Americans love (and hate) romance. And when 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.”
Recent First Wednesdays Videos
A Life in Art and Activism
Vermont HumanitiesNovember 17, 2021
Artist, legislator, and former director of the Flynn Center in Burlington, John R. Killacky draws on commentaries from his book Because Art to relate his experiences as dancer in New York in the late 1970s and ’80s, the maelstrom of the culture Wars of the 1990s, and his work advocating for artists with disabilities.
In the United States, all power is derived from the people. While this sounds noble in theory, can we expect the American public to have the wits and self-control to meet the demands of climate change? Constitutional scholar Meg Mott explores the paradox of self-governance when the natural foundations of life itself are changing.
Disability and the Poetry of Natural and Supernatural Worlds
Vermont HumanitiesJune 6, 2022
Three poets—Eli Clare, Judy Chalmer, and Toby MacNutt—reflect on the ways disabled poets write about natural and supernatural spaces. In this wide-ranging discussion, they consider how poetry invites us into an embodied experience, and how supernatural poetry can expand or question traditional understandings of the “natural.”
From Little Jerusalem to the Lost Mural: Preserving Jewish and Immigrant Heritage
Vermont HumanitiesMarch 25, 2022
In 1885, a group of Lithuanian immigrants settled in Burlington’s Old North End, where they transplanted their religious traditions and culture. Archivists Aaron Goldberg and Jeff Potash describe the “Lost Mural,” a rare survivor of the lost genre of European painted synagogues, and tell the story of conserving the mural in Burlington.
History in Hot Water: Climate Change and the Shipwrecks of Lake Champlain
Vermont HumanitiesNovember 4, 2021
Lake Champlain is home to hundreds of well-preserved shipwrecks that help tell the story of our region. But climate change is altering the lake’s underwater cultural heritage. Susan Evans McClure and Christopher Sabick from the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum consider the impact of historical objects changing before our eyes.
Andrew Aydin, co-author of The March Trilogy with civil rights icon John Lewis, describes the creation of the next book in the series, RUN! Aydin also relates becoming an author, how he became involved in politics, and his experiences working with Congressman Lewis.
Artist and legislator John R. Killacky shares his journey of overcoming paralysis from spinal surgery complications 25 years ago. He also reflects on how reentering the world in a disabled body radically changed his perspective in his artistic practice as well as in his advocacy for artists with disabilities.
In this fascinating talk, the author of our Vermont Reads 2021 choice, “We Contain Multitudes,” examines the writing and reading of letters as a literary device and also as a forum for self-expression and self-creation.
Scholar Barry Deitz looks at the life and times of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes. He discusses the inspiration for Holmes and examines what other writers, actors, and directors have done with the character over the past 30 years.
Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a feminist superhero who could still do a plank at 87 and who survived pancreatic cancer long beyond expectations. Dartmouth history professor Annelise Orleck examines the life of the brilliant jurist who remained fiercely progressive, unapologetically liberal, and committed to equality to the end, and who loved her status as a pop culture idol.
Puerto Rican climate justice leader Elizabeth Yeampierre has helped pass climate legislation at all levels, including New York’s progressive Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. In this talk she describes how intergenerational BIPOC activists are changing the landscape of national climate priorities by speaking up for themselves and their neighborhoods.
Thinking Race, Religion, and Gender: Muslim Women and Islamophobia
Vermont HumanitiesJanuary 12, 2022
UVM professor Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst examines how race, religion, and gender affect the lives of Black Muslim women in the US. Exploring this diverse community helps illuminate how intersectionality functions, but also how one’s identity shapes religious practice and the experience of discrimination.