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When President Zimmer met with the Humanities Division Visiting Committee in October 2010, he reaffirmed our University’s commitment to investments in the humanities and arts. At a time when other institutions are cutting back, we are proud to say that we continue to hire faculty and to deepen and broaden our existing programs.

Yet the humanistic enterprise is not what it once was. The stereotypical image of the lone scholar toiling away in splendid isolation is more and more the exception. The humanities fields we study and teach demand ever more complex and sophisticated tools and resources. This change is well demonstrated by the groundbreaking projects in experimental linguistics led by faculty in our Department of Linguistics. In this issue, an in-depth feature shows how Chicago is devoting resources to remain at the vanguard in this discipline, even as we continue to invest in the more traditional and established fields within the humanities.

 

Tableau also explores the marriage of scholarly investigation and technological innovation in an article about Echoes of the Past, an exhibition that began at the Smart Museum of Art and is currently on tour across the country. This unique archaeological and art-historical research and reconstruction project combines cutting-edge 3-D imaging with old-fashioned scholarly detective work and involves faculty, staff, and alumni from across the Humanities Division. Echoes of the Past is a prime example of how the time-honored focus of the humanities has been expanded by the innovations of the twenty-first century and of how questions and problems long troubling to humanists can now be addressed and answered.

 

At every phase of their careers, our faculty members ask the defining questions in their fields. The interview with David Wellbery, the LeRoy T. and Margaret Deffenbaugh Carlson University Professor in Germanic studies, highlights the accomplishments of one of our established and most distinguished scholars. We are pleased to introduce another University Professor in the Division, the composer Augusta Read Thomas, who joins the Department of Music in July 2011. Our Young Faculty Focus features junior scholars in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations—my home department—who are rejuvenating fields from Egyptian archaeology to modern Hebrew literature.

 

Our feature story on the team-taught graduate courses offered through the Center for Disciplinary Innovation at the Franke Institute highlights the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and creativity—long a valued tradition here in the Division. And we look at what it takes to complete an MFA as we follow students in the Department of Visual Arts preparing their final projects for presentation.

 

While Tableau always seeks to highlight the dynamic and forward-moving in the humanities, we also take the time to reflect on the contributions of those distinguished faculty and staff whose dedication and scholarship have helped to define who we are today. And so we celebrate the career of Tom Thuerer, who has retired after 35 years with the University and two decades as dean of students in the Division. During Tom’s tenure, graduate education, aid, and admissions changed dramatically at Chicago and throughout the academy.

 

Finally, we gather tributes to three faculty members whose loss we experienced in the past year. Ian Mueller, a scholar of ancient Greek philosophy, and James E. Miller, a scholar of American literature, both emeritus professors, had long and valued careers at the University. Miriam Hansen, who founded the Department of Cinema and Media Studies, died just weeks after completing the manuscript of her latest book entitled Cinema and Experience: Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, and Theodor W. Adorno. We will miss them all.

 

As always, I am grateful for the contributions of our faculty, students, alumni, and friends. It is with great pleasure that we present to you this issue of Tableau, and we welcome your support and feedback.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

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Martha T. Roth

 

Dean of the Division of the Humanities


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