Defining what the humanities are is the first challenge the organizers of the third annual Downtown Bangor Public Humanities Day have to tackle. Broadly, the humanities are disciplines that study human culture — anything from art to anthropology, from history to media, from music to law, and everything in between. In short: the stuff that makes life worth living.

“The humanities are vital and dynamic, but are often hard to explain in a general way,” said Liam Riordan, a history professor at UMaine and, with UMaine folklorist Pauleena MacDougal, one of the organizers of the yearly event, this year set for Saturday, Jan. 24. “The public humanities events showcase the range of activities that count as the humanities, from music and the visual arts to philosophy, film, oral history and more.”

Public Humanities Day is a collaboration between the University of Maine’s Humanities Center and an array of Bangor organizations and individuals. For 2015, Public Humanities Day has moved from May to January to allow more University of Maine students to attend the various events. Encouraging dialogue between communities in UMaine and Bangor is part of the purpose behind Public Humanities Day.

“We hope the program will provide stimulating discussions, will be fun and will build personal connections between UMaine faculty and members of the Greater Bangor community,” said MacDougal.

Though the official Public Humanities Day is on Saturday, the event will kick off Friday night with a special Pecha Kucha presentation at 6 p.m. at Coespace on Columbia St. in downtown Bangor. It will feature eight Pecha Kucha presentations from an array of individuals, including Celtic musician Chuck Donnelly, novelist Gregory Howard and the Bangor Daily News’ editorial writer Erin Rhoda, who will present her multimedia project that asked BDN readers how they define Maine culture. There is a $6 suggested donation.

Saturday’s events include:

— A concert by the Bangor Area Children’s Choir, 11 a.m. at the Maine Discovery Museum.

— Brown bag lecture and discussion on “The Book in the Digital Age,” with speakers including UMaine press director Michael Alpert, UMaine librarian Deb Rollins, Joshua Bodwell of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance and Barbara McDade of the Bangor Public Library, noon at the Bangor Public Library.

— Curatorial guided tour of the University of Maine Museum of Art with director George Kinghorn and artist’s talk by Brenton Hamilton, 1 p.m. at the University of Maine Museum of Art.

— Philosophy Tea with UMaine philosophy professor Kirsten Jacobson, discussing the relationship between knowledge and the concept of wonder, 3 p.m. at the Bangor Public Library; downloadable discussion prompt online at

— Screening of the film “An Oral Historian’s Work,” about the life and work of Sandy Ives and the Maine Folklife Center, with discussion led by David Weiss of Northeast Historic Film, 4 p.m. at the Bangor Public Library.

For more information about Downtown Bangor Public Humanities Day, visit, which also features other humanities-related events in Maine.

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.