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IPRH to focus on 'cities' during year

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor
(217) 333-2177;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- One of the greatest -- but also most overlooked --actors of all time will get many moments in the spotlight during a University of Illinois film series.

The consummate but underappreciated actor --"The City" -- will be the featured star of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities' film series.

Titled "On the Town: The City in Film," the series begins Wednesday (Sept. 6) with "L.A. Story," starring Steve Martin, who also was the screenwriter for the 1991 film. Set in a fanciful version of Los Angeles, where the weather is always "sunny and 72," the movie focuses on an outlandish TV meteorologist who discovers that the weather can change your life, and that a talking freeway sign can help unravel the mysteries of contemporary urban life.

The film series, which is coordinated by Christine Catanzarite, associate director of IPRH, is free and open to the public. All films will begin at 4 p.m. in the auditorium of the Krannert Art Museum, 500 E. Peabody Drive, Champaign.

Choosing the films for the series was "an adventure and a dilemma -- how to winnow down the body of choices to a manageable few," Catanzarite said. "In the end, I decided to show films that I thought would represent the subject matter in an interesting or even provocative way -- films I think bear watching -- or rewatching -- because of the theme, but also regardless of the theme."

The fall semester lineup includes:

Sept. 27, "Roger and Me," 1989, directed by and starring Michael Moore, an award-winning documentary full of scathing humor and biting satire that chronicles a city decimated by GM plant closings and the economics of the 1980s.

Oct. 18, "Metropolis," 1926, directed by Fritz Lang, a classic, black-and-white silent film that presents a seminal view of the futuristic city.

Nov. 8, "After Hours," 1985, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Rosanna Arquette and Griffin Dunne, chronicles one night in the life of a meek New York City computer operator who finds himself on a downtown odyssey.

Nov. 29, "Koyaanisqatsi," 1983, directed by Godfrey Reggio. Taking its title from the Hopi Indian word meaning "life out of balance," the film features striking cinematography and a hypnotic score by Philip Glass to present a compelling portrait of the clash between the technologized urban world and the environment.

"Cities" also is IPRH's overall theme for this academic year, 2000-2001. All of IPRH's programs will revolve around the theme over the fall and spring semesters.

According to Michael BŽrubŽ, IPRH director, the topic "embraces a broad range of social phenomena, historical periods and academic disciplines -- from the walls of Jericho to the skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur, from the fashions of Carnaby Street to the favelas of S‹o Paulo, from Augustine's 'City of God' to Mike Davis' 'City of Quartz.' "

The IPRH, thus, is entertaining "all approaches and schools of thought that help illuminate the role of cities as symbols and centers of human endeavor." The Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities was established in 1997 to promote interdisciplinary study in the humanities, arts and social sciences.

In addition to granting fellowships to faculty and graduate students who work in yearlong symposia on thematic topics, the IPRH also invites speakers of national and international reputations to address the campus and the program fellows on the year's theme topic, and convenes an annual conference at which ongoing research can be presented, discussed and made available to the broader scholarly community.

The highly competitive faculty and graduate student fellowship programs are "the centerpiece" of the IPRH, BŽrubŽ said.

Faculty Fellows are given office space and limited research support, and are released from one semester of teaching. They are expected to participate in the program's annual conference and related activities, including a monthly interdisciplinary Fellows' Seminar. Fellows present their research at the annual conference in the spring and may submit their findings for publication in an edited collection to be based on the conference and coordinated by the program.

This year's Faculty Research Fellows, their topics of research and their seminar titles are:

Sharon Irish, architecture, "Intimacy and Monumentality in Urban Public Spaces," "Layers in the Loop".

Alejandro Lugo, anthropology, "Urban Order, Death and the Possibility of Counter-Surveillance in a Border City," "Border Cultures, Border Cities and the Border Theory."

William Maxwell and Joseph Valente, English, joint proposals, "Metrocolonial Capitals of Renaissance Modernism: Dublin's 'New Ireland' and Harlem's 'Mecca of the New Negro,' " "The Celtic and Harlem Renaissances: Minority Modernism in the Metropolis."

Robert Ousterhout, architecture, "Constantinople and the Construction of Medieval Urbanism," "Constantinople and Medieval Urbanism."

Helaine Silverman, anthropology, "Urban Space and Place in an Imagined Past: A Study of Tourist Cities in Peru," "Anthropological Perspectives on the City and Built Environment."

Mark D. Steinberg, history, "St. Petersburg Fin-de-Sicle," "St. Petersburg: City as Text."

IPRH Graduate Fellows receive a stipend of $6,000 and a tuition and fee waiver. The goal of the IPRH Graduate Student Fellows program is to provide advanced graduate students with a full semester to devote to their research.

This year's Graduate Student Fellows and their research topics are:

Rebecca Bryant, musicology, "Shaking Big Shoulders: Popular Music and Dance Culture in Chicago, 1910-1925."

Sace Elder, history, "Murder Scenes: Violence in the Public Culture and Private Lives of Weimar Berlin."

Serife Genis, sociology, "The Making of a Global City and Its Diaspora: Globalization of Istanbul and Changing Discourses on Squatters."

Jane T. Kuntz, French, "AuthentiCity: Assia Djebar's Women in Algiers."

Shawn Miklaucic, Institute of Communications Research, "Images of the Simulated City: Virtual Real(i)ty, Sim City, and the Production of Urban Hyperspace."

Gretchen Soderlund, Institute of Communications Research, "Sex Panics and City Papers: 'White Slavery' and Journalistic Objectivity in New York, 1910-1920."

IPRH is a division of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a member of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes. The IPRH Web site is