The Teagle Foundation recently named Andrew Delbanco from Columbia University as its president beginning July 2018. A noted literary scholar and social critic, Delbanco has twice held fellowships at the National Humanities Center (1990–91; 2002–03) and served as a trustee of the Center from 1996 until 2006 when he was made an emeritus trustee. Delbanco has been a member of the Teagle Foundation board of directors since 2009 and has served as chair of its program committee since 2014. In 2012 he received a National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama.
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 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.
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.
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.
John McGowan, “From Comedy to Comity: How Comic Literature Can Guide Us Toward a More Civil Society”
A democratic society relies on the ability of citizens to address one another in a measured and temperate fashion, yet civil debate in recent years has become increasingly contentious and polarized. In this podcast, Fellow John McGowan, professor of English and comparative literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, discusses how literature—specifically comedy—can help us recognize our shared humanity and help us find ways to transcend our differences.
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.