Humanities at Home

Humanities at Home

With so many of our community members staying at home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we at the Center are reminded of our commitment to create spaces for intellectual engagement and discussion.  Despite the challenges presented by illness, our partners across the globe have inspired us to seek creative solutions and offer online experiences so we can maintain our relationship with the South Florida community and beyond.  We are therefore pleased to present the Humanities at Home initiative, comprised of different opportunities to engage with your community online.

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  • Virtual Book Club

    The University of Miami Center for the Humanities is pleased to present a Virtual Book Club alongside our partners at the Center for Humanities & the Arts at the Universty of Colorado Boudler, as part of the Humanities at Home initiative.  After a successful Virtual Book Club discussion of Ross Gay's The Book of Delights in spring 2020, we will continue the Virtual Book Club with a discussion of Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron in July 2020.

    The Decameron is one of the literary masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance. It tells of ten wealthy Florentines, three men and seven women, who flee to the countryside to escape the Black Death and pass their time in quarantine by telling ten stories a day over the course of ten days. The introductory framework provides an unusually vivid picture of the impact of a premodern pandemic, which may be of particular interest, given the present COVID-19 pandemic. The stories abound in trickery, sex, love, piety, and impiety, and provide a humorous window into Renaissance culture. 

    How the Virtual Book Club works:

    The book is organized according to the number of days the characters spend telling stories.  Each day, the characters share their stories or "novels" to pass the time.  Although we encourage participants to read as much of the book as they'd like, the Zoom discussion at the end of July will focus on the following sections of the book:  

    • Proem (Introductory Section) 
    • First Day: Novels 1 and 2
    • Second Day: Novel 9
    • Third Day: Novel 4
    • Fourth Day: Novel 1
    • Fifth Day: Novel 3
    • Sixth Day: Novels 7 and 10
    • Seventh Day: Novel 5
    • Ninth Day: Novel 2


    If you are interested in participating, please register here by Friday, July 3rd to allow enough time to read the above sections (although we will accept new members through July 2020). 

    After registering, participants will then receive a follow-up email with more information, discussion questions, and links to the following Zoom discussions:

    Zoom Meeting 1:  The first discussion session will be scheduled for Thursday, July 16th at 7pm EST and will be an informal meeting where participants can "meet" each other and share initial reactions.  This session will not be facilitated by a group leader, but will allow for open and casual conversation.

    Zoom Meeting 2: The second and final discssion will be held on Thursday, July 30th at 7pm EST and will be led by Professor Hugh Thomas. 

    How to sign up:

    If you’d like to sign up, please complete this form. This virtual book club is open to anyone interested in participating, regarless of UM affiliation or location. 

    We encourage you to sign up by Friday, July 3rd to allow enough time to read the above sections, but we will accept new members throughout July 2020. 

    How to access the book:

    There are many translations of the book available and you are welcome to read any.  Professor Thomas will be using the J.M. Rigg translation, which you can access online here.  If you prefer to purchase a hard copy, we encourage you to consider using an independent book store, although copies are also avaialble through Amazon.


  • UM Faculty Webinars and Recordings

    In this section, we provide links to talks given by our own University of Miami faculty.  Although all videos feature strong humanistic content, some videos are newly developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


    • Thursday, June 4th at 5pm: "How to EmbRACE Change and Find Your Way Forward"
      • The UM Alumni Association and LGBTQ Canes will present a webinar with Chris Rackliffe, UM alumni, author of How to EmbRACE Change and Find Your Way Forward.  Join and listen as Chris seeks to help attendees in navigating a relationship with CHANGE and how to learn to EmbRACE it! Register here.


    • Wednesday, June 3rd at 12:30pm: "Are You Staying Socially Connected and Mentally Fit While Social Distancing?
      • As part of the College of Arts and Sciences "Feed Your Mind" interactive learning sessions, Dr. Deborah Jones Weiss and Dr. Steven Safren will share their thoughts on how to manage mental health to prevent burnout. The session will be followed by a brief guided meditation by Dr. Lunthita Duthely.  Click here to register!


    • Wednesday, May 20th at 12:30pm: "Will International Security Change in the Age of COVID-19?"
      • As part of the College of Arts and Sciences "Feed Your Mind" interactive learning sessions, Professor Bradford McGuinn, Director of the Master of Arts in International Administration Program and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Political Science, will share his thoughts on the changing nature of international security in the age of COVID-19.  From a world of contending states to societies torn by conflict to the global health challenge facing all of us: our sense of security – being safe, feeling safe – has been redefined. At a time when the norms and institutions meant to foster international cooperation are facing their greatest test since the Second World War, we will examine the impact of COVID-19 and whether it will deepen our divisions or induce a renewed commitment to our common security.  Click here to reserve your seat today.




    • "The Black Death to Coronavirus: Linking Pandemics from History to Today"
      • If you missed the live webinar, you can view the recording here.  Use this password to join: 5a.a7247.  In this pop-up lecture, Hugh Thomas, Professor of History and Driector of our Center, discusses the "Great Mortality" of the middle of the 14th century and the parallels to the current pandemic.  What do the differences between the impact and experiences of the two plagues tell us about modern society and what lessons might we learn?



  • Other Resources


    In this section, we will list links to virtual programming and online resources provided by our friends and partner institutions.  Although this list is by no means comprehensive, we will do our best to update the list periodically as we become aware of new opportunities.


    Select Webinars and Virtual Events

    • On Thursday April 23 from 4:00-5:00 PM EST, Floida International University's College of Arts, Sciences, and Education - with support from the Spencer Foundation - will be hosting an important webinar entitled “Supporting Online Learning for English Learners and Students with Limited Formal Education.” This webinar will be vital for anyone working with English learners during this time. Click here to register and contact Dr. Ryan Pontier at for more details. 
    • On Friday, May 15 from 1:00-3:00 PM EST, the Medieval Academy of America presents a webinar: "The Mother of All Pandemics: The State of Black Death Research in the Era of Covid-19.  Panelists will discuss how work in genetics has transformed the kinds of questions that historians and researchers in allied fields can now ask about this pandemic. Please join for this important conversation as we seek to understand what the medieval epidemic can teach us about the causes of, societal response to, and economic recovery from COVID-19.  Learn more and access the zoom meeting here
    • On Friday, May 15th from 11am to 12pm, Dr. Joe Stoltz of the Fred W. Smith Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon present "FIU in DC: National Leadership in Times of Crisis: Historical Perspective."  Stoltz and Smith will explore how the role of the federal government during pandemics and other disasters has changed over the years.  Register here
    • On Thursday, June 11th at 4pm, the FIU Center for the Humanities in an Urban Environment invite the public to attend "Black Humanity Matters: A Teach-In on the Crisis of Race in America."  The event, designed to amplify the voices of South Florida community members speaking out against racism, will feature mini lectures by scholars and activists from across the country. Join HERE.  If viewer capacity is reached on Zoom, you may also join the Livestream Simulcast on CHUE’s Facebook page






    Weekly Event: Coffee and Conversations

    • The Wolfsonian Public Humanities Lab will be hosting its next Coffee and Conversations: Cultural Institutions in Times of Crisis event this Thursday 23 April at 10 AM. Join Rebecca Friedman for a conversation with Susan Gladstone, Director of the Jewish Museum of Florida.  Join at
    • On Thursday, April 30th at 10am: Join Rebecca Friedman, Director of the Wolfsonian Public Humanities Lab and Julio Capó, Jr., Deputy Director, Wolfsonian Public Humanities Lab, for a discussion on how leaders in the cultural world are confronting this global pandemic crisis.  Guests include representatives from the Wilzig Museum Building in Berlin, the Wilzig Erotic Art Museum, and the Wilzig Museum Building.  Join here
    • On Thursday, May 7th at 10am: Join acclaimed writer Ana Menéndez for a conversation with Mitchell Kaplan, President of Books & Books, about stories and ideas about how leaders in the cultural world are confronting this global pandemic crisis, from re-tooling to on-line exhibitions, to issues of resources and more.  Join here.
    • On Thursday, May 14th at 10am: Join Rebecca Friedman, Director of the Wolfsonian Public Humanities Lab, for a conversation with Alan Ket, Co-Founder of the Museum of Graffiti, about stories and ideas about how leaders in the cultural world are confronting this global pandemic crisis, from re-tooling to on-line exhibitions, to issues of resources and more. Join here.
    • On Thursday, June 4th at 10am, join David Rifkind, Affiliated Faculty, Wolfsonian Public Humanities Lab & Associate Professor, Architecture, for a conversation with Matteo Fochessati,  Curator, The Wolfsoniana Study Center in Genoa about stories and ideas about how leaders in the cultural world are confronting this global pandemic crisis, from re-tooling to on-line exhibitions, to issues of resources and more.  Join here.
    • On Thursday, June 11th at 10am, join Ana Menéndez, Director, Humanities Edge Program at FIU, for a conversation with Lissette Mendez. Director of Programs, Miami Book Fair at Miami Dade College about stories and ideas about how leaders in the cultural world are confronting this global pandemic crisis, from re-tooling to on-line exhibitions, to issues of resources and more.  Join here.


    Lowe Art Museum Programming at UM

    The Lowe offers great ways to engage, including free weekly Mindfulness Sessions online as well as Digitial Engagement projects, such as interactive tours and 3-D models of certain collections.

    Cuban Heritage Collection at UM

    The Cuban Heritage Collection is home to the largest repository of materials on Cuba outside of the island and the most comprehensive collection of resources about Cuban exile history and the global Cuban diaspora experience.  Consider engaging in their digital collections and exploring their online exhibits on topics such as the Cuban Rafter Phenomenon, the writings of Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, and more!

    National Endowment for the Humanities 

    Review NEH's work including HUMANITIES Magazine articles, their blog, and projects on a variety of topics from superheroes to WWI America to Islamic manuscripts.

    National Humanities Center: Humanities In Class Digital Library 

    The Humanities in Class Digital Library is an Open Education Resources (OER) platform, providing you with direct access to all of our online educational content. Individual educators and scholars, cohorts and schools, districts and states are encouraged to join and contribute. The digital library offers many useful features to help you more easily discover, remix, and share humanities content, including lectures, primary sources, and more!  View webinars like “The History of White Supremacy” led by incoming NHC Fellow and Duke University historian Adriane Lentz-Smith or the America in Class lesson on "The Columbian Exchange.”  Register for your free membership today!


    Museum Exhibits

    • Use Google Arts & Culture to access a 360-degree tour of the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar, featuring masterpieces that span 1,400 years.
    • Access virtual tours of exhibitions and collections at The Louvre incuding "The Advent of the Artist" the "Galerie d'Apollon" and their collection of Egyptian Antiquities.
    • Take a virtual tour of the Guggenheim Museum and get a close-up look at select pieces. 
    • Smithsonian, National Museum of Natural History virtual tours allow visitors to take self-guided, room-by-room tours of select exhibits and areas within the museum from their desktop or mobile device.  Explore current exhibits such as "African Voices" and "Eternal Life in Ancient Egypt."
    • The British Museum has partnered with Google to present The Musuem of the World, featuring an interactive timeline that allows you to filter by region and topic of interest.

    FIU Center for the Humanities in an Urban Evironment

    Explore the FIU Center's page for links to videos such as their recent webinar, "Contagious: The Outbreak Narrative" and as well as videos featured in their "What is LatinX" series, including a Reading with Author Reyna Grande and An Interview with Author Reyna Grande.

    Obermann Center at the University of Iowa

    Our friends at the Obermann Center have published a growing video series, Pandemic Insights.  In this series, scholars and artists explore the impact of the pandemic through their work.  

    Center for Humanities and the Arts at the University of Colorado Boulder

    In addition to partnering with us on our Virtual Book Club, our colleagues at Boulder have created an Anti-Asian Racism and COVID-19 webpage where you can review a brief hstory of anti-Asian sentiment and learn more about how to become an anti-racist ally. 

    Virtual Tours

    • The Virtual Angkor project features 360 degree panoramas that enable you to look around the city as if you were standing in a particular spot at a particular time.  Although they are best experienced with a Virtual Reality headset such as a Google Daydream, the videos displayed can be moved around with a mouse or cursor, giving you some sense of how the city looked and a limited capacity to interact with the wider landscape.
    • Take a virtual tour of Machu Picchu and feel as if you're exploring this Inca citadel by foot.  The tour includes optional audio clips offering a brief overview of its history and commentary on architectural elements and spiritual significance. 
    • Visit the Great Wall of China from the comfort of home and enjoy the stunning panaramic views. 
    • Take a virtual tour of The Taj Mahal and explore the grounds and interor of the momument's buildings. 
    • Explore Stonehenge via virtual tour and click on the hotspots to learn more about sepcific features.  English Heritage's site also offers an opportunity see live footage from the center of the stone circle through Skyscape.
    • Take a Virtual Tour of the Acropolis Monuments, including the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athene Nike.  Images and panaramos are complemented with desrciptive information.

  • Archived Programs

    Virtual Book Club: May 2020

    The University of Miami Center for the Humanities is pleased to partner with the Universty of Colorado Boulder's Center for Humanities and the Arts in presenting a virtual book club, as part of the Humaniites at Home initiative.  For April and May of 2020, we will be discussing Ross Gay's essay collection, The Book of Delights (Algonquin Books 2019), which the jacket blurb describes as: 


    “one of today’s most original literary voices offers up a genre-defying volume of lyric essays written over one tumultuous year. The first nonfiction book from award-winning poet Ross Gay is a record of the small joys we often overlook in our busy lives. Among Gay’s funny, poetic, philosophical delights: a friend’s unabashed use of air quotes, cradling a tomato seedling aboard an airplane, the silent nod of acknowledgment between the only two black people in a room. But Gay never dismisses the complexities, even the terrors, of living in America as a black man or the ecological and psychic violence of our consumer culture or the loss of those he loves. More than anything else, though, Gay celebrates the beauty of the natural world—his garden, the flowers peeking out of the sidewalk, the hypnotic movements of a praying mantis.”

    Gay was also recently part of a This American Life episode on delight.


    How the Virtual Book Club works:

    Since the book is comprised as a series of 102 very short essays, we will divide the book into quarters so people can participate as they are able.  The suggested reading schedule is:

    • By April 17: Chapters 1-25
    • By April 24: Chapters 26-50
    • By May 1: Chapters 51-75
    • By May 8: Chapters 76 – 102


    If you are interested in participating, you'll be asked to complete a brief form (see below) and we will follow up with more detailed instructions by email.  There will be two main ways to participate: 

    1. We hope to offer 1-2 discussion sessions via Zoom.  These sessions will be led by UM faculty.  Those from the Boulder cohort may also choose to join these sessions and likewise, any Miami cohort partcipant may request to participate in the Boulder zoom meetings, although they are on a slightly different reading schedule.
    2. All participants will be given access to a "Slack workplace," a messaging platform that allows all readers to respond to specific discussion topics and to exchange thoughts and ideas. You can download the free Slack app here and watch a tutorial for those unfamiliar with using Slack.


    How to sign up:

    If you’d like to sign up, please complete this form. This virtual book club is open to anyone interested in participating, whether they are affiliated with CU Boulder or University of Miami, live in Colorado or Florida, or are somewhere in the world and want to join in a discussion of Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights.  You will have the option to indicate interest in the Slack messaging tool, the Miami cohort zoom meetings, or both.  Registrants will be emailed details on how to join the Zoom and Slack discussions.

    We encourage you to sign up by Friday, April 10 to stay on track with the reading schedule, but will accept new members through May 2020.  


    How to access the book: