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Discovery & Inspiration asks “What can we learn by talking to scholars about their research? What makes them so passionate about the subjects they study? What is it like to make a new discovery? To answer a confounding question?” For over 40 years the National Humanities Center has been a home away from home for scholars from around the world—historians and philosophers, scholars of literature and music and art and dozens of other fields. Join us as we sit down with scholars to discuss their work—to better understand the questions that intrigue and perplex them, the passion that drives them, and how their scholarship may change the ways we think about the world around us.

Discovery & Inspiration asks “What can we learn by talking to scholars about their research? What makes them so passionate about the subjects they study? What is it like to make a new discovery? To answer a confounding question?” For over 40 years the National Humanities Center has been a home away from home for scholars from around the world—historians and philosophers, scholars of literature and music and art and dozens of other fields. Join us as we sit down with scholars to discuss their work—to better understand the questions that intrigue and perplex them, the passion that drives them, and how their scholarship may change the ways we think about the world around us.
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Location:

United States

Description:

Discovery & Inspiration asks “What can we learn by talking to scholars about their research? What makes them so passionate about the subjects they study? What is it like to make a new discovery? To answer a confounding question?” For over 40 years the National Humanities Center has been a home away from home for scholars from around the world—historians and philosophers, scholars of literature and music and art and dozens of other fields. Join us as we sit down with scholars to discuss their work—to better understand the questions that intrigue and perplex them, the passion that drives them, and how their scholarship may change the ways we think about the world around us.

Language:

English


Episodes

Joseph E. Taylor III, “Conservation Controversies: Public Lands in the American West”

8/26/2019
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Between 1891 and 1939 a substantial portion of the land area of states in the American West were set aside for management by the federal government. These so-called “public lands” have been a source of contention ever since, engendering conflict among an assortment of stakeholders looking to use the lands for a variety of purposes—from conservation and habitat protection to mining, grazing, and logging. NHC Fellow Joseph Taylor, professor of history at Simon Fraser University in British...

Duration:00:20:17

Lisa Earl Castillo, “Recovering the Story of Casa Branca and Afro-Brazilian Identity”

8/26/2019
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Founded by freed slaves in the early nineteenth century, the candomblé temple Casa Branca in Salvador, Bahia, was the first Afro-Brazilian place of worship in Brazil. But despite its religious and historic significance, the story of Casa Branca’s origins has remained the stuff of oral traditions until the recent discovery of written documents by NHC Fellow Lisa Earl Castillo. Castillo is working on a new book which situates the temple and its founders within the greater social history of...

Duration:00:18:55

Marie Hicks, “The Meta-Narrative of the Machine: Computing and Social Inequalities in Great Britain”

8/26/2019
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In the popular imagination, computers are not only superior to humans in speed and accuracy, but they do their work free from prejudice, treating users equally without regard to race or gender. NHC Fellow Marie Hicks, associate professor of history at Illinois Institute of Technology, is helping complicate our understanding of how computers shape our world as she works this year on a new book exploring how technological systems in Great Britain continue to perpetuate social inequalities. In...

Duration:00:19:09

Ted Underwood, “Distant Horizons: Reading in the Age of Algorithms”

8/26/2019
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Proponents of distant reading practices in which computers are used to analyze vast quantities of textual material assert that their quantitative methods simultaneously complement and complicate traditional literary criticism. NHC Fellow Ted Underwood, professor of Information Sciences and of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and an innovative leader in the use of digital reading practices, is working on a new book that continues his research using algorithmic models to...

Duration:00:07:57

Rebecca Goetz, “Native Enslavement in the Caribbean”

8/26/2019
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When we think of slavery in the Americas, most of us generally think of people from Africa and their descendants who were enslaved and transported across the Atlantic to provide labor for the plantation economies of the New World. But recently, historians have begun to reassess the significance of other forms of slavery in the Americas—specifically the enslavement of millions of indigenous people in the Caribbean and beyond. NHC Fellow Rebecca Goetz, associate professor of history at New...

Duration:00:19:49

Matthew Smith, “Roots, Rock, Reggae: The Social & Political History of an Island’s Music”

8/26/2019
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Since the 1950s, the sounds of Jamaican reggae have drawn global attention to the Caribbean island and its culture. Yet, few critics have examined reggae’s social origins or fully accounted for its phenomenal rise as the music of disaffected youth. Fellow Matthew Smith, professor of history at the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, is working to situate reggae within the larger social dynamics of post-World War II Jamaica. In this podcast, Smith provides an overview of the...

Duration:00:17:09

Robert Morrison, “Translating Shared Economies of Knowledge in the Renaissance”

8/26/2019
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Traditionally, accounts of the scientific advances of the Renaissance have focused on the contributions of famous individuals like Copernicus whose theories about heavenly bodies radically altered how we understood the arrangement of the universe and our place in it. Increasingly, though, historians have noted striking parallels between the work of figures like Copernicus and their contemporaries in the Islamic world though they’ve not been able to fully explain how these similarities arose....

Duration:00:22:16

Alka Patel, “Architectural Matrices: Uncovering the History of the Ghurid Dynasty”

8/26/2019
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Though it lasted for only a brief period, the Ghurid dynasty provides a fascinating lens through which to consider the religious and political forces that shaped Central Asia during the medieval period. NHC Fellow Alka Patel has spent years in the region examining architectural structures and archival materials to help better understand the Ghurids, situated as they were between the Persianate and Indic worlds, straddling and connecting the traditions of Islamic and Hindu cultures. Patel, an...

Duration:00:17:05

Meta DuEwa Jones, “Mapping Black Diasporic Memory: The Alchemy of Ekphrasis”

8/26/2019
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Poets have long used ekphrasis—the vivid description of a piece of visual art—as a way of exploring the deep complexity of representation, the relationship between the artist and her art, and to make legible things which may otherwise seem inexpressible. NHC Fellow Meta DuEwa Jones is herself a poet and a scholar of poetry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is an associate professor of English. She is currently working on a new project exploring the relationship...

Duration:00:22:20

Andrea Brady, “Forms of Verse and Forms of Bondage: Theorizing the Constraints of Lyric Poetry”

8/26/2019
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In the opening lines of his most famous poem, “To Althea, From Prison,” Richard Lovelace writes, “Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage...” This line expresses a thought common among imprisoned writers across time — that regardless of the conditions of their imprisonment, the human spirit and the poetic imagination cannot be constrained. NHC Fellow Andrea Brady, however, suggests that the relationship between our poetic traditions and bondage has not been adequately explored...

Duration:00:22:36

Peter Villella, “The Immediacy of Antiquity: Reconstructing Aztec Epic History”

8/26/2019
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Five hundred years ago—in February 1519—Hernán Cortés set out from Cuba with an expeditionary force heading for a confrontation with the Mexica, rulers of the Aztec Empire. Two years later, with the sacking of the capital, Tenochtitlan, the Spanish conquest was complete. Over the course of the following century filled with radical upheaval, demographic collapse, plague, mass migration, economic transformation, and cultural dislocation. much of the history and culture of the Aztecs was lost,...

Duration:00:22:23

Mia Fuller, “Monuments and Mussolini: Contested Landscapes of Memory”

8/26/2019
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Monuments commemorating historical figures, events, and regimes can be found nearly everywhere, yet we often barely notice them. At other times, though, the histories they represent can inflame passions and the monuments themselves become contentious flashpoints for their communities. NHC Fellow Mia Fuller, associate professor of Italian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, is a cultural anthropologist who has focused much of her scholarly work on Italy, particularly the rise...

Duration:00:24:56

Matthew Rubery, “Methodologies of Reading in a Neurodiverse World”

8/26/2019
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For most of us, learning to read is an important milestone in our intellectual development. This accomplishment is a cornerstone on which our educations and professional lives are built, and one of the primary mechanisms through which we connect with the world. But for some people, specifically those affected by neurological disorders such as dyslexia or dementia, reading can be an experience fraught with challenges. NHC Fellow Matthew Rubery seeks to understand how such “neurodivergent”...

Duration:00:14:50

Matt ffytche, “Art From the Outside: Culture and Mental Illness in the Twentieth Century”

8/26/2019
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Since at least the early years of the twentieth century, scholars have taken an interest in the artistic and intellectual productions of so-called “outsiders,” or individuals whose unconventional perspectives and aesthetic expression have often been assumed to result from serious mental illness. These artistic creations and written works are generally defined by idiosyncratic characteristics; they can seem to be obscure, obsessive, inconsistent, and even disconnected from reality itself. NHC...

Duration:00:16:51

Gretchen Murphy, “How Federalist Women Shaped America”

8/26/2019
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Though its viability as a political party was short-lived, the influence of the Federalists extended well beyond the early years of the American republic. After the election of 1800, the party’s fortunes dimmed, and the party dissolved in 1824, but its ideas have continued to shape American institutions and political attitudes up to the present day. NHC Fellow Gretchen Murphy has researched the ways in which women writers have shaped and preserved the Federalist legacy. In this podcast, she...

Duration:00:22:30

Audrey Anton, “The Philosophy of Vice”

8/26/2019
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Aristotle’s thinking on a variety of topics has influenced western philosophy for over two millennia. His writings on ethics, in particular—emphasizing human character and ethical psychology—continue to shape contemporary ideas about personal virtue and moral agency. NHC Fellow Audrey Anton, however, has emphasized the importance of understanding the role that vice plays in Aristotle’s philosophy. In this podcast, Anton presents the four types of persons identified by Aristotle based on the...

Duration:00:19:59

Joni Adamson, “Imagining Desirable Futures in the Midst of Ecological Crises”

8/26/2019
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With increasing urgency, climate scientists and environmentalists have sought to mobilize public action to address the crisis of global warming. Warning us about the dire need to radically change how we use energy, the ways we grow and distribute food, and many other activities, they’ve described a future in which our planet is increasingly unlivable. But, beyond imaging a world devastated by unchecked greenhouse gas emissions, how might we go about imagining more desirable futures? What...

Duration:00:22:35

Harriet Ritvo, “Understanding the Animal, Understanding Ourselves”

8/26/2019
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As it has taken shape as a distinct field of scholarly inquiry, animal studies has significantly contributed to our understanding of other species and our relationships with them. Drawing on a variety of disciplinary approaches across the humanities and sciences, animal studies has challenged traditional categories that have long gone unquestioned, such as “nature” and “wildness” that not only clarify perspectives on the lives of animals but human experiences and concepts. In this podcast,...

Duration:00:22:01

Katelyn Campbell, “Giving Value and Thought to the Imaginary”

7/22/2019
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Katelyn Campbell, “Giving Value and Thought to the Imaginary” by National Humanities Center

Duration:00:03:41

Matthew Sweet, “Nowhere Man in Lincoln, Nebraska”

5/17/2019
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Matthew Sweet describes stumbling upon a 45 record that altered his perspective on The Beatles. More profoundly, it changed how he understood his place in the world.

Duration:00:04:10