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Interdivisional Programs

This is an archived copy of the 2012-13 catalog. To access the most recent version of the catalog, please visit

The University of Chicago has a distinctive and distinguished tradition of interdisciplinary research and teaching. Faculty and students with interests that span departmental lines are readily able to find colleagues throughout the University. The many interdivisional programs that flourish at the University vary widely in purpose and organization. Some are formal, degree granting committees, some are area studies centers, some are comparatively informal groupings of faculty and advanced students who share an interest in some method, approach, or subject area.

The Council on Advanced Studies in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Divinity School


Deborah Nelson, Deputy Provost for Graduate Education


  • Daniel Arnold
  • Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer
  • Robert Bird
  • Susan Burns
  • Darby English
  • Andreas Glaeser 
  • Dwight Hopkins
  • Travis Jackson
  • John Kelly
  • Katherine Kinzler
  • Jill Mateo
  • Eric Santner

Ex Officio Members

  • Margaret M. Mitchell, Dean of the Divinity School
  • Martha T. Roth, Dean of the Division of Humanities
  • Mario L. Small, Dean of the Division of Social Sciences

Administrative Director

Julianne Gorny


Judd Hall 443/444

5835 South Kimbark Avenue

Chicago, IL 60637

(773) 702-8540


Graduate Workshops in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Divinity, 2012-2013

Graduate workshops in the humanities, social sciences, and divinity for 2012-2013 are described below. Most of these are ongoing, although the focus may change from year to year. Because new workshops are established on an annual basis, please see our website ( ) for current information and links to workshop websites. Generally meetings consist of discussions of papers by advanced graduate students, University of Chicago faculty, or guest speakers from other institutions, although this varies according to each workshop’s objective and focus.


African Studies

The African Studies Workshop (ASW) is an interdisciplinary group made up of students and faculty researching the peoples of Africa and its diasporas, past and present. One of the workshop’s primary goals is to elucidate Africa’s dynamic relationship to a wider world, and to chart the effects of these processes in various spheres of African life. The Workshop meets every other week in Wilder House to discuss pre-circulated papers presented by students, faculty, and guests.  Information on the workshop and its activities is available at


Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy

The Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy Workshop hosts three kinds of events:  (1) graduate student presentations of work on ancient philosophical texts; (2) presentations by faculty members from within and outside the university; (3) a year-long reading group, during which we translate and discuss a single ancient philosophical text


Ancient Societies

The Ancient Societies Workshop is Chicago’s principal meeting ground for scholars across a range of disciplines undertaking historical inquiry into the ancient world. 2012-2013 inaugurates a two-year investigation of the theme “Texts and Archaeology.” Our aims are to explore the relationship between documentary texts and archaeological excavation as sources of evidence; to study ancient documents in their contexts of use and production, and to evaluate the history of their use, re-use, reception and, often enough, disposal; and to promote a conversation among philologists, historians, archaeologists, anthropologists and art historians regarding historical and comparative contextualization in the evaluation of these materials.

Art and Politics of East Asia

The Art and Politics of East Asia workshop provides a forum for students and faculty to meet and discuss the relationship between aesthetics and political economy in textual, visual, and performance media in East Asia. The major research concern of the workshop is to consider the politics out of which artistic works emerge, with an additional focus on the experience of modernity  in East Asia societies.

City, Society & Space

The social organization of urban environments has always held a prominent place in the social sciences and at the University of Chicago in particular. This workshop carries on that tradition, providing an interdisciplinary forum for faculty and graduate students to present current research. Participants contribute to the development of new understandings of the social structures and processes within a city. This workshop hosts a lively and interactive series of presentations covering such topics as political economy, culture, social organization, globalization, crime, and urban history.


Broadly speaking, this workshop will explore fundamental topics in cognitive psychology such as attention, memory, learning, problem solving, and language, and how cutting-edge research in these areas can be used to enhance performance in a variety of contexts. Understanding how to optimize cognitive ability can have a considerable impact on performance throughout the lifespan, ranging from the development of the most effective teaching and communication practices in classroom settings to the learning and application of compensatory memory and reasoning strategies late in life.

Comparative Behavioral Biology

Jointly sponsored by the Institute for Mind and Biology and the Department of Comparative Human Development, this workshop brings together individuals broadly interested in how biology and environment influence social behaviors and how the environment in turn influences genetic change. Presenters conduct research on how developmental, physiological, and immunological mechanisms influence organismal behavior, and how evolutionary processes promote these mechanisms. Our regular participants study human and nonhuman animals, researching paternal behaviors, mate choice, immunology and endocrinology, kin selection, and cognition, among other topics. Graduate students interested in any area of the biological and social aspects of behavior are encouraged to attend this open forum.


Comparative Politics

Comparative politics is a broad field. The common thread running through the research presented at our workshop is the search for broad theoretical propositions and fresh empirical insights through the comparative study of politics. The topics of the workshop include (but are not limited to) violence, states, political parties, ethnicity, nationalism, economic development, democracy, and ideology. The workshop is interested in a dialogue among different disciplines, areas, fields, and methodological traditions.


Computational Social Sciences

An unprecedented volume of data on human behavior is now being offered by governments, corporations, educational institutions, and not-for-profit organizations. Along with this scale of data, new methods of data mining, estimation, and information processing offer unprecedented possibilities for social science inquiry. However, these methods have only begun to be adopted by scholars asking sociological questions, and these early workers are scattered throughout the university. The primary aim of this workshop, then, is to draw together scholars into a lively, learning community exploring these new opportunities.


Contemporary Art and Its Histories

The Contemporary Art Workshop (CAW) engages history as a crucial lens for analyzing the production and narration of recent art. The workshop offers a meeting place for artists, art historians, curators, critics, and others interested in visual art, both from within the University and from without. We offer a supportive, yet critical setting in which the arts community pursues sustained dialogue and debate.


Early Christian Studies

The purpose of our workshop is to provide a venue for students and scholars of the New Testament, Greco-Roman religions and literatures, and the early history of Christianity to present their creative work on primary texts and other evidence for the early Christian movement and the world in which it grew. We seek to bring scholars and students from diverse disciplines together around a range of topics in the first four centuries of Christian history for interdisciplinary conversation that enhances research among themselves and with distinguished visiting speakers.


Early Modern

This interdisciplinary workshop focuses on every aspect of the early modern experience, circa 1350-1800. It encompasses the entirety of the Mediterranean and European worlds as well as their rivals and colonial possessions. While the workshop’s approach is historical, we actively encourage participants who work on any aspect of the areas and period covered. Most sessions discuss precirculated papers presented by graduate students, faculty, or invited visitors. The Early Modern Workshop is a forum for the Chicago community to meet and help one another in ongoing research about political, cultural, economic, and legal topics broadly situated across four centuries of world history, from colonial America to Europe to Southeast Asia.


Early Modern Philosophy

The Early Modern Philosophy Workshop provides a forum for students whose research interests include developments in philosophy from the 16th through the 18th centuries. This includes, but is not limited, to the following: (1) The study of prominent figures and movements of the period including Descartes, Locke, Hume, Hobbes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Rousseau, (2) Developments in theology, political and moral theory, the natural sciences, logic and mathematics in this period, and (3) Approaches in contemporary theoretical and practical philosophy that take an Early Modern figure or conception as their point of departure.

East Asia:  Politics, Society & Economy

This workshop focuses on current social science research on East Asia, particularly the People’s Republic of China, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. The scope of the workshop is truly interdisciplinary, as we attract students and faculty from political science, sociology, economics, anthropology, history, international studies and various other areas. The workshop features presentations by university faculty members, graduate students, and guest speakers from other institutions working on East Asia. Graduate students are especially encouraged to present their thesis and dissertation research.


East Asia:  Transregional Histories

This workshop invites students, faculty and scholars from other academic communities to present creative and original work that speaks across the national lines of East Asia as well as the disciplinary lines of the academic community. Joint presentations among participants that incorporate multidisciplinary and/or transregional historical perspectives are especially encouraged.

While recognizing the continuing importance of the nation state in historical understanding, we believe that it is just as important to give exposure to themes of a transnational and regional or global nature that have been obscured by the national paradigm. Such approaches can prove particularly fruitful when undertaken at a level of understanding beyond traditional departmental and specialty boundaries. The workshop invites advanced students, faculty, and outside speakers and visitors from the humanities and social sciences to present papers on the topic of East Asia and its multiple and contending historical definitions.




The Workshop on Education is an interdisciplinary workshop supporting the advancement of education-related research and theory among members of the university community in two types of sessions: 1) Methodology and 2) New Findings in Education. Methodology sessions enable presenters with work in progress to seek advice from workshop participants on research design and analysis approaches. New Findings in Education sessions provide an outlet for presenters to share ongoing research and completed papers with workshop participants.


Eighteenth & Nineteenth Century Cultures

The Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Cultures Workshop is an interdisciplinary forum for the presentation and discussion of student and faculty work-in-progress. During the years 1660-1900, cultural production achieved unprecedented heterogeneity throughout Britain, its colonial possessions, and Western Europe. The goal of the workshop is to interrogate the tension between this diversified production and the unifying narrative of modernity often imposed on this 240-year span.


Ethnoise!  Ethnomusicology

The workshop contributes to a growing interdisciplinary discourse on music and its cultural context, establishing an interchange among disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. This forum capitalizes upon the ongoing work of graduate students in the University and invites innovative scholars to Chicago to explore the challenges faced by music ethnographers. We welcome submissions from graduate students in all disciplines and encourage University-wide faculty participation.


Gender & Sexuality Studies

This workshop provides an interdisciplinary forum for the development of critical perspectives on gender and sexuality. The workshop’s primary purpose is to promote studies of the ways in which gender and sexuality shape human experiences and are embedded in other social practices. The workshop serves as a forum for discussing both graduate student papers and unpublished work from scholars in the field. Graduate student presentations may focus on any area of gender and sexuality studies. Workshop participants share the responsibility for choosing topics and speakers and for evaluating the effectiveness of the workshop’s interdisciplinary process.


German Philosophy

The German Philosophy Workshop operates with a very broad understanding of the concept of Germany Philosophy, encompassing all of the following six dimensions of the concept: (1) German Idealism and its precursors, (2) Nineteenth-century Germany philosophy, (3) Twentieth century German philosophy (especially the phenomenological and hermeneutic traditions), (4) the elucidation and development within the Anglophone tradition of central concepts, methods, and concerns from the German tradition, (5) the German tradition in analytic philosophy (from its roots in Frege, through the Vienna Circle, up until the present), and, last but not least, (6) cutting-edge work by contemporary German philosophers on topics in all areas of philosophy.


Hebrew Bible

The Hebrew Bible Workshop engages questions in and around the Hebrew Bible, its historical and cultural context, and its ongoing interpretation.  Student, faculty, and visiting scholar presentations encompass a broad range of topics, disciplines, and methodologies, such as art, archeology, hermeneutics, literature, philosophy, history, philology, and linguistics.  With this multitude of perspectives, the workshop aims to stimulate dialogue within the classically defined areas and interests of the field as well as to encourage new and exciting research outside of them.  Workshops meet twice monthly.


History, Philosophy & Sociology of Science

The Workshop on the History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Science ( ) is a forum devoted to interdisciplinary approaches to the sciences.  Its meetings provide a chance to encounter the latest work in science studies, presented by outside speakers, UC faculty, and graduate students.  Topics range widely: in recent years the workshop has hosted discussions of subjects as diverse as Aristotelian logic, science and economics, the information practices of modern biology, William James’s philosophy, bioethics, and the sociology of industrial-academic collaboration.  Meetings take place every Friday in the teaching quarters, at noon and 4pm on alternate weeks.  Noon meetings tend to focus more on the human sciences; for these papers are generally pre-circulated.


Human Rights:  Rights and Duties

The Human Rights Program proposes a three year workshop on “Rights and Duties,” to be directed by three faculty, John Kelly (Anthropology), Daniel Brudney (Philosophy) and Jennifer Pitts (Political Science).  The “Rights and Duties” Workshop will encourage graduate student participation in an ongoing faculty project of the Human Rights Program, to contribute to scholarship on Human Rights with clearer attention to the strange divergence between political theory and political realities in the actual history of performed “rights” and “duties.” “Human Rights and Duties” is quintessentially an interdisciplinary topic. Therefore, a multi-modal inquiry into rights and duties in theory and reality is intended not only to help visiting scholars and our own faculty and graduate students to develop their own ideas and research projects, but also to reach some definite conclusions about the situation of human rights discourse and human rights projects in the contemporary world.  The three year workshop is one component of new Human Rights thematic initiatives (funded by our grant from Richard and Ann Pozen) which will also include support for doctoral student and faculty research symposia and conferences where appropriate.


Interdisciplinary Approaches to Modern France

This workshop provides a forum for faculty and students from different departments in the social sciences and the humanities who share a common interest in France from the mid-seventeenth century to the present. Bringing together different disciplinary perspectives and research horizons, it encourages participants to enrich the intellectual and methodological range of their own work. Topics will reflect the diversity of the group and include representatives from the fields of history, anthropology, literature, art history, sociology, and political science. Participants from all disciplines are welcome.


Interdisciplinary Archaeology

The Interdisciplinary Archaeology Workshop serves as the principal meeting ground for archaeologists and those interested in material culture who are distributed variously by discipline across campus. This year, by proposing “Vision” as our theme, we wish to forge a concerted dialogue on the everyday questions of the relationships between theoretical and methodological approaches centered on considerations of “Vision.” Our theme will focus on the relationship between archaeology and the visual, but it will also prompt us to consider future directions of our field. The workshop brings together faculty and students from Anthropology and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, as well as members of other departments and committees such as Art History, Classics, the Ancient Mediterranean World, East Asian, South Asian, and Geographical Studies. All interested participants are encouraged to attend.


Interdisciplinary Workshop in Paris

The Interdisciplinary Workshop in Paris is a special workshop catering to the needs of students who find themselves in France (or nearby) during the school year. Unified by the circumstance of being in Paris together as well as a general interest in France and French culture, the workshop is probably one of the most catholic at the university, featuring presentations in just the past year on anthropology, archaeology, economics, history, literature, music, and physics. In addition to bi-weekly meetings to hear speakers or discuss papers, the workshop serves as a social nerve center for students researching in France.


International History

Chicago’s approach to international history considers the interaction of historical forces across national boundaries and regions of the world.  These interactions are very broadly defined to include demographic, environmental, cultural, intellectual and media exchanges, as well as the more traditional canon of military, political, and economic interactions.  The workshop will bring together students from a variety of disciplines (history, political science, anthropology, and English) in order to enrich the research projects of our students. We expect that the workshop will also attract interested faculty who, like the faculty sponsors, see themselves as interdisciplinary scholars and we hope that the interactions in the workshop will encourage graduate students to integrate other disciplinary approaches into their work.


International Politics, Economy & Society – PIPES

As a workshop on international politics, economics and security, PIPES sessions address a broad range of theoretical and empirical issues and reflect widely varying methodological approaches and normative commitments. Faculty and student coordinators and participants view diversity in scholars and scholarship as a priority. We encourage projects that transcend conventional disciplinary and sub-disciplinary boundaries. In addition to contributing to the International Relations and Comparative Politics scholarship, our participants draw from critical theory, international finance, sociology, international political psychology, African studies, Middle-Eastern studies, communications, and history to construct their projects.


International Security Policy – PISP

The Program on International Security Policy (PISP) is a widely attended and intellectually vigorous workshop at the University. PISP’s activities revolve around a simple and important goal: to serve as a major center for scholarship and graduate student education for deep understanding of mainstream issues of international security. The workshop provides a forum for faculty and students to present original unpublished research papers, commonly a draft of a journal article or dissertation or book chapter. Topics include all aspects of the causes of war and peace, American national security policy, and international security affairs.


Jewish Studies

The Jewish Studies Workshop is the primary meeting-place for one of the most vibrant and interdisciplinary Jewish Studies communities in the world. Bringing together faculty and students from across various disciplines, the Jewish Studies Workshop seeks to provide a forum for vibrant discourse and critical reflection on work and topics that may range across the field of Judaica. From Jewish language, literature, and music to religion and philosophy, this workshop looks to engage students and faculty interested in Jewish studies while stretching them to think beyond the strictures that currently typify their sub-disciplines.



This interdisciplinary workshop is concerned with scholarship located at sites in which knowledge, value, and the articulation between these concepts are at stake in public life. In light of recent decades of techno-scientific change and its impact upon politics, economics, and culture at multiple scales, we believe that knowledge, value, and their relationship require fresh theorization. This workshop combines a strong interest in science studies with scholarship that brings those concerns beyond their traditional spaces of inquiry. Themes for 2012-2013 include: discourses of crisis and promise; relationships between institutions, markets, and states; property and privatization; and political identity.


Language, Cognition & Computation

The Language, Cognition, and Computation Workshop is an interdisciplinary forum for graduate students and faculty whose work addresses human language from a variety of perspectives: cognitive, computational, experimental, theoretical, and their intersection. This year’s workshop will focus on how gesture and signed languages enhance our understanding of language.


Language, Variation & Change

Our workshop is a collaborative, interdisciplinary venue for graduate students presenting research related to socio-, anthropological and historical linguistics as well as students focusing on language documentation and fieldwork. This year our theme will be “Under-represented Languages,” through which we hope to encourage presentations related to minority language varieties in the United States as well as globally under-studied languages, especially those for which University of Chicago graduate students and faculty have conducted fieldwork. Our faculty sponsors are from Linguistics and Slavic Language and Literature, and we have regular participation from language experts in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Anthropology, Comparative Human Development, and Classics, making our workshop a unique and valuable resource across several disciplines.


Late Antiquity & Byzantium

We study of all aspects of the peoples, cultures, histories, and religions of the Late Antique and Byzantine world, including Near Eastern and Slavic. We encourage communications about recent archaeological discoveries across the region. We also welcome presentations about methodologically and substantively related topics in the early Medieval West, and forward projections of Late Antique and Byzantine culture, very broadly conceived, into Modern Times.


Latin America & the Caribbean

The Workshop on Latin America and the Caribbean is an interdisciplinary forum and intellectual community for graduate students and faculty whose work and research is focused on Latin America or the Caribbean.  The workshop hosts regular presentations of work in progress by students, faculty, and invited guests, as well as special events and gatherings.  Participants come from a wide range of disciplines from across the social sciences and humanities, enabling an interdisciplinary conversation and exchange around questions of common interest to those whose work focuses on the region.


Latin American History

The Latin American History Workshop (LAHW) explores an eclectic array of questions in the history of Latin America and the Caribbean from around 1450 to the present. Graduate students and faculty in History and other disciplines take part in critical discussions of research papers centered on a range of places and historical topics within the region. The conversation that takes place in the Workshops devotes itself to questions of method and content as well as questions of each work’s insertion into broader Latin Americanist scholarship. The objective is to provide a space for open exchange and evaluation of ideas in the field while furnishing constructive feedback to student, faculty and guest presenters.


Literature & Philosophy

The Literature and Philosophy Workshop is a forum for discussion among graduate students and faculty interested in questions raised at the intersection of philosophy and literature. We work across traditional disciplinary boundaries to encourage a conversation that transcends historical and geographic divisions. Topics of interest to the workshop include (but are not limited to) the philosophy of literature and vice-versa, the overlap of philosophy and literature in the intellectual imaginary, intellectual and/or literary exchange between philosophers and literary figures, and hybrid forms of cultural production (e.g., myth).


Mass Culture

The Mass Culture Workshop is a forum for recent and ongoing academic research on the historical, theoretical, and practical dimensions of modern mass (commercial, consumer, or popular) media, including cinema, television, journalism, popular music, photography, advertising, fashion, public amusements, and computer technology. While we do consider interpretive problems presented by individual works and different types of mass media, our focus rests on broader questions regarding the key role mass culture plays in the formation of contemporary public spheres. Because the scope of many forms of mass culture extends beyond the boundaries of any one discipline, the workshop is committed to interdisciplinary work.


Medieval Studies

Started in 1994, the University of Chicago’s Medieval Studies Workshop brings together faculty and graduate students from the University and from the wider Chicago community. The Medieval Studies Workshop currently sponsors faculty and student speakers each academic year and meets on alternate Fridays at 12:00 p.m. in Wieboldt 207. Our members — either medievalists or those with an interest in the medieval period — come from a wide variety of disciplines including Art History, English, Divinity, History, Music, Linguistics, Romance and Germanic Languages and Literatures, and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC). While workshop sessions tend to focus on the European Middle Ages, c. 500-1500, we have sponsored speakers on related areas such as Islamic and Byzantine studies.



The workshop provides an interdisciplinary forum for inquiry into the vast reach of metaphor.  We anticipate conversation around ornament, figure, metonymy, allegory, translation, analogy, cognition, and epistemology; we hope to stimulate consideration of philosophical, legal and theological argument; we invite reflection on hermeneutics, gnosis, propriety and poetics.


Middle East History & Theory

This workshop focuses on the history, culture, literature, and societies of the Middle East since late antiquity by facilitating a dialogue among graduate students who approach the Middle East from disparate methodological, temporal, and geographic perspectives.


Money, Markets & Consumption

The Money, Markets & Consumption workshop provides a forum for both faculty and graduate students to present theoretical and empirical research on topics related to economic phenomena. We are particularly interested in interdisciplinary projects that challenge well-documented economic assumptions, or examine the logics and infrastructures presumed necessary for markets and currencies to function. The workshop endeavors to build an interdisciplinary community of scholars who analyze rational economic theories about individual and group economic behavior, particularly with respect to varied currencies, markets and consumption patterns, utilizing social, cultural, or historical specificity.


Music History/Theory

This workshop provides a forum for graduate students, faculty, and other scholars to explore contemporary approaches to music history, music theory, and the ways in which these two disciplines intersect. Allowing for a variety of disciplinary perspectives and multiple modes of presentation, the workshop aims to foster scholarly dialogues on involving music history and theory across a broad community of scholars.


New Media

The New Media Workshop provides a forum for faculty and graduate students to discuss the innovation and obsolescence of media, as well as to explore the implications of technologies when viewed through the lens of social practices and lived experience. Spurred by the ongoing but always uneven impact of media on everyday life, we explore the historical and discursive intersections of technology, culture, politics, and aesthetics. As media and mediums become increasingly dematerialized and deterritorialized in the digital age, attentiveness to the complexity apparent in both the immanence and afterlife of these forms seems increasingly essential.  Hence, the New Media Workshop is engaged in fostering critical dialogue on all aspects of mediated experience, and is committed above all to serving as a means to bridge different disciplines, perspectives, and approaches.


Poetry & Poetics

The Poetry and Poetics Workshop has two simple but ambitious aims. The first is to foster scholarship devoted to fundamental issues in the practice and criticism of poetry in all languages and across all historical periods. The second is to provide a supportive forum for graduate students writing on poetry and poetics. The workshop does not advocate a single approach to its subject, but rather encourages a mixed set of historical, formal, and philosophical perspectives on the art.


Political Psychology

The Political Psychology Workshop aims to consolidate the research goals of political science and psychology. Political science involves topics such as the relationship between citizens and politics, policy issues, and the state itself. Theoretical and empirical work on these topics is strengthened by incorporating knowledge from topics in psychology such as social trust, attitude formation, attribution, and persuasion. Social psychology explores how the mind works in social contexts, and the field gains strength from the recognition that the political world is a vibrant, important social context. We aim, especially, to encourage graduate students to draw upon the faculty and other resources at the University of Chicago for such interdisciplinary study.


Political Theory

This workshop is a forum for the critical discussion of new research in all varieties of political theory, political philosophy, and moral, social, and legal theory and philosophy, historical and contemporary. Presenters include graduate students, faculty from the University and other local institutions, and prominent visitors. Graduate students also have the opportunity to serve as discussants for presentations by other students, faculty, and visitors. The workshop subscribes to no particular methodology or political ideology and welcomes participants from all departments and disciplines. We seek to create a rigorous but comfortable space for the development of graduate student projects and professional skills.


Practical Philosophy

This workshop is a forum for those interested in ethics, conceived broadly to include normative moral philosophy, metaethics, action theory, moral psychology, political philosophy, and the theory of practical reason. Our activities are divided among graduate student presentations of dissertation chapters, the hosting of outside speakers, and faculty presentations of their own work in progress. We hope, over time, to build a campuswide community of scholars who are interested in the following pair of questions as well as their relationship to one another: What is it to act? What is it to act well?


Race & Religion: Thought, Practice, Meaning

The Workshop seeks to address the ideas, meanings, and practices of the sacred within racially marginalized communities. We seek to acknowledge both an intellectual conviction to the exploration of religion among racialized peoples and a commitment to engaging with and clarifying the impact of religion in racialized communities. We convene this workshop to provide a fdorum for graduate students and faculty at the University of Chicago and area institutions to explore the problematics of race and religion.


Religion & Ethics

The workshop provides a venue to explore the intersections of religion and the modern day ethical domains (bio-ethics, environmental ethics, social/political ethics, etc.), as well as historical engagement with thinkers whose work has influenced our understanding of the relationship between ethics and religion. The nature of the workshop is interdisciplinary, bringing into conversation perspectives from within specific religious traditions and other fields of study, such as medicine, the social sciences and humanities.  Our meetings consist of papers being given by regular participants, dissertation chapters, faculty presentations, visiting guest speakers, professional development panels, and periodic conferences.  Participants include students and faculty within the Divinity School as well as those in related disciplines with interests in religion and ethics.


Religions in American Culture

The Religions in America Workshop explores the role of religion in American culture from the colonial period to the present day. The workshop engages in historiographical, theoretical, and methodological discussions about the place of religion in American life by focusing on issues and topics such as gender, race, consumer culture, the separation of church and state, politics, literature, theology, and music. The workshop welcomes scholars from a variety of academic disciplines, including the Divinity School, History Department, English Department, Sociology Department, Political Science Department, Music Department, and Anthropology Department. Presentations by students and faculty, as well as by distinguished guest speakers, take place in a relaxed, discussion-oriented environment designed to further the research, inquiry, and knowledge of both presenters and participants alike.



The emphasis of the workshop is on cross-disciplinary study of English and European culture during the Renaissance, in areas such as literature, art, politics, theology, and natural science. Our interests include early modern poetry, prose, and drama, humanist pedagogy, politics and law, theological controversy, book history, the literature of trade and exploration, the history of the emotions, and much more. Student presentation in the form of article drafts, dissertation proposals or chapters, practice job interview presentations and practice campus visit talks are given priority. We will also meet with scholars from other institutions and hear from members of Chicago’s faculty.  The workshop meets on alternate Mondays at 5:00 p.m. in Rosenwald 405.


Reproduction of Race & Racial Ideologies

This interdisciplinary workshop address the different processes of racialization experience within groups as well as across groups in sites as diverse as North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Asian Pacific, and Europe. This workshop will examine theoretical and practical considerations of scholarship that highlights the intersection of race and ethnicity with other identities such as gender, class, sexuality, and nationality and interrogates social and identity cleavages within racialized communities. Fundamentally the workshop is committed to engaged scholarship that rejects the false dichotomy between rigorous intellectual work and community activism.


Rhetoric & Poetics

The Rhetoric and Poetics Workshop is concerned with the literature of classical Greece and Rome, considered either on its own terms or in relation to the literature and poetry of other cultures.  It invites presentation of critical arguments completed or in progress from the broadest possible range of perspectives.  The Workshop meets approximately five times per quarter, on Thursday afternoons at 3:30 in the Classics Seminar Room (Classics 21). 


Self & Subjectivity

In this workshop, we explore the parallels, tensions, and places for dialog between two interdisciplinary approaches toward human interiority: 1) a research tradition in psychological anthropology and cultural psychology which has examined the sources of psychological diversity, with an emphasis on the concept of “self”; and 2) a recent body of work has centered around the concept of “subjectivity,” often understood as an approach to psychological experience closely attuned to issues of hierarchy, history and global economic and political processes. Given the dearth of substantive conversation between these conceptual frameworks, this workshop provides a forum for students and faculty to discuss innovative research while engaging with both “self” and “subjectivity” approaches to human interiority.


Semantics & Philosophy of Language

The subject of meaning in natural language is currently investigated both by philosophers and linguists, with different foci, methods, and emphases. The two are typically guided by different concerns and goals (e.g., linguists are centrally concerned with patterns of cross-linguistic variation and language acquisition; philosophers investigate the normativity of language and the metaphysical presuppositions of particular theoretical claims), but both groups can profit from cross-disciplinary discussions and mutual understanding of their different questions, methods and results. The topic of the 2012-13 workshop will be “Vagueness.”


Semiotics:  Culture in Context

This workshop seeks to advance research based on a semiotic framework. Presentations will come from a variety of fields including but not limited to linguistics, psychology, sociology, political science, literary theory, and anthropology. By not limiting the topic of research by area, period or discipline, the workshop encourages discussion to center on how to study social and cultural phenomena as embedded in a meaningful context. By building on many seminal studies that have used semiotic approaches, the goal of the workshop is to continue to develop the rigorous analytic framework that provides the method for clearly defining linkages between the object of analysis and its context.


Social History

The Social History Workshop provides an academic forum for the discussion and development of work that takes seriously the history of everyday life. The workshop often engages work that studies people who have been excluded from dominant historical narratives. While the workshop focuses primarily on the United States, it also seeks to examine issues that transcend North America’s borders.  These issues and themes include but are not limited to race, class, gender, sexuality, and politics.  Participants include graduate students and faculty in social, cultural, political and intellectual history and other related disciplines. Work presented includes dissertation proposals, chapters in progress, and drafts of conference papers, in addition to presentations by visitors.


Social Theory

This workshop explores the social theoretical dimension of a wide variety of issues dealt with by disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. The emphasis is less on analyzing the work of various social theorists (although such investigation also takes place) than on exploring in a sustained fashion the social theoretical implications of the participants’ work. Themes to be addressed are likely to include large-scale historical changes of the modern world, the relation between social and cultural transformations, questions of the public sphere and civil society, social movements, democracy, and capitalism, the relation between colonialism and the expansion of capital, and conceptual issues posed by globalization.


Social Theory & Evidence

The Social Theory and Evidence Workshop is a forum for graduate students and faculty to grapple with two foundational questions that animate social scientific research:  1) What constitutes a strong theory? and 2)  What sort of empirical evidence do we need to build an argument to support claims about the social world?  These core questions underlie many longstanding debates in social science, as they address fundamental concerns about causal inference, the logic of inquiry, and the merits of various methodological and theoretical approaches to social scientific puzzles.


Theater & Performance Studies

The workshop in Theater & Performance Studies seeks to provide a forum for questions of performance that have arisen in a host of disciplines across the divisions, including Anthropology, Cinema & Media Studies, East Asian Languages and Cultures, English, Germanic Studies, History, Music, Romance Languages, and Slavic Languages.  In addition, the workshop seeks to extend to the graduate level a systematic reflection on the longstanding divide between the theories and praxes of performance that has, for the past few years, animated work in the undergraduate committee on theater and performance studies.



The Theology Workshop maintains a thematically and disciplinarily diverse conversation about religious discourse, practice, and meaning. Since the topics in view include texts and contexts ranging across eras and regions, the ethos of the Workshop is highly interdisciplinary: historical, aesthetic, sociological, philosophical, philological, and natural scientific perspectives (among others) are all relevant here. In conducting inquiry into the interpenetrations between ideas and forms of life, between religious understanding and broader (including ostensibly secular) culture, the Workshop seeks to understand these cross-currents more deeply, set them within a shared and serial conversation, and discover in them resources for constructive engagement.


Theory & Practice in South Asia

The TAPSA workshop and its associated Graduate Student Conference are important parts of the fabric of intellectual activity in South Asian studies at the University of Chicago.  TAPSA talks are scheduled in coordination with the South Asia Seminar, to provide regular interdisciplinary intellectual events, including papers by University of Chicago advanced graduate students, or visiting scholars and faculty.  The format of TAPSA talks is a 45-50 minute presentation followed by 30-40 minutes of discussion.


Transnational Approaches to Modern Europe

Transnational Approaches to Modern Europe offers a forum to discuss and critique works in progress concerning the history, culture, and societies of Modern Europe, including France, Germany, Eastern and Central Europe, and Russia/the Soviet Union. This year the workshop will focus on the presentation and discussion of research that is transnational in methodology or content. Presenters come from the University faculty and graduate students as well as invited scholars working on related research projects. The workshop is a place to discuss current research and is the focal point of a larger interdisciplinary community of scholars and Chicago graduate students interested in European History.


United States Locations

The Workshop on United States Locations explores current ethnographic research on the United States and Canada from social scientific fields engaging cross-disciplinary anthropological problems. In a world of global interconnections, we provide a forum for anthropologists and other social scientists crafting rigorous approaches to “locating” America as a cultural and sociological entity within, across, and outside the geographic boundaries of North America. As the anthropology of the U.S. has re-emerged over the past decade, it has incorporated the legacies of ethnographic sociology, critical geography, and American Studies. Continuing this tradition, we invite scholars from across the disciplines to participate in regular meetings to engage with both established and developing core questions.


Visual & Material Perspectives on East Asia

This workshop is focused on the study of material and visual objects from East Asia (defined to include China, Central Asia, Korea and Japan, and other regions). It explores the possible uses of recent theories of art, history, and material and visual culture in the study of East Asia. Presentations of studies of objects and visual materials from a variety of historical periods and geographical concerns within East Asia serve as case studies for the exploration of such methodological concerns. The workshop is about two-thirds student presentations and about one-third outside speakers.


Western Mediterranean Culture

The purpose of this workshop is to bring together faculty and graduate students working on areas of the Western Mediterranean during the medieval and early modern periods in order to develop a broader picture of the historical, linguistic, artistic, and literary currents and exchanges in a site of enormous cultural ferment. The workshop emphasizes the movement of people, ideas, motifs, and objects among the different parts of the region. This forum encourages graduate students to consider their work in a broader context and gives them the opportunity to get important feedback from colleagues and in related disciplines. Graduate student papers are pre-circulated before the workshop meetings.



The Wittgenstein Workshop aims to foster a variety of forms of interdisciplinary research that take their point of departure from a shared interest in Wittgenstein’s intellectual achievement. The workshop will seek to provide a forum in which the following activities can be pursued in conjunction with one another: (1) the careful study of Wittgenstein’s contributions to both philosophy and other disciplines, (2) the discussion of current research by graduate students with related interests, (3) the presentation of work by (and opportunity for graduate students to come into contact and discussion with) some of the leading contemporary scholars at work in these areas.


Additional programs in the Centers and Institutes may be found on the following pages.