William D. Adams, Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities
Thank you, Mary Jo.
My name is William Adams, and I’m the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, a grant-making agency of the United States government that is one of the largest sources of grant funds for humanities projects and programs in the United States.
Our records over the past fifty years include at least 30 different grants related to Ernest Hemingway, whose house we are so honored to visit today as part of our delegation’s activities. These projects range from scholarly editions of thousands of Hemingway’s surviving letters, to the preservation of archives containing his novels and drafts, to a documentary film about his editor Max Perkins, to literary biographies and Hemingway teaching guides. So here in this house, his house, it seems especially appropriate to be talking about our work in the humanities.
NEH’s support for projects related to Ernest Hemingway is representative of our broader commitment to the knowledge of history, thought, values and culture, not only in the United States, but also in other countries around the world, including Cuba. Since the agency’s founding in 1965, we have awarded 80 grants totaling more than $2.5 million to dozens of scholars, educators, and filmmakers who make Cuba the focus of their work. They have studied Cuban history and culture, and they have explored Cuba’s rich artistic traditions in music, dance, and literature.
At this historic moment in the relationship between our two countries, the humanities have a vital, indeed essential, role to play in building bridges of understanding and collaboration between the Cuban and American peoples.
No one understands better the significance of the humanities and their importance to public life than David Brooks. One of our country’s leading writers and commentators, David is an astute and important observer of American culture and politics, a widely read author of best-selling books and essays, and a deep thinker whose writing draws upon the humanities at every turn. His inspiring and insightful columns for the New York Times represent the humanities in action, and his writing regularly encourages his vast readership to take seriously the perspectives of philosophers, historians, and literary heroes and heroines. David’s work shows us how much the humanities matter to understanding and resolving the complex challenges of modern life, challenges that confront us both as individuals and as societies. It is a unique privilege to watch his mind at work. Along with all of you, I’m sure, I look forward to his reflections prompted by this moment, and by the presence of all of us in this important place, where one of America’s most important writers found so much inspiration.
Please welcome David Brooks.