Mortimer Adler
and the
Great Books Idea

Tuesday, February 4, 5:30-8:30pm

The Lounge at Iwan Ries
19 South Wabash

Cocktails at 5:30, presentation 6:00-6:30 followed by discussion and more cocktails.     $40 includes drinks, two cigars, and food from Italian Village. 
Reservations are required.


From the review by Scott McLemee: "Originally published by Encyclopaedia Britannica in 1952, Great Books of the Western World offered a selection of core texts representing the highest achievements of European and North American culture. That was the ambition. But today the set is perhaps best remembered as a peculiar episode in the history of furniture.

"Many an American living room displayed its 54 volumes -- 'monuments of unageing intellect,' to borrow a phrase from Yeats. (The poet himself, alas, did not make the grade as Great.) When it first appeared, the set cost $249.50, the equivalent of about $2,200 today. It was a shrewd investment in cultural capital, or at it least it could be, since the dividends came only from reading the books. Mortimer Adler – the philosopher and cultural impresario who envisioned the series in the early 1940s and led it through publication and beyond, into a host of spinoff projects – saw the Great Books authors as engaged in a Great Conversation across the centuries, enriching the meaning of each work and making it 'endlessly rereadable.'

"Well, that’s one way to tell the Great Books story: High culture meets commodity fetishism amidst Cold War anxiety over the state of American education. But Tim Lacy gives a far more generous and considerably more complex analysis of the phenomenon in The Dream of a Democratic Culture: Mortimer J. Adler and the Great Books Idea, just published by Palgrave Macmillan."

Tim Lacy joins the Cigar Society on Tuesday to talk about Mortimer Adler and the Great Books Idea.

Tim Lacy is a free-lance historian and an academic advisor at Loyola University Chicago. Recently he was a visiting assistant professor in the history department at Monmouth College, where he taught U.S. and world history. Lacy's specialties are intellectual and cultural history, as well as the history of education. Additional topical interests include the history of philosophy, Catholicism, Chicago urban history, print culture, and historiography. Lacy just finished a book titled The Dream of a Democratic Culture: Mortimer J. Adler and the Great Books Idea (Palgrave Macmillan). His articles have appeared in The Journal of the History of Ideas, American Catholic Studies, The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, and various encyclopedias. He co-founded both the U.S. Intellectual History blog and the Society for U.S. Intellectual History, and also helped organize its first two annual conferences. Prior to Monmouth, Lacy worked as a historian at the University of Illinois at Chicago under Robert Remini, and taught part-time at various Chicago-area institutions, including Dominican University, Northeastern Illinois University, the City Colleges of Chicago, and the Newberry Library.

About the Cigar Society of Chicago

ONE OF THE OLDEST AND greatest traditions of the city clubs of Chicago is the discussion of intellectual, social, legal, artistic, historical, scientific, musical, theatrical, and philosophical issues in the company of educated, bright, and appropriately provocative individuals, all under the beneficent influence of substantial amounts of tobacco and spirits.  The Cigar Society of Chicago embraces this tradition and extends it with its Informal Smokers, University Series lectures, and Cigar Society Dinners, in which cigars, and from time to time pipes and cigarettes, appear as an important component of our version of the classical symposium.  To be included in the Cigar Society's mailing list, write to the Secretary at curtis.tuckey@logicophilosophicus.org.