Vicious Vikings as Cultural Ambassadors

Popular sources present the Vikings as ruthless warriors yet also take great pains to portray their decorated weapons, jewelry, clothing, houses, and ships—that is, their art. In this talk Nancy Wicker will discuss the patrons who sponsored that art, the artisans who made the objects, and the men and women who used the works, at home in Scandinavia as well as across the diaspora where Vikings raided, traded, and settled, from the North Atlantic to Russia and beyond.

Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 6 p.m.
Nancy Wicker, University of Mississippi

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Making Negro Literature: Literary Workspaces at the Margins of Print Culture

As part of her ongoing effort to chronicle African American literary culture at the turn from the nineteenth to the twentieth century, Elizabeth McHenry has been focusing on African American bibliographies, which emerged as experimental knowledge structures that provided ways of mapping and making sense of an emerging and rapidly evolving canon of “Negro literature.” These bibliographies were not just “lists,” but exploratory documents, where black intellectuals thought critically and advanced arguments about the boundaries and contours of black literature and authorship.

Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.
Elizabeth McHenry, New York University

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“Othello Was My Grandfather”: Race and Shakespeare in the African Diaspora

This talk explores connections between Shakespeare and freedom dreams in the African Diaspora. It first outlines a tension between the ways that “Shakespeare” and blackness have been valued in the 400 years since Shakespeare’s birth. It then gives examples of the ways that black writers and actors in the early twentieth century used Shakespeare when grappling with constructions of blackness and race in the United States.

Thursday, January 19, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.
Kim Hall, Barnard College

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“Lexicon of Liberation”: Imaging Slavery and Imagining Freedom in the African Atlantic Diaspora

This talk will explore the writings, drawings, paintings, prints, and sculpture produced by African, African American, African Caribbean, and Black British women and men, enslaved and free, living and working across the Black Diaspora over the centuries. Living and dying against a white racist backdrop that sought to destroy Black bodies and souls, they generated alternative art-making traditions and experimental writerly practices that constitute nothing less than “declarations of independence.”

Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.
Celeste-Marie Bernier, University of Edinburgh

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Novel Sounds II: American Fiction in the Age of Rock and Roll

The second installment of the public program Novel Sounds: American Fiction in the Age of Rock and Roll will be held at the Center March 3, 2017. In conversations among another remarkable group of musicians, novelists, and scholars, we will explore the surprising reciprocity between the apparently irreverent form of rock and roll and serious literature. Novel Sounds II features panels on rock music’s roots in the ballad tradition as well as the influence of rock culture on contemporary fiction.

Friday, March 3, 2017 from 1:00–5:30 pm

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The Rise and Fall of the Industrial Oyster

From the 1840s to 1910s, oysters flourished in the polluted estuaries of America’s industrial cities. Their rise and collapse are equally astonishing. Today, oysters are once again on the menu. But what was once a staple of the urban working poor, grown within the city, has become a luxury, produced in rural places. The rise and fall of oysters is a microcosm of changes in food production and consumption in the modern era. It can teach us what people ate, where food was produced and how the city became a place solely for consumers.

Thursday, March 9, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.
Matthew Booker, North Carolina State University

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Joan of Arc: Imagining the Maid

Mark Twain called Joan of Arc, in complete seriousness, “the most extraordinary person the human race has ever produced.” Joan Hinde Stewart will discuss the historical Joan—her origins, clarity of purpose and gruesome death at the age of nineteen—along with the ways in which she has been imagined across the centuries and the myths that have grown up around her.

Thursday, December 8, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.
Joan Hinde Stewart, Hamilton College

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Upcoming Public Appearances by NHC President Robert D. Newman

Robert D. Newman, NHC

Robert D. Newman, president and director of the National Humanities Center, will be giving talks and appearing in public forums throughout the fall in venues from Charlottesville, Virginia to Shanghai, China.