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Conferences Archive (2008-2009)

2008-2009 Conference Image

The conference will explore the contributions of the disciplines of the Humanities to debating and constructing ideas and representations of the family. Based on the premise that conceptions of the family are wide-ranging and continually transforming, the conference will ask what constitutes a family, examining this question from the perspective of history, literature, law, and ethics. Topics considered will include inheritance, marriage, work, religious and utopian communities, violence, children, the relation of the family to the community, the nation, and the state, and changing conceptions of genders and sexualities.

It is helpful for us to calculate attendance, so please pre-register for the conference.
The conference is free and open to the public.

750 South Halsted Street, Room 605

Friday, March 13, 2009


10.00 am – 11.45 am
Introduction: Norma Moruzzi, Political Science and Gender and Women’s Studies, UIC
Daniel Boyarin, University of California, Berkeley
“Friends and Relations: Platonic Love in Early Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism”

Panel I: Family Plots
1.00 pm – 3.00 pm
Moderator: Lisa Freeman, UIC
Mary Beth Rose, UIC
“The Dead Mother Plot: Family and Authority in Early Modern English Texts”
Toni Bowers, University of Pennsylvania
“Family Dissolution and Political Debate: the Struggle for Virtuous Resistance in Richardson’s Clarissa
Pamela Wojcik, University of Notre Dame
“The Suburbs in the City: Familism, Urbanism, and the Apartment”
Michael Cobb, University of Toronto
“Polygamy, Parks, and Pioneers”

Panel II: Navigating Differences and Distance 
3.30 pm – 5.30 pm
Moderator: Leon Fink, UIC
Stephen Striffler, University of New Orleans
“Family, Community, and Class across the US-Mexican Border”
Rachel Jean-Baptiste, University of Chicago
“The EuroAfrican: Mtis Identity, Family, and Culture in post-1945 French Africa”
Renee Romano, Oberlin College
“From the Lovings to the Obamas: Interracial Marriage, Multiracial Families, and America’s Racial Future”
Lisa Norling, University of Minnesota
“Families Afloat: Gender performance and Sexual Dynamics on 19th-century American Ships”

Saturday, March 14, 2009


10.00 am – 11.45 am
Introduction: Katrin Schultheiss, UIC
Stephanie Coontz, The Evergreen State College
“The Humanities and the (A)morality of Family Values”

Panel III: Legislating House and Home
1.15 pm – 2.45 pm
Moderator: Stephen Engelmann, UIC
Susan Jennifer Pearson, Northwestern University
“A Right to Childhood: Children and the Logic of Liberalism”
Joan Tronto, Graduate College, CUNY
“Family Trouble for Democracy, Or, Who Cooked Kant’s Breakfast?”
Susan Glosser, Lewis and Clark College
“Women, Family, and the State in 20th Century China”

Panel IV: Parental Politics
3.00 pm – 5.00 pm
Moderator: John D’ Emilio, UIC
Ellen Lewin, University of Iowa
“Consuming Fatherhood”
Peter Stearns, George Mason University
“The Loss of Innocence Theme in American Culture Toward Childhood”
Michael Grossberg, Indiana University Bloomington
“What’s Rights Got to Do With It? Struggles over the Place of Children in Post World War II American Families ”
Jennifer Morgan, New York University
“Echoes of Slavery? : ‘Race’, ‘Nature’, and Reproductive Technologies”

Hotel Accommodations

Rooms are reserved at:

The Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro
733 West Madison
Chicago, IL. 60661
Ph : 312-829-5000
fax: 312-602-2180
Contact: Lena Lahart

Rooms referenced under “The Humanities and the Family” will be charged at a cost of $159 per night (single/double) plus 15.4% occupancy tax.

The hotel is a short walk to the conference location. Dormitory lodging is not available If you need a disability accommodation to participate in the event, please contact Linda Vavra at least a week in advance at 312-996-6354.

The conference is organized by the 2007-08 Institute for the Humanities Executive Committee: John D’Emilio, History and Gender and Women’s Studies; Stephen Engelmann, Political Science; Leon Fink, History; Lisa Freeman, English; Norma Moruzzi, Gender and Women’s Studies and Political Science; Mary Beth Rose, Institute for the Humanities, English Department; Katrin Schultheiss, History and Gender and Women’s Studies; and Linda Vavra, Institute for the Humanities at the University of Illinois at Chicago

For more information, contact Linda Vavra Associate Director, Institute for the Humanities, 701 South Morgan, MC 206, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL. 60607-7040;at 312-996-6354 or