Humanities Moments

Humanities Moments

We’ve all had “humanities moments” — when our lives were made richer, more poignant, and meaningful because of the insights the humanities provide.

Humanities moments occur daily in the lives of human beings. We access them through stories that reveal our complexities, our aspirations, and our tragic flaws. Whether we reflect on our personal experiences or our national history, it is the humanities moments that are most resonant and to which we continually return to mark who we are as individuals and as a culture.

The Humanities Moments Project was created by the National Humanities Center in an effort to gather, store, and share personal accounts about how the humanities illuminate our lives, help us better understand ourselves and each other, and provide tools for more fully understanding where we came from and where we are going.

We encourage you to

  • Explore the moments submitted by people from all walks of life about how the humanities have shaped their understanding of the world and of their fellow human beings, opened their eyes to new possibilities, and helped guide them through life.
  • Share your own stories about memorable encounters with history, literature, philosophy, the study of art and music, film and folklore, and other humanities topics.
  • Invite others to join the Humanities Moments project and add their voices to those gathered here.

Recently Added Moments

An Unexpected Insight

Plutarch's Lives

by Jaroslav Folda, N. Ferebee Taylor Professor emeritus, UNC

At the end of my sophomore year in high school, during the awards ceremony in June, I received my varsity letter for playing football. And then my history teacher, Mr. Harvey, got up and gave three academic awards. To my complete surprise, I received one of those prizes. It…

Transcending the Language Barrier Through Music

Averill Corkin

by Averill Corkin, Graduate Student, Harvard University

Averill Corkin shares how a video shown in class of a performance of a song about a distraught female refugee singing about loss, fear and whether God exists inspired her to major in the humanities.

Juan Felipe Herrera: We Are the Humanities

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To celebrate its 40th year anniversary of grant making, programming, and partnerships that connect Californians to each other, California Humanities invited a group of 40 prominent Californians to explore what the humanities mean to them. For more information:…

Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice: We Are the Humanities

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To celebrate its 40th year anniversary of grant making, programming, and partnerships that connect Californians to each other, California Humanities invited a group of 40 prominent Californians to explore what the humanities mean to them. For more information:…

Betty Reid Soskin: We Are the Humanities

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To celebrate its 40th year anniversary of grant making, programming, and partnerships that connect Californians to each other, California Humanities invited a group of 40 prominent Californians to explore what the humanities mean to them. For more information:…

Larry Kramer: We Are the Humanities

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To celebrate its 40th year anniversary of grant making, programming, and partnerships that connect Californians to each other, California Humanities invited a group of 40 prominent Californians to explore what the humanities mean to them. For more information:…

George Takei: We Are the Humanities

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To celebrate its 40th year anniversary of grant making, programming, and partnerships that connect Californians to each other, California Humanities invited a group of 40 prominent Californians to explore what the humanities mean to them. For more information:…

Luis Rodriguez: We Are the Humanities

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To celebrate its 40th year anniversary of grant making, programming, and partnerships that connect Californians to each other, California Humanities invited a group of 40 prominent Californians to explore what the humanities mean to them. For more information:…

Janet Napolitano: We Are the Humanities

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To celebrate its 40th year anniversary of grant making, programming, and partnerships that connect Californians to each other, California Humanities invited a group of 40 prominent Californians to explore what the humanities mean to them. For more information:…

Malcolm Margolin: We Are the Humanities

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To celebrate its 40th year anniversary of grant making, programming, and partnerships that connect Californians to each other, California Humanities invited a group of 40 prominent Californians to explore what the humanities mean to them. For more information:…

Craig Watson: We Are the Humanities

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To celebrate its 40th year anniversary of grant making, programming, and partnerships that connect Californians to each other, California Humanities invited a group of 40 prominent Californians to explore what the humanities mean to them. For more information:…

John Cho: We Are the Humanities

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To celebrate its 40th year anniversary of grant making, programming, and partnerships that connect Californians to each other, California Humanities invited a group of 40 prominent Californians to explore what the humanities mean to them. For more information:…

Studying the Jacobins and Rethinking my Political Leanings

Paul-Émile Boutigny, "Henri de La Rochejacquelein at the Battle of Cholet in 1793"

by Tim Miller, Salisbury University

My humanities moment came in preparing to teach a course on the French Revolution. I am by training a Byzantinist and medievalist, but got my job as a world history teacher. To fill in the gap and also since I could read French, the acting department chair gave me the job of…

What Does it Mean to be Southern?

Julie Mullis

by Julie Mullis, Wilkes Community College

Community college teacher Julie Mullis describes how a classroom experience with students from diverse backgrounds and perspectives created a memorable and “multi-colored” sense of place and belonging.

Feeling the American Revolution

Steve Oreskovic

by Steve Oreskovic, Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District

History teacher Steve Oreskovic discusses how he gets his students to empathize with the feelings of injustice among colonists in the run up to the American Revolution, helping them gain a richer context for learning about history.

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