The Vermont Humanities Council will host First Wednesday offerings at the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum and Goodrich Memorial Library in Newport on Jan. 7 at 7 p.m.

In St. Johnsbury, Dartmouth College Professor Allen Koop will discuss the history of The Appalachian Mountain Club's Hut System in an illustrated lecture, "The White Mountain Huts."

Koop will explain how the history of the huts reflects the larger issues of American history, but also how the huts and their people have formed a society with its own history, traditions, and legends.

Professor Koop graduated from Dartmouth College and then earned his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. He teaches courses in the History department at Dartmouth, primarily on 20th century European history and on the American health care system.

In Newport, philosophy scholar Susanne Claxton will discuss how self-examination contributes to a richer life in her talk, "The Examined Life."

Touching on the famous proclamation from Socrates--"The unexamined life is not worth living"--Claxton will explore what constitutes the examined life and how we may best pursue it.

Claxton is a PhD candidate in philosophy with expertise in Ancient thought and Existentialism, specifically, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Plato. Her particular interest is the role of Art and Myth in Ancient Greek thought with an emphasis on the place and importance of the "spiritual realm."

The Vermont Humanities Council's First Wednesdays series is held on the first Wednesday of every month from October through May in nine communities statewide, featuring speakers of national and regional renown. All First Wednesdays talks are free and open to the public.

Upcoming Newport talks are: "An Evening with E.B. White" with Dartmouth professor Nancy Jay Crumbine on Feb. 4; "Trains Come to Orleans County" with Vermont's Northland Journal editor Scott Wheeler on March 4; and "The Human Face of War: Combat, Healing, and the Humanities" with Soldier's Heart Clinic director Dr. Edward Tick on April 1.

Upcoming talks in St. Johnsbury include: "The Shia-Sunni Divide in Islam" with former Iranian Ambassador to the UN Mansour Farhang on Feb. 4; "Merton, Meditation, and More: The Appeal of Buddhism in the West" with Middlebury College professor Elizabeth Morrison on March 4; and "Homer's Odyssey, Narratives of Return for Combat Veterans" with Dartmouth Classics professor Roberta Stewart on April 1.

For more information, contact St. Johnsbury Athenaeum at 748-8291, the Goodrich Memorial Library at 334-7902, or the Vermont Humanities Council at 262-2626 or, or visit


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