Fall Conference Welcome

Last Updated 9/7/2012 2:54:13 PM





Fall Conference 2011

The Power of the Humanities: Why They Matter

November 11– 12, 2011
Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa, Stowe, Vermont
The humanities “reveal how people have tried to make moral, spiritual, and intellectual sense of a world in which irrationality, despair, loneliness, and death are as conspicuous as birth, friendship, hope, and reason.” *

According to the Rockefeller Commission on the Humanities (1980), the humanities are how we come to terms with those poles of the human experience, and how we reconcile our better angels with our fears and failures. And yet increasingly the humanities are under attack, in part because of the difficulty in measuring their utility in economic terms.

At a time in which the value of the humanities is not broadly understood, and even called into question, we invite you to join us in exploring and experiencing the power of literature, history, an understanding of the arts, and the study of religion and the other humanities disciplines. In the process, we’ll seek a keener understanding of how and why the humanities matter — to both individuals and society.

  • On Friday afternoon, James Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, will speak on the role of art museums in preserving and transmitting culture.

  • Friday evening, at the Stowe Community Church, Richard Kogan, MD will offer a one-of-a-kind lecture-performance linking stories of Beethoven’s life with exquisitely performed excerpts from Beethoven’s work. (This concert is included as part of the conference fee. Tickets are available to the general public for $18. Purchase online through the registration form or by phone or fax.)
  • Saturday morning, Dr. John Stauffer, chair of the Program in the History of American Civilization at Harvard University, will draw on his research on the American Civil War and American racial history to illustrate the significance of the study of history.

  • Diana Eck, professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies at Harvard University, will give the final plenary, speaking about the significance and the challenges of understanding religious beliefs and practices across cultures.

Breakout sessions will offer a chance to explore further the scholarship of the three plenary speakers. Other breakouts include a discussion on The Power of Literature to Help and To Heal with VHC scholar Suzanne Brown; two discussions with Dr. Elizabeth Lynn — Civic Reflection through Reading and The Public Humanities in America: A Movement and its Meanings; Welfare Brat: Literature Changing Lives with memoirist Dr. Mary Childers; and a conversation about the significance of the humanities in one’s own life with VHC Executive Director Peter Gilbert.

* The Humanities in American Life, Report of the Commission of the Humanities

About Fall Conference — An In-Depth Exploration of a Humanities Topic

Each year, the Vermont Humanities Council explores a humanities topic through its fall conference over two days in November.

Past topics have ranged from Comedy and Satire to Food for Thought to Delight and Wisdom: The Life and Poetry of Robert Frost to the Northern Civil War Home Front.

Past Fall Conference Topics


2011 Fall Conference Key Speakers

Last Updated 9/7/2012 2:53:19 PM

Conference Details

Key Speakers


James Cuno
President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles
Diana Eck
Professor of Comparitive Religion and Indian Studies,  Harvard University
Richard Kogan
Psychiatrist and Acclaimed Concert Pianist



John Stauffer
Professor of the History of American Civilization,
Harvard University


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