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.

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by Jon Parrish Peede, Acting Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities
Dresden after firebombing, 1945
Fresh out of graduate school, Jon Parrish Peede embraced the chance to travel, arriving in Eastern Europe during the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. A last-minute decision to see the opera Don Giovanni in Vienna—and a startling conversation with a local ticket-taker—opened his eyes to the double-edged legacy of American military intervention. During that same trip, a somber pilgrimage to the former German Nazi Auschwitz extermination camp and museum in Poland offered yet another perspective on World War II.

by Molly A. Warsh, Assistant Professor of World History, University of Pittsburgh
Family tree
My Humanities Moment happened when my husband and I received the results of the genetic testing kits we’d ordered. The stories that my husband’s DNA told matched up pretty closely with his family’s history, but mine delivered some surprises. In addition to indicating a lot of northwestern European and Central European ancestors, which I expected, my report pointed to Scandinavian, West African, and North African ancestors! This all came as news to my whole family. We wondered: how did these encounters happen? What were the circumstances…
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