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DePaul University Humanities Center to feature ballet, comedy and the Bible

Winter season includes film screenings, performances and scholarship

Edward Watson
Edward Watson, a principal in the Royal Ballet in London, will speak Feb. 16 at a DePaul University Humanities Center event. (Photo by Charlotte MacMillan)
CHICAGO — Events featuring space exploration, improv comedy, Royal Ballet Principal Edward Watson and the temptations of Christ are slated for the DePaul University Humanities Center’s 2017 winter season. Events are free and open to the public.

“We will welcome one of the greatest dancers in the world, Edward Watson, to discuss how he artistically interprets one of the most important literary works of the 20th century, Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis,’” said H. Peter Steeves, center director and professor of philosophy. 

“Every event we are hosting this winter has a mixture of the arts and the humanities, a mixture of performance and scholarship. Finding ways to bring together such pursuits, and to delight as well as instruct, is part of our mission,” added Steeves. Events include:

The Biblical Humanities: The Temptations of Christ 
Jan. 16, St. Vincent de Paul Parish, 1010 W Webster Ave. 
Live musical performance and lecture 7-9 p.m. followed by a reception

The Gospels of Matthew and Luke recount the story of Jesus being tempted by Satan in the desert. Resisting the temptations helped to put Jesus on the path to becoming a teacher and liberator. This event will include a live musical performance of Paul Stetsenko’s “Temptation of Christ” and Gustav Gunsenheimer’s “Die Versuchung Jesu.” Panelists will investigate each of the three temptations and analyze Dostoevsky’s conception of the critical role of doubt for faith in the legend of the Grand Inquisitor. Guests include:

  • Robert Beatty, organist and director of music at St. Vincent de Paul Parish.
  • The Saint Vincent de Paul Chamber Chorale.
  • Gary Saul Morson, professor of Slavic languages and literatures, Northwestern University.
  • Adam Kotsko, professor of humanities, Shimer College.
  • Dwight N. Hopkins, professor of theology, University of Chicago's Divinity School.

The Humanities in Spaaaace!: Orbits
Jan. 25, DePaul Student Center, Room 120, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave.
Film screening of “First Orbit” 5:15-7 p.m.
Performances and lectures 7-9 p.m.

The Humanities Center presents a screening of the film “First Orbit,” which tells the story of Yuri Gagarin’s flight. The event will also include the world premiere of two musical works inspired by orbits by Chicago composers Mark Nowakowski and Kurt Westerburg. A master orbiter will perform on a Cyr wheel. Lecturers will investigate the future imagined by young Soviet girls who wrote letters to Tereshkova and explore the importance of ancient Greek cosmological thinking. Guests include:

  • The Bach & Beethoven Ensemble: composers Kurt Westerburg and Mark Nowakowski; Thomas Alaan as countertenor, Brandi Berry on baroque violin and Anna Steinhoff on viola da gamba.
  • Roshanna Sylvester, associate professor of history, DePaul University.
  • Courtney Giannone, professional dancer, choreographer, and world champion in competitive wheel gymnastics.
  • Sean Kirkland,  associate professor of philosophy, DePaul University.

“Metamorphosis” ballet screening and discussion with Edward Watson
Feb. 16, DePaul Student Center, Room 120, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave.
Film screening and discussion 6:30-9 p.m.

When Royal Ballet Principal Edward Watson dances the role of Gregor Samsa in Arthur Pita’s adaptation of Franz Kafka’s novella, “Metamorphosis,” it is not only a man that transforms into an insect on stage, but an audience that is transformed in the presence of a master and a masterpiece. Interpreting choreography that ingeniously reveals Samsa’s inner experience and intersubjective embodiment, Watson lets Kafka’s story settle into his flesh in a virtuoso performance, proving why he is one of the greatest dancers working today. After a screening of the film of the ballet, Watson joins Steeves on stage for a conversation about the film.

The Scholar’s Improv 2: Academic Boogaloo
Feb. 22, DePaul Student Center, Room 120, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave.
Performances and presentations 7-8:30 p.m.

DePaul faculty members and a troupe of professional Chicago comedians perform improv as the scholars are challenged to lecture extemporaneously on surprise topics. Led by improv comic Pete Parsons, comedians Lisa Burton, Tim Dunn, and Alaina Hoffman will present six improvised scenes, showcasing their talent, quick minds and artistry. These moments will be interspersed with five mini-lectures by DePaul academics, each accompanied by a PowerPoint slide presentation in their field but which they has not seen before. DePaul faculty participating include:

  • Anna Souchuk, associate professor of German.
  • Paul Booth, associate professor of media and cinema studies.
  • Amy Tyson, associate professor of history.
  • Nancy Grossman, associate director of the Honors Program.
  • Rick Lee, professor of philosophy.

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


H. Peter Steeves

Media Contact:
Kristin Claes Mathews