Vermont Humanities

John Lewis and RUN!

Painting of empty cafe tables in a French street, by van Gogh
First Wednesdays

Andrew Aydin, co-author of The March Trilogy with civil rights icon John Lewis, describes the creation of the next book in the series, RUN! Aydin also relates becoming an author, how he became involved in politics, and his experiences working with Congressman Lewis.

Recent First Wednesdays Videos

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her judicial robes wearing a white necklace

The Legacy of “The Notorious RBG”

Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a feminist superhero who could still do a plank at 87 and who survived pancreatic cancer long beyond expectations. Dartmouth history professor Annelise Orleck examines the life of the brilliant jurist who remained fiercely progressive, unapologetically liberal, and committed to equality to the end, and who loved her status as a pop culture idol.

Disability and the Poetry of Natural and Supernatural Worlds

Three poets—Eli Clare, Judy Chalmer, and Toby MacNutt—reflect on the ways disabled poets write about natural and supernatural spaces. In this wide-ranging discussion, they consider how poetry invites us into an embodied experience, and how supernatural poetry can expand or question traditional understandings of the “natural.”

John Killacky with glasses and his hand on a cane.

Leaving the World of the Temporarily Abled

Artist and legislator John R. Killacky shares his journey of overcoming paralysis from spinal surgery complications 25 years ago. He also reflects on how reentering the world in a disabled body radically changed his perspective in his artistic practice as well as in his advocacy for artists with disabilities.

From Little Jerusalem to the Lost Mural: Preserving Jewish and Immigrant Heritage

In 1885, a group of Lithuanian immigrants settled in Burlington’s Old North End, where they transplanted their religious traditions and culture. Archivists Aaron Goldberg and Jeff Potash describe the “Lost Mural,” a rare survivor of the lost genre of European painted synagogues, and tell the story of conserving the mural in Burlington.

Woman in black and white photo touching her hair and looking down

Vermont Hairwork: Connecting Past and Present

19th century Americans often saved or exchanged locks of hair, constructing jewelry or keepsake wreaths of their kinship networks. In more recent decades, hair has become a powerful political medium. Middlebury professor Ellery Foutch shares the research about hair-based works in local collections and explores the meanings of hair in American culture, past and present.

Young Black Muslim woman in a black head scarf

Thinking Race, Religion, and Gender: Muslim Women and Islamophobia

UVM professor Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst examines how race, religion, and gender affect the lives of Black Muslim women in the US. Exploring this diverse community helps illuminate how intersectionality functions, but also how one’s identity shapes religious practice and the experience of discrimination.

Middle-aged man in World War Two uniform with helmet

War Reenactors: Who Gets to Tell History?

Artist Ed Gendron shares and discusses images from his photo project about World War II reenactors in the United States. Gendron later produced Playing Soldier, a feature-length documentary on the same topic. “The re-enactors assert that ‘history is a personal thing,’ says Gendron. “And for them, it may be quite true.”

Dancer with arms spread wide, wearing a striped leotard

A Life in Art and Activism

Artist, legislator, and former director of the Flynn Center in Burlington, John R. Killacky draws on commentaries from his book Because Art to relate his experiences as dancer in New York in the late 1970s and ’80s, the maelstrom of the culture Wars of the 1990s, and his work advocating for artists with disabilities.

Vermont Humanities*** February 18, 2022