The Humanities Council is pleased to offer 200 programs in our Humanities to Go speakers bureau. Learn how to book these programs here.
Karolyn Kinane presents a lively, interactive crash course in the medieval English language, specifically the poetry of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Participants will have the opportunity to read and recite medieval poetry aloud in a fun, relaxed environment. The program includes a brief, illustrated historical overview of the events that sparked linguistic transitions from the Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman eras to the Middle English era, including the Norman Invasion, the Black Death, and the invention of the printing press. Kinane closes by exploring how these medieval events are still embedded in the English we speak today and how modern inventions and events continue to shape language.
Karolyn Kinane, PhD, has been teaching, lecturing and publishing on medieval English literature and culture for fourteen years. She has won awards for her work on female saints and she is the author of End of Days: Essays on the Apocalypse from Antiquity to Modernity. Kinane is a Professor of English at Plymouth State University and specializes in Arthurian legends, Chaucer, and how the "medieval" is recycled and
repackaged intour contemporary culture.
To book her program, contact Kinane at 525-2402 or by e-mail.
In 1835, abolitionists opened one of the nation's first integrated schools in Canaan, NH, attracting eager African American students from as far away as Boston, Providence, and New York City. Outraged community leaders responded by raising a mob that dragged the academy building off its foundation and ran the African American students out of town. New Hampshire's first experiment in educational equality was brief, but it helped launch the public careers of a trio of extraordinary African American leaders: Henry Highland Garnet, Alexander Crummell, and Thomas Sipkins Sidney. Dan Billin plumbs the depths of anti-abolitionist sentiment in early-nineteenth-century New England, and the courage of three young friends destined for greatness.
Raised in the Lakes Region, Dan Billin earned a BA in Communications from Brigham Young University. He worked as a newspaper reporter for the Valley News in Lebanon, New Hampshire for seventeen years. Billin's passion for history and nose for a story led him to uncover a wealth of detail about the shocking and largely forgotten tale of the birth and death of Noyes Academy. He is working on a book about the legacy of three of the students.
To book Billin’s program, contact him at 448-1769 or by e-mail.
Having just come through a snowy winter, you might guess that the connected houses and barns of New England were built to keep northerners from making too many trips out in the cold. This program by Thomas Hubka identifies instead the economic reasons for this distinctive architectural style.
Through architecture unique to northern New England, this illustrated talk focuses on several case studies that show how farmers converted their typical separate house and barns into connected farmsteads. Hubka's research in his award-winning book, Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn: The Connected Farm Buildings of New England, demonstrates that average farmers were, in fact, motivated by competition with farmers in other regions of America, who had better soils and growing seasons and fewer rocks to clear. The connected farmstead organization, housing equal parts mixed-farming and home-industry, was one of the collective responses to the competitive threat.
Thomas Hubka has a MA in Architecure from the University of Oregon. His research interests include: issues of architecture and cultural meaning, imagery in the design process, New England farm architecture, among many others. Currently he is investigating American popular housing of the 19th and 20th centuries, including case studies of working-class housing in major U. S. cities. He previously researched the 18th century wooden synagogues of Eastern Europe emphasizing the relationships between Jewish culture and Eastern European architecture.
Hubka's program is primarily avail-able in the summer, this year between July 10th and 25th. In order to book it, hosts must contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and submit a Humanities to Go application to us no later than May 1. Hubka may do a very limited number of programs outside of these dates. Check with him for availability.
Did you know that photographer Margaret Bourke-White had to make Stalin laugh to get his picture, and she was told by Patton to hide his jowls? Letters and tender WWII-era V-mails found at Syracuse University form the basis for this living history program. Sally Matson's lifetime in theatre began with acting and directing at Northwestern University, and her fascination with history provides the audience with an entertaining lesson.
Sally Matson earned a BS from the Northwestern University School of Communication, after which she performed for a Department of Defense show in the Pacific. In addition to acting and directing for 40 years, Matson took writing courses at the University of Virginia Extension and Manhattanville College, served as writer and interviewer on cable television in Connecticut, and worked at the Powerhouse Performing Arts Center in Connecticut as an actor, director and publicist. Matson's years working at the American Textile History Museum in Lowell sparked an interest in 19th century history and challenged her to write Susan B. Anthony-the Invincible!
To book Matson's living history program on Bourke-White or Susan B. Anthony, contact her at 978-749-9908 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Northern New England is full of reminders of past lives: stone walls, old foundations, a century-old lilac struggling to survive as the forest reclaims a once-sunny dooryard. What forces shaped settlement, and later abandonment, of these places? Adair Mulligan explores the rich story to be discovered in what remains behind. See how one town has set out to create an inventory of its cellar holes, piecing together the clues in the landscape. Such a project can help landowners know what to do if they have archaeological sites on their land and help stimulate interest in a town's future through its past.
Adair Mulligan has a runaway curiosity about the natural and cultural history of northern New England. Author of The Gunstock Parish, A History of Gilford, New Hampshire, she has also contributed to Proud to Live Here in the Connecticut River Valley; Where the Great River Rises, An Atlas of the Upper Connecticut River and Beyond the Notches: Stories of Place in New Hampshire's North Country. Executive director of the Hanover Conservancy, she served for 20 years as Conservation Director of the Connecticut River Joint Commissions. Mulligan holds a master's degree from Smith College.
To book Mulligam's program, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 795-3155.
Using Chartres cathedral as a guide, Ty Perry leads a discovery tour of several examples of the philosophical and theological thought behind cathedral art, in particular, stained glass windows and sculpture. Avoiding the normal art historical approach (the development of styles over time) and avoiding critical evaluations of artistic style or merit, this is an inquiry into the "why" of windows and sculpture of medieval cathedrals, a search for the meaning, sometimes on the surface, sometimes hidden.
William "Ty" Perry has been infatuated with Romanesque and Gothic art for more than 30 years, applying the discipline of degrees in engineering and history to his studies. He has comprehensively researched the inter-relationships between that art and its intellectual origins, Greek philosophy and medieval theology. Perry has photographed thousands of cathedral sculptures and windows throughout France, England and Italy in order to bring his research to others.
To book his program, contact Perry at email@example.com or call 249-9707.
Carrie Brown explores the technological triumph that helped save
the Union and then transformed the nation. During the Civil War,
northern industry produced a million and a half rifles, along with tens
of thousands of pistols and carbines. How did the North produce all
of those weapons? The answer lies in new machinery and methods
for producing guns with interchangeable parts. Once the system
of mass production had been tested and perfected, what happened
after the war? In the period from 1870 to 1910 new factory technology and new print media fueled the development of mass
consumerism. While this program tells a broad, national story, it
focuses on the critical and somewhat surprising role of Vermont
and New Hampshire in producing industrial technology that won
the war and changed American life.
Brown holds a PhD in American Literature and Folklore from the University of
Virginia. She is an independent scholar
who also works as a freelance history
curator for museums in New England.
She has curated two exhibitions on the
Civil War for the American Precision
Museum, as well as exhibitions on the
history of aviation, the early years of the
automobile, and the bicycle. The author of
two books and many articles and exhibit
catalogs, Brown delights in finding connections between changing
technology and the evolution of popular culture.
To book this program, contact Carrie Brown by e-mail or call 643-4950.
In the early 20th century, the New Hampshire Board of
Agriculture launched a program to boost the rural economy and
promote tourism through the sale of abandoned farms to summer
residents. After introducing the country house movement,
Cristina Ashjian focuses attention on some of the great country
estates featured in the state's promotional "New Hampshire Farms for
Summer Homes" publication between 1902 and 1913. Which private
estates were recognized as exemplary, and who were their owners?
Using historic images and texts, Ashjian discusses well-known estates
now open to the public such as The Fells on Lake Sunapee, The
Rocks in Bethlehem, and Saint-Gaudens
National Historic Site in Cornish. The
presentation will explore the architecture and
scope of various country houses, examine
the fate of significant private estates showcased in the state literature, and consider
local examples when possible.
Cristina Ashjian is an art historian and
an independent scholar based in Moultonborough, where she is presently the chair
of the Moultonborough Heritage Commission. Her current research focuses on late
19th and early 20th century country estates. Ashjian holds an MA
in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London and a PhD in Modern Art and Architecture from
To book this program, contact Christina Ashjian by e-mail or call 476-8446.
The recent spate of Sherlock Holmes movies, television shows, and literary adaptations indicate the Great Detective is alive and well in the 21st century. Holmes is the most portrayed literary character of all time, with more than 230 film versions alone in several different languages. Over the past century, Sherlockians created societies like the Baker Street Irregulars, wrote articles sussing out the "sources" of Doyle's works, and, most recently, developed an entire online world of Holmesian fan fiction. Sherlock Holmes is now a multi-million dollar industry. Why is Sherlock Holmes so popular? Ann McClellan's presentation explores the origins of Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective and tracks his incarnations in literature, film, advertising, and modern media in order to crack the case of the most popular detective.
A dedicated Anglophile, Ann McClellan has a PhD in English Literature and more than fifteen years experience of college-level teaching. Her classes at Plymouth State University explore questions of literary value and the interconnectedness of history and text with an emphasis on literary theory. As a specialist in nineteenth- and twentieth-century British literature, McClellan's work explores the complex relationships between literature and culture, with published research ranging from fictional representations of British women intellectuals to her current project on fan culture and the popularity of Sherlock Holmes. To book this program, contact Ann McClellan by e-mail or at 535-2683.
Marek Bennett presents a whirlwind survey of comics from around the world and throughout history, with special attention to what these vibrant narratives tell (and show) us about the people and periods that created them. Bennett engages and involves the audience in an interactive discussion of several sample comics representing cultures such as Ancient Rome, Medieval Europe, the Ancient Maya, Feudal and modern Japan, the United States in the early 20th century, and Nazi Germany during World War II. The program explores the various ways of creating and reading comics from around the world, and what these techniques tell us about the cultures in which they occur.
Award-winning New Hampshire cartoonist Marek Bennett teaches music and comics around New England and the world beyond. He holds an M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction from Keene State College, and is a rostered teaching artist with the NH State Council on the Arts. His publications include Nicaragua Comics Travel Journal. To book Marek Bennett's program, contact him by e-mail or at 428-7049.
Bennett also co-presents a second program with Woody Pringle titled "Rally 'Round the Flag: The American Civil War Through Folksong" which maybe booked by contacting Pringle. Learn more about this program in our on-line catalog.