I love this time of year for so many reasons– the weather, the leaves, the clothes and color palette, the new appeal of warm seasonal beverages, children playing soccer outdoors, plaid and flannel and all you need is a jacket. Chicago is so wonderful and livable right now. The garish excess of outdoor festivals are over, but most cultural programming is just getting started. Perhaps the highlight of this season is Chicago Humanities Festival. The idea behind the festival is simple: some of the most exciting thinkers in the world, artists and performers come to Chicago to celebrate ideas in the context of civic life. Annually novelists, scholars, musicians, archaeologists, historians, artists, performers, playwrights, theologians, poets, architects and everything in between offer performances, screenings, exhibits, and lectures on a theme of universal interest. This year for the 27th Fallfest, the theme is Speed– a celebration of the ideas that speed us up and slow us down.
The festival opens on October 29th and runs until November 12th. There are multiple events each day and it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the long line-up. Our staff has looked through the list and given some further explanation and background for the events they’re most looking forward to.
Jonathan Lethem @ Cahn Auditorium, Saturday, October 29th @ 2:30 p.m.
Jonathan Lethem’s writing doesn’t just defy genres, but form itself. The novelist, short story writer, and essayist frees himself from any expected definition to give us the gift of something terribly funny, beautifully tragic in his writing. His presentation of his newest novel at CHF will be a great reminder of what kind of mind it takes to write the way he does. — Sherry Zhong, Lit contributor
The Secret Lives of Teenagers @ Cahn Auditorium, Saturday, October 29th @ 4:30p.m.
(210) Not only does Nancy Jo Sales write about fuckboys, Tinder, and all the ridiculous 21st century cultural artifices that make up the everyday lives of adolescents to young adults- she writes about all of this with intelligence. I’m excited to hear what she has to say about the “Secret Lives of Teenagers,” because she’s not going to water down the shit we all went through. The honesty and audacity of her voice is not to ,be missed if you care at all about the social impact of modern culture. — Sherry Zhong, Lit contributor
Chicago’s Culture of Policing @ Pritzker School of Law, Tuesday, November 1st @ 8:00 p.m.
As national political discourse comes to focus on the violence in Chicago, it has to be said no matter your political belief that Chicago’s relationships between police and communities could be improved upon. Come hear about grassroots initiatives to first regulate police from George Polk Award recipient Jamie Kalven and the city’s efforts to stop violence from Fellow of the American Bar Association Lori Lightfoot.– Sherry Zhong, Lit contributor
Philip Glass @ Symphony Center, Wednesday, November 2nd @ 6:00p.m.
“I’m looking forward to hearing the pioneer of music in minimalism Philip Glass discuss his career and his recently released memoir, Words Without Music: A Memoir, not to mention his solo performance that will surely keep us entranced.”–Colin Smith, Music & Lit writer
Christopher Wheeldon/Ashley Wheater: Ballet in Conversation @ Fourth Presbyterian Church, Saturday, November 5th at 1 p.m.
When the Joffrey Ballet announced early this year that it had commissioned Christopher Wheeldon to choreograph a new version of the “Nutcracker” it caused quite a stir. The Joffrey’s “Nutcracker” is a beloved Chicago holiday tradition, and one that has featured the choreography of company co-founder Robert Joffrey for more than 20 years. Tony-award winner Wheeldon plans for his “Nutcracker” to have a distinctly Chicago feel, taking place during the 1893 Worlds Fair. As demonstrated by bringing high-profile and highly acclaimed Wheeldon on board, Joffrey artistic director Ashley Wheater shows he isn’t afraid to aim high and shake things up. –Miriam Finder, Stages contributor
Electronic Tap with Dorrance Dance @ Museum of Contemporary Art Saturday, November 5th at 3 p.m., 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, November 6 at 3 p.m.
Michelle Dorrance, founder and artistic director of Dorrance Dance, is bringing tap dance to the main stage. A 2015 McArthur Fellow, the much sought after dancer and choreographer has even performed on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” This is a must-see performance by a woman taking the dance world by storm. –Miriam Finder, Stages contributor
Reclaiming Conversation: Sherry Turkle @ First United Methodist Church, Sunday, November 6th @ 6:00p.m.
As a millennial who doesn’t remember a time before computers, I don’t agree with how Sherry Turkle blames technology for our inability to have genuine conversations with the people around us. Yet, her words are accessible by anyone, and her ideas are good points to begin reflecting on our dependencies on technology. Join her as she shows how technology may not be as life giving as we might assume. — Sherry Zhong, Lit contributor
Pullman Past and Future @ Venue SIX10 Sunday, November 6th, 11:00 a.m.
“The far South Side neighborhood of Pullman is going through drastic changes. Learn a bit more about what the future has in store for the neighborhood with architect Richard Wilson and Chicago Region Program Director at the Field Museum Mark J Bouman.” –Andrew Hertzberg, Lit contributor
Lena Waithe: Chicago’s Rising Star: Sunday, November 6, 1 – 2 PM, Art Institute of Chicago, Rubloff Auditorium
If you haven’t heard of Chicago native Lena Waithe you’ve probably seen a show and/or movie she has graced her talents with. Lena Waithe is known best from her role as Denise on Netflix’s Master of None. She was a writer for FOX television series Bones and a producer of the film Dear White People. I’m looking forward to hearing what this triple threat-rising star has to share at this Chicago History Festival. —Abie Irabor, Art contributor
Einstein and Bergson on Time @ Sunday, November 6th, 3:00p.m. @Chicago Cultural Center
In her new book The Physicist and the Philosopher: Einstein, Bergson, and the Debate That Changed Our Understanding of Time, Jimena Canales explores how these two brilliant minds explore the nature of time from their two contrasting points of view, and how these views still shape opinions today. –Andrew Hertzberg, Lit contributor
Fighting for the Planet: Bill McKibben @ Francis W. Parker School, Wednesday, November 9th @ 6:00 p.m.
Bill McKibben is one of the most recognized voices in environmental advocacy today. He’s not afraid to say the stuff nobody wants to hear, but he says it in a way that makes you want to do better, not hide in shame. Give him a chance and you might finding yourself giving back to the Earth. — Sherry Zhong, Lit contributor
Loud Women Speak — Jessica Valenti and Lindy West @ First United Methodist Church, Saturday, November 12th at 3p.m.
“This election season has reminded me that feminism is not passe or unnecessary, and these three ladies (Samantha Irby is hosting this discussion) are probably some of the loudest voices and nastiest women writers of the moment. Jessica Valenti wrote “Full Frontal Feminism” and runs femenisting.com. Lindy West is prominent in the fat acceptance movement and recently published a collection of essays lauded by the NY Times and Ira Glass and everyone else that likes essays. I am excited to hear Lindy West talk about marriage because I know she recently got married. But I’m mostly excited to hear all three tear Trump apart.” –Emma Terhaar, Lit writer
Trevor Noah — Born a Crime @ Music Box Theatre on Saturday, November 12th at 4p.m.
“Many of us felt torn when Jon Stewart left the Daily Show but Trevor Noah has proved to be a keen observer of politics and race in America. Considering that he was born illegally in South Africa to a white father and a black African mother during the apartheid era, I’m interested in his perspective of race in America today.” –Colin Smith, Music & Lit writer