How do scholars become fascinated by their subjects? How do the processes of research, analysis, writing, and teaching change their perspectives of the world? This series, presented in partnership with the Chapel Hill Public Library, explores these questions through public discussions with leading scholars from the NHC. These informal dialogues will highlight the personal aspects of scholarship—how scholars became interested in specific fields of study, what fuels their passion for their subjects, about the larger questions that intrigue them, and the influence their scholarship has on their ways of thinking about and living in the world.
The humanities and sciences are often viewed as distinct and separate areas of inquiry. Yet whether we study history, chemistry, philosophy, or physics, our overarching methodology is similar in that it involves gathering data and constructing narratives—i.e. telling stories. A way of framing our overlap is by seeing the humanities and sciences as (1) guided by evidence, (2) subject to interpretation, and (3) open to revision. This one-day symposium is an opportunity for humanists and scientists to come together to explore our commonalities and learn from each other.
Saturday, April 7, 2018 from 8:30am to 3:00pm
Tera Hunter and Andreá Williams, “African American Marriage in the Twentieth Century: A Conversation”
For centuries marital status has been an important social marker, providing access to a variety of legal rights and contributing to a sense of social stability. Further, since marriage has been seen as fundamental to preserving social and familial norms, it has been considered a central element for ensuring socioeconomic success and social respectability among African Americans and others. Two of this year’s Fellows will discuss the fraught history of marriage and marital rights for African Americans—as well as the ways cultural expectations about marriage have shaped the lives of African American women over the past century—with Tania Munz, vice president for scholarly programs at the Center.
Thursday, April 12, 2018 at 6 p.m.
Tera W. Hunter, Princeton University and Andreá N. Williams, The Ohio State University
“Sentience” features work by Raleigh artist Adam Cohen whose paintings and drawings invite the viewer to recognize emotional connections to others through visual depictions that “stretch the truth.” As Cohen says of the works on display: “We are drawn to particular pieces of art for the same reason we’re drawn to other people (and animals, for that matter): an empathic emotional connection. A dissolving of the borders between us. A recognition of another’s sentience—their capacity to feel, to suffer—which is, in fact, the basis of all culture and communities.”
January 2 – May 25, 2018
Artist Reception: Saturday, January 27, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
The staff and trustees of the National Humanities Center mourn the passing of Corbette Capps, the Center’s longtime building engineer, on February 28 after a brief illness. Capps was hired in 1978 to help care for the distinctive Archie K. Davis building he had helped construct and in the course of the next thirty-one years became, himself, a memorable fixture in Center life. Affable by nature, he took particular care to assure that the Center remained a welcoming and friendly environment for scholars, colleagues, trustees, and visitors. Beloved by Fellows and staff, one of the Center’s studies was dedicated to him upon his retirement in 2008.
Earlier this month the Trump administration released its budget for the 2019 fiscal year and again proposed the elimination of funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). This proposal comes despite the fact that funding for the NEH and NEA only represents .02% of the federal budget and that grants from the two agencies provide vital support for the work of scholars, teachers, and public institutions in all fifty states. To help ensure that members of Congress know about the important work being done in their own communities with the support of the NEH, the National Humanities Alliance (NHA) is again organizing a gathering of advocates in Washington March 11-13, 2018.
In September 2017, the National Humanities Center convened a group of leaders from some of the nation’s leading external fellowship programs and funders to discuss issues surrounding the evaluation of fellowships and fellowship programs. In addition to a robust discussion about best practices, challenges, and future collaborations, it was felt the next phase of a national conversation might focus on how universities themselves are evaluating humanities research. This panel, with academic leaders from Texas universities, was the first gathering in this effort.
The Creative Coalition and the National Humanities Center Join Ovation’s Stand For The Arts Coalition
Ovation has announced that The Creative Coalition and the National Humanities Center are joining its Stand For The Arts coalition to raise awareness, protect access and encourage action on behalf of the arts and culture. “The arts and humanities are integral to a healthy society and contribute in innumerable ways to helping us all lead more fulfilled and productive lives,” said Robert D. Newman, president and director of the NHC. “We are pleased to join the other outstanding organizations and leaders working to advocate for the arts and humanities across the country.”
First emerging in the Italian Renaissance, the sonnet was used to document and address a problem, such as the pain of unrequited love. Under the shadow of slavery and then Jim Crow, African American poets from Phillis Wheatley to Natasha Trethewey have adopted the sonnet’s 14-line form to poetically register political protest. Fellow Hollis Robbins is currently at work on the first book-length examination of the African American sonnet tradition. In this podcast, Robbins draws on examples from writers such as Claude McKay and Gwendolyn Brooks to explain how the formal qualities of the sonnet— structured around an argument—exemplify what W.E.B. Du Bois famously called “double-consciousness.”
The average American produces four and a half pounds of trash every single day, and, as a whole, the U.S. generates nearly a quarter of a billion tons of garbage each year. Yet one person’s trash is another’s treasure. What can we learn about ourselves from what we discard and what we keep? What stories are contained in the detritus of contemporary life? In this podcast, Fellow Stephanie Foote discusses her current work on the “art of garbage” and the intersections of consumer culture, the global economy, and the environment. She also speculates about how contemporary literature mediates the presence of planetary waste.
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.