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

It's the Little Things

Chinese Class.jpg

by Soravit Sophastienphong, 21, Undergraduate at Duke University

There is a distinct moment I remember from my high school days that while seemingly insignificant is the reason I have always valued the humanities and humanities courses throughout my college experience. I was walking to a restaurant to meet a friend for lunch nearby my…

Such a Short Time to Stay Here

The Stanley Brothers.jpg

by Jennifer Snoddy, 42, high school history teacher, TAC member

I am not a churchgoer or a believer, and thus, I have always been left with questions about the deeper meaning of life that could not be easily answered through traditional authorities. Instead, I have had to search for ways to make meaning myself. The importance of this…

A House

Lake Nicaragua

by Alejandro, 19, student

Every single year, from first grade all the way up to senior year, we heard about one man: Ruben Darío. Growing up in Nicaragua, where this internationally renowned poet/writer is from, one would expect that. We covered his biography life’s works multiple times in our…

A Requirement I Started to Love

Movie.png

by Liv McKinney, Duke '20, Biology Major

To get an ALP credit I took an English class about books and short stories that were turned into movies. What I thought would be a fun, lighthearted class, led to an immense appreciation of the details that authors and directors choose to include in their work (while being…

My Front Porch Looking In

Lonestar.jpg

by Zachary Fine, 19, Student

I was around seven years old. My dad and I were in the car when the song came on. "My Front Porch Looking In" by the band Lonestar was my favorite song and I knew every word. I loved singing the song at the top of my lungs every time it came on. Today though, I stayed quiet.…

Wabi-Sabi: The Perfectly Imperfect

Wabi Sabi.jpg

by Yael Lazar, PhD Candidate in Religious Studies at Duke University and a curator for the Humanities Moments Project

As part of my undergraduate degree in Asian studies, I took a class on Haiku, a traditional form of Japanese poetry. At the time, I knew nothing about Japan beyond its youth’s obsession with Hello Kitty and similar colorful animated characters. In analyzing and…

Baseball, Jackie Robinson, and Racial Identity Formation

download-1.jpg

by Jamie Lathan, 39, teacher and school administrator, husband, father, son, brother, friend.

As I grew up in rural South Carolina in the 1980s, baseball was my favorite hobby and pastime. For most of my 7 year Dixie league/recreational league baseball career (ages 5 to 12), my dad was my coach. I don’t remember watching baseball on television because we only had…

Getting Carried Away by a Book

Magician-Feist.JPG

by Kevin Spencer, 37, PhD student in English at Duke University

When I was young, maybe around 13 years old, I read a fantasy novel by Raymond Feist called Magician. I enjoyed reading since I was young, but I lived in a house where the TV was always on and I was easily distracted. On this occasion, I was reading on my bed in my…

Well-Behaved Women

Well Behaved Women 1.jpg

by Jacqueline Stallworth, 46 years old, High School English teacher in northern Virginia

My moment focuses on the fact that African American women have been using their words as Political Resistance.

Goats for Uzbekistan

Chris Kimball's Mason.JPG

by Pam Su'a, Social Studies/World Languages Administrator, Jordan School District

Working with a sixth grade class in Utah to help them figure out "solutions to current issues" as required by our state social studies standards, our class wanted to do more than collect cans or pick up trash. The 11-year olds thought they could really figure out how to…

Eyes on the Mockingbird

To Kill a Mocking Bird.jpg

by Sarah Arnold, 38, English Teacher

I grew up in a very small town in rural Wisconsin. When I looked at my classmates it was like looking in a mirror. Because of that, I never realized that there were many people who were facing hardships because of their minority status and people who were taking advantage of…

The World from My View

The Bosporus Strait

by Megan Webster, Educator

I have traveled many places and have tried to capture what I found unique, beautiful and different. But, this place, along the Bosporus Strait which merges the European region of Istanbul, Turkey, with the Asian region of Istanbul, Turkey, to be one of my favorites. At…

My Mom, My Best Friend

mom.png

by Victoria Ade, 29, Social Studies Teacher

When I was two years old, my parents filed for divorce. At the age of two, I don't recall this time of my life but what I do remember is where it led me. As I grew up as an only child living in a home run by my single mother, she became my ultimate role model and was…

The Role of the Individual versus an Intellectual Aristocracy

Hesse

by Stephen Miller, 48, Philosophy Teacher

Choosing a Humanities Moment was initially a challenging task. Over the last few years working with the organization PLATO (Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization), I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the humanities, liberal arts and a philosophical education.…

9/11 Shaped My Career

9-11.jpeg

by Carly Hill, 34, teacher

I was a brand new college freshman getting ready to attend my Political Science class that started at 8:45am on September 11, 2001. I heard the news on the radio when I first woke up and I thought it wasn't real. I turned on the TV and still couldn't believe it was real. I…

Search