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.
Since the publication of her first novel nearly fifty years ago, Lee Smith has established herself as a preeminent voice of the South through her award-winning and critically acclaimed fiction. Last year, with her very first work of nonfiction, Dimestore: A Writer's Life, Smith shared her own story, from growing up in a small coal-mining town in the Appalachian Mountains to becoming a writer and raising her family in North Carolina. Widely praised by critics across the country, Dimestore not only offers insight into the making of a great American writer but opens up a conversation about life in small towns across the nation.
Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at 6 p.m.
Lee Smith, Author
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 socio-economic success and social respectability among African Americans and others. In this scholarly conversation, 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.
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.
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.”
North Carolina: The New American Heartland is a multi-dimensional initiative—highlighted by a three-day gathering which took place on September 27–29, 2017—enlisting scholars, artists, journalists, educators, policy experts, activists, community leaders, and others to critically consider North Carolina’s role as a bellwether for the nation. Through the lenses of food, music, and storytelling, the conference provided a forum for examining the state’s complex and myriad cultural identities and for exploring how the arts and humanities can help us better understand and face our shared challenges.
AN OUTRAGE is a documentary film about lynching in the American South. Filmed on location at lynching sites in six states and bolstered by the memories and perspectives of descendants, community activists, and scholars, this unusual historical documentary seeks to educate even as it serves as a hub for action to remember and reflect upon a long-hidden past. On September 19, 2017 the National Humanities Center hosted a public showing of AN OUTRAGE. After an introduction by documentarians Lance Warren and Hannah Ayers and a screening of the film, panelists led an in-depth discussion about the key issues facing educators as they engage with this content in their classrooms.
In the decades following the Civil War, African American intellectuals focused much of their attention beyond the borders of the United States and, in doing so, engaged global histories of colonization, slavery, immigration, and imperialism. While a significant body of scholarship attends to the work of politicians, clergy, actors, and artists, relatively little attention has been paid to the role of black historians. In this podcast, Fellow Stephen G. Hall introduces and expands on important issues at play in his study: the sources black historians enlisted to frame critical events, the community they engaged beyond the walls of the academy, and the ways their discourse was intertwined with activism, from anti-imperialism to Pan-Africanism to the Civil Rights Movement.
Over the past century, revolutions in technology and increased mobility have fostered connections across vast spaces and among different cultures. Still, Americans’ sense of regional identity remains strong. Fellow Wendy Griswold has studied how literary culture helps produce and maintain regional identity for much of her career. In this podcast, she discusses the third installment of her ongoing project exploring how art and literature are integral to American “place-making.” Building on her previous work, she argues that by drawing on the fields of neurobiology and neuroaesthetics—examining how our brains respond to different sensations and stimuli—we may be able to shed new light on the ways we experience places and form lasting emotional attachments to them.
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.