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Exploring shadows, art with DePaul University Humanities Center

Winter programs examine role of proxies

Portrait of actor Michael Shannon
Stage, television and film actor Michael Shannon will be part of the Humanities Center's Winter 2018 programming. (Photo by Lauren Weissler)
CHICAGO — Acting, art and an investigation into shadows are among discussion topics for the DePaul University Humanities Center’s Winter 2018 programs as it continues to dissect the question of what is “real.”

“Philosophy began with a concern about what is fake and what is real,” said H. Peter Steeves, the center’s director and a philosophy professor. “Socrates told us that we are all residing in a cave looking at shadows of real things, but taking those shadows for reality.”

Greek philosopher Plato figures prominently in two of the four winter programs with lectures based on concepts from his “Allegory of the Cave” in “The Republic.” Other programs include a conversation with Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon, an Indonesian court dance meant to mimic puppets who mimic reality and a look at a religious rite that emulates the Last Supper.

“As always, I hope that our  programs are going to be complicated, intellectually stimulating, yet fun,” Steeves said. “We’ll dissect the real, in hopes of arriving at a true conclusion about all things fake.”

The programs listed below are free and open to the public.

The Biblical Humanities: Holy Ingestions: Sacrificial Bodies, Communion & the Eucharist
Jan. 17
St. Vincent de Paul Parish, 1010 W. Webster Ave.
7-9 p.m. Lectures and performances
9-9:30 p.m. Wine and cheese reception sponsored by St. Vincent de Paul Parish
The Biblical Humanities examines the religious rites that involve eating, including the sacrament of the Eucharist, where consecrated bread and wine are consumed to commemorate the Last Supper. Speakers include:
  • James G. Hart, emeritus professor of religious studies at Indiana University, on the metaphysics of the Eucharist.
  • Anthony Paul Smith, assistant professor of religion at La Salle University, on the politics of practicing the Eucharist.
  • Rachel Briggs, lecturer in anthropology at University of North Carolina, on Native American traditions that connect sacrifice and eating.
  • Robert Beatty, music director at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, will lead musical performances by the church chorale group.
In Conversation with Great Minds: Michael Shannon
Jan. 29
DePaul Student Center, Room 120,  2250 N. Sheffield Ave.
6-8 p.m. Screening of “Take Shelter”
8-9 p.m. Conversation with Michael Shannon
Michael Shannon, whose father taught accounting at DePaul, talks with Humanities Center director H. Peter Steeves about his acting career which has spanned the stage (“Bug”), television (“Empire Boardwalk”) and film (“Nocturnal Animals”). Shannon has been nominated for Tony and Academy awards and won a Screen Actors Guild Award for his role in “Boardwalk Empire.” The evening will include a screening of “Take Shelter,” a psychological thriller starring Shannon as a father questioning reality.

Fake 2: Shadows
Feb. 7
DePaul Student Center, Room 120, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave.
6:30-7 p.m. Interactive “Gallery of Shadows” art and science exhibit
7-9 p.m. Performances and lectures
The art and science of shadows are the subjects of interactive exhibits in this session that examines what it means to be in the light, or to be enlightened. Speakers include:
  • Michael Naas, professor of philosophy at DePaul, presenting a lecture on Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.”
  • Danielle Meijer performing a Javanese “shadow puppet” court dance.
  • Blair Thomas performing shadow puppet poetry.
  • Alice Maurice, associate professor of American literature and cinema studies at University of Toronto, on how shadows relate to cinema.
  • Shawn Wallace performing shadow-themed songs from the American jazz songbook.
Fake 3: Plato's Nightmare: The Real, the Fake, and the World of Art
March 5
DePaul Student Center, Room 120, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave.
5:30-7 p.m. Screening of “F for Fake” and pre-show gallery of original artwork by such artists as “Cézanne.”
7-9 p.m. Lectures and performances
Does art lie? That is the theme of this program that begins with a look at art forgeries and a screening of Orson Welles' documentary “F for Fake,” and concludes with a discussion on whether an actor’s portrayal of emotion is the same as real emotion. Speakers include:
  • Catherine Benamou, associate professor of film and media studies at University of California at Irvine, on “F for Fake” by Orson Welles.
  • Patty Gerstenblith, distinguished research professor of law at DePaul and a Humanities Center Fellow, on the legality of fake records concerning fake art and artifacts.
  • Glenn Davis, a DePaul Theatre School alumnus, on emotion portrayed on stage or screen.
The 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