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DePaul University Humanities Center examines perception and reality

Spring programs continue exploration of "fake"

Zachary Ostrowski of DePaul University as Beverly Fresh
Zachary Ostrowski, associate professor of art, media and design in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, talks about his alter-egos Beverly Fresh and Mr. MDWST as part of the Humanities Center's spring programs. (Courtesy of Zachary Ostrowski)
CHICAGO — Identity, perception and illness round out the discussions of the DePaul Humanities Center's Spring 2018 programs as the center continues to dissect its "fake" theme.

"We look forward to closing out 'The Year of the Fake' with a variety of events meant to pose difficult questions and offer some thoughtful paths to an answer with a commitment to finding the truth," said H. Peter Steeves, the center's director and a professor of philosophy.

Events are free and open to the public. Each program will be held in the DePaul Student Center at 2250 N. Sheffield Ave., Room 120.

Fake 4: Fake Nous: Knowing What We Don't Know
April 16
5:45-7:10 p.m. Screening of "Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable"
7:10-9 p.m. Discussion
The Humanities Center ponders what happens when "fake news" becomes "fake nous." The program begins with a screening of British artist Damien Hirst's "Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable," a fabricated documentary about art found from a 2,000-year-old shipwreck. Speakers include:
    •    Angie Blumberg, a Humanities Center visiting fellow, on fake historical records and how that influences understanding past and present.
    •    Andrew Shtulman, associate professor of psychology at Occidental College in Los Angeles and author of "Scienceblind: Why Our Intuitive Theories About the World Are So Often Wrong," on why common sense can lead to false scientific conclusions.

Fake 5: Who Am I Now? The Art of the Con
April 25
7-9 p.m.
The late Andy Kaufman was an actor, comic and professional wrestler who portrayed characters Latka Grava in the TV sitcom "Taxi," the lounge singer Tony Clifton and Foreign Man on stage. He also claimed Andy Kaufman was a character. His life underscores this program, which examines how identity is not always stable. The evening will feature a live performance by "Luciano Pavarotti,” and a keynote speech by Alan Abel, a writer considered America’s greatest hoaxster of the 20th century. Other speakers include:
    •    Carol Kaufman Kerman, Kaufman's sister, on what it was like to be part of the family as he was exploring his identity.
    •    Zachary Ostrowski, associate professor of art, media and design in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, talks about his alter-egos Beverly Fresh and Mr. MDWST.

Fake 6: Truly Sick? Truly Well?
May 7
5:30-7 p.m. Screening of "Mommy Dead and Dearest"
7-8:30 p.m. Discussion and performances

What does it mean to be sick, healthy, disabled, or ill? This program starts with a screening of Erin Lee Car's documentary "Mommy Dead and Dearest" about the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard by her daughter Gypsy Rose Blanchard, who suffered from Munchausen by proxy syndrome inflicted by her mother. Speakers include:
    •    Cicely Boggan, an advocate for young, deaf children, will perform poetry in American Sign Language and argue that deafness is not a disability.
    •    Allen J. Frances, psychiatrist and chair of the task force that produced the fourth revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental illness, will address the politics of medical diagnosis.

Annual Humanities Laureate Award
May 17
7-8:30 p.m.
The DePaul Humanities Center each year presents its annual Humanities Laureate Award to an individual or individuals or community that best represents the heart of the humanities. Previous recipients include artist John Currin, London stop motion filmmakers Stephen and Timothy Quay and the Natives at Standing Rock. The 2017-18 award will be announced in coming weeks.

DePaul University Humanities Center aims to create visibility of the work in the arts and humanities, and foster discussion among the greater community. Learn more about the center and upcoming events at


H. Peter Steeves

Media Contact:
Lorene Yue