News Category: Humanities in American Life

Why Civics Matters: Who is Involved?

Civic engagement itself takes many forms across communities, and one of the most recognizable acts of civic engagement is voting. The right to vote has historically fallen along lines of identity. Take the Voting Rights Act of 1965, for instance, which prohibited discrimination in voting based on race—that’s only been in place for 56 years of our country’s history.

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Detroit: A City Built on Humanities

Distinguished University Professor in African American Studies at Wayne State University and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan, Dr. Melba Boyd sees the humanities as playing a specific and significant role in Detroit’s evolution. In turn, she notes, looking at that development also helps us understand changing perceptions of the humanities at large. 

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‘Chronic Catastrophe’: A New Podcast from California Humanities Emerging Journalist Fellows

“Journalism is more than just writing and reporting, journalism is so much more than that,” Camacho said. “I feel like a lot of people think journalism is a lot about just reporting the facts, and that’s about it—and it is that, but it’s also telling the stories of people who can’t use their voice.”  Read more here.

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“The Future of Journalism, the Fate of Democracy” with Virginia Humanities

“In Virginia alone, we lost 39 weekly newspapers between 2004 and 2020 and three dailies, a 27% decrease in news publications statewide,” said Matthew Gibson, executive director of Virginia Humanities, as he introduced the first of a two-part series of conversations on June 8 titled “The Future of Journalism, the Fate of Democracy.” A Virginia Humanities program, the series drew registrations from 45 different US states and territories and is part of the “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” initiative, administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils and funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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Rural Goings-on in Kentucky

The idea of rural America is always shifting, but it’s seen a dramatic change during the pandemic. In Kentucky, two Smithsonian Museum on Main Street traveling exhibits, “Voices and Votes: Democracy in America” and “Crossroads: Change in Rural America,” are currently touring, centering rural communities’ past, present, and future. Read more here in “Rural Goings-on in Kentucky.”

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Rural Rewards: An Economic Executive Director on the Strength of Small Towns

The idea of living in a rural town has changed during the pandemic, Long said, so that there’s a lot of competition for talent across urban and rural communities. “People have figured out that they can work from anywhere, and people can retire and move to just about anywhere they want to live,” Long said. “And so you really gotta be a community that people want to move to.” Read more here in Rural Rewards

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For Pride Month: Humanities Council Programs

For Pride Month, humanities councils join parades across the country with histories of change, LGBTQ ancestors, jazz, politics, literature, film, and stories past, present, and future. And people have noticed: among many, read stories about Vermont Humanities Council and Rhode Island Council for the Humanities programs that celebrate the contributions of trans and LGBTQ+ individuals and check out the list inside for additional programs.

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Caring Labor Sustains Life: Women’s Labor Activism in the Appalachian South

“These are men who worked for wages, and we associate them with the building of modern America. The coal miner in particular is an icon of the American working class. But what about domestic workers, farm laborers, or workers in the service industry? What about non-wage work?” said Dr. Jessica Wilkerson in a virtual West Virginia Humanities Council “Little Lecture” on May 30.

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Total Town Makeover with Missouri Humanities

“The size doesn’t matter, it’s the mindset,” Andrew McCrea said on January 21 in part one of “Total Town Makeover,” a Missouri Humanities two-part series drawing from McCrea’s book of the same name. Focused on rural economies, the series takes root in questions like, why does one small town thrive while another declines? What makes people want to live and work in one community but not another?

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Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with the State and Jurisdictional Humanities Councils

What is decolonization? “Decolonization is not a metaphor…It’s more than a word. It’s a process, it’s a material shift,” explained Aiko Yamashiro, executive director of Hawai’i Council for the Humanities, in a Federation Wednesday Webinar on May 19—just one of many discussions focused on Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage that happened across humanities councils and their communities this year. Click here to access a webinar on decolonization featuring several of our council leaders, a sample of programs occurring in Hawai’i, Guahan, and the Northern Marianas, and an interview with Dr. Bill Tsutsui on the “monstrous imagination” of the Japanese as he discusses Godzilla and other Japanese monsters.

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Stories of CHamorro Women with Northern Marianas Humanities Council

Tydingco said she realized she didn’t know who her grandmother was independent of her familial connection, and she set out to uncover the stories of so-called “ordinary” women. Through the lens of intersectionality, a concept conceived by Kimberlé Crenshaw that understands social constructs like race and gender overlap in systems of discrimination, Tydingco narrowed her scope to women who were of CHamorro descent born between 1940 and 1945 and focused on family, education, and occupation. She settled on CHamorro values, US colonization, and Catholicism as three essential points of intersectionality that determined agency and influenced the choices these women made.

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Imagining Japanese Monsters with Dr. Bill Tsutsui

Japanese monsters like Godzilla draw upon centuries of history filled with long-standing anxieties and trauma—something that contemporary yōkai narratives often hide in plain sight. The most recent Godzilla vs. Kong is no exception. Read more from Federation Former Board Chair and Dr. Bill Tsutsui as he discusses a recent course and the histories and folklore of Japanese monsters.

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Environmental Humanities Programming

Preservation and education, water and recovery – for humanities councils, Earth Day in April was a reflection of environmental conversations they spark all year round. As a panelist at a Wisconsin Humanities discussion said, “What’s the best way to talk about [climate change], knowing that as a starting point this is something that should be historically, culturally, and context-dependent?”

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