September 29, 2018
A one-day symposium for educators exploring the complex landscape of the Transatlantic Slave Trade through archival investigations. Featuring source documents and artifacts from the National Archives of the United Kingdom, participants will learn hands-on strategies for unpacking the layers of this global system. Geography will be used as the organizing theme for each investigation, making the workshop accessible and transferable to any grade level or classroom setting.
October 2, 2018
While any number of intriguing and influential digital humanities initiatives have emerged over the past decade, it has become increasingly clear that successful digital efforts must be carefully conceived and managed over time to realize their scholarly potential. This day-long conference, presented by the National Humanities Center, will focus on planning, logistics, and long-term maintenance of digital humanities (DH) projects.
The Board of Trustees of the NHC has selected Ben Vinson III, provost at Case Western Reserve University, and New York businessman Joshua Ruch as board chairman and vice-chairman, respectively. Trained as a historian with a focus on colonial Mexico, Dr. Vinson has been a member of the Center’s board since 2013 and was a Fellow at the Center in 2005–06. Mr. Ruch is cofounder and chief executive officer of Rho Capital Partners, an investment and venture capital management company based in New York and Palo Alto. He has been a trustee of the NHC since 2010, working on the board’s executive committee and as chair of the public engagement committee.
Free speech, unfettered inquiry, civility, trigger warnings, safe spaces, academic values. These terms increasingly fill headlines reporting on debates and incidents occurring on today's university campuses. What constitutes a healthy university environment and what currently threatens that health? What role should the National Humanities Center play in this significant, and often contentious, conversation?
An exhibition exploring North Carolina, its history, culture, and landscape, through the lens of disability. There are many experiences which we all share: romantic and familial love, employment, citizenship, education, and caregiving, to name a few. People with disabilities have typically been erased or considered disqualified from these experiences, yet they too participate in them. This exhibition will showcase works that tell stories unique to North Carolina, using universal experiences or ideas, but presented in audacious ways—particularly based in the knowledge and creativity that disability brings to them.
August 31–December 15, 2018
Exhibition Reception and Curator Talk: Thursday, September 20
Contemporary thinking in fields from political ethics to psychology has been shaped by the writings of Thomas Aquinas. But Aquinas’ model of the mind—of how we perceive and contemplate the world—has been ignored or misunderstood by contemporary scholars. Fellow Thérèse Cory is working on a new book on Aquinas’ account of the intellect and the philosophical traditions from which it emerged. In this podcast, Cory reminds us why Aquinas’ relevance extends across disciplines and centuries, and discusses how, over the years, Aquinas has been extracted from his historical context; she advocates putting him back into conversation with his scholarly influences.
Known for its functionalist structures and unadorned style, the Bauhaus school formally ended in 1933. Still, its influence continues to this day, informing design choices in a wide variety of fields—from architecture to typography, fashion to household items. In this podcast, Fellow Elizabeth Otto maps the aesthetic and intellectual lineage of Bauhaus, paying special attention to the many figures—especially women—who’ve been overshadowed by more celebrated colleagues. With attention to questions of gender and sexuality, Otto also explores how the legacy of World War I complicated ideas of masculinity in Germany during this era, inflecting the idea of the “artist engineer.”
In the seventeenth century, the notion of the infinite universe was so controversial that believers could be burned at the stake. Today, however, the concept of infinity is commonplace, integrated into science and math curricula, and used as a metaphor to describe the inconceivable. In this podcast, Fellow John H. Smith traces the shifting understandings of the infinite across the long eighteenth century. His project ultimately locates the infinite at an interdisciplinary crossroads, demonstrating the interconnectedness of the sciences and the humanities.
Georgia’s antebellum state capitol, Milledgeville, was also home to the state mental hospital, an institution founded in 1842 which eventually became the largest asylum in the world. Fellow Mab Segrest is at work on a project considering how the hospital’s history reveals the relationships between psychiatry and white settler colonialism. In this podcast, she discusses the social function of mental hospitals in the South. At the nexus of U.S. psychiatry and the emergence of racism, the history of the Milledgeville asylum has broad and urgent implications for today’s mental health facilities and their treatment of patients.
Legalized slavery has been abolished around the world, yet human trafficking remains a significant problem. Though slavery may not take the exact forms it did in the nineteenth century, approximately 45.8 million persons in 167 countries endure modern forms of slavery. Fellow Laura Murphy, Associate Professor of English and Director of the Modern Slavery Research Project at Loyola University New Orleans, is currently at work on a book about the way survivors of forced labor have mobilized the discourse of slavery in the twenty-first century to reinvigorate their struggles for freedom. In this podcast, she discusses the generic conventions of the slave narrative and how they complicate our notions of what it means to be free.
This panel discussion, held Thursday, April 19, 2018 at the New York Public Library, was part of the Humanities Moments project, an initiative created by the National Humanities Center to explore the intersection between the humanities and transformative moments in our individual and public lives.
On September 1, 1939, the British government launched a program ominously codenamed Operation Pied Piper, whereby thousands of children were evacuated from the cities to the countryside. This operation brought class conflict into the foreground, laying bare the drastic inequalities of British society, but also provided the foundations for the development of child psychoanalysis. This talk by Maud Ellman examines the impact of the evacuation crisis on psychoanalytic theories of the child, comparing these to the depiction of children in wartime fiction.
In the wake of the American Revolution, political leaders insisted that their new republic could not survive without improved and more comprehensive public education meant to create better informed citizens. But the push for educational reform often ran afoul of local legislators and voters, who balked at the taxes needed to fund expanded systems of education. In his talk, historian Alan Taylor discusses this intriguing irony—that republican reliance on popular sovereignty complicated efforts by elites to improve voters through education.
In this wide-ranging interview with Conversation host Mitchell Lewis, National Humanities Center 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 on June 27, 2017.
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 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.