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 (7 total)

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.

I feel robbed that I did not get the opportunity to ask my Great Uncle Burl what it was like to train in North Africa or share stories of being at the Duomo in Florence. I was a young teen when he passed, and he did not share the horrors he saw as part of the 316th Medical Battalion in the liberation of Italy. Then as an adult, I received the precious gift of his scrapbooks, which have given me a little insight. One particular annotation on the back of a photo caught my eye. Among images of young men in uniform going from the desert to…

Rosie the Riveter
In this moment, a high school math teacher discusses the documentary Top Secret Rosies: The Female “Computers” of WWII. Beyond the awe for these women who took part in American military operations as human computers during World War II, this contributor is inspired by a statement made by one of the women in the movie, crediting her high school math teacher for her interest and advanced skills in mathematics. As a high school math teacher herself, this contributor understands the impact she can have on the life of her students,…

by George Takei, actor, author, director, activist
Japanese internment detainees
Actor, author, director, and activist George Takei recalls his family’s resilience and ability to find joy, beauty, and love in simple treasures while imprisoned in Japanese internment camps in the 1940s. He notes that the humanities remind us that we are better than war and destruction and together are capable of bettering society.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 Californians to explore what the…

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…

by Robert D. Newman, President and Director, National Humanities Center
In this excerpt of a talk given at the National Humanities Center, Robert D. Newman discusses an exemplary humanities moment, when Kurt Vonnegut responded to the banning and burning of Vonnegut’s book Slaughterhouse-Five by school officials in Drake, North Dakota in 1973.Newman notes that this series of historical events involving the kinds of literature we read and teach “reveals the enduring truths in a democratic culture.”Below is a transcript of Robert D. Newman's Humanities Moment: December 8th in 1973 when school…

by Ina Dixon, History United
Battle of the Bulge
Ina Dixon explains how a letter from her grandfather to her grandmother, written just before the Battle of the Bulge in WWII, reconnects her to her grandfather and the hardships he suffered at the time.Below is a transcription of Ina Dixon's Humanities Moment: Andy Mink: My name is Andy Mink. I'm the Vice President of Education at the National Humanities Center. I'm with Ina Dixon, who is the Program Coordinator at History United, which is part of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and located in Danville,…
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