OVERVIEW: New Hampshire Pulitzer Prize Centennial Campfires Activities

Presented by:
New Hampshire Humanities
Current Initiative: Centennial Campfires National Partner: The Pulitzer Prizes Local Partner: Colleges and Universities, K-12 Institutions, Public Radio Subject: Art/Photography, Journalism, K-12 Education, Other Audience: All, Educators, K-12, Youth/Teen

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prizes, New Hampshire Humanities created “Can’t Take a Joke? The Transformative and Incendiary Power of the Editorial Cartoon” program to explore the ethical and social implications of editorial cartooning in the context of artistic freedom, First Amendment rights, censorship, and power of cultural production. This program consisted of two primary events: A reception and public forum at the NH Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College and the Hosting Young Philosophy Enthusiasts (HYPE) Conference.


Moderated by Boston Globe political editor Felice Belman, a public discussion featuring two Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonists, Joel Pett and Signe Wilkerson, and two humanities scholars, Jytte Klausen and Victor Navasky (also former editor in chief of The Nation) took place at the NH Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College and was attended by a capacity audience of 230 people. The cartoonists used their more popular cartoons to stand up in defense of freedom of expression although both expressed a distinction between “art that is provocative, satirical, and subversive and cartoons that are offensive for the sake of being offensive.” Scholar Klausen focused on the misunderstandings, judgment errors, and lack of knowledge that are a consequence of censorship and Navasky shared how difficult it can be to decide to print something provocative. A Q&A followed.


Created by high school social ethics teacher Chris Brooks and his students in 2009, HYPE’s goal is to facilitate the practice of Socratic dialogue and philosophical discourse among the state’s youth, guided by high school teachers and college mentors. This year, as part of the Pulitzer Prizes campfires initiative, students and teachers had the opportunity to meet with Prize-winning editorial cartoonists and scholars: cartoonists Joel Pett and Signe Wilkerson, and scholars Jytte Klausen and Victor Navasky. More than 1,000 students and 70 educators representing 27 schools from Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts attended the conference which was held at the University of New Hampshire.


Both Victor Navasky and Joel Pett were featured guests on New Hampshire Public Radio’s hour-long call-in show, “The Exchange.” The program was archived and can be viewed here.


  • HYPE
  • Anselm College, NH Institute of Politics
  • New Hampshire Public Radio


  • Joel Pett, Editorial Cartooning (2000)
  • Signe Wilkerson, Editorial Cartooning (1992)


  • Manchester, NH
  • Durham, NH

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