As one of the world’s leading institutes for advanced study for over forty years, the National Humanities Center has provided essential support for the humanities, encouraging excellence in scholarship and teaching while affirming the importance of the humanities in American life.
The Center’s contributions can be found in more than 1,500 books produced by its Fellows, in the extensive materials and innovative programs it offers teachers to invigorate their classrooms, and in the stimulating slate of lectures, symposia, conferences and other public events it presents throughout the year.
I welcome you to explore this web site to learn more about the National Humanities Center and its programs.
Robert D. Newman, President and Director
Robert D. Newman assumed office as the sixth president and director of the National Humanities Center on July 1, 2015. He was previously Dean of the College of Humanities at the University of Utah where he also served as Associate Vice President for Interdisciplinary Studies, Special Advisor to the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Professor of English. He also has held faculty appointments at the University of South Carolina, where he was Chair of the Department of English, Texas A&M University, and the College of William and Mary.
Dr. Newman’s scholarship has focused on twentieth-century literature and culture and narrative theory. He has published six books, two of which have been nominated for major national awards, along with numerous articles, reviews, and poems; and has received awards not only for his scholarship but for his institutional leadership and teaching. He also serves as General Editor of the “Cultural Frames, Framing Culture” series published by University of Virginia Press.
Since assuming leadership of the National Humanities Center, Dr. Newman’s work has been dedicated to broadening the Center’s scholarly mission, its educational outreach, and on public engagement and national advocacy for the humanities.
From the Director
How should humanities institutions and practitioners respond to ongoing challenges to their value and significance? In this opinion piece for Inside Higher Ed, Robert D. Newman revisits a fable from Benjamin Franklin's "Apology to Printers" to argue that humanists should be wary of responding defensively to critics lest we see "a continued dwindling of the imaginative, interrogative and empathetic impulses core to the humanities."
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.
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 D. 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.
Robert D. Newman, president and director of the National Humanities Center, will be giving talks and appearing in public forums throughout the fall of 2016 in venues from Charlottesville, Virginia to Shanghai, China.
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.
National Humanities Center President and Director Robert D. Newman was the featured guest at an event held January 14, 2016 at Scuppernong Books in Greensboro, NC. Newman discussed the ways the humanities give meaning to our lives, shape historical events, and help address the most complex challenges of modernity.
Humanities moments are the unexpected miracles that provide meaning, sharpen purpose, and offer depth — profound pauses in the otherwise frantic and self-absorbed scurrying that characterizes our gettings and spendings. When the personal harmonizes with the collective, the anomalous with the essential, humanities moments occur. When we recognize their exquisite and resounding centrality, we better understand the foundation of the democratic society of which they are a product.
At a recent dinner with Center Fellows alumni, President Robert D. Newman recounted several “humanities moments,” including Kurt Vonnegut’s response to the 1973 burning of his book Slaughterhouse Five by school officials in Drake, North Dakota.
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.
Friends, current research Fellows and members of the Center staff gathered recently for the annual National Humanities Center Patio Party. President Robert D. Newman, who joined the Center in July of this year, addressed the group with brief but timely remarks entitled “The Uncomfortable Responsibility of the Liberal Arts.”
The National Humanities Center announces the appointment of Robert D. Newman as its next President and Director. On July 1, 2015, he succeeded Geoffrey G. Harpham, who led the Center since 2003. “Robert Newman intends to continue and enhance the role of the Center as a leading voice nationally in support of the humanities,” said Center trustee William Jordan.