60 episodes

Discovery & Inspiration asks “What can we learn by talking to scholars about their research? What makes them so passionate about the subjects they study? What is it like to make a new discovery? To answer a confounding question?”

For over 40 years the National Humanities Center has been a home away from home for scholars from around the world—historians and philosophers, scholars of literature and music and art and dozens of other fields.

Join us as we sit down with scholars to discuss their work—to better understand the questions that intrigue and perplex them, the passion that drives them, and how their scholarship may change the ways we think about the world around us.

Discovery & Inspiration National Humanities Center

    • Society & Culture

Discovery & Inspiration asks “What can we learn by talking to scholars about their research? What makes them so passionate about the subjects they study? What is it like to make a new discovery? To answer a confounding question?”

For over 40 years the National Humanities Center has been a home away from home for scholars from around the world—historians and philosophers, scholars of literature and music and art and dozens of other fields.

Join us as we sit down with scholars to discuss their work—to better understand the questions that intrigue and perplex them, the passion that drives them, and how their scholarship may change the ways we think about the world around us.

    Katherine Mellen Charron, “Women, Rural Communities, and the Struggle for Black Freedom”

    Katherine Mellen Charron, “Women, Rural Communities, and the Struggle for Black Freedom”

    When mapping the struggle for Black freedom and racial justice, historians have often emphasized the events and organizational efforts that occurred in urban areas, largely led by men. However, in order to take Black Power politics seriously in a more comprehensive fashion, we need to understand how they also emerged from and developed in rural American communities, where the voices and leadership of women were extremely influential.

    In this podcast episode, Katherine Mellen Charron, associate professor of history at North Carolina State University, discusses her research into the legacies of local, community-based, rural Black women’s activism in North Carolina. By thinking about how Black Power politics, economics, and culture were affirmed and shaped by women outside of urban centers, we are better able to honor less historically visible forms of political engagement and innovation.

    https://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/katherine-charron-activism-beyond-city-women-rural-communities-struggle-for-black-freedom/

    • 15 min
    Jennifer D. Williams, “Black Women Writers and the Legacy of Segregated Urban Spaces”

    Jennifer D. Williams, “Black Women Writers and the Legacy of Segregated Urban Spaces”

    Between the 1930s and the 1970s, racialized legislation and subsequent migrations of Black Americans combined to drive explosive population growth in urban centers, which in turn gave rise to the creation of segregated districts and public housing projects. The experience of life in these spaces, which required residents to navigate precarious conditions where distinctions between public and private collapsed, was chronicled by Black women writers of the era.

    In this podcast, Jennifer D. Williams, assistant professor of English at Howard University, discusses her research into urban spaces, racial politics, and Black womanhood in the twentieth century. By turning to intimate forms of literary expression like poetry and short stories written by politically engaged women writers, Williams suggests, we can come to terms with how the literature of this period engages in social justice work that remains relevant today.

    https://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/jennifer-williams-black-women-writers-legacy-segregated-urban-spaces/

    • 18 min
    Dennis Trout, “Embedded Epigrams: Poetic Inscriptions of Ancient Rome”

    Dennis Trout, “Embedded Epigrams: Poetic Inscriptions of Ancient Rome”

    After the ancient Roman Empire embraced Christianity under Emperor Constantine in the fourth century A.D., the empire’s culture and politics were significantly transformed. Records of poetic inscriptions found throughout Rome can help us to understand how these public displays both recalled an earlier model of poetic discourse and established new forms of spiritual authority and civic instruction.

    In this podcast, Dennis Trout, professor of ancient Mediterranean studies at the University of Missouri, shares insights from his interdisciplinary study of such inscriptions. By considering the way that these epigrams were embedded in the architecture of a city and displayed to an empire in transition, he suggests they go beyond considerations of religion, literature, and culture to illuminate the ways that visual and textual cues were used to send messages to a diverse audience in the ancient world.

    https://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/dennis-trout-poetic-inscriptions-ancient-rome/

    • 15 min
    Angela Stuesse, “Making the Story of American Immigration Come Alive”

    Angela Stuesse, “Making the Story of American Immigration Come Alive”

    For the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States, the changing nature of American immigration law and policy is not merely an abstract concern. The rise in anti-immigrant sentiment has transformed the lives of young people, who must contend with the uncertainty of their own legal status even as they fear for the safety of their families.

    In this podcast episode, Angela Stuesse, associate professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, discusses her latest collaborative project, which seeks to understand the reality of contemporary immigration in the United States through a personal lens. Animating discourses of ethnography, testimony, and social analysis, Stuesse uses one Mississippi family’s story to illuminate the space between the statistics on American immigration.

    https://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/angela-stuesse-story-american-immigration/

    • 14 min
    Marsha Gordon, “Narrating Modern Women’s Experiences: The Complex Legacy of Ursula Parrott”

    Marsha Gordon, “Narrating Modern Women’s Experiences: The Complex Legacy of Ursula Parrott”

    In the 1930s, the writer Ursula Parrott used her novels, short stories, and screenwriting ventures to portray independent women during a period of immense social change in America. Despite this, like many women writers, Parrott’s legacy has been all but erased from the popular imagination.

    In this podcast, Marsha Gordon, professor of film studies at North Carolina State University, delves into the way that Parrott’s independence and professional success existed in a complex relationship to her rather conservative views on gender. Understanding Parrott as a woman out of sync with her own time allows us to understand how she was influenced by the limitations of her society even while she envisioned a more progressive future.

    https://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/marsha-gordon-complex-legacy-ursula-parrott/

    • 20 min
    Simon Middleton, “Changing Forms of Value: The Shift to Paper Money in Eighteenth-Century America”

    Simon Middleton, “Changing Forms of Value: The Shift to Paper Money in Eighteenth-Century America”

    We tend to think of money as a familiar object that plays a role in our everyday lives. However, when we consider the changing nature of currency in colonial America, money appears differently—as a “social technology for the distribution of value.” Because money allows individuals to represent and share value in direct and visible ways, the transition to the use of paper money in the United States in the eighteenth century supplemented social connections derived from transactions and bolstered economic consumption.

    In this podcast, historian Simon Middleton from the College of William and Mary discusses how his work participates in interdisciplinary discourses to examine the cultural, legal, and social dimensions of money. His reflections reach into the present moment by considering how the COVID-19 pandemic and previous recessions make us confront the ways that such financial crises are not necessarily a result of a lack of money, but the result of an uneven division and distribution of global value.

    https://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/simon-middleton-changing-forms-of-value-paper-money-18th-century-america/

    • 18 min

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