National Humanities Center

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The National Humanities Center (NHC) is an independent institute for advanced study in the humanities. The NHC operates as a privately incorporated nonprofit and is not part of any university or federal agency. The center was planned under the auspices of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which saw a need for substantial support for academic research in the humanities, and began operations in 1978.[1]

Located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, United States, near the campuses of Duke University, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NHC fellows enjoy library privileges at these three universities, as well as the NHC's own reference facility.[2]

The National Humanities Center is one of the nine members of the Some Institutes for Advanced Study consortium–which are modeled after the Princeton, New Jersey, Institute for Advanced Study[3]


The National Humanities Center offers dedicated programs in support of humanities scholarship and teaching as well as a regular schedule of public events, conferences and interactive initiatives to engage the public in special topics and emerging issues.

Fellowship program[edit]

Each year, the NHC admits approximately forty fellows chosen from among hundreds of applicants from institutions in the United States and abroad representing a broad range of disciplines. In addition, a few senior scholars are invited by the Center's trustees to assume fellowships. The National Humanities Center has no permanent fellows or faculty.

NHC fellows are given substantial support to pursue their individual research and writing projects. Interdisciplinary seminars provide fellows the opportunity to share insights and criticism. Since 1978 the NHC has welcomed over 1,300 fellows who have published more than 1,500 books. Many of these studies have proven to be influential in their fields and been recognized by the quality of their scholarship and writing.

Selected prizes won by National Humanities Center fellows[edit]

For the 2015–2016 academic year, NHC fellows' research topics include the civic monuments of the Civil War, eunuchs in the late Chinese imperial era, and the phenomenon of feminist 'zines in the 1990s, as well as other subjects in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, art history, classics, comparative literature, cultural studies, English literature, history, music, philosophy, and religion.[4]

Education programs[edit]

The National Humanities Center is distinctive among centers for advanced study in its commitment to linking scholarship to improved teaching. Programs in American studies developed at the NHC provide teachers with new materials and instructional strategies designed to make them more effective in the classroom.

Through its site, the NHC allows participants to learn directly from leading scholars. Workshops and institutes are also used to assemble, discuss and share extensive archives of primary source materials – arranged in online collections and accompanied with discussion questions and instructional planning guides for classroom use. The NHC makes these materials available without charge.

TeacherServe,[5] the NHC's online interactive curriculum enrichment service, supplements its training and primary source collections with essays by leading scholars, instructional activities, and links to online resources to enrich teachers' understanding of topics and suggest approaches for more effective classroom teaching.


The National Humanities Center hosts a variety of public events, both to stimulate public awareness of humanities scholarship and to address special topics. In recent years, events have included appearances by A. S. Byatt, Michael Ignatieff, Oliver Sacks, Michael Pollan, Elaine Scarry, Wole Soyinka, Raymond Tallis, Wang Hui, and E. O. Wilson.

From 2006 to 2009 the NHC sponsored an initiative exploring emerging issues in human self-understanding. This initiative, which involved fellowships, guest lectures, faculty seminars, and three annual conferences on "The Human and The Humanities" brought leading scientists from disciplines as diverse as neurolinguistics, primatology, and information technology together with literary critics, historians, and philosophers in dialogue about how their research interests and recent discoveries were both interconnected and overlapping.[6][7] This initiative led to the creation of which includes an archive of discussions by leading scholars on related subjects and materials for use in developing curricula.[8]

In 2010 the NHC hosted an academic conference on "The State and Stakes of Literary Study" bringing together leading figures from the study of literature to discuss changes in the field, emerging directions, and the contributions that are being made by literary scholars, not only in the education of students but in public understanding of contemporary issues.[9][10]

In 2012 the NHC launched another three-year, interdisciplinary initiative exploring the subject of human rights through the lens of the humanities. With scholarly conferences and other activities, this initiative seeks to examine conventional assumptions underpinning human rights discourse and stimulate discussion among leading scholars from the US and abroad who are engaged in these topics.[11][12]


Since 1978 the National Humanities Center has been led by six directors: Charles Frankel, William Bennett, Charles Blitzer, W. Robert Connor, Geoffrey G. Harpham, and current director Robert D. Newman.[13]

The NHC is governed by a distinguished board of trustees from academic, business, and public life and has included a number of the leading figures in American scholarship over the past thirty years.[14] Among these are its founders Meyer Abrams, Morton W. Bloomfield, Frederick Burkhardt, Robert F. Goheen, Steven Marcus, Henry Nash Smith, Gregory Vlastos, John Voss, and founding director Charles Frankel, historian John Hope Franklin, educator William C. Friday, and philanthropists Archie K. Davis and Stephen H. Weiss.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ritvo, H. (1978). "The National Humanities Center". Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 32: 5. doi:10.2307/3822762. JSTOR 3822762.
  2. ^ "Library Guide". National Humanities Centeer. Retrieved 2010-02-13.
  3. ^ "WIKO - Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin".
  4. ^ "National Humanities Center Names Fellows for 2015-16, News Release, National Humanities Center".
  5. ^ "TeacherServe® from the National Humanities Center".
  6. ^ "Cover" (PDF). Daedalus. the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Summer 2009. Retrieved 2013-11-30.
  7. ^ Blackmore, Susan (2010-08-22). "The Third Replicator". The New York Times.
  8. ^ "National Humanities Center Launches New Website for ASC Project". HASTAC. 2007-04-19. Retrieved 2013-11-30.
  9. ^ Howard, Jennifer (2010-03-21). "Literary Scholars Ponder Their Discipline and Its Direction - Research". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2013-11-30.
  10. ^ Railton, Peter (2010-07-18). "Moral Camouflage or Moral Monkeys?". The New York Times.
  11. ^ "Center Announces 1st Annual Conference on "Human Rights and the Humanities"" (Press release). National Humanities Center. 2012-01-10. Retrieved 2013-11-30.
  12. ^ "Center Announces 2nd Annual Conference on "Human Rights and the Humanities"" (Press release). National Humanities Center. 2012-09-26. Retrieved 2013-11-30.
  13. ^ "National Humanities Center Appoints New President and Director". Reuters.
  14. ^ "Trustees of the National Humanities Center". Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  15. ^ "Center Remembers Trustee Emeritus Stephen H. Weiss". National Humanities Center. April 17, 2008. Retrieved 2010-02-13.

External links[edit]