Humanities Commentaries on VPR

Peter A. Gilbert's Look at Life through the Humanities

 

Older VPR Commentaries

Peter A. Gilbert’s older Vermont Public Radio commentaries are listed in reverse chronological order below. If you know the title of the piece you wish to read, use the search box to find it.

Choosing Optimism

The 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor has reminded Peter Gilbert of the importance of trying to be optimistic even at the darkest moments.

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A Thin Veneer Of Reason And Law

Felix Frankfurter was a close advisor and friend to President Franklin Roosevelt, who, in 1939, appointed him to the Supreme Court, where he served for 23 years. A brilliant jurist, Frankfurter was a founder of the American Civil Liberties Union and a strong advocate of judicial restraint.

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Bipartisan Election Night Party

My brother, Ken, lives in Dallas. He met his future wife at an election night party forty years ago, the night Jimmy Carter defeated Gerald Ford. And every four years since then, they’ve hosted a bipartisan election night party.

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To Autumn

Two hundred years ago tomorrow, the British poet John Keats wrote one of the greatest short poems in the English language. It’s about autumn, something that Vermonters treasure, as do the countless tree-peepers who visit the state every fall.

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Biographical Truth

Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said that “All biography is autobiography.” It’s usually taken to mean that in writing about other people, biographers reveal something about themselves – by the perspective they take, the elements of the person’s life that they focus on, and the interpretations they make of the person’s life.

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John Milton and Bob Dylan

I once heard Sir Christopher Ricks observe that a scholar is someone who tells you something you didn’t know, and a critic is someone who tells you something you hadn’t noticed.

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The Pulitzer Final Four

This is the hundredth anniversary year of the Pulitzer Prizes, and to celebrate the Pulitzer Prizes Board and state humanities councils across the country, including the Vermont Humanities Council, are collaborating with countless programs and projects.

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The World Is Watching

It was August 1968, and Chicago was hosting the Democratic National Convention, an open convention without a clear nominee. I was a freshman in a suburban high school forty miles outside Chicago.

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Shakespeare in America

2016 is the four hundredth anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death – a milestone being marked in myriad ways, including with copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio, the 1623 published collection of Shakespeare’s plays, touring the United States.

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Liberal Dark Horse

A crowded field for the Republican nomination for the presidency, establishment candidates not getting much traction, and disturbing events increasing Americans’ concerns about national security may sound familiar. But commentator Peter Gilbert says the year was 1940.

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The Refrigerator Door (12-30-2015)

The end of one year and the beginning of another often cause us to reflect on the past as we consider the future, especially if the year that’s drawing to a close included important personal or family milestone events. Here’s Vermont Humanities Council executive director Peter Gilbert with some thoughts about what the papers posted on the door of his parent’s refrigerator said about their lives.

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Joe Hill (11-18-2015)

You may well know the song “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night”; indeed if you’re like Vermont Humanities Council executive director Peter Gilbert, to hear the title is to hear Joan Baez singing it at Woodstock. Here’s Peter to tell you more of Joe Hill’s story, which is part of the history of the American labor movement.

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Civic Courage (10-30-2015)

As the political season continues, commentator Peter Gilbert is reminded of an historic speech dedicating a military memorial that referenced, of all things, evolution—a notion only thirty-eight years old at the time—and that concerned civic courage more than soldiers’ physical courage.

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Suffering In Africa (8-26-2015)

Today is the anniversary of an event that led to the publication of a best-selling nineteenth-century account of an American ship captain’s enslavement and survival in Africa. Commentator Peter Gilbert says its success serves as a good example of how the impact of a single book can sometimes seem to go on forever.

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