National Humanities Center

An image of folk singer Leadbelly
Public Domain

Rock music has roots in many different musical forms. It is shaped by the blues and jazz. Meanwhile, the narratives in rock songs can be traced back to English ballads.

Pile of zines from the Bingham Center’s zine collections
Mark Zupan

We hear constantly that “pens and paper are dead,” and “screens are taking over our lives.” But there is one small corner of the world where pens, paper, scissors and glue are alive and well: the world of zines.

Zines are handmade, self-published magazines that are about almost anything, from politics to music, arts and raw personal experience.

Thomas Brown studies landmarks of Confederate memory such as the flag, shown here flying at the South Carolina capitol before it was taken down this summer.
eyeliam / Flickr Creative Commons

The Confederate flag has been around for more than a century, yet the controversial symbol has been in the headlines almost every week this year. South Carolina removed the flag from their state grounds this summer after the shooting of churchgoers in Charleston, but the debate over Confederate symbols has continued across the nation.

Historian Thomas Brown has studied landmarks of Confederate memory around the country and examines what they can teach us about Americans’ changing political, social, and economic positions.

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun's smiling self-portrait.
Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun / Wikimedia Commons

A white-toothed smile is a gesture that many likely engage in dozens of times a day without thought. Historian Colin Jones traced the history of the smile and found a toothy smile is a relatively young phenomenon. 

In his recent book, "The Smile Revolution In Eighteenth Century Paris," he argues that the white-tooth smile emerged in 18th century Paris in conjunction with the cult of sensibility and the creation of modern dentistry.

A photo from Grenada, Miss., where Nan Elizabeth Woodruff studies the legacies of terror and violence against people of color.
Matthew Nichols / Flickr Creative Commons

  This year marks the 50th anniversary of many monumental moments of the civil rights movement.

And a group of scholars and activists gather today at the National Humanities Center to push for increased dialogue about how the historical violence against people of color continues to resonate today.

Split-brain studies have illuminated how the brain functions and raised bigger philosophical questions like: what is a mind, and what would it mean to have two minds?
Wikimedia Commons

Cognitive neuropsychology is a branch of psychology that uses brain damage or atypical brains to theorize about the structure of the mind.

Elizabeth Schechter is a philosopher who uses cognitive neuropsychology to ponder bigger philosophical questions like: What is a mind? What is self consciousness? What would it mean to have two minds?

Abraham is recognized as the father of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Wikimedia Commons/ Web Gallery of Art

Emotions are an important part of religious life for many people. Individuals often describe a feeling or sense of passion during a religious practice even if they cannot name the feeling.  

The academic study of religion and emotion is surging, but scholars are still struggling to find ways to measure and describe this phenomenon. Is emotion biological? Is it cultural? What can the study of emotion in religion tell us about religious intolerance or violence?

Image of William Shakespeare.
Flickr/Books18

This year marks the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare, and worldwide celebrations earlier this year indicated that his life and work continue to transcend racial, ethnic and geographic boundaries. 

quinnipiac.edu

When we talk about human rights, we’re usually solidly in the expertise of political scientists. But professors of English and philosophy may have a role to play, too. That’s the goal of The Second Annual Conference on Human Rights and the Humanities. It’s being held by the National Humanities Center, and it brings together a variety of experts to discuss human rights.

War crimes, violations of religion freedom and unfair labor practices are just a few of the many things considered by some to be violations of human rights. But what exactly is a human right?