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Highlights: Research Activities and Events for 2022-23


News Summary

It has been a thrilling first year serving as Faculty Director of the Neubauer Collegium. I have consistently been inspired by the imagination of University of Chicago faculty members as they propose new ways to tackle critical intellectual and social questions through collaboration. This special report highlights several of the exciting research projects that we supported during the 2022–23 academic year, which included faculty from across the University and beyond. As the world, our campus, and our building fully reopened in the aftermath of Covid, it was particularly gratifying to see and hear the unique spaces of the Collegium filled with visitors, events, and conversation.

This year we put a special focus on integrating our gallery exhibitions, curated by Dieter Roelstraete, more fully with the research life of the University. We began the year with a conversation about history and the contemporary conflict in Ukraine, deepening intellectual engagement around Slavs and Tatars’s MERCZbau exhibition, which closed last fall. A second discussion circled around Rick Lowe’s exhibition, Notes on the Great Migration. A sociologist, an economist, and a historian came together to discuss the relationship between art and community development on Chicago’s South Side, inspired by Lowe’s social practice. This forum also represented a continuation of Lowe’s ongoing collaborative research project Black Wall Street Journey, which began at the Neubauer Collegium. Finally, we were thrilled to host the choral group The Crossing under the rubric of our Director’s Lectures series. The Crossing presented a spectacular and thought-provoking program of original music on contemporary themes, including climate change, monuments, and technology. The following day, we hosted a workshop on “The Aesthetics of Catastrophe.” That workshop included Crossing director Donald Nally, artist Jenny Kendler, composers Shara Nova and Ayanna Woods, along with University of Chicago scientists, historians, and scholars of performance. The workshop converged around both the performance of The Crossing and the final Collegium exhibition of the year, The Chicago Cli-Fi Library, which was an investigation of climate change in contemporary art. The discussion only further highlighted the urgent need for humanists, artists, and scientists to engage in cross-cutting conversations that will enable us to understand and address the existential issues of our time.

In the coming year, we are excited to develop our new Global Solutions Initiative. We hope to build on our longstanding aim to be a global center on campus as well as foster greater cooperation with campus centers abroad, including in Paris and Delhi. This will include hosting our first Global Solutions Visiting Fellow, opera director Yuval Sharon, who will collaborate with faculty on campus, exploring the possibilities represented by experimental performance as a form of collaborative research. We launched Sharon’s fellowship with a viewing and discussion of his new opera, Proximity, which premiered at the Lyric Opera in March, as well as a manuscript workshop on his forthcoming book about opera. Finally, I hosted my first Director’s Lecture, with the writer and political theorist Lea Ypi, whose book Free is a genre-bending amalgam of history, political theory, and memoir, and speaks to the contemporary crisis of democracy in Europe in relation to the Socialist past.

I am extremely grateful to all of the staff, faculty, students, visitors, and members of the public who energized and supported our activities this year, and I hope that you will join us again in 2023–24 for another exciting year.

Tara Zahra
Roman Family Director
Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society