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.

Browse Items (20 total)

by Alex Azzi, Student at TAMU
To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar
Some would say music is the most powerful of the arts. The album To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar is just that, powerful. The overall theme of the album revolves around the black experience in America. This album is an emotional, gut wrenching roller coaster. With George Clinton and Thundercat production, To Pimp A Butterfly has an authentic Afro-Funk sound to compliment the layered, complex subject matter in the lyrics. Kendrick speaks in depth about how having slave ancestors affects him in an honest, and vulnerable way without…

by Madison Forrest, 18, student
It couldn't happen to me
This past year my aunt, my mother's sister, passed away very young at age 45. Her passing devastated my family and I. The thought that kept entering my head was there's no way this could happen to me. Tragedies, catastrophes, and other huge losses have never affected me so directly. Then, in one of my English classes we began to read a book Beyond Katrina, which detailed the destruction of Hurricane Katrina on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Reading about these people who lost so many family members so suddenly and so young just broke my heart in…

by Kenneth, 20, student at Texas A&M university
Sands of time
As a society we are so often encouraged to go about our days in such a way that builds our own futures. This is great and all, but we need to think of the effects of always thinking of ourselves. This standard attitude of underhanded selfishness is so prevalent that seeing a person take the time to recognize the future of another individual or group of individuals and actually take action to improve the future of that or those individual(s) has been given a series of special names; charity, or donation, or social service, or community service.…

by Lauren, 21, Student
Emancipation Memorial, Lincoln Park, Washington, D.C.
While in my English class, we look at an image of the Lincoln Statue and it showed Lincoln's hand above the head of a former slave. This image is supposed to represent freedom, but to me, it represents the level at which people of color are limited to be.

by Jordan, 21, Student
Site in Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina
In one of my English classes, we are currently reading through Beyond Katrina by Natasha Trethewey. I was very young when the storm hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast and I live far enough away, in Texas, to where no one I knew was affected. After the events of Hurricane Harvey though, I saw so many of my friends go through hard times. So many of their houses were destroyed and all they could do was watch and wait for news from their families. Reading books like Beyond Katrina have helped me to understand the destruction a natural…

by Stephany Rankin, 22, Student at Texas A&M University
Acts 20:35
Today I went to Smoothie King after I left the gym, like I always do. As I neared the drive thru window, a little voice inside my head told me, "pay for the person's order behind you." Without hesitation, I handed the cashier my card and asked him to add the next person's order to my bill. With a strange look on his face, he agreed. He then returned with my receipt and my smoothie and I pulled away. When I got home I glanced at the receipt and realized that what I assumed would be an $8.00 act of random kindness, turned out to be $25.00. I…

by Katie Clark, 21, Student
Radio
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 family, we made our way back home. We decided to turn on some music to lighten the mood, when a Modest Mouse song came on the radio- "We All Float On." The two of us started bawling, but by the end of the song we felt we had healed, if only a little bit. We felt weightless.…

by Natalie Huebel, 22 years old and a student at Texas A&M University.
Engl 352 humanities moment.jpg
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 to this, I was unhealthily dwelling on all the new transitions that were to shortly come. Having to live on my own, find a new group of friends, and ultimately, adjust to the course load that university was going to demand of me were all weighing heavy on my mind.

by Melanie, 20, Psychology major
Care package
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 the following day. I felt like I was about to break into a million minuscule pieces, and I felt so emotionally drained that I was putting my loved ones on hold.
I was avoiding the text messages on my phone to avoid further distraction and more procrastination, but after a…

by Sydney, 21, student
IMG_7919.jpg
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 of the many times in my life when I was so hurt and so devastated over something that had occurred that sometimes I didn't feel like I would survive them. There were arguments with my mom, break ups, and bad grades, and they all took their toll. So when I casually came across…

by J. Porter Durham, Jr., General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer, Global Endowment Management, LP
William Jennings Bryan campaign poster, 1900
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, The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America, transfigured Durham’s understanding of his local and familial history. For the first time, he was “forced to think anew.”

by George, 21, student
08teslaroadster1.jpg
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 Roadster as a deadweight payload was a truly remarkable sight. The world was shown video footage of an already revolutionary electric car soaring above the atmosphere on a rocket developed by a wildly successful private space company.

However, this was very touching to…

by Jacob, Johnston 20 years old. College student at Texas A&M University
Lightbulb moment
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 purpose in this world. Each individual is born with a burning desire inside of them to fulfill this purpose and live their lives to the absolute fullest. This gives me hope that one day each individual will discover something that makes them feel alive each day and causes…

by Soravit Sophastienphong, 21, Undergraduate at Duke University
Chinese class
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 high school when a Taiwanese couple stopped me and asked for directions to a famous pond nearby. I could tell that they could not understand my instructions, so I tried my best to tell them the directions in Chinese, given my limited knowledge studying Chinese in school.…

by Liv McKinney, Duke '20, Biology Major
The Godfather (dir. Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
To get an ALP (Arts, Literature, & Philosophy) 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 fun of course). Anything I watch now causes me to think about the choices behind every aspect of production and allows me to explore a creative side that I never thought I would be interested in.

The works we read and watched all caused me…

by Yael Lazar, PhD Candidate in Religious Studies at Duke University and a curator for the Humanities Moments Project
Wabi Sabi.jpg
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 understanding the magic of these three-lines poems, we talked a lot about the traditional Japanese aesthetics on which they are based. And it was nothing like Hello Kitty.

Traditional Japanese aesthetics–which can be found in their well-known gardens, teahouses, and architecture…

by Daniel J. Palazzolo, 56, professor of political science at the University of Richmond
Virginia State Capitol
I had been to the Virginia State Capitol many times since I moved to Richmond in 1989. I’ve viewed proceedings in the House and Senate chambers, held meetings for students, given several lectures in the meeting rooms, and toured the building with family, friends, and students. Yet, until I took part in the Humanities in Class project with the National Humanities Center, I had not thought carefully about why the building was so important, both to me and to the people of Virginia. Just recently I visited the Capitol with a group of students…

by Larry Kramer, president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Religious symbols
Larry Kramer, president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, went to college expecting to become a doctor, but taking a course on religious ethics and moral issues shifted his direction. To him, the humanities allow us to be introspective and to understand our lives from a larger point of view, which leads to a more revealing and enriching human experience.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…

by William “Bro” Adams, Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities
Glenn Gray, "The Warriors: Reflections on Men in Battle"
NEH Chairman William “Bro” Adams shares how philosophy professor and World War II veteran Glenn Gray and his book The Warriors: Reflections on Men in Battle helped him come to terms with his own experiences in Vietnam. For centuries philosophers like Gray have sought ways to make sense of the world and better understand our place in it—from the order of the cosmos to the nature of beauty to the chaos and brutality of war. And, for just as many centuries they have inspired, intrigued, and challenged us to consider new ideas, and…

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor
When my hero, Sonia Sotomayor, arrived at Princeton in 1972, she was a quietly diligent student, but one whose working-class background, ethnicity, and gender set her apart from most of her classmates. Princeton had only recently begun admitting women and there were very few Latinos (only 20) of either gender among its elite ranks.

During the spring of that first year, she took a class on Contemporary Latin America with historian Peter Winn, who — on grading her first paper — pointed out the idiomatic and grammatical errors she had made…
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