Humanities Connection | WYPR

Humanities Connection

Thursday at 4:44 pm
  • Hosted by Hosted by: Maryland Humanities Executive Director Dr. Phoebe Stein

Humanities Connection explores the role of the humanities in our daily lives, and features lively reflections around topics like education, literature, health care, race, politics, religion, history, and more.

Joining Phoebe for each segment is a series of special guests, including Maryland Humanities partners, board members, and local humanists. The result is a mix of stories and conversation designed to shed light on the human experience and stimulate the intellectual curiosity of our listeners.

Archive Prior to 11/5/13

Theme music created by Brian Whaley at

Visit Maryland Humanities to access additional resources, videos, and other dynamic content related to each segment.

Maryland Humanities is a statewide, educational nonprofit that creates and supports educational experiences in the humanities that inspire all Marylanders to embrace lifelong learning, exchange ideas openly, and enrich their communities.

What are the humanities? The humanities explore the human experience. Through the humanities, we think about who we are – our ideas, our histories, our literature, our values – and how we relate to one another. The humanities include literature, history, philosophy, archaeology, languages, theology, jurisprudence, ethics, art history, architecture, and some disciplines of the social sciences.

The Peale Museum

Aug 3, 2017

Did you know that the Peale is the oldest museum building in the United States? Nancy Proctor, director of the Peale Center for Baltimore History and Architecture, tells us a bit about the Peale’s past, present, and future in Baltimore.

Finding and Cultivating Your Ideas

Jul 27, 2017

One of the most popular questions writers face from their curious audiences is “where do you get your ideas?” Elisabeth Dahl, a local author who writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults, tackles that question as well as its natural follow-up: “how do you bring those ideas to life?”

Baltimore’s Civil Rights Heritage

Jul 20, 2017

What do you remember about the Civil Rights movement? A new project from Baltimore Heritage seeks to document and preserve local civil rights history. Baltimore Heritage’s Director of Preservation and Outreach, Eli Pousson, tells us more.

Humanism in Archaeology

Jul 6, 2017
Lost Towns Project.

We know archaeology connects us to the past, but how does it reveal the humanity of our ancestors?  Jane Cox, Chief of Historic Preservation for Anne Arundel County and Board Member for the Lost Towns Project, an Anne Arundel County-based nonprofit and recent Maryland Humanities grantee, tells us more.

History of the Bay Bridge

Jun 29, 2017

Have you ever wondered about the history of the Bay Bridge as you drive across it each summer? Maggie Pelta-Pauls, intern at Preservation Maryland, tells us a bit about how this invaluable connector and Maryland landmark came to be.

Ellouise Schoettler's Living History

Jun 22, 2017

This July, Maryland Humanities is commemorating the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I with its free living history performance series, Chautauqua. Ellouise Schoettler, a storyteller whose living history performance is drawn from letters from Maryland nurses who served in France during the War, tells us more.

Historic Ocean City

Jun 15, 2017

Many of us spend our summer vacation time at Ocean City – but do you know the history behind this scenic beach and boardwalk? Meagan Baco, communications director at Preservation Maryland, tells us how this go-to summer spot came to be, and how her organization works to preserve its history for generations to come.

This segment originally aired July 2016.

Billie Holiday Project for the Liberation Arts

Jun 1, 2017

How can the humanities help to recover and celebrate the literature, history, and arts of African-American communities in West Baltimore? Lawrence Jackson, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in the Departments of English and History at Johns Hopkins University, tells us about his new initiative, set to operate through JHU’s Center for Africana Studies beginning this summer.

The Way We Worked in Carroll County

May 25, 2017

Did you know that wormseed oil production is one of the oldest industries in Maryland?  We’re bringing a Smithsonian traveling exhibition, The Way We Worked, to five communities in Maryland this year and companion exhibitions will uncover the unique history of work in our state. Joanne Weant, manager of Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster, tells us about the focus of the companion exhibit on this third stop of the tour.

The Old Greenbelt Theatre

May 18, 2017

How can a vintage movie house engage its community in ways beyond just screening films? Dr. Caitlin McGrath tells us about how the Old Greenbelt Theatre serves as a cultural hub for lifelong learning for the greater Greenbelt community. 

Do you know what a skipjack is? Or what a wooden eel pot is used for? These are just some of the traditions of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, which will be brought to life for locals and visitors alike in the Maryland Humanities-supported Delmarvalous Festival on May 20. Lora Bottinelli, executive director of the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University, tells us more.

The Ties that Thrive: Humanities in Communities

May 4, 2017

As the continuation of  federal funding for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities remains uncertain, we reflect upon the impact of the humanities and arts in communities both large and small throughout the country. Anne Wise, director of the Phi Beta Kappa Society’s National Arts and Sciences Initiative, shares her perspective.

Judgement Day for Maryland History Contest

Apr 28, 2017

Each year, more than 27,000 middle and high school students, throughout the state, compete in the historical research contest known as Maryland History Day. On April 29, more than 600 of those students will move on to the state contest at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC).

The Revelatory Power of Language

Apr 13, 2017

How does the language we use reflect who we are? Christine Mallinson, sociolinguist and associate professor of Language, Linguistics, and Culture at UMBC, shares what our word patterns can reveal.

Literary Mount Vernon

Apr 6, 2017
Maryland Humanities


Want to get some fresh air and learn about some of Baltimore’s literary greats? Spring marks the return of Maryland Humanities’ Literary Mount Vernon Walking Tour, with tours beginning on April 15. Here to tell us more about the charms of Historic Mount Vernon is one of the tour’s docents, Anne Cantler Fulwiler.

The History of Work in Kent County

Mar 30, 2017

Nina Johnson, executive director of Sumner Hall in Chestertown tells us about the history of work in Kent County.

Sumner Hall is one of five sites in Maryland that will host The Way We Worked, a Smithsonian Institution Museum on Main Street traveling exhibition. The exhibit will be at Sumner Hall through May 19, 2017.

The Humanities Explore Fundamental Questions

Mar 22, 2017

Students who study the humanities as part of a well-rounded liberal arts education explore questions fundamental to the human existence. Who are we? Where have we been?

Bridging the Divide

Mar 16, 2017


On March 29, following a four-part series from the Baltimore Sun, Maryland Humanities, Loyola University Maryland, and the Sun are hosting a community conversation on school segregation in Maryland. Sun Enterprise Editor Diana Sugg tells us about the recent history of segregation in our schools.

Preserving the Past

Mar 9, 2017

Siobhan Hagan, president and CEO of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Moving Image Archive tells us about the value of audio-visual preservation.

The Signifance of Auschwitz

Mar 6, 2017
Jewish Museum of Maryland

Deborah Cardin, deputy director of programs and development at the Jewish Museum of Maryland tells us about "Remembering Auschwitz: History, Holocaust, Humanity" and the significance of Auschwitz today. This exhibition is supported by Maryland Humanities.

Ian Belknap

Feb 23, 2017
Ian Belknap Twitter

What do Malcom X and Julius Caesar have in common? Ian Belknap, Artistic Director for The Acting Company explains. 

Uncovering History in St. Mary’s County

Feb 16, 2017

What can found oyster shells tell us about an area’s past inhabitants? Dr. Julia King, professor of anthropology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, shares how she and her students are delving into the history of Secowocomoco, a farmland in St. Mary’s County in Southern Maryland.

Preserving History Through Memorabilia

Feb 9, 2017

On February 11, in commemoration of Black History Month, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum will host the Black Memorabilia Fine Art and Craft Show. Lindsey Johnson, producer of this annual event, tells us about the importance of sharing and preserving black memorabilia.

"The Way We Worked," the Allegany County Shift

Feb 2, 2017
Alan Mays

How has the labor force changed in Maryland throughout the years? We’re bringing a new Smithsonian traveling exhibition, The Way We Worked, to five communities in Maryland this year and companion exhibitions will uncover the unique history of work in our state. Allegany Museum Board member Dr. Nayano Taylor-Neumann tells us about the history of work in Allegany County, the first stop on the tour.

The Way We Worked

Jan 26, 2017

Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and State Humanities Councils nationwide, brings high-quality traveling exhibits to small communities across the country. Over the next year, the Maryland Humanities will bring the labor-focused Smithsonian traveling exhibit The Way We Worked to five small communities across Maryland, beginning February 4 in Allegany County. Carol Harsh, Director of Museum on Main Street, tells us more about how this program impacts the small communities it serves.

Small Museums in Maryland

Jan 19, 2017
Lindsey Baker

This episode originally aired on June 25, 2015

From local history to living history, the arts to architecture, Maryland is host to hundreds of Museums statewide, many of which are small and led by teams of dedicated volunteers. Every Maryland County has a historical society, complimented by dozens of local historical groups.

The Work of William Christenberry

Jan 12, 2017

On today's Humanities Connection, Kimberly Gladfelter Graham, curator of the exhibit "Laying-by Time: Revisiting the Works of William Christenberry" at the Maryland Institute College of Art, tells us about Christenberry's artistry and vision.  

The B&O and the Track to Smalltimore

Jan 5, 2017
Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Matt Crenson, Professor Emeritus in Johns Hopkins University's Department of Political Science, tells us how the B&O Railroad impacted the entire course of Baltimore's economic growth.

On Forgiveness

Dec 29, 2016

In Pt. 2 of our series with the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies, Dr. Benjamin Sax tells us about the Jewish theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel and his philosophy on forgiveness.

Following the Example of Dorothy Day

Dec 22, 2016

Dr. Heather Miller Rubens, Executive Director at the Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies tells us how social activist Dorothy Day's life and legacy of generosity can  be an example to all of us.