Conversation: Dr. Robert Newman

Conversation with Robert D. Newman

In this wide-ranging interview with ​​Conversation host Mitchell Lewis, NHC​ ​President Robert D. Newman discusses the significance of the humanities in everyday life, the enduring importance of humanities scholarship, and the mission of the National Humanities Center to advance humanities research, teaching, and public engagement. This program originally aired on UNC-TV’s NC Channel, June 27, 2017.

Robert D. Newman, “Rage and Beauty: Celebrating Complexity, Democracy and the Humanities”

On October 5, 2016, NHC director Robert D. Newman delivered a keynote address as a part of the ongoing Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Speaker Series at North Carolina Central University. ​In his remarks Newman touched on events as seemingly disparate as the workings of the Continental Congress and the social media origins of the Black Lives Matter movement and discussed the ways that the humanities help us understand the world, relate to one another, and come to terms with the most profound experiences and questions — on the nature of beauty, the search for justice, and the meaning of life in the face of horrific violence and our own mortality.

“The Banjo: A Musical Conversation” with Laurent Dubois and Joe Newberry

​The banjo links disparate musical and cultural traditions — from Africa to the Caribbean to the United States — and its history is deeply interwoven with the history of those places. ​Recently, NHC Fellow Laurent Dubois and musician Joe Newberry​ participated in a “musical conversation” exploring this fascinating history and performed songs for NHC trustees, Fellows and special guests.

Tim Carter, “Let ’Em Eat Cake: Political Musical Theater in 1930s America”

Among all the classic Broadway shows of the 1930s, a fair number stand out by engaging directly with the New Deal politics of a turbulent decade. Why did the likes of George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart take this leftist turn, and how should one read the great American songs that emerged?

What Does the Future Hold for the Humanities?

On Tuesday, February 9, NHC president and director Robert Newman joined Lloyd Kramer from UNC-Chapel Hill and Victoria Gallagher from NC State University to discuss the humanities’ future as part of a town hall meeting. The event, held at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC, and moderated by retired philosophy professor Clay Stalnaker, drew an engaged crowd who challenged the participants about role of the humanities in an environment that has become increasingly concerned with financial outcomes from academic activities, technologically-focused, and oriented toward the concerns of the individual rather than the common good.

Janice Radway, “From the Underground to the Archive in Ten Years: Girl Zines, the 1990s, and the Challenge of Historical Narration”


In the early nineties, a certain cohort of dissident, non-conforming girls turned to self-publishing to express their deep dissatisfaction with conservative reaffirmations of normative femininity. Calling themselves “Riot Grrrls” after several influential all-girl punk bands, they crafted handmade publications known as “zines” in order to voice their disaffection and to think through alternative ways of being in the world. These young women quickly caught the attention of the mainstream media and a range of academics and librarians alike. Within ten years, at least three major collections of girl zines had been collected at places like Smith College, Barnard College, and Duke University. This lecture explores the significance of girls’ self-publishing efforts, the complex reasons for their zines’ quick assimilation into legitimate cultural institutions, and the political benefits and drawbacks to this kind of memorialization.

Thomas Brown, “The Invention of the American Soldier Monument”

Thomas Brown, Invention of American Solider Monuments

The soldier monuments that began to proliferate across northern and southern communities during the 1860s differed sharply from antebellum American commemorations. The emergence of this cultural form partly reflected patterns of recruitment and death in the Civil War. Local memorial initiatives also expressed competing ideas about the legacies of the war and the extent to which military service constituted a model of citizenship.

Robert D. Newman Installed as President and Director of the National Humanities Center

Robert D. Newman, National Humanities Center

At a celebration October 22, 2015, Robert D. Newman was installed as the sixth president and director of the National Humanities Center. In his inaugural remarks, titled “Humanities Moments and the Heroic,” Newman shared his vision for the Center as the premier destination for humanities scholars, a national leader in the effort to strengthen teaching, and a vital resource for all who seek greater understanding of themselves and the world in which they live.