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What to See at Chicago Humanities Festival This Weekend

Chicago’s picks for weekend-one at the festival.

Jamaica Kincaid speaks Saturday at Northwestern as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival.   Photo: Patrick T. Fallon

Hold onto your brains. The 25th annual Chicago Humanities Festival starts tomorrow, and there are more than 100 lectures, panels, debates, and performances on the three-week schedule. This year’s theme is journeys, and the lineup is mindbogglingly good.

Unfortunately, a number of CHF events are already sold out. But! Some of the first week’s best talks are cover-charge only, which means with an alarm clock and some chutzpah, you can be first in line and front-and-center for your favorite authors, filmmakers, and political bigwigs. Here are three particularly neat events to target in week one. Stay tuned for Chicago’s picks for weeks two and three. Happy learning.

Jamaica Kincaid

When: Saturday, October 25 at 11 a.m.
Where: Northwestern; Cahn Auditorium, Pick-Staiger Hall.
How much: $5-12 at the door. Cash only.
Why you should go: The Antiguan novelist and former New Yorker writer is a notoriously engaging interview, and she’ll be in conversation with CHF emeritus director Lawrence Weschler—also a former New Yorkerer. Which is to say, this is a pro in conversation with a pro.

Chaz Ebert and Steve James on Life Itself

When: Saturday, October 25 at 3 p.m.
Where: Northwestern; Cahn Auditorium, Pick-Staiger Hall.
How much: $5-12 at the door. Cash only.
Why you should go: Life Itself creators Steve James (Hoop Dreams) and Chaz Ebert spent the summer touring behind their documentary about Roger Ebert’s life, death, and legacy. That means stories from the road as well as never-before-seen footage. Plus, you’ll have already made the trek up to Evanston for Jamaica Kincaid’s talk! Read host Alison Cuddy’s interview about the talk here.

Steve Schmidt v. David Axelrod

When: Sunday, October 26 at 11 a.m.
Where: U. Chicago; Logan Center performance hall.
How much: $5-12 at the door. Cash only.
Why you should go: Obama’s 2008 campaign advisor sits down with McCain’s 2008 campaign advisor. Prepare for blood some highly charged political discourse.

GO: Chicago Humanities Festival runs October 25 through November 9 at Northwestern, University of Chicago, and various downtown cultural buildings. See the full schedule and ticketing info here, and stay tuned for Chicago’s walkups to weeks two and three.

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