Chicago Humanities Fest kicks off Friday: Our picks
The 24th annual Chicago Humanities Fest kicks off this weekend, November 1, and continues through November 10. Regarding this year's theme, CHF let the cat out of the bag last spring: It's Animal: What Makes Us Human? (Bear with us—more animal puns to come.) Notable experts—writers, scientists, artists, chefs, playwrights, magicians and more—will have a whale of time exploring the theme from various angles, including how recent scholarship on the human-animal relationship has evolved and changed, with, as CHF artistic director Matti Bunzl notes, "unprecedented convergence in once-distant fields." CHF remains one of the best, most well-curated festivals in the city, so make a beeline for the following events (just a small sampling of upcoming CHF programs):
Lemony Snicket It's no unfortunate event that Daniel Handler—aka, Snicket's "alter ego"—is appearing at the Humanities Fest on his book release tour for When Did You See Her Last?, the second book in the "All the Wrong Questions" series. In fact, it's quite a treat. Francis W. Parker School, Diane and David B. Heller Auditorium. Nov 1, 6–7pm. $20, students $10.
Barkin' at the Shedd The Shedd Aquarium prides itself on being an innovator in animal care and training and has recently extended its research beyond marine mammals. Hear from the Shedd's Ken Ramirez how it's pawsible [sic] to apply positive reinforcement techniques, effective with dolphins and whales, to dogs. Francis W. Parker School, Diane and David B. Heller Auditorium. Nov 2, 10–11am. $10, students $5.
Anne Carson In a program presented in partnership with the Poetry Foundation, the genre-defying poet discusses the sequel to Autobiography of Red, red > doc, which takes readers back to the realms of her red-winged monster and the myth of Geryon and Herakle. Harold Washington Library, Cindy Pritzker Pavilion. Nov 2, 11am–noon. $10, students $5.
Neil Shubin The bestselling author and University of Chicago professor has spent his career reeling in the awe-inspiring links between human anatomy and fish (which he explored in his book, Your Inner Fish), as well as exploring how traces of the cosmos are embedded in each of us (The Universe Within). We're champing at the bit to see this one: Shubin is one of those scientists whose enthusiasm for discovery is infectious and whose explanations make intricate concepts easier to understand. Francis W. Parker School, Diane and David B. Heller Auditorium. Nov 2, 12:30–1:30pm. $10, students $5.
Donna Tartt A lot of people—including some employees of TOC—think Tartt is the bee's knees. The beloved author of The Secret History, The Little Friend and, most recently, The Goldfinch, discusses her work with the Tribune's Jennifer Day. Northwestern University School of Law, Thorne Auditorium. Nov 2, 5:30–6:30pm. $15, sudents $5.
Eduardo Kac: Transgenic Artist As part of the Richard Gray Visual Art Series, curator Hamza Walker talks to bio art pioneer Eduardo Kac about his "transgenic" art, which brings together natural and created elements in surprising ways. Art Institute of Chicago, Fullerton Auditorium. Nov 9, 1:30–2:30pm. $10, students $5.
Kimberly Peirce: From Boys Don't Cry to Carrie The writer and director of Boys Don't Cry discusses that wildly hailed debut as well as her recent adaption of Carrie, a whole other animal. Francis W. Parker School, Diane and David B Heller Auditorium. Nov 9, 5–6pm. $15, students $5.
Susan Orlean Near the tail-end of Humanities Fest, bestselling author Orlean (The Orchid Thief) discusses the story of famous canine Rin Tin Tin, who's the star of her book Rin Tin: The Life and Legend. Northwestern University School of Law, Thorne Auditorium. Nov 10, 11am–noon. $15, students $5.
Rainpan 43: Elephant Room These are some of the crazier cats at the CHF. Performing throughout the fest, the three illusionists who go by the names of Louie Magic, Dennis Diamond and Daryl Hannah (also known as Rainpan 43) perform magic that's part experimental theater, part comedy and 100 percent strange. Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Edlis Neeson Theater. Nov 2, 3, 7, 8, 9 and 10. Various times. $28, members $22, students $10.
For a full schedule of CHF programs, visit chicagohumanitiesfest.org.