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Framing the Questions gets a bright new name
And contest winners enjoy a Chez Panisse experience

| 08 December 2004

The Arts and Humanities Division of the College of Letters and Science has announced the results of a competition to rename its online publication, Framing the Questions. Chosen unanimously by the selection committee, the new name will be Illuminations: Berkeley’s online magazine of research in the arts and humanities. The online publication showcases research of Berkeley faculty and students in the humanities and arts.

The new title was selected from a field of more than 300 submissions from 60 individuals — Berkeley faculty, students, staff, and alumni, as well as UCOP staff and members of the community. Winning entries, each with the name “Illuminations,” came from Michele Rabkin, associate director of the campus Consortium for the Arts; Karen Goodman, manager of East Asian Languages and Cultures; and Scott Combs (a graduate student in film studies) and Elizabeth Wadell (administrative assistant in rhetoric and film studies), who made a joint submission. Each of the three winning entries are being rewarded with a dinner for two at Chez Panisse.

“Scott just happened to be in the office, and he said he was thinking of doing it,” says Wadell of her serendipitous entry with grad student Combs. “We brainstormed for 15 minutes and sent in a bunch of entries. Metaphors of vision and light are good, I figured, for the humanities.“

Upon learning of their success, the staffer and student lost no time in collecting their just desserts: On a recent Monday night they dined at the north Berkeley culinary destination. After buttercup squash ravioli, Wadell reports, they went on to pork braised in milk, apple tart topped with anise ice cream, and coffee; wine was also involved. She pronounced it “really good — I’d been to the upstairs café before — but when else were we ever going to afford the downstairs restaurant?”

Contest judges said they favored the name “Illuminations” because it captures “the nature of humanities and arts research — work that sheds light on areas of obscurity, that shines as a guiding beacon, and that glows in lively constellations of associations.” The name also resonates on a number of levels, the committee said — as an association with the University of California’s motto, “Fiat Lux,” as a reference to medieval illuminated manuscripts, and as an allusion to an important collection of essays by cultural critic Walter Benjamin.

The contest was announced at the end of September as part of a website redesign. The newly named publication is scheduled for relaunch in late January 2005. Until then the magazine can be found online at framingthequestions.berkeley.edu.