Subscribe to RSS Feeds from the National Humanities Center


Thurs., January 12 — 5:00 p.m.
"America's International Civil War"
Don Doyle, University of South Carolina

Don Doyle, University of South Carolina

Don Doyle is the McCausland Professor of History at the University of South Carolina and director of ARENA, the Association for Research on Ethnicity and Nationalism in the Americas. His research and writing have focused on United States history, the Civil War era, the American South, and nationalism in the Americas and Europe. Among his recent publications are The South as an American Problem, co-edited with Larry J. Griffin (1995); Faulkner's County: The Historical Roots of Yoknapatawpha (2001); Nations Divided: America, Italy, and the Southern Question (2002); Nationalism in the New World, co-edited with Marco Pamplona (2006); and Secession as an International Phenomenon, edited (2010). His essays on the American Civil War have appeared in the New York Times series "Disunion." At the Center this year, Doyle is working as the Archie K. Davis Fellow on America's International Civil War.

In his talk, Doyle will focus not on the domestic military conflict of blood and bullets fought between North and South but on the war of ink and ideas fought overseas. As North and South each tried to explain to the world what they were fighting for, foreign observers interpreted the American conflict in their own terms. Liberals and conservatives, radicals and monarchists came to view the "American question" as an epic battle between democratic self-government and aristocratic rule. In a contest of what we now call "public diplomacy," politicians and diplomats, spies and propagandists, journalists and intellectuals enlisted in a struggle to win public favor for both sides.

» Reserve space for this lecture, Thursday, January 12, 5:00 p.m.

Thurs., February 16 — 5:00 p.m. 
"Reflexive Intellectuals, Digital and Analog Devices, 1200 to 2012"
Richard Werbner, University of Manchester

Richard Werbner, University of Manchester

Richard Werbner is professor emeritus in African anthropology, honorary research professor in visual anthropology, and director of the International Centre for Contemporary Cultural Research at the University of Manchester where he has been since arriving as a Fulbright Scholar in 1959. He has held visiting appointments at universities around the world and has been conducting extensive fieldwork in southern Africa since 1960. Werbner has written extensively on this region, most recently in his books, Reasonable Radicals and Citizenship in Botswana: The Public Anthropology of Kalanga Elites (2004) and Holy Hustlers, Schism and Prophecy: Apostolic Reformation in Botswana (2011). In recent years he has focused on the study of séances, counseling and subjectivities in Botswana since the AIDS epidemic; products of this work are his films, Séance Reflections with Richard Werbner (2004), Shade Seekers and The Mixer (2006), Encountering Eloyi (2008), and Holy Hustlers (2009). His films are available on DVD from the Royal Anthropological Institute and online through Academic Video Online, Alexander Street Press. Werbner is currently working at the Center as the GlaxoSmithKline Fellow; his project is entitled Occult Subjectivities, Practical Rhetoric: Divination and the Moral Imagination.

Werbner's talk will link his recent work with wisdom diviners in Botswana to a great transformation. This is in modes of communication and knowledge about the hidden realities in people's lives. With an eye to the impact of pre-modern Islamic practices, he will introduce a new approach to the art and insight of healing consultations across Africa.

» Reserve space for this lecture, Thursday, February 16, 5:00 p.m.

Thurs., March 22 — 5:00 p.m. 
"Architecture, Power, and Cultural Optics: Builders and Buildings in Colonial Quito"
Susan Webster, The College of William & Mary

Susan Webster, The College of William & Mary

Susan V. Webster is Jane W. Mahoney Professor of Art and Art History and American Studies at the College of William & Mary, where her research interests include Iberian and colonial Latin American visual and material culture, colonial Andean architecture, indigenous cultural practices, and confraternities and local religion in Europe and the Americas. She has published several books on these subjects, including Quito, ciudad de maestros: Arquitectos y constructores en la época colonial (forthcoming, 2012); Arquitectura y empresa en el Quito colonial: José Jaime Ortiz, Alarife Mayor (2002); and Art and Ritual in Golden-Age Spain: Sevillian Confraternities and the Processional Sculpture of Holy Week (1998). Webster, who is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship this year as well as the Allen W. Clowes Fellowship to the Center, is working on a book project called The Conquest of European Architecture: Andean Masters and the Construction of Colonial Quito.

Webster's talk will explore the remarkable colonial architecture of Quito, Ecuador, the first city to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, focusing particularly on the people and processes involved in the construction of monumental buildings. Informed by her extensive archival research on the identities, training, and practices of the architects and professionals involved at the height of Quito's construction (ca. 1580-1720), Webster will examine often overlooked aspects of the city's renowned churches, monasteries, convents, and chapels, and consider their form and meaning from more than a single cultural perspective.

» Reserve space for this lecture, Thursday, March 22, 5:00 p.m.

Thurs., April 26 — 5:00 p.m. 
"Theory of the Lyric"
Jonathan Culler, Cornell University

Jonathan Culler, Cornell University

Jonathan Culler is Class of 1916 Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Cornell University, where his research interests include nineteenth century French literature, contemporary literary theory and criticism, narratology, and the history and theory of the lyric. A prolific writer whose works have been translated into more than a dozen languages, Culler's best known works include Flaubert: The Uses of Uncertainty (1974); Structuralist Poetics: Structuralism, Linguistics, and the Study of Literature (1975); Ferdinand de Saussure (1976); On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism after Structuralism (1982); Roland Barthes (1983); and Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction (1997, reissued in an updated edition with a new, final chapter in 2011). His most recent book, The Literary in Theory (2006), examines the history of literature's role in the larger realm of literary and cultural theory. Culler is working this spring at the Center as the M. H. Abrams Fellow.

In his talk, Culler will discuss a range of poems from the Western lyric tradition, from Sappho to Ashbery, in an attempt to develop a more adequate account of the nature of lyric poetry.

» Reserve space for this lecture, Thursday, April 26, 5:00 p.m.


Fri., January 20 — 4:00 p.m.
"Classical-Jazz Connections"
Stuart Isacoff, Purchase College, SUNY

Stuart Isacoff, Purchase College, SUNY

A gifted pianist and music historian as well as composer and lecturer, Stuart Isacoff has spoken and performed extensively across North America and Europe, including presentations at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and Lincoln Center, as well as at festivals around the world. He has also been a regular contributor on music and art to the Wall Street Journal and teaches classes at the Purchase College Conservatory of Music (SUNY). Isacoff is the author of A Natural History of the Piano: The Instrument, the Music, the Musicians-From Mozart to Modern Jazz and Everything in Between (2011), and of the highly acclaimed Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization (2001). He is a winner of the prestigious ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for excellence in writing about music. He comes to the National Humanities Center as a Meymandi Distinguished Visitor.

His presentation will utilize live piano performance and recorded examples to demonstrate connections between classical music and jazz, with a special focus on improvisation, once the province of classical masters such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin, and now the centerpiece of any jazz performance. The presentation will examine musical techniques of ornamentation, melody, rhythm and harmony to explore parallels between the music of J.S. Bach and Dave Brubeck, Frederic Chopin and Duke Ellington, Wolfgang Mozart and Meade Lux Lewis, and many others.

» Reserve space for this event, Friday, January 20, 4:00 p.m.


Fri., May 4 — 4:00 p.m.
Justin Robinson and the Mary Annettes

Justin Robinson and the Mary Annettes

Justin Robinson, Grammy winner and former member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, heads a collective of multi-instrumentalists who bring to the stage the magical intersection of their varied musical backgrounds. The Mary Annettes are comprised of local NC musicians Elizabeth Marshall, Kyra Moore, Sally Mullikin, and Josh Stohl. Justinís vivid stories are delivered atop a rotating arsenal of instruments including autoharp, tres, viola, banjo, violin, fiddle, cello, bass, keys, and drums, and Kyra and Sally provide rich vocal harmonies. The band lists among their influences J.S. Bach, Erykah Badu, English nursery rhymes, moonlight on a frozen swamp, Loretta Lynn, ossified remains of mammals, palindromes, and rhinestones. Their new album, Bones for Tinder, was released in January 2012.

» Reserve space for this event, Friday, May 4, 4:00 p.m.


Thurs. - Fri., March 15 — 16
"Human Rights & The Humanities"

Register for Human Rights and the Humanities Conference, National Humanities Center

The first in a series of three annual conferences, "Human Rights & The Humanities" will underscore the contributions made by humanistic scholarship to the understanding of human rights and stimulate new work on what will make those contributions available to a general audience, beginning with students. Speakers and conference panelists include leading thinkers in philosophy, political theory, literature, history, and anthropology from institutions across the United States, Europe, and Asia, including:

Elizabeth Anker, Cornell University
Ian Baucom, Duke University
Anat Biletzki, Tel Aviv University and Quinnipiac University
Wim Blockmans, Leiden University
Eduardo Cavada, Princeton University
James Dawes, Macalester College
Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Harvard University
Eva Kalny, Leibniz University
Samuel Moyn, Columbia University
Elaine Scarry, Harvard University
Joseph Slaughter, Columbia University
Domna Stanton, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Elaine Scarry

The conference will open on Thursday evening, March 15, with a keynote address on "Beauty and the Pact of Aliveness" from Elaine Scarry. Scarry is the Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard University. The author of eight books, her groundbreaking work, The Body in Pain (1985) juxtaposes the inexpressibility of physical suffering and the destruction that accompanies it (especially when deliberately inflicted in torture and war) with the artistic and cultural creations that work against it.

The conference will continue on Friday with panel sessions and a plenary talk on "Pathetic Fallacies: Human Rights, the Humanities, and the Human" from Joseph Slaughter, associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University. Slaughter is a founding coeditor of Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development. His book, Human Rights, Inc.: The World Novel, Narrative Form, and International Law (2007), explores the cooperative narrative logics of international human rights law and the Bildungsroman.

Admission to the keynote address is free and open to the public, but seating is limited and we recommend attendees reserve space in advance. Registrants for the conference will automatically have reserved seating for the Thursday evening event.

Registration for this event is $35 ($15 for students with valid ID).

» Register for this conference.

» Reserve seating for the keynote address by Elaine Scarry (non-conference attendees only).

» Detailed schedule of panel topics (PDF).

Human Rights and the Humanities is made possible through the generous support of the Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina, Duke University, NC State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Jazz Quilt, Spring Events 2012
Jazz Quilt


January 3 - June 30
"North Carolina Expressions in Fiber: Selected Textile Works from Regional Artists"

This exhibition showcases selected works that demonstrate the breadth and exceptional talent of North Carolina's art quilters. Expanding on domestic traditions to encompass a diverse range of subjects and techniques, these artists continue a colorful legacy that speaks not only to the personal space of home and family but the greater concerns of the world at large.

Lectures and exhibits at the National Humanities Center are free and open to the public. They are supported by the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Educational and Cultural Outreach Endowment Fund.

For more information, please contact Martha Johnson by phone (919) 549-0661, ext. 128 or e-mail

Directions to the Center
National Humanities Center
7 Alexander Drive, P.O. Box 12256
Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709-2256 USA
Phone: (919) 549-0661   Fax: (919) 990-8535
Copyright © National Humanities Center. All rights reserved.
Revised: March 2012