Videos

Virtual Book Club: “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination

“Most Blessed of the Patriarchs” looks to shed light on perhaps the most complex of America’s Founding Fathers. Two of the world’s leading scholars of Jefferson’s life and accomplishments, Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf, join forces to fundamentally challenge much of what we think we know and help create a portrait of Jefferson that reveals some of the mystery at the heart of his character by considering his extraordinary and capacious mind and the ways in which he both embodied and resisted the dynamics of his age.

Virtual Book Club: Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife

In clear and compelling terms, Bart D. Ehrman recounts the long history of the afterlife, from the Epic of Gilgamesh to the writings of Augustine, focusing especially on the teachings of Jesus and his early followers. He discusses ancient guided tours of heaven and hell, in which a living person observes the sublime blessings of heaven for those who are saved and the horrifying torments of hell for the damned.

Virtual Book Club: The Decameron

Organized around timeless themes such as the power of fortune and human will, the pain of misbegotten love, the tricks we play on one another, and the importance of virtue, The Decameron’s tales form a mosaic that has influenced writers for centuries and created a lasting document about the vibrancy of life juxtaposed against the suffering caused by the Black Death.

Virtual Book Club: In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love

In an instant, Joseph Luzzi became both a widower and a first-time father. In the aftermath of unthinkable tragedy, Luzzi relied on the support of his Italian immigrant family to grieve and care for his infant daughter. But it wasn’t until he turned to the Divine Comedy—a poem he had devoted his life to studying and teaching—that he learned how to resurrect his life, passing from his own grief-stricken Inferno through the Purgatory of healing, and ultimately stepping into the Paradise of rediscovered love.

The National Humanities Center’s Virtual Book Club Series

April and May, 2020

This extraordinary pop-up series spotlights leading humanists and authors discussing their work. In addition to learning about the featured book directly from the author, participants in these sessions will explore important and timeless questions about the human experience in all its complexities—from how we face personal tragedy to the ways we think about the afterlife, how we assign guilt or define greatness.

The Trial of Lizzie Borden

Cara Robertson (Fellow 2004–05; 2005–06) discusses one of the most famous trials in American history, offering not only a detailed account of events but providing a window into life in America’s Gilded Age, showcasing its most deeply held convictions and its most troubling social anxieties.

Coastal Thinking: A Conversation

The NHC hosted a public conversation on Coastal Thinking led by four leading scholars of environmental humanities and science in a discussion of coastlines and cultures in context of climate breakdown, with a focus on their experiences of the diversity of humanities and science approaches to engaging with the histories and futures of communities shaped by water.

addressing environmental change

Beyond Despair: Theory and Practice in Environmental Humanities

This unique three-day summit of scholars and experts from across the country featured a dynamic intersection between discussion, presentations, and exhibitions, grounded with practical site excursions. Beyond Despair intended to foster cooperation, impact the field of environmental humanities, and launch dialogue that has the potential to change how environmental issues are taught.