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Special Events Archive (2020-2021)


April 28, 2021 10 AM – 5:30 PM

UIC Spring Humanities Day

Wednesday, April 28, 2021 10 AM – 5:30 PM

You are invited to a Zoom meeting.

When: Apr 28, 2021 09:30 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


Join us!  Our events include a celebration of faculty and student accomplishments, a roundtable on innovative engaged undergraduate research, a film screening of A Tiny Ripple of Hope, followed by a conversation with Producer and Director Jason Polevoi, and a discussion with Professor John Modern of his new book Neuromatic, or; a particular history of religion and the brain.

We hope to see you at these exciting events!

Please contact for Zoom link for all.

10 AM-12 PM: Welcome and Celebration of humanities research and awards: Mark Canuel (UIC)

Students Speak: Students present Research Projects from the Engaged Humanities Initiative

Moderator, Ellen McClure (UIC)


12:30 -2:00 Film screening: A Tiny Ripple of Hope (2021), produced and directed by Jason Polevoi (register by emailing at for link)

A Tiny Ripple of Hope documents the life and work of Chicago activist Jahmal Cole.  While striving to build a better Chicago for the teens in his neglected community, Cole confronts the multilayered challenges to his home, family, and personal safety.


2:30-3:30 Film discussion: Jason Polevoi with Mark Canuel and audience

Jason Polevoi is a founding partner of the Chicago-based production company One City Films and the first-time feature Producer and Director of the Slamdance Film Festival premier A Tiny Ripple of Hope. Jason’s previous credits include the Chicago/Midwest Emmy-winning documentary F*** Your Hair, the Independent Lens series The Calling, and A Regional Taste, a first-of-its-kind docuseries for the James Beard Foundation.


4 PM John Modern: Presentation and Conversation: Neuromatic: or, a particular history of religion and the brain  (forthcoming from University of Chicago Press)

John Modern is a Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin & Marshall College, where he teaches classes on American religious history, literature, technology, and aesthetics.

Contact for pre-circulated pages


April 9, 2021, 2-3:30pm (via Zoom)

“The Reciprocal Politics of Bed Space Activism: From Confinement to Radical Care”

2021 Mellon Humanities Without Walls Virtual Conversation Series, University of Illinois at Chicago

Friday, April 9th, 2021, 2-3:30pm CDT

To Register:

Beds have been the center of urgent political struggles—be they in prisons, detention centers, hospitals, or nursing homes. Our virtual conversation series centers “bed activism,” complex forms of resistance and visionary care that emerge from the intimate spaces of sick, disabled, detained, and imprisoned peoples. It connects a long-term vision of connecting communities and movements at the nexus of abolition feminism, migrant justice, and disability justice.

Our panelists:

Beth E. Richie, PhD; (she/her) is Professor of Black Studies and Head of the Department of Criminology, Law, and Justice at The University of Illinois at Chicago. The emphasis of her scholarly and activist work as a foremost scholar abolitionist has centered on the ways that race/ethnicity and social position affect women’s experience of violence and incarceration, focusing on the experiences of African American battered women and sexual assault survivors. Richie’s forthcoming work “Abolition. Feminism. Now.” (Haymarket Books, July 2021) with co-authors Angela Y. Davis, Gina Dent, and Erica Meiners amplifies abolitionist analysis and theories of change generated from vibrant community based organizing. Richie’s earlier book Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence and America’s Prison Nation (NYU Press, 2012) chronicles the evolution of the contemporary anti-violence movement during the time of mass incarceration in the United States and numerous articles concerning Black feminism and gender violence, race and criminal justice policy, and the social dynamics around issues of sexuality, prison abolition, and grassroots organizations in African American Communities. Beth Richie’s work has been supported by grants from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Ford Foundation, and The National Institute for Justice and The National Institute of Corrections. She has been awarded the Audre Lorde Legacy Award from the Union Institute, The Advocacy Award from the US Department of Health and Human Services, and The Visionary Award from the Violence Intervention Project and the UIC Woman of the Year Award. Dr. Richie is a board member of The Institute on Domestic Violence in the African Community, The National Network for Women in Prison, A Call To Men and a founding member of INCITE!: Women of Color Against Violence. In 2013 she was awarded an Honorary Degree from the City University of New York Law School and in 2014 she was appointed as a Sr. Advisor to the NFL to work on their domestic violence and sexual assault prevention program.

Lydia X. Z. Brown; (they/their) is an advocate, educator, and attorney addressing state and interpersonal violence targeting disabled people living at the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, faith, language, and nation. Lydia is Policy Counsel for Privacy & Data at the Center for Democracy & Technology, focused on algorithmic discrimination and disability, as well as Director of Policy, Advocacy, & External Affairs at the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network. They are founding director of the Fund for Community Reparations for Autistic People of Color’s Interdependence, Survival, & Empowerment. Lydia is adjunct lecturer/core faculty in Georgetown University’s Disability Studies Program, and adjunct professorial lecturer in American Studies at American University’s Department of Critical Race, Gender, & Culture Studies. They serve as a commissioner on the American Bar Association’s Commission on Disability Rights, chairperson of the ABA Civil Rights & Social Justice Section’s Disability Rights Committee, board member of the Disability Rights Bar Association, and representative for the Disability Justice Committee to the National Lawyers Guild’s National Executive Committee. Lydia is currently creating their own tarot deck, Disability Justice Wisdom Tarot. They have received many awards and much acclaim, as well as many rejection letters and much hate mail. Often, their most important work has no title, job description, or funding, and probably never will.

Silky Shah; (she/her) is the Executive Director of Detention Watch Network (DWN), a national coalition building power to abolish immigration detention in the US. She has worked as an organizer on issues related to immigration detention, mass incarceration, and racial and migrant justice for over 15 years. In her time at DWN she has helped transform the organization into a national leader in the immigrant rights movement, leading campaigns to expose the system and building the capacity of grassroots members to take action. Prior to joining DWN in 2009, Silky worked at Grassroots Leadership in Texas fighting the expansion of immigrant jails on the US-Mexico border and at the independent news program, Democracy Now!, in New York.

This is a virtual webinar event free and open to the public. It will have live captioning. For additional access needs, please contact Lydia Hou at by April 2nd, 2021.

Thank you to Our UIC Co-Sponsors: Institute for the Humanities, Disability Cultural Center, Department of Disability and Human Development, Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy, and Social Justice Initiative at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

This event series is sponsored by the 2021 UIC Humanities Without Walls Seed Grant funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


April 8, 2021 from 6 – 7:30 PM, via Livestream

The UIC Freshwater Lab hosts “Militarizing Rivers,” a digital event on Thursday, April 6pm CST. 

As part of the BackwardRiver project, team members Kathleen Blackburn and Citlalli Trujillo talk water, oil and how water bodies have been straightened and subdued by armed forces with eco-feminist Banu Subramaniam; river policy expert Jeremy Cherson; and historian Robin McDowell.

Why do we call a river, a waterbody known for turns and bends, a pipeline? We think of rivers coursing in a natural path, but pipelines direct flows according to human will. The Chicago River is only one example of how a waterway can be harnessed, straightened into a canal and pressed into the service of conveying coal, oil and petroleum coke. Join our conversation about engineered waterways and the crumbling infrastructure that transforms rivers into pipelines under the auspices of the Army Corps of Engineers. We will ask who benefits from the river-turned-pipeline and who bears the burden. As we look into what flows within the pipelines, we will consider how a militarized river and “invasive species” could be reimagined as public goods.

Watch the live stream on Freshwater Lab’s YouTube channel or Facebook page.

This panel is the second in the 2021 Backward River series.  “The Backward River” is a digital storytelling project about the Chicago River.  The series extends the conversation by lending a voice to the river and amplifying the response by surrounding communities. Watch the first event with Gen Z Environmental Justice Leaders on Facebook and YouTube.

This panel is the second in the 2021 Backward River series.  “The Backward River” is a digital storytelling project about the Chicago River.  The series extends the conversation by lending a voice to the river and amplifying the response by surrounding communities. Watch the first event with Gen Z Environmental Justice Leaders on Facebook and YouTube.

Event co-sponsors:

Deep Time Chicago

UIC Great Cities Institute

UIC Institute for the Humanities

UIC Latin American and Latino Studies

UIC Latino Cultural Center

UIC Museum and Exhibition Studies

Prairie Rivers Network

Speaker Bios

Banu Subramaniam

Professor Subramaniam’s work explores the philosophy, history, and culture of the natural sciences and medicine as they relate to gender, race, ethnicity, and caste. Her latest research rethinks the field and practice of botany in relation to histories of colonialism and xenophobia and explores the wide travels of scientific theories, ideas, and concepts as they relate to migration and invasive species. Subramaniam’s newest book, Holy Science: The Biopolitics of Hindu Nationalism (University of Washington Press, 2019), focuses on how science and religion have become interwoven in emergent nationalist politics and novel conceptions of modernity in India. Her previous book, Ghost Stories for Darwin: The Science of Variation and the Politics of Diversity (University of Illinois Press, 2014), was winner of the Ludwik Fleck Prize 2016 for an outstanding book across the breadth of science and technology studies. She is co-editor of Feminist Science Studies: A New Generation (Routledge, 2001) that put Feminist Science Studies on the map.

Jeremy Cherson

Jeremy earned his MS in Environmental Policy at the Bard Center for Environmental Policy in Annandale-on-Hudson in New York’s Hudson Valley. Jeremy started his career as an undergraduate at American University in Washington, D.C., organizing support for the McCain-Lieberman climate bill for Environment America in 2007. He has since been an AmeriCorps member in central California, monitored conservation easements in Alabama and Georgia, and served as the camp supervisor at an environmental summer camp in Atlanta. Jeremy now serves as the Advocacy Coordinator working on campaigns across Riverkeeper’s portfolio including fossil fuels and clean energy, Hudson River PCBs, Plastic-Pollution, and government relations.

Robin McDowell

Robin is completing her doctorate in African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Her interdisciplinary research combines methodologies of history, environmental studies, and visual culture with her years of experience in community-centered design and grassroots community organizing in the Greater New Orleans area. She holds an A.M in History from Harvard University, an M.F.A. in Design from the University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Fine Arts from The University of Pennsylvania. Robin is a co-convener of History Design Studio, a workshop for new ideas in multimedia history. In fall 2021, she will join the faculty of the African and African American Studies Department at Washington University in St. Louis as an Assistant Professor.

March 31, 2021, 10 -11:30 AM, via zoom

“Do we need ideological diversity in the humanities
(or is that a ploy to discredit us?)”

Angela Dillard, Richard A. Meisler Collegiate Professor of Afroamerican & African Studies, History University of Michigan

Mellon Lecture in Engaged Humanities

Wednesday, March 31, 2021 from 10 -11:30 AM, via zoom


This talk makes a case for why we humanities scholars should embrace ideological diversity, despite the messy political context in which this often divisive concept exists. While acknowledging some potential risks — intellectually, politically, and institutionally — I seek to demonstrate the viability of writing an “ideologically wide” history of the post-World War II U.S. civil rights movement, one that makes space for those who stood inside of black communities, within black political culture, but decidedly against key aspects of the movement from a center-to-right position.

October 6, 2020 from 10am - 11:30, via Zoom

Mellon Lecture in Engaged Humanities
Neal A. Lester, Foundation Professor of English, Founding Director of Project Humanities, Arizona State University

“Humanities and Entrepreneurship, or the Entrepreneurial Humanist”

Too often, too many conversations about entrepreneurship happen among those in the business world, and we humanists turn our noses up at the very idea of “corporatizing” our institutions of higher education, especially non-profit colleges and universities.  From his experience as a teacher and administrator,  Dr. Lester challenges humanists to  reimagine the work that we do in the context of expanding our reach, visibility, and impact.  Ultimately, Dr. Lester challenges humanists to imagine new possibilities in a world that too often limits our abilities to think differently and in new ways about how to tell our individual and organizational stories and how to attract new supporters and new resources.

Register in advance for the Mellon Lecture in the Engaged Humanities with Dr. Neal A. Lester webinar:


Or an H.323/SIP room system:

H.323: (US West) (US East) (China) (India Mumbai) (India Hyderabad) (Amsterdam Netherlands) (Germany) (Australia) (Hong Kong SAR) (Brazil) (Canada) (Japan)

Meeting ID: 953 1885 3960

Passcode: 39076458


Passcode: 39076458

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.


November 12, 2020, 4-6pm, Via Zoom

Fall 2020 Publishing Symposium

Fall Publishing Symposium

Thursday, November 12, 2020, via Zoom

(Please email for invitation link.)


4:00-4:50 PM  “Getting It Written”

(click here to view a recording of this panel discussion)

Word by word, a blank page becomes a manuscript, a dissertation becomes a book. How does this transformation occur? How do authors find and create time, inspiration, support, and motivation to write? This practical panel will share strategies from experienced authors in the humanities and social sciences, including advice on overcoming the particular challenges of research and writing in a pandemic.

  • Tarini Bedi, associate professor of anthropology, UIC, and author of The Dashing Ladies of Shiv Sena: Political Matronage in Urbanizing India (SUNY Press, 2016) and (Auto)Biographies and (Auto)Mobilities: Roads, Labor, and Kinship in Mumbai’s Taxi Trade (University of Washington Press, forthcoming)
  • Lynn Hudson, associate professor of history, UIC, and author of The Making of ‘Mammy Pleasant’: A Black Entrepreneur in Nineteenth-Century San Francisco (University of Illinois Press, 2003) and West of Jim Crow: The Fight against California’s Color Line (University of Illinois Press, 2020)
  • Ronak K. Kapadia, director of graduate studies & associate professor of gender and women’s studies, UIC, and author of Insurgent Aesthetics: Security and the Queer Life of the Forever War (Duke University Press, 2019)
  • Chair: Mark Canuel is a professor of English and director of the Institute for the Humanities, and the author of 3 monographs, most recently, Justice, Dissent, and the Sublime (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012)

4:50-5:10        Break

5:10-6:00 PM  “Getting It Published”

(click here to view a recording of this panel discussion)

You have completed your dissertation, drafted your article, or prepared your book proposal. How do you identify the right publisher and venue for your work? What is the best way to approach an editor? What questions should you ask, and what questions should you be prepared to answer? Three experienced editors share their top tips for authors, with special focus on how to pitch your project and connect with an editor in a virtual environment.

  • Debbie Gershenowitz, senior acquisitions editor, University of North Carolina Press
    • areas of acquisition: African American history; the history of slavery, abolition, and freedom; histories of gender, women, and sexualities; histories of U.S. foreign relations and America and the World; military history; Latinx history; and legal history
  • Emily Taber, acquisitions editor, MIT Press
    • areas of acquisition: economics, finance, and business
  • Daniel Nasset, editor-in-chief, University of Illinois Press
    • areas of acquisition: communication, film and media, sports, Chicago
  • Chair: Laurie Matheson, Director, University of Illinois Press


Organized by Laurie Matheson, Director, University of Illinois Press


August 19, 2020 11:00am-4:30pm

Humanities Summit 2020

On line via Zoom

***For Zoom link, follow registration instructions at the bottom of this page***

In the spring and summer of 2020, we’ve witnessed a global pandemic and increased violence–at state and local levels–against people of color.  This has been a time of grief, struggle, and resistance.  At this year’s summit, held on line via Zoom, students and faculty will reflect on this moment of crisis, and think together about the essential role that humanities can take in addressing it.  We will also invite conversation about how the humanities has been transformed by current conditions, and how humanities work can promote new, reparative, and productive collaborations with communities throughout Chicago.

11:00-12:30 Welcome–Mark Canuel (UIC)
Students Speak: Students present Research Projects from the Engaged Humanities Initiative
Moderator, Ellen McClure (UIC)

12:30-1:00 Break

1:00-2:30 The Humanities During a Crisis

How are humanities disciplines responding to times of medical and political crisis?  How are interconnected crises encouraging humanities work to transform itself and respond in creative ways to our present conditions?

Moderator, Laura Hostetler (UIC)
David Stovall (UIC)
Nadine Naber (UIC)
Ralph Cintron (UIC)
Shiben Banerji (School of the Art Institute)

2:30-3:00 Break

3:00-4:30 Neighborhood Engagement and Collaboration Strategy with the Chicago Humanities Festival

The Chicago Humanities Festival is including a range of Chicago area institutions in a Mellon-funded effort to ignite humanities programming and participation in our neighborhoods.  Join us in an information and brain-storming session as we think about how to activate the humanities in the communities where we live and work.

Moderator, Mark Canuel (UIC)
Alison Cuddy (CHF)
Ira Murfin (CHF)
Ellen McClure (UIC)
Enid Wells (Kennedy-King College)
Darby  Johnsen (Kennedy-King College)
Chloe Johnston (Lake Forest College)


***Register in advance for this webinar:***


You are invited to a Zoom webinar. 

When: Aug 19, 2020 11:00 AM Central Time (US and Canada) 

Topic: Humanities Summit 2020: Crisis and Action

Or an H.323/SIP room system:

    H.323: (US West) (US East) (China) (India Mumbai) (India Hyderabad) (EMEA) (Australia) (Hong Kong SAR) (Brazil) (Canada) (Japan)

    Meeting ID: 917 8112 0781

    Passcode: 60858339


    Passcode: 60858339

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.