Zak & Dan collage

Meet UChicago students Zak Lutz and Dan Ackerman, our tag-team duo for a special double issue of the Nerd of the Month! Need any reassurance of their collective nerdiness? Take a peek at question #8, where they both cite the UChicago library as their favorite aspect of university life.

1. Names: Zak Lutz & Dan Ackerman

2. Relationship to Great Books:

  • Zak: I was a Program Assistant at Amherst in 2016, and I’ll be back as Lead PA in 2017!
  • Dan: I was a Great Books camper on the Stanford campus from 2007 to 2011, and this is my first year returning as a Program Assistant at UChicago. I’m psyched!

2. Life status:

  • Zak: I am currently a Master’s student at the University of Chicago, studying Social Sciences with the future ambition of becoming a professor. My favorite class this quarter is Florentine Political Thought — it’s really curious how they attempted to reform their government as “humanism” evolved over each generation.
  • Dan: I graduated from the University of Chicago last spring with a Bachelor’s in International Studies, and I am currently a tutor for an organization in Chicago. My favorite classes while I was at the U of C included an anthropology intensive study on “Urban Africa” and a core class my first year called “Power, Identity, and Resistance.” Histories of competing ideas inspire me more than anything. My biggest extra-curricular commitment at college was the improv and sketch comedy group Off-Off Campus. I often say that Off-Off was my “real major.”

3. Nerdy fun fact:

  • Zak: My nerdiest attribute is definitely my love of chess. I play more chess than I should.
  • Dan: I named my cat Riker after Commander William T. Riker of the USS Enterprise-D (and later E).

4. Favorite book:

  • Zak: I really hate this question. I’ve read Perks of Being a Wallflower quicker than any book, I’ve read Genealogy of Morals more times than any other book, and Being and Time keeps me awake most often.
  • Dan: White Noise by Don DeLillo.

5. Which nerd in history would you most like to have dinner with?

  • Zak: Look, according to all the historical evidence, the dude ruined every dinner party he ever attended. But, at the same time, Socrates made every dinner party mind-shattering.
  • Dan: Edward Said.

6. Who was your first fictional crush?

  • Zak: I can’t remember to be honest, but it must have been Hermione right? Even as a little guy that combination of brains and confidence had to make my young heart flutter.
  • Dan: Jesse Tuck of Tuck Everlasting (I never got the message out of that book that the teacher wanted; I’d drink the water in a heartbeat).

7. What’s your favorite thing about Chicago?

  • Zak: The beauty — Chicago is an underratedly gorgeous city. The architecture mixes the modern and old school flawlessly. The lakeview backgrounds everything. The parks, the fountains, the art galleries.
  • Dan: The wide range of theater to see has to be my favorite thing about Chicago.

8. What’s your favorite thing about being a student at UChicago?

  • Zak: I love the library system!! Not a joke — they’ve got an exchange with two library networks and a solid collection on campus. I really appreciate how easily I can find super obscure books for research.
  • Dan: I really do love the Regenstein Library.

Nerds of the Month: Zak Lutz & Dan Ackerman of UChicago

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