Literature, unlike the other arts, has no material content. The pictures are made on the mental retina. When we imagine a color, do we think of a piece of language that spells out the name of the color or does a physical (or quasi-physical) event take place in the brain? This lecture traces out the moments at which two great colorists, Marcel Proust and Lady Murasaki, summon color into being both in the worlds of their respective novels, and on the “mental retina” of the reader. Using contemporary neuroscience as well as classic experiments on the imagination from cognitive psychology, the lecture examines the phenomenon of color threads, the background colors against which our imagination carries out its acts of image-production, and the unexpected relationship between color and mortality.
Thursday, December 7, 2017 at 6 p.m.
Elaine Scarry, Harvard University
Featuring the work of artists Diego Camposeco, Aaron Canipe, Jing Niu, and Jina Valentine, “Melt with Ruth” offers a mix of two-dimensional works and experimental videos exploring notions of home, identity, geography, and sense of place in North Carolina. The show takes its title from the lesser-quoted phrase that follows “Look homeward Angel” in John Milton’s poem “Lycidas,” which Asheville author Thomas Wolfe appropriated for his classic 1929 autobiographical novel Look Homeward, Angel: “Look homeward Angel now, and melt with ruth.” The exhibit is presented as part of North Carolina: The New American Heartland.
September 5 – December 15, 2017
North Carolina: The New American Heartland is a multi-dimensional initiative—highlighted by a three-day gathering which took place on September 27–29, 2017—enlisting scholars, artists, journalists, educators, policy experts, activists, community leaders, and others to critically consider North Carolina’s role as a bellwether for the nation. Through the lenses of food, music, and storytelling, the conference provided a forum for examining the state’s complex and myriad cultural identities and for exploring how the arts and humanities can help us better understand and face our shared challenges.
AN OUTRAGE is a documentary film about lynching in the American South. Filmed on location at lynching sites in six states and bolstered by the memories and perspectives of descendants, community activists, and scholars, this unusual historical documentary seeks to educate even as it serves as a hub for action to remember and reflect upon a long-hidden past. On September 19, 2017 the National Humanities Center hosted a public showing of AN OUTRAGE. After an introduction by documentarians Lance Warren and Hannah Ayers and a screening of the film, panelists led an in-depth discussion about the key issues facing educators as they engage with this content in their classrooms.
How should the study and teaching of music be integrated into K-12 classrooms? In this podcast, Ben Wides, who teaches social studies at East Side Community High School in New York, NY, and Warren Zanes, former executive director of the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, discuss the benefits of music education for all students and the ways that music can be used in the teaching of other subjects to help students make connections and appreciate cultural context. They also consider some of the opportunities and challenges presented by new technologies that provide ready access to extensive musical resources.
In the wake of the American Revolution, political leaders insisted that their new republic could not survive without improved and more comprehensive public education meant to create better informed citizens. But the push for educational reform often ran afoul of local legislators and voters, who balked at the taxes needed to fund expanded systems of education. In his talk, historian Alan Taylor discusses this intriguing irony—that republican reliance on popular sovereignty complicated efforts by elites to improve voters through education.