Press Release


Graduation address by Armando Maggi, Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Chicago

CHICAGO On Saturday, May 19 at 1:00 PM at Alliance Fran├žaise de Chicago (54 West Chicago Avenue), the Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) will celebrate the graduation of The Odyssey Project‘s class of 2007. The Odyssey Project — now completing its seventh year — is a free college-level humanities course for people living in poverty. Students in the class of 2007 took classes from September through May at the North Kenwood/Oakland Charter School on the South Side and at the Howard Area Community Center in Rogers Park on the North Side.

Armando Maggi, Associate Professor, Italian Literature and the College, and Committee on History of Culture, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, at the University of Chicago, will give the graduation address. Professor Maggi’s scholarship includes works on Renaissance and Baroque culture, literature, and philosophy with particular focus on treatises on love, religious texts, and the relationship of word and image. He is also an expert on Christian mysticism, with works on medieval, Renaissance, and baroque women mystics. A native of Italy, he earned his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. He has taught in The Odyssey Project for four years.

In addition to Professor Maggi, The Odyssey Project graduates will select a student speaker from each location to address the graduation audience.

Founded on the premise that engagement with the humanities can offer a way out of poverty, The Odyssey Project, in partnership with the Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities, offers course participants 110 hours of instruction in four humanistic disciplines. Students explore masterpieces in literature, art history, philosophy, and United States history. Writing instruction is also integral to the coursework. The Bard Clemente Course in the Humanities (of which The Odyssey Project is a part) is in its tenth year, with almost two dozen courses operating around the country, and it is part of a larger Clemente movement offering humanities courses to the poor on five continents.

Classes meet two evenings a week at host sites located in the community. Syllabi and reading lists at all sites are roughly equivalent to those a student might encounter in a first-year humanities survey course at a first-rate university. Tuition is free; books, childcare, and transportation vouchers are provided. Bard College in New York grants a certificate of achievement to any student who completes the course and six college credits to those completing it at a high level of performance. Next year’s courses will begin in September 2007 at sites on the South Side, the North Side, and Champaign-Urbana.

For more information about The Odyssey Project, or to request an application, please call 312.422.5580, email, or visit and click on “The Odyssey Project” under “Educational Programs and Grants.”

The Illinois Humanities Council is an educational organization dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. Through its programs and grants, the IHC promotes greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. Organized as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1973, the IHC is now a private nonprofit (501 [c] 3) organization that is funded by contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations; by the Illinois General Assembly; and by the NEH.


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