Humanities Center examines what's real in 2017-18 season

Lorene Yue
October 09, 2017

Determining fact from fiction has placed the word "fake" in an even more unflattering spotlight, making it a timely topic for the DePaul University Humanities Center 2017-18 season.

"In some ways, the question of what is real and what is fake is always with us," says H. Peter Steeves, a professor of philosophy and director of the center. "In a world of grays, then, it is even more pressing to get clear on what we mean by 'fake' and 'real.' The humanities and the arts are there at the forefront of this inquiry." 

When Steeves chose the theme "fake" three years ago, the word elicited a different reaction. Now, the pervasive use of the term only validates the discussion the Humanities Center is trying to generate through this year's programming.

"We'll be asking how perception works and how great magicians can manipulate us into seeing something we can't believe is real," Steeves says. "We'll be exploring the nature of shadows, artistic forgeries, historical records and the nature of art. We'll be thinking together about what it means to be healthy, how some in our communities get falsely labeled as ill and the ways in which differently abled people are not truly necessarily 'unhealthy.'"

Ricky Jay at DePaul

All programs are free and open to the public. They are held in the Student Center, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave., Room 120 on DePaul's Lincoln Park Campus.

Fake 1 & In Conversation with Great Minds: Ricky Jay
Wednesday, Oct. 11
6 - 7:30 p.m. Screening of "Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay"
7:30 - 9 p.m. Conversation with Ricky Jay

Magic and conversation kick off the Humanities Center's fall season with a screening of a documentary on Ricky Jay, an author, actor, historian and renowned sleight-of-hand artist. His resume includes film roles in "Boogie Nights" and "Tomorrow Never Dies," television appearances on "Deadwood" and "The X-Files" and the ability to throw a playing card at 90 mph.

The Horror of the Humanities V
Monday, Oct. 30
6 - 6:30 p.m. "Haunted House" interactive Halloween exhibit
6:30 - 7:45 p.m. Screening of "The Eyes of My Mother"
7:45 - 9 p.m. Conversation with director Nicolas Pesce

The Humanities Center's fifth annual Halloween event marks the return of its version of a haunted house where the "terrors" may be interactive displays and exhibitions on such topics as genetically modified food or student debt. The evening culminates with a screening of the 2016 black and white horror film "The Eyes of My Mother" and a discussion with director Nicolas Pesce.

The 100th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution
Wednesday, Nov. 8
7 - 9:15 p.m.

A century has passed since Bolshevik workers and soldiers rose up against Russia's provisional government, and there are still lessons that can be learned from the revolution. The Humanities Center examines the event with live performances and the trial of a fictional character. Guest speakers include:

  • Helena Goscilo, an Ohio State professor with an expertise in Russian culture, will speak on the pivotal role women played in the Bolshevik revolution.
  • Zachary Cahill, a Chicago-based multi-media artist, will present his "The Parapsychology Initiative" project.
  • William Nickell, an associate professor and chair of the Slavic Department at the University of Chicago, will discuss the challenges of cultural transformation.
  • The Bach & Beethoven Ensemble will provide live musical performances of pre- and post-revolutionary music.

There's an interactive component, as well, with the audience seated in a manner that resembles a Neo-futurist Russian painting.

More events are scheduled for winter and spring, including a Jan. 29 discussion with actor Michael Shannon and sessions addressing fake art, fake personas and fake illnesses. Learn more about the center and upcoming events on the center's website.

100th anniversary of Russian Revolution