Senator Klobuchar’s name is on a number of shortlists of potential candidates for the 2016 presidential race, and the American Prospect named her “a woman to watch.” Chicago magazine’s Carol Felsenthal joins Klobuchar for a wide-ranging discussion on the state of women in government today. This annual lecture honors the late Joanne H. Alter’s pioneering work on behalf of women interested in social action and public service, and was recorded on May 1, 2015.
Chicago is a mecca for foodies of all types, whether in search of our famed hot dogs, delicious tacos, or the latest in high-end gastronomy. But if Mindy Segal has her way, the city will soon be known for cookies! The intrepid founder of Bucktown’s HotChocolate is already a confectionery queen. Her new cookbook, “Cookie Love,” is a decadent and dazzling ode to the most satisfying of sweets. In conversation with WBEZ’s “Chewing the Fat” podcasters Monica Eng and Louisa Chu, Segal talks about her quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie and more. This program was recorded on April 22, 2015.
As a former star of the hit TV show “Parks and Recreation” and as a touring comedian, Nick Offerman is best known for his humor and acting. However, he is also a passionate american patriot and talented woodworker. In his new book, “Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America's Gutsiest Troublemakers,” our favorite mustachioed funnyman celebrates the heroes who inspire him, from George Washington to Conan O’Brien. Mark Bazer, host and founder of “The Interview Show” and co-host of “My Chicago” on WTTW joins him for a conversation. This program was recorded on May 28, 2015.
Opera legend Jessye Norman had an extraordinary journey from a childhood in segregated Augusta, Georgia, to star of the world’s grandest stages. Her memoir “Stand Up Straight and Sing!” deepens our appreciation for her stunning musical gifts. Opera dramaturg Colin Ure joins Ms. Norman in conversation. This program is presented in partnership with Lyric Unlimited—an initiative of Lyric Opera of Chicago—and the School of the Art Institute. This program was recorded on May 19, 2014
The “zone of interest” refers to the outer perimeter of the Auschwitz concentration camp. But in the hands of Martin Amis, one of the greatest authors in the English language, it becomes the terrain for a love story—though one with a violently unromantic setting. In a novel powered by both wit and pathos, Amis excavates the depths and contradictions of the human soul. He is joined in conversation by Donna Seaman, senior editor for Booklist. This program was recorded on October 30, 2014
A stunning departure—and compelling return. From Anne Rice, perennial best-selling author and inventor of the modern vampire genre, comes a chilling, hypnotic new novel. Hear the author of "Interview with the Vampire" on her next classic, "Prince Lestat: The Vampire Chronicles." Victoria Wilson, Rice’s longtime editor, joins her for a conversation. This program was recorded on November 8, 2014
Since February 2014, the world’s eyes have been on Ukraine as Ukrainians rebelled against rising authoritarianism in their own country and were met in return with a Russian invasion of Ukraine's southern and eastern provinces. Yale University’s Timothy Snyder is the world’s leading historian of Eastern Europe. His series of articles in the New York Review of Books has been hailed as the definitive analysis of this crisis. Join him as he clarifies the stakes. This program is generously underwritten by Rose L. Shure. This program was recorded on November 9, 2014
One of the world’s greatest opera stars, Renée Fleming is also a Chicago treasure. The creative consultant for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, she has become an ambassador for arts education in the city. She is also the force behind one of Lyric’s most ambitious projects: "Bel Canto," an opera based on Ann Patchett’s celebrated novel, which in turn takes its inspiration from Fleming’s career. She discusses all that and more with opera dramaturg Colin Ure. This program is generously underwritten by Julie and Roger Baskes and presented in partnership with Lyric Unlimited—an initiative of Lyric Opera of Chicago—and 98.7 WFMT. This program was recorded on October 26, 2014
Marshall Sahlins embodies the modern history of anthropology. From early work on “stone age economics” to a brilliant theory on who killed Captain Cook to a recent, revolutionary approach to kinship, he has repeatedly reset the agenda for the discipline. A one-time colleague of Claude Lévi-Strauss, Sahlins looks back on decades of studies of Oceanic societies and shares insights into his unparalleled career. The University of Chicago scholar, rabble-rouser, campus activist, and inventor of the teach-in holds forth on his home turf. He is joined in conversation by CHF Emeritus Artistic Director Matti Bunzl. This program was recorded on October 26, 2014
Born in Antigua, Jamaica Kincaid arrived in the United States as a seventeen-year-old au pair. Working her way through college, she eventually became a staff writer at the New Yorker and one of our most renowned novelists. Her Caribbean birthplace continues to inspire her fiction, from “Annie John” and “Lucy” to “Mr. Potter” and “See Now Then.” Join her for a wide-ranging conversation with CHF Emeritus Artistic Director Lawrence Weschler. This program is generously underwritten by Lynn Hauser and Neil Ross. This program was recorded on October 25, 2014.
Scott Simon’s weekly show, Weekend Edition Saturday, has been called “the most literate, witty, moving, and just plain interesting news show.” So when he began tweeting from his mother’s hospital bedside in July 2013, was it any wonder his 1.2 million followers paid close attention? His new memoir, "Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime," expands on those famous tweets to share a story that goes beyond his mother’s death to explore her glamorous, Mad Men–era early days and her challenges as a single mother. Chicago-born Simon takes to the CHF stage in a rare role—interviewee—to share this story with Alison Cuddy, CHF’s associate artistic director and former WBEZ 91.5 host. This program was recorded on April 9, 2015
"The Book of Unknown Americans" by Cristina Henríquez follows the journeys of two families—one Panamanian, one Mexican—from Latin America to their adopted homeland of the United States. At its heart, though, this is a love story, one by turns suspenseful and wry. Henríquez returns to the CHF stage with a story that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be American. She is joined in conversation by Coya Paz, artistic director of Free Street Theater. This program was recorded on March 18, 2015.
Is there anyone cooler than Kim Gordon? The founding member of the seminal band Sonic Youth is also a talented musician, artist, writer, and role model to a generation of women. Now she’s written a memoir recounting her life as a musician and artist. "Girl in a Band" takes us back to the post-punk scene of New York in the 1980s and '90s, when Sonic Youth helped create a musical revolution. She is joined in conversation by CHF’s associate artistic director and former WBEZ 91.5 host Alison Cuddy. This program is presented in partnership with the Music Box Theatre. This program was recorded on February 26, 2015.
Leonard Nimoy was best known for his work as an actor and director, but he was also a critically acclaimed photographer. In 2001, he took to the CHF stage to discuss his lifelong passion for photography, his spiritual beliefs, and how the two intersected in his photography book "Shekhina." This program was recorded on November 3, 2001.
Karen Shimmin & Willy Nast from the literary podcast “All Write Already!” reflect on their experiences at the 2014 Chicago Humanities Festival, Journeys. They speak with presenters Marc Walton, Johari Jabir, Davis Schneiderman, Anne Waldman, and Sasha Frere-Jones.
Nelson Mandela famously said that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” But what are the best strategies for our place and time? This annual lecture in partnership with the Spencer Foundation presents exemplary research on education, broadly conceived. With a focus on investigating ways that education can be improved, the work presented is both daring and practical. Join Cathy Cohen, professor of political science at the University of Chicago and author of "Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics," as she discusses the Black Youth Project, what it reveals about black Americans’ experience, and the political repercussions of these findings. This annual lecture recognizes a generous multiyear grant from the Spencer Foundation, which seeks both to support and disseminate exemplary research about education, broadly conceived.
Here is a stunning true story from the author of Up in the Air, Walter Kirn. For 15 years, the acclaimed journalist and novelist fell for the pedigreed charms of one Clark Rockefeller. Then in July 2008, authorities pursued “Rockefeller” for kidnapping his own daughter, and an elaborate lie very publicly unraveled. Clark’s real identity was revealed to be Christian Gerhartsreiter, a German imposter with a murderous past. What started as a story about American nobility became Blood Will Out, a deeply personal account of Kirn’s relationship with a psychopath masquerading as a gentleman. This program was recorded on October 25, 2014.
Political and cultural commentator David Brooks kicks off the 25th anniversary celebration of the Chicago Humanities Festival by sharing his observations on the cultural shifts the United States has undergone since World War II. Brooks explains how the current generation, raised on what he calls a diet of “food, shelter and applause,” is more interested in fame than moral growth. He then breaks down the steps to becoming a deep, virtuous person, proposing a shift from an external journey for success to an internal journey for tranquility and self-respect. This program is presented as part of the annual Karla Scherer Endowed Lecture Series for the University of Chicago. This program was recorded on October 21, 2014.
Legendary Chez Panisse restaurateur and Slow Food icon Alice Waters and one of our greatest living food writers, Ruth Reichl, came together for a rare and intimate conversation about culinary culture. The two dished on Waters’ latest cookbook, The Art of Simple Food II, and questioned why the US has passively chosen fast food as the national cuisine. Through her work for the Edible Schoolyard Project, Waters offers hope for the future by educating a new generation of students to understand that eating is an ethical act and bring culture back to agriculture. This program is presented in partnership with Green City Market, the Edible Schoolyard Project, and the Art Institute of Chicago. This program was recorded on April 10, 2014.
The Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, awarded separately for fiction and nonfiction, recognizes recently published works “embodying the spirit of the nation’s heartland.” The prizes are part of the Chicago Tribune’s ongoing dedication to reading, writing, and ideas. “The Third Coast,” Thomas Dyja’s elegant, insightful, and intensely knowledgeable book, is subtitled “When Chicago Built the American Dream.” And throughout its 544 pages, Dyja proves the importance of our hometown in defining the 20th century. Join him for an illuminating talk sure to make you appreciate all over again why you call Chicago home. He is joined in conversation by Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune literary editor. This program is presented in partnership with the Chicago Tribune's Printers Row series. This program was recorded on November 3, 2013.
Henry Thoreau’s “Walden” is full of animal sounds: lowing cows, baying dogs, trumping frogs, and hooting owls. Leading literary scholar and Yale University professor Wai Chee Dimock searches the great text of American Transcendentalism for these sonic traces. Her talk places Thoreau’s animal sounds in a long cultural history reaching back to Aesop’s fables and forward to such works as Maya Lin’s “What is Missing,” a multimedia installation that uses the aesthetics of animal sounds to warn against the imminent extinction of species. This program is presented in partnership with The Newberry Library and the Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture at the University of Chicago. This program was recorded on November 2, 2013.
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Podcast Details

Created by
Chicago Humanities Festival
Podcast Status
May 12th, 2010
Latest Episode
Nov 8th, 2017
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
About 1 hour

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