CANCELLED - Alexander Chula - "Goodbye, Dr Banda" - Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer

Friday, October 20, 2023 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Alexander Chula

Alexander Chula will discuss Goodbye, Dr Banda: Lessons for the West from a Small African Country. He will be joined in conversation by Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer.

This event will be held in person at The Seminary Co-op.


About the book: In a ruined dictator’s palace, Alexander Chula – a classicist-turned-doctor, fresh out of Oxford – stumbles upon an oak treasure chest, containing a priceless, antique edition of Julius Caesar’s Gallic War. This unexpected talisman of Western high culture belongs to the enigmatic Dr. Banda, a man of many parts: scholar-physician, anti-colonial hero, brutal tyrant, and fallen philosopher-king.

Banda leads the author deep into the heart of this mysterious country. Using memoir, travelogue and history, Chula uncovers a bizarre meeting of worlds, between one of Africa's most fascinating indigenous cultures and the best and worst of our own. Here tribal ritual collides with Greek theatre; masked dancers with roving classicists; poets and pop stars with missionary-explorers; hippies and kleptocrats with long-suffering peasants.

The story is enigmatic but exhilarating, by turns edifying and deeply uncomfortable. But we would do well to examine it: Malaŵi presents urgent lessons which resonate piercingly in our vexed age of culture wars and identity crisis.

About the author: Alexander Chula is a medical doctor and writer. He was born and raised in London, and is of mixed Thai and British ancestry. He read Classics at Worcester College, Oxford, then medicine at the University of London. He has worked in Malawi both as a teacher of Latin and Ancient Greek and as a doctor.

About the Interlocutor: Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer is the founding Director of the Institute on the Formation of Knowledge at the University of Chicago, and the Helen A. Regenstein Distinguished Service Professor of Classics. She has authored and edited some 12 books on antiquity. Her book PersiusA Study in Food, Philosophy, and the Figural received the Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit in 2016 and a translation of Vergil’s Aeneid was published to acclaim in 2022. Most recently, she has written a study of the reception of the Classics in contemporary China, Plato Goes to China. Bartsch has been a Guggenheim fellow, sits on the board of the AAR, edits the journal KNOW, and has held visiting scholar positions in Europe and Taiwan.

Event Location: 
Seminary Co-op Bookstores
5751 S Woodlawn
Chicago, IL 60637