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 (3 total)

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 Robert D. Newman, President and Director, National Humanities Center
"When Breath Becomes Air," by Paul Kalanithi
Just as he was completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. When Breath Becomes Air, the memoir Kalanithi wrote in the midst of his illness, traces his journey from brilliant medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” to his life as a patient and new father faced with his own mortality. As his body declines, his spirit expands. “Science may provide the most useful…

by Robert D. Newman, President and Director, National Humanities Center
from "The New York Times Magazine," June 25, 2013
In this video clip, Robert D. Newman shares how his friend Brooke Hopkins found meaning for his life after a tragic accident through his love of literature and teaching. This moving account speaks to how literature and the humanities classroom provide tools for coping with the most pressing of human questions — life and death — and allow us to find meaning and purpose when so many of life's pleasures have been stripped away.
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