Videos | National Humanities Center



Eula Biss, “The Pain Scale”

In her brief, compelling narrative piece, “The Pain Scale,” writer Eula Biss, MFA, contemplates the inexpressible nature of pain and the difficulty of seeking relief through a medical system that relies heavily upon quantitative assessments of pain. In this group discussion, we use Biss’s piece as a starting point for reflecting on the intensely personal experience of suffering and the complexities of translating such experiences in ways that are diagnosable and treatable.


Access and Inclusivity in American Medicine

How do we address the inequities in access to healthcare and improve outcomes for historically underserved and oppressed groups? Panelists consider vital issues of access, equity, and inclusivity in the American medical system, and discuss how humanistic modes of critical reflection and analysis can help guide urgently needed interventions.


A Time of Crisis | A Crisis of Time

How do the stories that emerge from crisis help us confront them? And in what ways do they help us prepare for those yet to come? One of the pioneers in the field of narrative medicine, Rita Charon, discusses these and other questions in conversation with literary scholar Jane F. Thrailkill. Welcome and introduction by Robert D. Newman, PhD, President and Director, National Humanities Center.


A Crisis of Caring: The Humanities and Our Health

April 11–14, 2022 | This four-day virtual conference sought to consider the ways that knowledge drawn from humanities disciplines and methodologies can inform and help address the ongoing crisis in healthcare. Recognizing that healthcare is predicated on human beings caring for other human beings, A Crisis of Caring explored how humanistic approaches can help identify the symptoms and causes of our malaise while guiding us toward a healthier, more caring future.


Scholar-to-Scholar Talk: Nancy MacLean, “The Pre-History—and Likely Sequels—of the Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol”

The attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, was the most violent assault on democracy in modern American history, with three rings of activity: a large outer circle of avid supporters who believed the Big Lie, a smaller number of resolute white-power radicals, and a suited inner circle that strategized to overthrow the election, exploiting federalism to achieve its ends. In this virtual event, Nancy MacLean (NHC Fellow, 2008–09; 2021–22) explains how each of these three elements is the product of decades of intentional cultivation.


Fresh Off the Press: Mother Tongues: Poems

Zimbabwean poet and scholar Tsitsi Ella Jaji (NHC Fellow, 2017–18) discusses and reads selections from Mother Tongues: Poems, her award-winning second book of verse, in which she explores our relationships with language, from the first words we learn to the vows we swear, examining how generations of love and loss are inscribed in our every utterance.