The National Humanities Center hosts a variety of public talks, conferences, and other cultural events. Here, and at our dedicated channels on YouTube, Vimeo, you will find video recordings of recent events.
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.
Among all the classic Broadway shows of the 1930s, a fair number stand out by engaging directly with the New Deal politics of a turbulent decade. Why did the likes of George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart take this leftist turn, and how should one read the great American songs that emerged?
On Tuesday, February 9, NHC president and director Robert D. Newman joined Lloyd Kramer from UNC-Chapel Hill and Victoria Gallagher from NC State University to discuss the humanities’ future as part of a town hall meeting. The event, held at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC, and moderated by retired philosophy professor Clay Stalnaker, drew an engaged crowd who challenged the participants about role of the humanities in an environment that has become increasingly concerned with financial outcomes from academic activities, technologically-focused, and oriented toward the concerns of the individual rather than the common good.
Janice Radway, “From the Underground to the Archive in Ten Years: Girl Zines, the 1990s, and the Challenge of Historical Narration”
In the early nineties, a certain cohort of dissident, non-conforming girls turned to self-publishing to express their deep dissatisfaction with conservative reaffirmations of normative femininity. Calling themselves “Riot Grrrls” after several influential all-girl punk bands, they crafted handmade publications known as “zines” in order to voice their disaffection and to think through alternative ways of being in the world. These young women quickly caught the attention of the mainstream media and a range of academics and librarians alike. Within ten years, at least three major collections of girl zines had been collected at places like Smith College, Barnard College, and Duke University. This lecture explores the significance of girls’ self-publishing efforts, the complex reasons for their zines’ quick assimilation into legitimate cultural institutions, and the political benefits and drawbacks to this kind of memorialization.
The soldier monuments that began to proliferate across northern and southern communities during the 1860s differed sharply from antebellum American commemorations. The emergence of this cultural form partly reflected patterns of recruitment and death in the Civil War. Local memorial initiatives also expressed competing ideas about the legacies of the war and the extent to which military service constituted a model of citizenship.
At a celebration October 22, 2015, Robert D. Newman was installed as the sixth president and director of the National Humanities Center. In his inaugural remarks, titled “Humanities Moments and the Heroic,” Newman shared his vision for the Center as the premier destination for humanities scholars, a national leader in the effort to strengthen teaching, and a vital resource for all who seek greater understanding of themselves and the world in which they live.
China has a distinguished modern history of supporting its national heritage of traditional medical knowledge. In recent years, research has focused on traditional medicine of the minority nationalities of China. This “multicultural” process expresses particular features of Chinese state power as it engages and manages local variation. And it reveals many forms of life that escape nation-state projects. This discussion considers the relations in practice between grassroots medical institution-building and the healing powers that both inform it and evade it.
Ordinarily, the two cerebral hemispheres of the brain are joined by a large fiber pathway. In a “split-brain” surgery, this pathway is cut. Afterwards a split-brain subject may behave as if she had two conscious minds, one in each hemisphere. Many philosophers and neuropsychologists have argued that in fact she does. If that’s right, however, then why doesn’t anyone view a split-brain subject as containing or consisting of two persons, each with her own rights and responsibilities? In her talk, Elizabeth Schechter argues that self-consciousness provides the answer.
Stunning personification of triumph and icon of world art, the great Winged Victory (Nike) of Samothrace in the Louvre Museum has long captured the admiration and imagination of the world. Recently, to mark the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the Nike, Bonna Wescoat and her team renewed investigations of the statue and its precinct in the Sanctuary of the Great Gods. In her lecture, she shares results of their new research on the design, setting, and history of this extraordinary monument.
"The Roosevelts: An Intimate History" chronicles the lives of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt, three members of the most prominent and influential family in American politics. This seven-part, fourteen-hour documentary from filmmaker Ken Burns follows the Roosevelts for more than a century, from Theodore’s birth in 1858 to Eleanor’s death in 1962. Special guests: John Kasson and William Leuchtenburg from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.