In 2016, the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities presents What is the 21st Century Essay?, a series of programs to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Prizes through Pulitzer’s Campfires Initiative. An exploration of the changing nature of journalism and the humanities in the digital age, What is the 21st Century Essay? programming will thematically focus on environmental issues because of their urgency and relevance to our health, communities, and economy. As a catalyst for the statewide humanities community, the Humanities Council is collaborating with several partners to produce the What is the 21st Century Essay? Pulitzer series, which will include performances, salons, conferences, multimedia interpretations, and publications.
Pulitzer in RI Podcast:
This podcast featured journalists, scholars, practitioners, and Rhode Island community members joining us to explore the intersections of journalism, the humanities, and the environment.
Episode 1: Stephen Henderson, Detroit Free Press Editorial Page Editor
Episode 2: Sarah Schweitzer, The Boston Globe, Feature Reporter
Episode 3: Margo Jefferson, Pulitzer Prize winning author
Episode 4: Silvered: Tracing Gorham at Mashapaug Pond – a conversation with Erik Carlson, Erik Gould, and Holly Ewald
*A note from the Council: This podcast included multiple partners, please excuse the minor audio challenges. Thanks for listening!
The 2016 year of programming included the following conferences, lectures, and performances. Please check out the What is the 21st Century Essay? Blog for a unique window into each event written by Providence-based writer and historian Jane Gerhard:
● Friday, March 18: The Essay in Public conference was a one-day exploration of approaches to long-form, humanities-rich journalism with keynotes by Sarah Schweitzer, Boston Globe reporter and 2015 Pulitzer Prize finalist for feature writing, and Stephen Henderson, Detroit Free Press reporter and 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner for Commentary. The conference took place at the URI downtown Providence campus.
● June 23-25, 2016: The Ocean State Writer’s Conference at URI included featured speaker Margo Jefferson as part of the Pulitzer Series. Learn more about the conference at web.uri.edu/summerwriting.
● Friday, September 23: Silvered: Tracing Gorham at Mashapaug Pond
Part of a series of short films celebrating the ecology, history, and culture of Mashapaug Pond. A multimedia experience by Erik Carlson and Erik Gould was shown at J.T. Owens Park on the UPP Arts! floating sculpture screen.
● November 4, 2016: “Writing Nature” with Akiko Busch
Akiko Busch, author of The Incidental Steward, discussed the way that essay form promotes a kind of collaborative thinking, accommodating both sciences and humanities at a Providence Athenaeum Salon. Mining the works of groundbreaking naturalists for their ruminations on the relationship of science, literature, and human emotion, she looks for evidence of how the practice of citizen science, as it is practiced by naturalists today, generates a new manner of observation and documentation.
● November 19, 2016: Of Nature Composed, a signature Aurea Premiere
This signature Aurea Ensemble premiere explored the intersection of nature, science, the arts and humanities in celebration of the Pulitzer Prize centennial and the sanctity of our environment. Of Nature Composed includes the music of 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner, John Luther Adams; American Modernist, Charles Ives, and Renaissance composer, Johannes Ockeghem; with words of the American contemporary Pulitzer Prize winning poets, Galway Kinnell and Mary Oliver; and naturalists, Henry David Thoreau and John Muir.
● January 17, 2017: “Story in the Public Square” with Dan Fagin
The Pulitzer What is the 21st Century Essay? edition of “Story in the Public Square” featured 2014 Pulitzer winning science and environmental journalist and NYU professor Dan Fagin. He and co-hosts Jim Ludes, executive director of the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University, and G. Wayne Miller, reporter at the Providence Journal, discussed the role of journalism in the 21st century and the need to develop stories that engage with audiences–readers, listeners, tweeters–as citizens.
“Story in the Public Square” airs on Rhode Island PBS in Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts on Sundays at 11:00 am and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 pm. An audio version of the program airs Saturdays at 8:30 am and 6:30 pm ET and Sundays at 1:30 am and 12:30 pm ET on SiriusXM’s popular “POTUS: Politics of the United States” show on Channel 124.