The National Humanities Center hosts a variety of public talks, conferences, and other cultural events. Here, and at our Soundcloud channel, you will find podcasts and audio recordings of recent events.
For years, public discourse and policy debates about people with disabilities have focused on the rights of those with medically recognized impairments. Increasingly, however, scholars of disability studies, including Fellow Nancy J. Hirschmann, professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, are reshaping the way we see our bodies, the range of freedoms we enjoy, and the limitations we experience. In this podcast, Hirschmann helps us make sense of the complex relationship between freedom and disability. She speaks about her latest book project, Freedom, Power, and Disability, which builds on her work on the intersections of politics, gender, and philosophy.
Nancy Gardner and Patricia Matthew, “How to Teach English Literature and Writing in the Digital Age”
How has the digital environment changed the way English is taught at the high school and college level? What kinds of possibilities have been generated and new challenges presented? In this podcast, Nancy Gardner, with the Center for Teaching Quality, and Patricia Matthew, associate professor of English at Montclair State University, discuss the advantages and anxieties that accompany the use of digital technologies to support the study of literature and instruction in writing.
How can teachers help students draw connections between humanities and STEM subjects? In this podcast, Omar Ali, professor of history and Dean of Lloyd International Honors College at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Andromeda Crowell, who teaches science at Orange High School in Hillsborough, NC, discuss similarities in the ways historians and scientists approach the process of discovery. They also consider how digital technologies have made it easier for students to think and act like researchers, regardless of discipline, in a classroom setting.
How should the study and teaching of music be integrated into K-12 classrooms? In this podcast, Ben Wides, who teaches social studies at East Side Community High School in New York, NY, and Warren Zanes, former executive director of the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, discuss the benefits of music education for all students and the ways that music can be used in the teaching of other subjects to help students make connections and appreciate cultural context. They also consider some of the opportunities and challenges presented by new technologies that provide ready access to extensive musical resources.
How have technological innovations helped students and others engage with, and better understand, longstanding philosophical questions? How does philosophical training help us grapple with contemporary concerns surrounding technology and its influences on our lives and societies? In this podcast, Michael Burroughs, executive director of the Kegley Institute of Ethics and assistant professor of philosophy at California State University, Bakersfield, and Allison Cohen, who teaches Advanced Placement U.S. government and philosophy at Langley High School in McLean, VA discuss the ways technology has contributed to the study and teaching of philosophy.
Elizabeth Mulcahy and Molly Warsh, “How to Think (and Teach) About World History in the Digital Age”
How has the study and teaching of world history been transformed by the proliferation of digital tools? In this podcast, Elizabeth Mulcahy, social studies teacher in Albemarle County, VA, and Molly Warsh, assistant professor of world history at the University of Pittsburgh, discuss the ways new technologies expand the possibilities for exploring world history, how those changes shape thinking, and the positives and negatives associated with readily accessed information.
What are the habits of mind specific to art historians? How does their practice, centered around the careful observation of artistic works, provide a basis for the questions they ask? In this podcast, Teresa Assenzo, director of visual arts at Saint Mary’s School in Raleigh, NC, and Morna O’Neill, associate professor of art history at Wake Forest University, demonstrate the ways art historians interpret artists’ works and situate them within larger greater historical and cultural contexts through an in-depth conversation about Claude Monet’s painting “The Gare Saint-Lazare.”
How has the study and teaching of classics been changed by the proliferation of digital tools? In this podcast, Michael Fontaine, professor of classics at Cornell University, and Skye Shirley, Latin teacher at Newton Country Day School in Newton, Massachusetts, discuss the remarkably diverse ways the information age has rejuvenated the study of Latin and Greek—altering the ways ancient languages are taught, expanding opportunities for learning, and fostering a robust network among scholars, teachers, and students.
What does it mean to think geographically? How do we foster geoliteracy in classrooms? In this podcast, Edward Kinman, professor of geography at Longwood University, and Megan Webster, Social Studies Department Chair at J. J. Pearce High School in Richardson, Texas, discuss how geography helps students understand the world more fully. Specifically, they discuss the ways that geography helps students understand interconnected systems—natural, cultural, economic, technological—issues of scale, and relationships between the local and the global.
“Fake news.” Political polls. Twitter. Big data. Institutional mistrust. Civic responsibility. How do learners sort through it all? In this podcast, Daniel Palazzolo, professor of political science at the University of Richmond, and Patrick Touart, Social Studies Department Chairman at Tunstall High School in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, compare notes on how students make sense—or don’t make sense—of political science in the 21st century.
Since the early modern era, history has been largely viewed through an anthropocentric lens, skewing towards the involvement of humans. David Christian (NHC Fellow 2006-07) flips this narrative by zooming out to see history—specifically, Big History—on a larger scale, measured by geological and cosmological time. Bringing together fields as seemingly disparate as cosmology, anthropology, and geology, Big History offers what Christian calls “a unifying origin story” that explains our origin and place in the universe, bridging the humanities with the social sciences.
Scholars in gender and sexuality studies have largely ignored or dismissed attempts to explain the causes of sexual deviation for a variety of reasons. In this podcast, Fellow Benjamin Kahan discusses how his work, exploring “the historical etiology of sexuality,” moves past those scholars’ dismissal of early sexuality theories in hopes of producing a fuller understanding of how contemporary attitudes and notions about sexuality developed.
Non-human, post-human, anti-human. In recent years, historians, political theorists, philosophers and others have increasingly tried to think beyond an anthropocentric perspective to gain insights on a wide range of questions. But these ways of thinking have a long precedent in American fiction. In this podcast, Fellow Kate Marshall, associate professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, discusses how weird fiction, cosmic realism, and pseudo-science fiction have imaginatively grappled with non-human points of view from the late 19th century to the present.
The Humanities Moments pilot project at Weaver Academy in Greensboro, North Carolina introduces high school students to the role the humanities play in their lives. The value of the project is visible across the entire school from increasing self-understanding among students and bridging the gap between STEM and arts educators to teaching life preparedness and vital skills like critical thinking and empathy needed beyond high school.
While we often think of Renaissance-era Florence and the surrounding area as brimming with intellectual inquiry, artistic genius, and political intrigue, music and poetry were also important elements of life and to the Studia Humanitatis, the core of early modern education. In this podcast, Fellow Blake Wilson, professor of music at Dickinson College discusses his current project exploring the music and oral performance traditions of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance — how it was composed and performed as well as its relationship to other art forms in creating the rich civic and cultural life of the Renaissance.
Surviving accounts of the foundation of the early Christian church are extremely limited, leaving scholars with few sources beyond the narrative found in the fifth book of the New Testament, the Acts of the Apostles. And, for centuries, questions have persisted about the book of Acts itself: Who wrote it and for whom? What was the document's purpose? And, how historically reliable is the account it provides?
Most people would agree that judging people based on generalizations related to their skin color or gender, religion or nationality is wrong. Yet this is a common practice in all societies. So the question arises, is it ever okay to use stereotypes? And, if so, when?
Beyond their inspirational and devotional power, what other functions do religious works of art serve? From antiquity through the medieval periods, practitioners of many religious traditions throughout central Asia used works of art to teach followers religious histories, parables, and central tenets of their faith. How does this use inform our appreciation of these works and what can we learn from examining these religious practices?
For centuries before the arrival of Europeans, trade routes connected the various peoples who lived throughout the American Southwest and Mexico, and trade among these groups remained an important source of economic vitality and cultural exchange even after the Spanish arrived in the sixteenth century. In later years, these routes formed the basis of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, connecting merchants and communities from Mexico City to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Beginning as a small group of intellectual ideologues, the Shining Path grew to become a significant insurgency movement whose violent practices resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Peruvians in the late twentieth century. However, to understand the Shining Path's history and its influence, it is important to understand its origins and the motivations of the individuals who formed its leadership.
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.
Since its founding over 50 years ago, perceptions of the Black Panther Party have varied widely, often shaped by misinformation—about the Party's motivations, its relations with other organizations, its influence in the U.S. and around the world. In this conversation, historian Jakobi Williams discusses the challenges facing scholars in reconstructing the history of the Black Panther Party, the common misconceptions that continue to shape views of the movement and its leaders, and the ways that the organization helped inspire resistance groups in other countries.
Shakespeare's plays are full of the influences of the supernatural—spirits, magic, temptation—haunting the lives of characters and shaping their actions. In this conversation, literary scholar Mary Floyd-Wilson discusses how these demonic representations reflect questions that were very much on the minds of Elizabethan-era theater-goers and offer a valuable perspective on contemporary debates of the period and shifts in thinking about questions of religion, of autonomy, personality, and the mind.
In a wide-ranging talk to alumni Fellows that incorporated stories about figures as distinct as H. L. Mencken, Georgia O’Keefe, and Mary Oliver, NHC president Robert Newman discussed how the humanities lend perspective to current events, refine our sense of the world and all it contains, and provide wisdom for navigating the future.