Vermont Humanities

Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln

Image of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln
First Wednesdays

Douglass and Lincoln — one born a slave, the other born dirt poor — became respectively one of the nation’s greatest orators and one of its greatest presidents. Harvard professor John Stauffer examines their friendship, the similarities in their lives, and their legacies.

This video was recorded at the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum on March 15, 2018.

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Ancient Eyes – Ageless Skies

Since the dawn of human civilization, people have gazed into the heavens, trying to find meaning and connection to their lives. Monuments like Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid attest to the significance of the stars, which still offer important lessons for us today.

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Cannabis: Medical Uses and Public Safety

UVM Pharmacology professor Dr. Karen Lounsbury reviews the history of cannabis and the medicinal products derived from it, as well as the benefits, risks, and the therapeutic potential of medical cannabis.

Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Couple in Early Vermont

Drawing from the Sheldon Museum collections, archivist Eva Garcelon-Hart presents the story of two extraordinary women, Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake, who were accepted in early 19th-century rural Vermont as a married couple.

Painting of British housewives with "Up and at 'Em" banner

Domestic Soldiers: British Housewives and the Second World War

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Image of Madeline Kunin press conference

From Politics to Poetry

As the first woman governor for the State of Vermont, the ambassador to Switzerland for President Clinton, and the holder of other prestigious positions, Madeleine Kunin has inspired women and girls to discover their own voices as leaders. Governor Kunin speaks about her life in politics and read to us from her newest book of poetry, “Red Kite, Blue Sky.”

Painting of Jewish immigrants arriving in New York by boat

How Yiddish Changed America and How America Changed Yiddish

Yiddish is imprinted in American English in terms like chutzpah, kosher, bagel, and schmooze. And the work of Sholem Aleichem, Anzia Yezierska, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Grace Paley, and Irving Howe shows the deep impact of Jewish immigration on the United States. Amherst College professor Ilan Stavans surveys the journey.

Young woman walking into lit-up library building

Libraries in the Time of Covid

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Man in turban looking at North American city

Religious Literacy is Social Justice

UVM professor Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst describes religious literacy—knowing what religion is, how religions work, and who religious people might be—as a social justice issue. Morgenstein Fuerst explores who is allowed to be religiously illiterate, who has to be religiously literate, and how to learn more about religion.

Policeman from behind with close up of holster

Television Cop Shows, Police Violence, and Black Lives Matter

How do television cop shows shape our understanding of police, race, and crime in America? Focusing on the television series “The Wire,” Middlebury professor Jason Mittell challenges our understanding of this television genre in the era of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Nicholas Black Elk and family

The Legacy of Nicholas Black Elk

Historian Damian Costello explores the life of the man behind the famous book Black Elk Speaks. Nicholas Black Elk’s Lakota philosophy can help us see the natural world as a unified whole, and his continued hope amidst great tragedy can inform how we approach contemporary crises.

Early Vermont suffragists Clarina Howard Nichols

Why Not in Vermont? The Long Campaign for Women’s Suffrage

Why did Vermont lawmakers resist women voting in the 19th and 20th centuries? Through the stories of three Vermont suffragists, Marilyn Blackwell outlines the shifting debate over women’s full citizenship in from the 1850s until 1920.

Winslow Homer's The Reaper

Winslow Homer and the Poetics of Place

The painter Winslow Homer (1836-1910) occupies an unusual and pivotal place in the history of American art. Thomas Denenberg, director of the Shelburne Museum, sketches Homer’s long and productive career, focusing on how he bridged the sentimental culture of the nineteenth century with the visual culture of the modern era.

Vermont Humanities*** April 24, 2018