Vermont Humanities

John Lewis and RUN!

Painting of empty cafe tables in a French street, by van Gogh
First Wednesdays

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.

Recent First Wednesdays Videos

Aerial view of Montpelier, Vermont

From Red State to Blue State: Vermont’s Political Transformation

For 100 years—from the 1850s to the 1950s—Vermont was the most Republican state in the nation. But today it is the most Democratic. Journalist Chris Graff considers some factors behind the switch from “red to blue,” including interstate highways, the arrival of IBM in Vermont, and the reapportionment of the Vermont House.

An Arizona street with tents lined along each side

What is Trauma Informed Journalism?

Trauma-informed journalist and essayist Lori Yearwood explores what it means to be a trauma-informed journalist when reporting on difficult topics. Having experienced homelessness herself, she suggests key ideas to keep in mind as journalists engage with populations who face dire situations and systemic poverty.

The Making of the Graphic Novel: 1177 BC The Year Civilization Collapsed

In this First Wednesdays event at the Brownell Library on November 2, 2022, author/illustrator Glynnis Fawkes reads from and discusses her latest work-in-progress and describes how the storytelling elements of comics—panel design, pacing, research, and narrative—are employed in creating non-fiction graphic novels. She also reviews the comic she contributed to the Vermont Reads 2022 book, The Most Costly Journey (El Viaje Más Caro).

A drone sits in a hangar looking out on a desert and mountain as a man in a jumpsuit walks towards it.

Dirty Work with Author Eyal Press

In his award-winning Dirty Work: Essential Jobs and the Hidden Toll of Inequality in America, journalist Eyal Press examines the morally troubling jobs that society tacitly condones, and the hidden class of workers who do them. Press, a contributor to The New Yorker and The New York Times, discusses his reporting for the book, which won the 2022 Hillman Prize for book journalism and appeared on numerous “best books of 2021” lists.

A postcard illustration of the Rudyard Kipling Estate in Brattleboro, VT at sunset

Five Hard Questions about Kipling in Vermont

On his farm overlooking Brattleboro, Rudyard Kipling wrote the Jungle Book and many of his Just So Stories, and began to draft his great novel, Kim. Christopher Benfey, author If: The Untold Story of Kipling’s American Years, answers hard questions about Kipling’s time in this country, including whether he should be considered partly an American writer.

Reflections on Writing and Illustration

Vermonter Jason Chin has written and illustrated many acclaimed children’s books, including Grand Canyon, Redwoods, and Your Place in the Universe. He received the 2022 Caldecott Medal for illustrating Watercress by Andrea Wang. In this presentation at The Brownell Libary on October 5, 2022, he describes his passion for nature, science, and art,  and discusses the impact of his work with young people.

Maple Sugaring Tools hang on the wall of a sugar shack in New Hampshire

Maple, Vermont’s Medicine of Connection

Author and theologian Damian Costello explores how the practice of maple sugaring in Vermont connects us to the land, our ancestors, and all that surrounds us. In conversation with the bestselling book Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, he suggests that sugarmaking—which is informed by Indigenous wisdom—is a communal medicine of connection that teaches mutual reciprocity with the land.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her judicial robes wearing a white necklace

The Legacy of “The Notorious RBG”

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.

Disability and the Poetry of Natural and Supernatural Worlds

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.”

John Killacky with glasses and his hand on a cane.

Leaving the World of the Temporarily Abled

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.

From Little Jerusalem to the Lost Mural: Preserving Jewish and Immigrant Heritage

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.

Vermont Humanities*** February 18, 2022