Smile Politely

Listen Up: October 2015

There are tons of film screenings, public lectures, and other events on campus this month. Here are a dozen you might want to catch.

WHAT: Gallery Conversation: Attachment 

WHEN: October 1st at 5:30 p.m.

WHERE: Krannert Art Museum, East Gallery 

ABOUT: This event features Brett Kaplan, professor of Comparative & World Literature, director of Jewish Studies, and a Conrad Humanities Scholar; Melissa Pokorny, associate professor of Sculpture; and François Proulx, assistant professor of French. Attachment is a thematic exhibition from the museum’s permanent collection that considers the material and affective bonds between artist and subject, artwork and viewer, museum and object. Organized under five themes—appendages, supports, shadow bodies, accumulations, and refusals—the exhibition examines critical scenes of attachment to encompass material, affective, bodily, psychoanalytic, cultural, political, and institutional frames of reference.


WHAT: Public lecture: Prof. Kirk Freudenburg, Yale University: “The Waters of Roman Satire”

WHEN: October 2nd at 2 p.m. 

WHERE: Lucy Ellis Lounge, 1080 Foreign Languages Building, 707 S. Mathews Ave. 

ABOUT: Kirk Freudenburg’s main publications include: The Walking Muse: Horace on the Theory of Satire (Princeton, 1993), Satires of Rome: Threatening Poses from Lucilius to Juvenal (Cambridge, 2001), the Cambridge Companion to Roman Satire (Cambridge, 2005), and Oxford Readings in Classical Studies: Horace’s Satires and Epistles (Oxford University Press, 2009). Currently he is writing a commentary on the second book of Horace’s Sermones for the Cambridge Green and Yellows.


WHAT: Exhibit Opening: North of the Northern Lights: Exploring the Crocker Land Arctic Expedition 1913–1917

WHEN: October 6th (exhibit open until July 31)

WHERE: Spurlock Museum

ABOUTIn 1913, the University of Illinois co-sponsored a scientific expedition to Northern Greenland. Presented a century later, archival photographs and ethnographic artifacts document the intersection of the lives of the Polar Inuit and the American scientists. The Museum invites visitors to consider how aspects of this encounter fit into our current understanding of the study and representation of indigenous peoples.


WHAT: Less Commonly Taught Languages Film Series: “Journey to Mecca” (Arabic)

WHEN: October 7th at 6 p.m.

WHERE: Lucy Ellis Lounge, 1080 Foreign Languages Building 

ABOUTAll films are shown with English subtitles.


WHAT: Public Lecture: Wäil Hassan, “Carioca Orientalism: Morocco in the Imaginary of a Brazilian Telenovela”

WHEN: October 8th at 4 p.m. 

WHERE: Lucy Ellis Lounge, 1080 Foreign Languages Building

ABOUTThis event is sponsored by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.


WHAT: European Movie Night: EuroChannel Shorts – Youth in Europe

WHEN: October 13th at 6 p.m.

WHERE: Lucy Ellis Lounge, 1080 Foreign Language Building

ABOUTThe Eurochannel Short Films Tour is already a successful Eurochannel trademark. As a unique event, the tour invites viewers and talented directors on a stirring tour of Europe through short films: directors will be the guides and viewers will be touring through their screens. On the Eurochannel Short Films Tour, viewers will discover Europe, hear all its languages, and experience inspiring stories that will move them and invite them to reflect on a wide range of topics.


WHAT: Public Lecture: Libraries and Literary Culture: An Inside View of Cuba’s Information Revolution

WHEN: October 15th at 8:30 a.m.

WHERE: Knight Auditorium, Spurlock Museum

ABOUTHear from a leading protagonist in Cuba’s ongoing transformations: from a primarily oral culture, through a 1961 leap in literacy, to a literary culture where ordinary Cubans read—and write—books, essays, stories, poetry, and more. Cubans built literary institutions to their own specifications, libraries in particular. A digital culture got underway. All while a US blockade separated Cuba from most trade and cultural contacts, and while Cuba took aim at its own racism. What might happen next? Why?


WHAT: NEH 50–Questions in Common@Illinois: Lecture by Gregg Lambert “Is the Humanities a Collaborative Enterprise?”

WHEN: October 15th at 4 p.m.

WHERE: IPRH Lecture Hall, Levis Faculty Center, Fourth Floor

ABOUTHigher Education has traditionally been associated with the idea of “value,” and the university has long been understood to be an engine for reproducing–in large quantities–the forms of value that are the most sought after by the surrounding societies. This basic understanding can be applied almost universally to the function of the institution, historically, as well as to the role of the contemporary university—regardless of geographical or national location—which is to say, globally. However, something noticeable  has occurred with regard to three core values that have historically been associated with the meaning of the “Humanities”: the value of the human (or the human being), the value of the “traditional Humanities” (specifically, with a 19th century Euro-American vision of the liberal arts), and finally;  the value directly linked to the economic and social development of “human capital.” Taking up the third value, this talk will address a question that underlies most discussions of the Humanities today: what role does the Humanities play in the creation of new forms of human capital that are demanded by an increasingly globalized idea of the university? Secondly, how do the values that are most vigorously promoted by recent university reforms—for example, creativity, innovation, individual enterprise, and collaboration—serve to transform the traditional role of the Humanities?


WHAT: Event: “Medieval Ghost Stories”

WHEN: October 17th at 3 p.m.

WHERE: Champaign Public Library

ABOUTThis is a Medieval Outreach Event. Additional readers welcome, contact Megan McLaughlin: megmclau [at]


WHAT: Public Lecture: “Lives of the Great Languages: Cosmopolitan Language Systems in the Mediterranean”

WHEN: October 19th at 5 p.m.

WHERE: Lincoln Hall, Room 1060

ABOUTKarla Mallette’s current project, tentatively titled Lives of the Great Languages: Cosmopolitan Languages in the Medieval Mediterranean, studies the strategies that language uses to transcend the boundaries that language creates. By profiling two pre-modern cosmopolitan languages, Arabic and Latin, and acknowledging the emergent cosmopolitan languages of the twenty-first century, the book contextualizes and defamiliarizes the national language system of European modernity.


WHAT: Public Lecture: Prof. Monica Cyrino, “Screening the Battle of Actium: Civil War, Erotic Tragedy, and the Birth of an Empire”

WHEN: October 22nd at 4 p.m.

WHERE: Room 1002, Lincoln Hall

ABOUTProf. Cyrino’s current research focuses on Classics and popular culture, especially film and television. Her book Big Screen Rome (2005) surveys several films on the image of ancient Rome. She has published numerous articles on films such as Gladiator, Troy, Alexander, 300, and Black Orpheus. She is the editor of two volumes on the HBO series, Rome, Season One: History Makes Television (2008), and Rome, Season Two: Trial and Triumph (2015). She is also the editor of Screening Love and Sex in the Ancient World (2013), and co-editor (with Meredith E. Safran) of Classical Myth on Screen (2015). Prof. Cyrino has served as a consultant on numerous film and television productions.


WHAT: Public Lecture: The Talking Dead: Articulating the ‘Zombified’ Subject Under Putin

WHEN: October 26th at 4 p.m.

WHERE: 126 Graduate School of Library & Information Science

ABOUTIn the current Russian media environment, commentators of all political stripes are on the lookout for propaganda and its effects. The war in Ukraine, for example, has prompted accusations that the Russian, Ukrainian, and Western media are brainwashing their audiences. The Russian term most frequently invoked is “zombification”: the transformation of otherwise potentially rational TV viewers into unthinking husks due to the pernicious effects of the “зомбоящик” (the “zombie box,” which is the Russian equivalent to “boob tube”). The casual but pervasive discourse of zombification, while completely inconsistent with the frameworks of modern media studies, has itself exerted a powerful hold on the Russian consciousness. Ironically, brainwashing and its Russian variant, zombification, are a concept with deep Cold War roots: Western anti-communists after World War II essentially took the Leninist rhetoric of reforging and reeducation at face value, creating fantasies of communist mind control. From there, brainwashing makes the jump to the anti-cult movement, which then exports it to the former USSR with the help of anti-sectarian activists associated with the Russian Orthodox Church. When combined with conspiracy theories as the Dulles Plan and the Harvard Project (and a large dose of blind faith in the power of mysterious KGB science), brainwashing/zombification plays a crucial role in the discursive construction of a Russian state whose inhabitants have been subject to prolonged mind control experiments (whether by the Americans, Jews, or the Communist Party). Ultimately, one of the few ideas that seems to unite a large number of otherwise fractious Russian pundits and Internet commentators is a pessimistic anthropology of the Russian public, positing Russian subjectivity largely as absence: the Russian media consumer is painted as a passive victim with no defense against the media’s vast and varied rhetorical arsenal. Speech ceases to be the product of an integral consciousness, turning instead into stuff of which false consciousness is made.


We live near a major university and a community college. There are smart people that come here every week to talk to the general public about interesting topics. Here’s a sampling of the talks and events you can find in the not-so-ivy-covered buildings near you. These events are free and will fill your brain with yummy knowledge (and sometimes will fill your stomach with free eats).   

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