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Mon., January 7 — 5:00 p.m.
"The Abolitionists"
with Heather Williams, UNC-Chapel Hill

The Abolitionists from PBS's American Experience website

Bringing to life the intertwined stories of Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Angelina Grimké, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and John Brown, The Abolitionists recounts events from some of the most violent and contentious decades in American history. This documentary from PBS's acclaimed series American Experience reveals how the abolitionist movement took shape, setting the nation on a collision course. In the face of personal risks—beatings, imprisonment, even death—abolitionists held fast to their cause, laying the civil rights groundwork for the future and raising weighty constitutional and moral questions that are with us still.

Heather Williams, UNC-Chapel Hill

Heather Williams is professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where her research and teaching focus on the lives of African Americans in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Her book, Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom (2005), received several book awards including the Lillian Smith Book Prize. Her most recent book, Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery (2012), examines the profound effects of slavery on families before and after the American Civil War. Before becoming a historian, Williams spent several years practicing law, including as Assistant Attorney General for the state of New York. In 2007-08 she was the John Medlin Fellow at the National Humanities Center.

This event is cosponsored with UNC-TV.

» Reserve space for screening and discussion, Monday, January 7, 5:00 p.m.


Thurs., January 10 — 5:00 p.m.
"Our Own Dark Ages: The Colonial Period and the Story of America"
Fred Anderson, University of Colorado, Boulder
Andrew Cayton, Miami University

Fred Anderson, University of Colorado, Boulder Andrew Cayton, Miami University

Over the last six decades an extraordinary efflorescence of scholarship in social, economic, and cultural history has transformed historians' understanding of North America in the century before the Declaration of Independence. It has also shattered a once-familiar story of dawning nationhood into a multitude of local stories, many of them dark and violent, difficult to relate to each other and hard to connect to the history of the United States. In their talk, Fellows Fred Anderson and Andrew Cayton will describe the framework within which they are working to assemble the fragmented stories of North American colonial development into a narrative at once consistent with modern scholarship and relevant to the national narrative recounted in later volumes of The Oxford History of the United States.

Fred Anderson is professor of history at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is the author or editor of five books, including Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766 (2000) and The Dominion of War: Empire and Liberty in North America, 1500-2000 (2005), which he wrote in collaboration with Andrew Cayton. This year, as the Archie K. Davis Fellow at the National Humanities Center, Anderson is again collaborating with Cayton on Imperial America, 1672-1764, a volume in The Oxford History of the United States.

Andrew Cayton is University Distinguished Professor of History at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He served as president of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic in 2011-12. He is the author or editor of nine books, including Love in the Time of Revolution: Transatlantic Literary Radicalism and Historical Change, 1793-1818 (forthcoming from the University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture in Spring 2013). Cayton is working this year at the Center as the Frank H. Kenan Fellow.

» Reserve space for this lecture, Thursday, January 10, 5:00 p.m.

Thurs., February 7 — 5:00 p.m. 
"Murder as a Fine Art: The Ethics of Crime Fiction"
Ruth Morse, Université Paris-Diderot, Sorbonne

Ruth Morse, Université Paris-Diederot

Since 1995 Ruth Morse has been professeur des universités at the Université Paris-Diderot. She previously taught at the universities of London, Sussex, Leeds, and Cambridge, where she was director of studies in English at Fitzwilliam College for ten years. She is author or editor of eight books including Truth and Convention in the Middle Ages: Rhetoric, Reality, and Representation (2005 [1991]) and Shakespeare, les français, les France (2008) for the Cahiers Charles-V, of which she was general editor for five years. Two additional edited volumes, Continuum Great Shakespeareans vol. XIV (Les Hugo, Pasternak Brecht, and Césaire) as well as Medieval Shakespeare: Pasts and Presents (with Peter Holland and Helen Cooper), are forthcoming in 2013. Morse is a frequent contributor to the Times Literary Supplement, and a judge for the UK Crime Writers Association.

In her talk, Morse will begin from the disdain in which popular genres have often been held and argue that crime fiction at its best has always explored key social and geo-political issues, including international threats such as arms, drugs, labor, money, and prostitution, and, through its conventions, has opened its readers to think about the world's elsewheres, while insisting upon universal moral and ethical ideas.

» Reserve space for this lecture, Thursday, February 7, 5:00 p.m.

Thurs., March 14 — 5:00 p.m. 
"Aurality and Historicism: Making Latin American Music 'Latin'"
Jairo Moreno, University of Pennsylvania

Jairo Moreno, University of Pennsylvania

Jairo Moreno is associate professor of music at the University of Pennsylvania. His work addresses the production of knowledge of music and the sonic in modernity. He has written a major study of the history of listening in early modern and modern music theory and analysis, Musical Representations, Subjects, and Objects: The Construction of Musical Thought in Zarlino, Descartes, Rameau, and Weber (2004). He has also published on jazz performance poetics, the politics of aesthesis, and Latin-American popular music in the U.S. during the long twentieth century. A former professional bassist, he received five Grammy Award nominations for recordings with the late Latin and Jazz percussionist Ray Barretto, appeared in numerous other recordings, and performed chamber music with guitarist David Starobin and the Ciompi String Quartet. While at the National Humanities Center as a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow, he is working on Syncopated Modernities: Musical Latin Americanisms in the U.S., 1978-2008, an archival, critical, and ethnographic study of music's precarious share in political practices during late capitalism.

During the 1970s, spurred by the international success of Latin American letters and a long tradition of antagonism with the U.S., intellectuals in Latin America insisted on conceiving the region as a culturally and politically unified totality. Against this background, this lecture examines first, the eruption in Latin America of popular, mass-mediated music made in New York City and, second, the tensions resulting from the interaction of newly arrived musicians from Latin America with more established immigrant groups.

» Reserve space for this lecture, Thursday, March 14, 5:00 p.m.

Thurs., April 4 — 5:00 p.m. 
"The Decorative Art of Display: The Case of Hugh Lane (1875-1915)"
Morna O'Neill, Wake Forest University

Morna O'Neill, Wake Forest University

Morna O'Neill is assistant professor of art history at Wake Forest University where her research focuses on the intersection of politics and artistic practice in late nineteenth-century Europe. She is the author of Walter Crane: The Arts and Crafts, Painting, and Politics, 1875-1890 and coeditor with Michael Hatt of The Edwardian Sense: Art, Design, and Performance in Britain, 1901-1910. She was curator of the exhibition 'Art and Labour's Cause is One:' Walter Crane and Manchester, 1880-1915 at the Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester, in 2008-09 and author of the exhibition catalogue. O'Neill has received fellowships from the Frick Collection and Art Reference Library, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, and the Huntington Library. In 2013, she is working at the Center as the Benjamin N. Duke Fellow on Decoration and Display: British Art and International Exhibitions, 1888-1910.

In her talk, O'Neill will explore the intertwined discourses of fine and decorative art in the Edwardian era through an examination of the career of Hugh Lane. A successful dealer of Old Master pictures and collector of modern art based in London, Lane invented the role of freelance curator, and his projects suggest the ways in which decorative art is able to be both public and private in the same moment, a product of individual will and collective action.

» Reserve space for this lecture, Thursday, April 4, 5:00 p.m.


Thurs. - Fri., March 21 — 22
"Human Rights and the Humanities"

Human Rights and the Humanities Conference, National Humanities Center

With a distinguished international group of speakers, this gathering will underscore the contributions made by humanistic scholarship to our understanding of human rights and, in particular, the role of governments in addressing and assuring human rights for their own citizens and for people around the world.

The conference will open on Thursday evening, March 21, at 7:00 p.m., with a keynote address from Michael Grant Ignatieff titled "Do States Still Have the 'Right To Be Wrong About Justice'? Human Rights, Sovereignty, and Globalization." Ignatieff is professor of law and political science at the University of Toronto, Professor of Practice at the Harvard Kennedy School, and former leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Following his talk there will be a response from NHC trustee emerita Jean Bethke Elshtain the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School and Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Chair in the Foundations of American Freedom at Georgetown University.

Other speakers scheduled for this year's event include:

  • - Daniel A. Bell, professor of political philosophy at Tsinghua University, Beijing
  • - Anat Biletzki, professor of philosophy at Quinnipiac University and Tel Aviv University
  • - Christopher Browning, Frank Porter Graham Professor of History at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
  • - Catherine Gallagher, Eggers Professor of English Literature at the University of California, Berkeley
  • - Hans Joas, Permanent Fellow at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS) at the University of Freiburg and Professor of Sociology and a Member of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago
  • - Benedict F. Kiernan, Whitney Griswold Professor of History, professor of international and area studies and director of the Genocide Studies Program at Yale University
  • - Thomas Laqueur, Helen Fawcett Distinguished Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley
  • - Robert Post, dean and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law at Yale Law School
  • - Wang Hui, professor of Chinese literature at Tsinghua University, Beijing
  • - Richard A. Wilson, Gladstein Chair of Human Rights, professor of anthropology and law and director of the Human Rights Institute at the University of Connecticut
  • - David Wong, Susan Fox Beischer and George D. Beischer Professor of Philosophy at Duke University
Michael Grant Ignatieff, keynote speakerMichael Grant Ignatieff

For a current schedule of conference events please follow this link (PDF).

*To register for the full conference, including the Thurs., March 21 opening event, please follow this link. Please note: conference registration fee of $20 ($10 for students with valid ID and senior citizens) includes all meals and sessions on Friday, March 22.

*To reserve space for the Thurs., March 21 (7:00 p.m.) opening keynote address ONLY, please follow this link. This event is free and open to the public.

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.

Antarctica, Ron Jautz, New York, NYAntarctica, Ron Jautz, New York, NY
Arctic Light, Nerys Levy, Chapel Hill, NCArctic Light, Nerys Levy, Chapel Hill, NC


January 7 May 30
Polar Worlds: Images of the Arctic and Antarctic
Ron Jautz, New York, NY
Nerys Levy, Chapel Hill, NC

Inspired by the artists' visits to both the north and south arctic regions, the works in this joint show by painter Nerys Levy and photographer Ron Jautz serve not merely to chronicle the dramatic beauty of the polar regions but speak to their shared passion and concern over the crisis created by global climate change.

Wednesday, March 20 - 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Reception for the Artists

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 or for registration assistance, please contact Martha Johnson by phone (919) 549-0661, ext. 116 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 2013