National Arts and Humanities Month is held every October, and coordinated by the Americans for the Arts. In Indiana, there are humanities events lurking in every corner, every day of every month. But this month, we’re especially highlighting ways for Hoosiers to get a taste of the humanities.
So, what are the humanities you might ask?
Here’s a response from the Council’s president and CEO Keira Amstutz:
Once, after a dance performance, Isadora Duncan was asked what the dance meant. Her response has become famous as a terse description of art’s purpose: “If I could tell you what it meant,” she said, “there would be no point in dancing it.”
In my role as president and CEO of the Indiana Humanities Council, I often find myself being asked, “What are the humanities?” And sometimes, like Isadora Duncan, I think it’d be easier to dance than answer the question.
Why? Because sometimes describing the humanities is like describing the wind – it’s easier to say what it does than what it is. It swirls leaves on an autumn sidewalk. It teases a little girl’s hair. It pulses through a wheat field like waves on a landlocked sea.
So, I thought I’d explain what the humanities are by explaining what you can do — and perhaps already do — in, through and with them every day.
Read a novel.
See a play with a friend.
Visit a courtroom.
Look at a piece of art. Study it. Step back. Look at the piece beside it. Ask yourself: Why are these pieces next to each other?
Listen to a band.
Stop outside a building you pass every day; look at its design. Do you know the name for the architectural style? Do you like it? What appeals to you? What would you do differently?
Attend a lecture.
Speak at a public forum.
Sing in a choir.
Ask a question.
Tell someone your family’s history.
Recite a poem.
Describe a work of art.
Say what you think.
Now, think about what you’ve done. You’ve examined, studied and reviewed something made by humans or something that makes us human. You’ve thought about it, pondered it and processed it. And you’ve talked about it, debated it and discussed it.
That’s what the humanities are.
Finally, for a guide to Indiana humanities activities during October, visit Think.Read.Talk. We’ll publish weekly guides for Hoosiers to experience the humanities around the state.