Research indicates that African Americans are far more likely to get sick than their fellow citizens who are white. Regardless of their age, educational attainment, or socioeconomic circumstances, they are more likely to suffer from severe forms of illness and have shorter life expectancies. While a number of factors play a part in this sad statistical reality, a key underlying factor is the persistence of racial bias in America. In this podcast, philosopher Yolonda Wilson from Howard University discusses her work on these issues, focusing particularly on how racial biases affect end-of-life care for African Americans and how we might go about rectifying historic and continuing injustices.
The 15th-century Wars of the Roses between Yorkist and Lancastrian factions often summon images of royal intrigue and courtly splendor. Whether it is one of Shakespeare’s plays or a more scholarly account, histories of this struggle for the English throne tend to privilege the nobility. Art historian and NHC Fellow Sonja Drimmer offers a far different perspective of the era. By extending the political sphere beyond the royal court and into the court of public opinion, Drimmer explores how a newly-formed, larger public played an important role in this decades-long conflict.
Ann Wierda Rowland discusses her current research into a particular coterie of Boston readers at the turn of the twentieth century who regularly gathered to explore the works of John Keats. Through reflecting on the shared reading practices of past audiences, she suggests, we can better understand our own modes of literary engagement in a period that has supposedly witnessed a rapidly declining interest in the written word.
With increasing urgency, climate scientists and environmentalists are warning us about the dire need to radically change how we use energy, the ways we grow and distribute food, and many other activities. They’ve described a future in which our planet is increasingly unlivable. But, beyond imagining a world devastated by unchecked greenhouse gas emissions, how might we go about imagining more desirable futures? What resources can we call upon to help us not only avoid disaster but craft a better world? Fellow Joni Adamson, professor of English and director of the Environmental Humanities Initiative at Arizona State University, is working on just these questions.
Aristotle’s thinking on a variety of topics has influenced western philosophy for over two millennia. His writings on ethics, in particular—emphasizing human character and ethical psychology—continue to shape contemporary ideas about personal virtue and moral agency. Fellow Audrey Anton, however, has emphasized the importance of understanding the role that vice plays in Aristotle’s philosophy.
In the opening lines of his most famous poem, “To Althea, From Prison,” Richard Lovelace writes, “Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage...” This line expresses a thought common among imprisoned writers across time—that regardless of the conditions of their imprisonment, the human spirit and the poetic imagination cannot be constrained. Fellow Andrea Brady, however, suggests that the relationship between our poetic traditions and bondage has not been adequately explored in prior scholarly work.
Founded by freed slaves in the early nineteenth century, the candomblé temple Casa Branca in Salvador, Bahia, was the first Afro-Brazilian place of worship in Brazil. But despite its religious and historic significance, the story of Casa Branca’s origins has remained the stuff of oral traditions until the recent discovery of written documents by Fellow Lisa Earl Castillo. Castillo is working on a new book which situates the temple and its founders within the greater social history of Brazil and as a place that offers special insight into the lives of freed and enslaved individuals on either side of the Atlantic.
Since at least the early years of the twentieth century, scholars have taken an interest in the artistic and intellectual productions of so-called “outsiders,” or individuals whose unconventional perspectives and aesthetic expression have often been assumed to result from serious mental illness. These artistic creations and written works are generally defined by idiosyncratic characteristics; they can seem to be obscure, obsessive, inconsistent, and even disconnected from reality itself. Matt ffytche believes that these aesthetic objects—and the ways that “outsider” artists have been classified—deserve to be reconsidered.
Monuments commemorating historical figures, events, and regimes can be found nearly everywhere, yet we often barely notice them. At other times, though, the histories they represent can inflame passions and the monuments themselves become contentious flashpoints for their communities. Fellow Mia Fuller, associate professor of Italian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, is a cultural anthropologist who has focused much of her scholarly work on Italy, particularly the rise of fascism in the early twentieth century and its legacies which still remain.
When we think of slavery in the Americas, most of us generally think of people from Africa and their descendants who were enslaved and transported across the Atlantic to provide labor for the plantation economies of the New World. But recently, historians have begun to reassess the significance of other forms of slavery in the Americas—specifically the enslavement of millions of indigenous people in the Caribbean and beyond. Fellow Rebecca Goetz, associate professor of history at New York University, is working to recover the history of indigenous slavery as it was practiced by competing colonial powers in the Caribbean and exploring the relationship between the enslavement of native peoples and the development of chattel slavery across the Western Hemisphere.