Vermont Humanities

First Wednesdays Videos

van Gogh Terasse des Cafes
First Wednesdays

Browse recordings of our First Wednesdays public humanities lectures from our current and previous seasons. Please note that it can sometimes take several weeks for a recorded talk to be made available for viewing after the event.

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From the 2021-2022 Season

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.

Woman in black and white photo touching her hair and looking down

Vermont Hairwork: Connecting Past and Present

19th century Americans often saved or exchanged locks of hair, constructing jewelry or keepsake wreaths of their kinship networks. In more recent decades, hair has become a powerful political medium. Middlebury professor Ellery Foutch shares the research about hair-based works in local collections and explores the meanings of hair in American culture, past and present.

Young Black Muslim woman in a black head scarf

Thinking Race, Religion, and Gender: Muslim Women and Islamophobia

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.

Middle-aged man in World War Two uniform with helmet

War Reenactors: Who Gets to Tell History?

Artist Ed Gendron shares and discusses images from his photo project about World War II reenactors in the United States. Gendron later produced Playing Soldier, a feature-length documentary on the same topic. “The re-enactors assert that ‘history is a personal thing,’ says Gendron. “And for them, it may be quite true.”

Dancer with arms spread wide, wearing a striped leotard

A Life in Art and Activism

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.

Thanksgiving turkey on table with other traditional holiday foods

Why We Eat What We Eat at Thanksgiving

How did America’s most iconic food holiday come to include green bean casserole? What did the Wampanoag people and the Pilgrims really eat in 1621? Susan Evans McClure, executive director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, serves up the story of Thanksgiving foods and how they help us understand our American identity.

Image of boat under green water with a rope tied around the bow

History in Hot Water: Climate Change and the Shipwrecks of Lake Champlain

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.

Climate advocate Elizabeth Yeampierre

The Path to Climate Justice is Local

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.

Young man holding an American flag jumping between rocks in a river

Are “We the People” Up to the Task?

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.

From All First Wednesdays Seasons

Dancer with arms spread wide, wearing a striped leotard

A Life in Art and Activism

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.

Image of painting of couple dancing

American Modernism

Video: Citing examples from the works of Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Stuart Davis, Charles Sheeler, and others, former Head of American Paintings at Christie’s and Sotheby’s James Maroney provides an overview of American art from 1913 to 1949 and explains its importance and beauty.

Approaching Islam, Approaching Difference

Video: The Qur’an states that God created differences not only as a test for humanity but also as a path toward self-knowledge. Marlboro College professor Amer Latif considers how the Qur’an frames the perennial problem of living more harmoniously in a diverse world.

Young man holding an American flag jumping between rocks in a river

Are “We the People” Up to the Task?

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.

Image of man with bullhorn

Arguing about Civility

Video: Middlebury political scientist Sarah Stroup focuses on two questions for both local and national discourse: What topics are suitable for public discussion? And how can we facilitate productive disagreements?

Image of children walking in parade

Bread and Roses, Too

Video: Acclaimed children’s book author Katherine Paterson discusses her novel of historical fiction that tells the story of the 1912 “Bread and Roses” strike in the Lawrence, Massachusetts textile mills through the eyes of an Italian-American girl and a runaway boy.

Image of EB White with dog

Celebrating E. B. White

Video: From Charlotte’s Web to his exquisite essays in The New Yorker, E. B. White remains the master’s master of elegant prose, sophisticated wit, and graceful irreverence. Drawing on his stories, essays, poems, and letters, Dartmouth professor Nancy Jay Crumbine celebrates White’s versatility and enormous legacy.

Glynnis Fawkes drawing of the Bronte sisters

Charlotte Brontë Before Jane Eyre: The Making of a Graphic Biography

Cartoonist 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.

Image at Nazi record listening booth

Daily Life in Prewar Nazi Germany

Video: Focusing on the prewar experience of non-Jewish citizens, Keene State professor Paul Vincent examines how ideology and terror undermined human dignity, numbed self-awareness, and atomized German society.

Vermont Humanities*** October 18, 2018