Your browser is unsupported

We recommend using the latest version of IE11, Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

Forum on 15

Forum on 15 is a lecture series sponsored by the School of Literatures, Cultural Studies and Linguistics featuring talks presented by scholars in all fields represented in the School – literary studies, linguistics, visual culture, material culture, cultural studies, religious studies, and area studies. The series features scholars from within and outside of the School and the UIC community. Talks are loosely structured around a theme for each calendar year. The format of the talks emphasizes serious scholarly discussion across disciplines of interest to faculty and graduate students within the wider Chicago scholarly community.

2019-2020: Upcoming Talks Heading link

Due to the current public health situation, all Forum on 15 talks for the rest of the 2019-2020 year have been postponed. We hope to reschedule them for next year.

2019-2020: Past Talks Heading link

flyer for Meyer talk

Anxiety and the Imperial City: Arthur Schnitzler’s Vienna around 1900

Imke Meyer
Professor of Germanic Studies, UIC

Wednesday, September 4th • 4PM • 1501 UH

In contrast to German, French, or American literature, Austrian literature is not often associated with modernist representations of cities. Austrian literature is typically rather considered a literature of provincial spaces, of rural settings, or of sublime nature. A look at the literature of Austrian Jewish writer Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931) must prompt a revision of such general assumptions, though. This talk will examine the representation of urban spaces in some of Schnitzler’s prose fiction, in particular the 1897 narrative “The Dead Are Silent.” The chronotopography of Vienna in this text is replete with street names and references to specific buildings and monuments; mentions of roads, walkways, and their surfaces; train and tramway tracks; bridges and viaducts. Yet the seeming solidity of material surfaces and the specificities of landmarks, meant to invoke the long history, spatial expansion, and might of the Habsburg Empire, induce disorientation and anxiety in the characters that move through the cityscape. Schnitzler’s story of doomed lovers is mapped onto the topography of an imperial city that mirrors the instability of an empire anxiously hurtling towards a crisis both accidental and inevitable: as it captures the anxieties of those who populate the urban space, along with the temporal and material instability of this space, Schnitzler’s narrative seems to anticipate the Great War to come, the end of empire, and the dawning of the nation state.

flyer for Paloff talk

Why Read Concentration Camp Literature?

Benjamin Paloff
Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures and of Comparative Literature, University of Michigan

Wednesday, November 13th • 4PM • 1501 UH

Literary representations of concentration camps, ghettos, and besieged cities, particularly those connected to the Shoah, differ from most other literary texts in that they come to us prepackaged with complex moral arguments for why they should be read in the first place. Whereas one might be compelled to read a novel or see a play because of its currency in a given cultural moment or else because familiarity with the text underpins one’s social or institutional status, books like Elie Wiesel’s Night often function as “required reading” for a student’s moral development, whether because they heighten our ethical awareness of the past or ensure that the events they depict will never happen again in the future. This talk presents a radical critique of the moral arguments that shape how we encounter camp representations and offers an alternative vision, both descriptive and prescriptive, for how they ought to be read in the twenty-first century.

flyer for Nicholson talk

Anti‐Cartesian Meditations: The Buddhist Challenge to Folk Psychology

Hugh Nicholson
Associate Professor of Theology, Loyola University Chicago

Wednesday, January 22, 2020 • 4PM • 1501 UH

For some time now philosophers and scientists have argued that the intuitive idea of a self, soul, or mind as an entity distinct from the brain and body is a fundamentally incoherent notion. And yet, decades of philosophical and scientific critique have failed to dislodge this “commonsense dualism” from our speech and thought. In this talk I explore the intriguing possibility that the cognate discourse of selflessness in the Buddhist tradition was intended to do precisely that: to undermine our naïve, “folk” conception of an autonomous agent or self ensconced in the body.

Past Years' Talks Heading link

Please use the links below to visit archives of past talks in the Forum on 15 series.