Humanities Moments
Gladys Knight

In the Presence of True Magic

Patrick Sansone, musician

Sansone remembers a childhood opportunity to watch from the wings of his hometown theater as Gladys Knight performed. As he describes it, seeing her transform into a dazzling presence on stage, captivating the audience with her music, her persona, and her appearance, was the first time Sansone felt consciously struck by the effect that great art can…
grocery store shelves

From a Cultural Perspective

Margherita Berti, PhD Student

In this audio recording, graduate student Margherita Berti describes how an ordinary encounter while studying abroad gave her a new outlook on cultural differences, practices, and perspectives.
“Dragonsong” by Anne McCaffrey

The Empowering Legacy of Science Fiction

Michelle Davidson, educator and owner of The Lyceum Steps, an education evaluation company

Davidson traces an arc through her life story which began when a fifth-grade teacher gave her a copy of the novel Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey. This gesture, combined with the bold and self-affirming nature of a novel featuring a determined young female protagonist, gave Davidson the strength and conviction to surpass her own expectations of herself.
Archives

First Archival Visit

Mary Wise, PhD Candidate in History at the University of Iowa

I hope I am not the only person who struggled to narrow their moment to a single episode. I am grateful for the prompt, though; in a summer full of dissertation writing and classroom prep, this prompt provided me an opportunity to appreciate how many times daily I interact with a humanities scholar or a piece of art, music, or literature. Certainly a…
Captain John Borling, 1973

P.O.W. Poetry in Code

W. Robert Connor, trustee emeritus, President and Director, of the National Humanities Center (1989-2002)

In the Hanoi Hilton, the place where the North Vietnamese imprisoned and often tortured American captives during the Vietnam War, the US prisoners used a tapping code to communicate with one another. But they didn’t just send conversational messages, they tapped out poetry, reciting from memory some of the favorites they remembered from school and…

About Humanities Moments

The humanities are everywhere — so deeply woven into our daily lives that we often miss them. Sometimes, though, the humanities can surprise you. A book you can’t put down. A photograph that haunts you. A song you can’t get out of your head. And from that moment on, you find yourself changed. The Humanities Moments Project was created to collect personal stories about encounters with the humanities. The stories on this site are presented as submitted, capturing the experiences of those who've shared them in their own words — reflecting their individual views, interpretations, and conclusions. Together, they highlight the diverse and powerful ways the humanities are able to teach, inspire, and enrich our lives.

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.

Read More About the Project

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