Editor's Note

Editor’s Note

HUMANITIES, January/February 2016, Volume 37, Number 1

Choreographer. The familiar word for one who conceives and directs a piece of dance was little used before the 1930s, a surprising fact that surfaces in Peter Tonguette’s essay on George Balanchine. Fortunately, the term arrived on the scene just in time for the Russian émigré to personify it.

An NEH-supported exhibition at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore casts a searchlight across the connections among artists and patrons in the Mughal, Safavid, and Ottoman empires. Visitors to the museum report being stunned by the artistry of the show’s paintings and the extravagance of its objects, especially the jewel-encrusted firearm on page 16. David Soud reports on this and other wonders from Baltimore.

Another exhibition on our minds is the tour, beginning this month, of First Folios from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., to all 50 states and Puerto Rico. David Scott Kastan of Yale University, the author of several books on Shakespeare, reviews the unlikely history behind one of the most celebrated volumes in the English language. It turns out that one person who did not dwell much on the idea of collecting and preserving these plays was Shakespeare himself.

So often when we confront art we overlook the milieu from which it arose. All the more reason to appreciate someone like James Laughlin, the founder of New Directions Publishing, who accepted a background role for himself in exchange for a chance to help bring modernism to American letters. NEH research fellow Greg Barnhisel tells how a rich kid from Pittsburgh became a big-time literary operator.

From the creation of culture we shift to its reception in Andrew Reiner’s essay on Colonial Williamsburg, the grandfather of American preservation projects. Our enthusiastic, well-researched essay by Reiner is a reminder that writers, whatever else they may be, are also individuals uniquely compelled to follow wherever their curiosity leads.

One more thing. In the last eight years, our readership has grown mightily, especially on the Internet as aggregators and social media have extended the reach of our little government magazine. In recognition of this, we are shifting some of our magazine features online to neh.gov/humanities and beginning a broader effort at developing the same classic content using digital media formats. For starters, the beloved Curio section will become the foundation of a regular blog, as we look to take note of more of what is new and happening in the humanities. Impertinent Questions as well is moving to the web, sure to become the basis of a more dynamic interview format.

We look forward to seeing you there. And here.