Public Events

NHC Virtual Book Club Series: Conflict and Resolution

February 3–24, 2021 | For centuries, the importance of civility to the health of republics has been widely recognized. Peaceful resolution of conflicts, open debate, and the nurturing of an engaged citizenry are essential to maintaining governments in which power is held by the people. Yet, civility remains elusive. The scholars in this series help us think about ways of encouraging, preserving, and restoring civility—through political and creative expression, in the courts, on the page, and on the screen—from the classical period to the modern era.

The Price of Injustice: A Scholar-to-Scholar Conversation

Reckoning with the centuries-long toll of treating African Americans as less than their fellow citizens is a challenging task, requiring us to consider not only what has been extracted from and denied the mistreated but the costs borne by all of us. Though these three scholars focus on different periods and places in this country's history with quite different sources, approaches, and questions, their work illuminates the myriad ways that racism and systemic injustice affect us all.

Virtual Book Club: The War Before the War: Fugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America’s Soul from the Revolution to the Civil War

By awakening northerners to the true nature of slavery, and by enraging southerners who demanded the return of their human "property," fugitive slaves forced the nation to confront the truth about itself, and led inexorably to civil war. Andrew Delbanco's masterful examination of the fugitive slave story illuminates what brought us to war with ourselves and the terrible legacies of slavery that are with us still.

Virtual Book Club: American Breakdown: The Trump Years and How They Befell Us

Since at least as far back as the expansion of the Vietnam War and the lies and coverups that brought down Richard Nixon, every presidency has further centralized and strengthened executive power, producing the political conditions for our present crisis. In American Breakdown, David Bromwich provides an essential analysis of the forces in play beneath the surface of our political system. His portraits of political leaders and overarching narrative bring to life the events and machinations that have led America to a collective breakdown.

On Exhibit: Local Color

The Center is pleased to present this exhibit of photographs that reveal some of the striking beauty and complex history that make North Carolina a compelling place to live and work. Joel Elliott and Richard Schramm have spent years traveling around the state and the Southeast capturing images that reveal the complex character of this region and its people in details that we might otherwise miss.

Virtual Book Club: Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution

Over the last decade, award-winning historian Kathleen DuVal has revitalized the study of early America’s marginalized voices. Now, in Independence Lost, she recounts an untold story as rich and significant as that of the Founding Fathers: the history of the Revolutionary Era as experienced by slaves, American Indians, women, and British loyalists living on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

NHC Virtual Book Club Series: Toward A More Perfect Union: The American Experiment

September 30–October 28, 2020 | The next series of the National Humanities Center's popular Virtual Book Club will examine our democracy—its history, accomplishments, failings, and current challenges. This series will explore if and how the framers’ vision of humanistic values in American principles has been sustained as well as the aspirations and fallibilities inherent in the continuous struggle for “the soul of America.”

Virtual Book Club: Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All

In the standard story, the suffrage crusade began in Seneca Falls in 1848 and ended with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. But this overwhelmingly white women’s movement did not win the vote for most Black women. Securing their rights required a movement of their own. In Vanguard, historian Martha S. Jones offers a new history of African American women’s political lives in America. She recounts how they defied both racism and sexism to fight for the ballot, and how they wielded political power to secure the equality and dignity of all persons.

Virtual Book Club: M Archive: After the End of the World

The second book in an experimental triptych, M Archive is a series of poetic artifacts that speculatively documents the persistence of Black life following the worldwide cataclysm we are living through now. By exploring how Black feminist theory is already after the end of the world, Alexis Pauline Gumbs reinscribes the possibilities and potentials of scholarship while demonstrating the impossibility of demarcating the lines between art, science, spirit, scholarship, and politics.

Virtual Book Club: Othello Was My Grandfather: Shakespeare, Race, and Visions of Freedom in the African Diaspora

Kim F. Hall leads a discussion of the role of Shakespeare in constructions of Blackness and race; the appropriation of Shakespeare by Black communities; the policing of canonical literature along racial lines; and the race and gender politics of the American stage and popular media. She suggests that we learn much about modern Blackness from how Afrodiasporic peoples evoke, appropriate, and contest “Shakespeare” in their quest to make legible new political Black identities.