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.

The humanities are everywhere. But they are so interwoven into our daily lives that we often miss them.

Sometimes, though, they surprise you.

A book you can’t put down. A photograph that haunts you. A song you can’t get out of your head.

The Humanities Moments Project was created to collect stories about how the humanities touch us, inspire us, and enrich our lives.

Recently Added Moments

“You don’t just run, you run to some place wonderful.”

Egyptian cat statuette at Metropolitan Museum of Art

by Deborah Ross, lawyer & politician

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler turned Deborah Ross’s world upside down. Kongisberg’s book, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary, chronicles the adventures of Claudia and her brother, who run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The…

The Second Shelf and Beyond

Harriet Beecher Stowe, c. 1852

by Kathryn Hill, President, The Levine Museum of the New South

In elementary school, Kathryn Hill itched to move beyond the first shelf of the library books. When she finally reached the second shelf, a new world awaited her: biographies of historical figures. The lives of women such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Tubman, and…

We All Float On

Radio

by Katie Clark, 21, Student

When I was a senior in high school, one of my friend's passed away from a tragic accident. My friend and I decided to attend the funeral together for comfort and support. I picked her up early that morning to shed our tears over him, and after spending some time with the…

Darkest Before the Dawn

Engl 352 humanities moment.jpg

by Natalie Huebel, 22 years old and a student at Texas A&M University.

Due to the oil and gas industry plummeting in 2016, my dad lost his job that he had for over 30 years, right before I was about to leave for college. I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of guilt and anxiety for the duration of that summer. In addition…

The Best Motivational Token

Care package

by Melanie, 20, Psychology major

It was a late night on September 14th, and school was at an overwhelming high. My new organization had just kicked off so all of my time was completely taken over by it, I was behind on my chemistry homework and I hadn't even began studying for my psychology test that was…

Here I Am

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by Sydney, 21, student

This might be a total Millennial generation kind of humanities moment, so readers be warned. One day, I was scrolling through social media when I came across a post from a wonderful calligraphy artist. It read, "and here you are living despite it all." The post reminded me…

Southern History, Turned Upside Down

William Jennings Bryan campaign poster, 1900

by J. Porter Durham, Jr., General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer, Global Endowment Management, LP

J. Porter Durham, Jr. grew up in the segregated South during a time when public Ku Klux Klan sightings were not uncommon. In this video, Durham describes how a history class at Duke University taught by Lawrence Goodwyn upended his worldview. Professor Goodwyn’s book,…

Not Too Far Off

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

by Brian Finke, 21, Student at Texas A&M

While I was a teenager about to go off to college, I watched Death of a Salesman at the theater. At the time I was struggling with the transition I was about to embark on, but I found a deep connection to Biff's character. I felt like I was always running a never…

Optimism in the Form of Self-Control

Harbinger of spring

Personally I’ve never been one to adopt a positive outlook when things go wrong. In my life, things tend to go wrong more than they go right. This time last year I was struggling. I was caught in some toxic friendships, a toxic situation with a guy, my best friend wasn’t…

The world we live in isn't as big as you may think

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by George, 21, student

On Tuesday February 6th of 2018, I watched SpaceX launch Falcon Heavy and successfully land two of its boosters. This launch was inspiring to many people because it was the first rocket launched capable of reaching Mars. The fact that Musk choose to launch his personal Tesla…

How to Get U.S. Citizenship and the American Dream

How to Get U.S. Citizenship (2nd edition)

by Teresa Kim, History teacher in Vista, California

When I was 8 years old, I found hidden in a drawer a little, brown book. It was a well-worn copy of, "How to Get U.S. Citizenship," which my mother had used to prepare for her U.S. citizenship exam. When I asked her about it, she explained that it was one of the items…

Response to a response

Lightbulb moment

by Jacob, Johnston 20 years old. College student at Texas A&M University

I was in my English class and we were talking about humanities moments for extra credit. We talked about a woman who disagreed with the "mimetic" effect and she claimed that people have a desire to be different. I agree with this idea but I also believe that each human has a…

Haute Couture: Fashion Fair and the Empowerment of the Black Community

Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair

by Olympia Friday, Social Media & Strategic Marketing Coordinator, National Humanities Center

I recall flipping through Ebony magazine as a child in the 80s and often seeing pictures of Fashion Fair models. It didn’t dawn on me then how the power of fashion was being used to inspire an entire community. After seeing “Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony…

Where Dreams Were Made and Humanistic Visions Forged

African American voter registration, 1960s

by Stephen G. Hall, Alcorn State University

Throughout their son’s childhood, Stephen Hall’s parents, both children of sharecroppers, crafted a “deeply humanistic perch” from which he could “view the world.” Though possessing none of the benefits of class or race privilege, they harnessed the power of the…

Finding Freedom from the Familiar

Gilgamesh

by Hollis Robbins, Johns Hopkins University

In 1979, at age 16, Hollis Robbins found herself enrolled at John Hopkins University. Though she was there as part of a program for girls who excelled in math, she signed up for a humanities lecture class. In that day’s class, drawing upon the epic of Gilgamesh, a guest…

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