First Wednesdays Lecture SeriesFree talks on the first Wednesday of the month, October through May.View Upcoming TalksRecorded First Wednesdays Talks 2020-2021Filter CategoriesAll VideosMay 2021April 2021March 2021February 2021January 2021December 2020November 2020October 2020 see videoAncient Eyes – Ageless SkiesSince the dawn of human civilization, people have gazed into the heavens, trying to find meaning and connection to their lives. Monuments like Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid attest to the significance of the stars, which still offer important lessons for us today. see videoCannabis: Medical Uses and Public SafetyUVM Pharmacology professor Dr. Karen Lounsbury reviews the history of cannabis and the medicinal products derived from it, as well as the benefits, risks, and the therapeutic potential of medical cannabis. see videoCharity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Couple in Early VermontDrawing from the Sheldon Museum collections, archivist Eva Garcelon-Hart presents the story of two extraordinary women, Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake, who were accepted in early 19th-century rural Vermont as a married couple. see videoCharlotte Brontë Before Jane Eyre: The Making of a Graphic BiographyCartoonist Glynnis Fawkes explains the research and design processes she followed to create her graphic biography, “Charlotte Brontë Before Jane Eyre.” Focusing on two segments of the biography, she illuminates moments in Brontë’s life that were key to her literary success. see videoChasing the Happily NeverafterWhen things get rough — a global pandemic, the threat of nuclear war and global climate collapse — we turn to Disney and the Hallmark channel. Middlebury professor Laurie Essig reviews the ideology that sells us hope for a better future if we only find “the one.” see videoConspiracy Talk and American Democracy TodayConspiracy theory, once on the fringes of American democracy, is now at its the center. Russell Muirhead examines the nature of current conspiracy talk, and what it is doing to our democracy. see videoCulture Wars with Dona Ann McAdams and John KillackyPhotographer Dona Ann McAdams and curator John Killacky discuss the culture wars of the early 1990s and McAdams’ exhibition at the Helen Day Art Center, “Dona Ann McAdams: Performative Acts.” see videoDomestic Soldiers: British Housewives and the Second World WarHow did British housewives experience the Second World War and contribute to the war effort? Saint Michael’s history professor Dr. Jennifer Purcell tells the stories of seven housewives from across Britain. see videoExpress Your Mind – Without Losing ItCuriosity, empathy, and other tools can transform even passionate disagreements into chances to authentically share opinions. Journalist and cultural critic Molly Zapp offers practical techniques to avoid straining relationships while expressing yourself. see videoFrom Politics to PoetryAs the first woman governor for the State of Vermont, the ambassador to Switzerland for President Clinton, and the holder of other prestigious positions, Madeleine Kunin has inspired women and girls to discover their own voices as leaders. Governor Kunin speaks about her life in politics and read to us from her newest book of poetry, "Red Kite, Blue Sky." see videoHow Yiddish Changed America and How America Changed YiddishYiddish is imprinted in American English in terms like chutzpah, kosher, bagel, and schmooze. And the work of Sholem Aleichem, Anzia Yezierska, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Grace Paley, and Irving Howe shows the deep impact of Jewish immigration on the United States. Amherst College professor Ilan Stavans surveys the journey. see videoLibraries in the Time of CovidIn the wake of the pandemic, libraries have had to both evaluate and rapidly respond to the changing world. Librarian Jessamyn West helps us to understand the role of the library in these unusual times. see videoLife on the Other Border: Farmworkers and Food Justice in VermontThose who put food on our tables disproportionately experience food insecurity in their own homes. UVM professor Teresa Mares illuminates the many ways Latinx farm workers in Vermont sustain themselves and their families while also serving as the backbone of the state’s agricultural economy. see videoMaking Rumble Strip in My ClosetPodcaster Erica Heilman discusses her interview process and shares stories from her "Rumble Strip" podcast, which she describes as “extraordinary conversations with ordinary people. Or that’s the goal.” see videoMerely Bystanders: The Psychology of Courage and InactionAmherst College psychology professor Catherine Sanderson examines the factors that lead most of us to stay silent in the face of bad behavior, and how this tendency to stay silent allows such acts to continue. see videoNight Moves: Discovering the Wonders of Bird MigrationMany of us are dazzled by autumn colors during the daytime. But we can be just as dazzled by the night moves of thousands of birds passing quietly overhead during their fall migration. Join “bird diva” Bridget Butler to discover this almost-silent world. see videoPoetry During Covid-19Inspired by the Mary Oliver poem, “Wild Geese,” Saint Michael’s College professor Adrie Kusserow wrote “Mary Oliver for Corona Times,” stating, You do not have to use this isolation to make your marriage better/your body slimmer, your children more creative. She discusses Oliver’s poem and explores ways in which the pandemic has sparked creative work. see videoReligious Literacy is Social JusticeUVM professor Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst describes religious literacy—knowing what religion is, how religions work, and who religious people might be—as a social justice issue. Morgenstein Fuerst explores who is allowed to be religiously illiterate, who has to be religiously literate, and how to learn more about religion. see videoSay Their Names, A Personal Story of Artistic ActivismIn response to the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery, Dr. Matthew Evan Taylor from Middlebury College created a musical composition. This video features selections from that recording as Dr. Taylor discusses his journey towards using music as an avenue for advocacy and activism. see videoTelevision Cop Shows, Police Violence, and Black Lives MatterHow do television cop shows shape our understanding of police, race, and crime in America? Focusing on the television series "The Wire," Middlebury professor Jason Mittell challenges our understanding of this television genre in the era of the Black Lives Matter movement. see videoTelling Disability Stories: Histories, Representations, and Imaginations(Transcript and slides only.) The meaning of “disability” shifts across time, places, and cultures. In spotlighting stories centered on disabled people, Middlebury professor Susan Burch draws on history, popular media representations, and inclusive design practices to reimagine our past, present, and possible future. see videoThe Complicated Histories of MonumentsAs monuments come down across the US, some decry that history is being erased. But what (and whose) history do monuments contain? Using several American and European monuments as examples, UVM Art History professor Kelley Di Dio explores why, when, and by whom these monuments were made, and considers what should be done with them. see videoThe Legacy of Nicholas Black ElkHistorian Damian Costello explores the life of the man behind the famous book Black Elk Speaks. Nicholas Black Elk’s Lakota philosophy can help us see the natural world as a unified whole, and his continued hope amidst great tragedy can inform how we approach contemporary crises. see videoThe Postmodern Turn in ArchitectureThe designs and skylines of our cities are constantly changing, molded by economic forces and by our ideas of who we are as humans. Champlain College professor David Mills explores how opposing theories of human nature have shaped and reshaped cities in the last century, from modern to postmodern and beyond. see videoVincent Van Gogh and His Language of CompassionDespite his reputation for madness, Vincent Van Gogh was a compassionate and faith-filled man. Art historian Carol Berry explains how Van Gogh depicted the sacredness of life in ways that touched and comforted people around the world. see videoWe Are Still HereFather and son storytellers and musicians Joseph and Jesse Bruchac of the Nulhegan Abenaki Nation use drum, flute, rattle, and vocals to address the continued presence and vibrant cultural heritage of the Wabanaki Nations of Ndakinna. see videoWhy Not in Vermont? The Long Campaign for Women’s SuffrageWhy did Vermont lawmakers resist women voting in the 19th and 20th centuries? Through the stories of three Vermont suffragists, Marilyn Blackwell outlines the shifting debate over women’s full citizenship in from the 1850s until 1920. see videoWinslow Homer and the Poetics of PlaceThe painter Winslow Homer (1836-1910) occupies an unusual and pivotal place in the history of American art. Thomas Denenberg, director of the Shelburne Museum, sketches Homer’s long and productive career, focusing on how he bridged the sentimental culture of the nineteenth century with the visual culture of the modern era. View talks from our 2019-2020 First Wednesdays seasonView talks from our 2018-2019 First Wednesdays season.View talks from our 2017-2018 First Wednesdays season.View talks from our 2016-2017 First Wednesdays season.Return to the First Wednesdays home page.