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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 4, 2004

Scholars Present 'Viewing Humanity Through The Operatic Lens' Oct. 13-15

Scholars of the humanities and of medical science will join forces to discuss humanity in opera when they visit the University of Iowa as Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professors Oct. 13 to 15. Linda Hutcheon, professor of comparative literature and English at the University of Toronto, and Michael Hutcheon, medical director of the Toronto Lung Transplant Program and Professor of Medicine at the University Health Network (Canada), will give a number of public lectures during their UI visit, all focused on "Viewing Humanity through the Operatic Lens."

The Hutcheons, a husband and wife team, will speak at two events on Wednesday, Oct. 13: "Culture and Sensitivity: An Operatic Biopsy" at 4 p.m. at the William Bean Conference Room (Room S301 General Hospital) and "The Young History of Age: Creativity and the Human Life Course" at 8 p.m. at E109, UI Art Building.

The topics featured in the following days are "Death, the Holocaust, and the Human Spirit," Thursday, Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in Room 140 Schaeffer Hall,; and a graduate student colloquium on "Orientalist India: Empire and Opera in a Post-Colonial World," Friday, Oct. 15, at 4 p.m. in the Gerber Lounge, English-Philosophy Building.

Linda and Michael Hutcheon, both recognized scholars in their fields, have joined forces to bring exciting new insights into the arts using a unique combination of approaches from the humanities and medical sciences, said Roberta Marvin, co-director of the Opera Studies Group, the main sponsor of their visit. While at the UI, the Hutcheons hope to communicate with university constituencies not often reached by music scholars such as medical professionals and humanists.

In the past eight years, the Hutcheons have worked collaboratively to produce two groundbreaking books in interdisciplinary opera studies: the award-winning "Opera: Disease, Desire and Death," and" Bodily Charm: Living Opera." Their latest book is entitled "Opera: The Art of Dying." In their collaborative work they have used opera to explore many paths not usually associated with the genre, including meanings taken on by illnesses and people who have them when medical information is interpreted in a social or a cultural context.

Linda Hutcheon, a professor in comparative literature and English at the University of Toronto, has held distinguished visiting appointments at many Canadian and U.S. institutions. Her publications range from the literary theory of parody and the postmodern to specialized literary studies to music in literature and literature as opera. She has authored eight books, many of which are award-winning contributions to the discipline and have been translated into multiple languages.

Michael Hutcheon is medical director of the Toronto Lung Transplant Program and Professor of Medicine at the University Health Network (Canada). In addition to being trained in pulmonary physiology, specifically in lung mechanics, Hutcheon's humanistic scholarly interests encompass cultural contexts in which medicine is practiced, which led him to research semiotics and pharmaceutical advertising and how medical information is interpreted in social and cultural contexts as reflected in the genre of opera.

These distinguished guest speakers are sponsored by the UI Opera Studies Group, Office of the Provost, UI International Programs, Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Interdisciplinary Colloquium, the Medicine in Society Program, Cardiovascular Division-Dept. of Internal Medicine of the Carver College of Medicine, and the following UI departments: history, French and Italian, music, and cinema and comparative literature as well as aging studies, a program within interdisciplinary studies.

The UI Opera Studies Group, established in 1999 and co-directed by Roberta Marvin and Robert Ketterer, is an interdisciplinary forum for the study of opera and related genres. From its inception, the Opera Studies Group has drawn faculty and advanced graduate students from several departments across campus to both formal and informal gatherings addressing myriad topics ranging from aesthetics to performance practices.

The Opera Studies Group is affiliated with UI International Programs, which consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost for academic programs and dean of international programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and the community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

For more information or for special accommodations to attend the events, contact Roberta Marvin at 319-335-0659 or

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026, Program: Roberta Marvin, 319-335-0659,; Writer: Po Li Loo.