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Vermont Humanities Grant Funds Centenary Look at Life of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Image: Denis Petrulenkov, courtesy Russian Life magazine

Statewide ~ Vermont Humanities Council has awarded the Vermont Historical Society (VHS) a $3,000 grant to support its celebration of the life and work of writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in honor of his 100th birthday. It is one of eight projects that received awards in VHC’s Fall 2017 grant cycle.

VHS will begin the project in May in partnership with Cavendish Historical Society and the University of Vermont. Entitled Solzhenitsyn at 100, it will include community lectures through VHS’s Third Thursday program and a panel exhibit at the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier.

Solzhenitsyn was a Russian novelist and historian who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970. In 1974, he was exiled from the Soviet Union for his works, which were critical of the Soviet system and communism. He eventually moved to Cavendish, Vermont, where he lived and wrote for nearly two decades before returning to Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

According to VHS, the project “will delve deep into Solzhenitsyn’s biographical history: his life in Russia, his exile and life in Vermont, his subsequent return to Russia following the end of the Cold War, and his lasting legacy.” VHS’s long-term goal for the project is “to better inform Vermonters about the life and work of an influential 20th-century writer, and to show how Vermont fits into the larger framework of United States and world history.”

VHC’s Grants program supports nonprofit organizations that conduct humanities-related projects; in 2017 VHC awarded a total of $40,000 to these organizations for twenty projects.

New projects in VHC’s Fall 2017 grant cycle include a collaborative effort “to engage Vermonters in the lost art of conversation” (Community Conservation Series: Relationship Across Difference, Shelburne Farms, $2,000); a film studies course to be run during the Green Mountain Film Festival (Coming of Age: An Exploration of Identity Creation in Film, Focus on Film, Inc., $2,600); an examination of Goddard College’s racial history through interviews with faculty and staff of color (Telling Our Stories: An Oral History of Place, Race, and Education, Goddard College, $1,000); a series of lectures to complement a production of Euripides’s play Helen (Lectures to Enhance the Ambrose Classical Play, UVM Department of Classics, $2,000): and a week of public philosophical activities, including lectures and readings, on issues of public concern (Public Philosophy Week, UVM Philosophy Department, $1,500).

Other grant projects include a month-long celebration of National Poetry Month in Montpelier (PoemCity 2018, Kellogg-Hubbard Library, $4,000) and a teacher workshop bringing together educators from across Vermont to explore August Wilson’s play Two Trains Running (2018 Teacher Workshop, Weston Playhouse Theatre Company, $2,000).

Twice a year, through a competitive grant process, VHC makes awards to museums and libraries, film, music and literary festivals, local historical societies, and other nonprofit organizations to support public humanities programs that contribute to the achievement of its mission. VHC makes awards of up to $5,000. Organizations wishing to apply should visit vermonthumanities.org or call 802.262.1355. For the Spring 2018 application round, VHC will accept letters of intent through February 9 and proposals from February 19 to March 23. Awards will be made by May 10.

For more information about the VHC Grants program, email , call (802) 262-1355, or visit vermonthumanities.org/humanities-grants.

About Vermont Humanities Council

The Vermont Humanities Council seeks to engage all Vermonters in the world of ideas, foster a culture of thoughtfulness, and inspire a lifelong love of reading and learning. Because Ideas Matter.

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