Since the early modern era, history has been largely viewed through an anthropocentric lens, skewing towards the involvement of humans. David Christian (NHC Fellow 2006-07) flips this narrative by zooming out to see history—specifically, Big History—on a larger scale, measured by geological and cosmological time. Bringing together fields as seemingly disparate as cosmology, anthropology, and geology, Big History offers what Christian calls “a unifying origin story” that explains our origin and place in the universe, bridging the humanities with the social sciences.
Scholars in gender and sexuality studies have largely ignored or dismissed attempts to explain the causes of sexual deviation for a variety of reasons. In this podcast, Fellow Benjamin Kahan discusses how his work, exploring “the historical etiology of sexuality,” moves past those scholars’ dismissal of early sexuality theories in hopes of producing a fuller understanding of how contemporary attitudes and notions about sexuality developed.
Non-human, post-human, anti-human. In recent years, historians, political theorists, philosophers and others have increasingly tried to think beyond an anthropocentric perspective to gain insights on a wide range of questions. But these ways of thinking have a long precedent in American fiction. In this podcast, Fellow Kate Marshall, associate professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, discusses how weird fiction, cosmic realism, and pseudo-science fiction have imaginatively grappled with non-human points of view from the late 19th century to the present.
The Humanities Moments pilot project at Weaver Academy in Greensboro, North Carolina introduces high school students to the role the humanities play in their lives. The value of the project is visible across the entire school from increasing self-understanding among students and bridging the gap between STEM and arts educators to teaching life preparedness and vital skills like critical thinking and empathy needed beyond high school.
While we often think of Renaissance-era Florence and the surrounding area as brimming with intellectual inquiry, artistic genius, and political intrigue, music and poetry were also important elements of life and to the Studia Humanitatis, the core of early modern education. In this podcast, Fellow Blake Wilson, professor of music at Dickinson College discusses his current project exploring the music and oral performance traditions of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance — how it was composed and performed as well as its relationship to other art forms in creating the rich civic and cultural life of the Renaissance.
Surviving accounts of the foundation of the early Christian church are extremely limited, leaving scholars with few sources beyond the narrative found in the fifth book of the New Testament, the Acts of the Apostles. And, for centuries, questions have persisted about the book of Acts itself: Who wrote it and for whom? What was the document’s purpose? And, how historically reliable is the account it provides?
Most people would agree that judging people based on generalizations related to their skin color or gender, religion or nationality is wrong. Yet this is a common practice in all societies. So the question arises, is it ever okay to use stereotypes? And, if so, when?
Beyond their inspirational and devotional power, what other functions do religious works of art serve? From antiquity through the medieval periods, practitioners of many religious traditions throughout central Asia used works of art to teach followers religious histories, parables, and central tenets of their faith. How does this use inform our appreciation of these works and what can we learn from examining these religious practices?