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Friday, April 11 2014

Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk Was America’s Favorite Spectator Sport

In the late 1800s, America’s most popular spectator sport wasn’t baseball, boxing, or horseracing—it was competitive walking. Indeed, when a New York arena overbooked, fans rioted.


Friday, April 4 2014

Pranksters: Making Mischief in the Modern World

From Benjamin Franklin's hoax about the the death of his rival to Abbie Hoffman’s attempt to levitate the Pentagon to Stephen Colbert’s “news reporting”, pranksters, hoaxers, and con artists use humor to underscore larger, pointed truths about society.


Friday, March 21 2014

Inferno: An Anatomy of American Punishment

In the last 20 years, America’s incarceration rates have risen 500 percent. Sentences are harsh, prisons are overcrowded, life inside is dangerous, and rehabilitation programs don't work. Do we want our prisons to be this way?


Friday, March 14 2014

Sex Scene: Media and the Sexual Revolution

Sex Scene suggests that what we have come to understand as the sexual revolution of the late '60s and early '70s was actually a media revolution.


Friday, March 7 2014

The Scarlet Sisters: Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in the Gilded Age

Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee "Tennie" Claflin -- the most fascinating and scandalous sisters in American history -- were unequaled for their vastly avant-garde crusade for women's fiscal, political, and sexual independence.


Friday, February 21 2014

Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear

Martin Luther King, Jr., narrowly escaped a mob attack; protesters were teargassed by state police; Lyndon Johnson refused to intervene; and Stokely Carmichael led the chant that would define a new kind of civil rights movement: Black Power.


Friday, February 14 2014

Lifted: A Cultural History of the Elevator

Before skyscrapers forever transformed urban landscapes, the conveyance that made them possible had to be created.


Tuesday, February 4 2014

What Is Not Erased: Kafka and Lynch and Their Gift of Death

Eraserhead is very much of the same ilk as The Metamorphosis, and could be described to be a dark(er) twin of that novella.


Friday, January 24 2014

Elegy for Theory

While university curriculums are being driven by scientism and market forces, Rodowick argues for the importance of the arts and humanities as transformative, self-renewing cultural legacies.


Tuesday, December 24 2013

Unhappy Holidays? Conflicts, Contradictions and the Ghosts of Christmas Music Past and Present

How do we reconcile the joyous holiday season with a nagging sensation that it might not be as jolly as it should be?


Friday, December 13 2013

Why Fanfiction Is Taking Over the World

From Star Trek to The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Harry Potter, Twilight, and beyond, Fic sheds light on the widely misunderstood world(s) of fanfiction and how it is reshaping our literary landscape.


Friday, December 6 2013

The Punishment Imperative: The Rise and Failure of Mass Incarceration in America

Eminent criminologists make a compelling case for why America's 40 year embrace of the punitive spirit has been morally bankrupt and endangered public safety.


Friday, November 8 2013

Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him

Controversial and somewhat enigmatic, Richard Pryor’s performances opened up a new world of possibilities, merging fantasy with angry reality in a way that wasn’t just new—it was heretofore unthinkable.


Wednesday, November 6 2013

Experiencing Nirvana: An Interview with Bruce Pavitt

Bruce Pavitt, co-founder of Sub Pop Records, talks about the early days of Sub Pop, indie culture in the 1980s, and his new book about breaking the most legendary band of the '90s in Europe, Experiencing Nirvana: Grunge in Europe, 1989.


Tuesday, October 29 2013

Americana: The Kinks, the Riff, the Road: The Story

Ray Davies tries to make sense of his long love-hate relationship with America, the country that both inspired and frustrated him.


Friday, October 25 2013

Novelty: A History of the New

Novelty remains a central problem of contemporary science and literature—an ever-receding target that, in its complexity and evasiveness, continues to inspire and propel the modern.


Friday, October 18 2013

Merle Haggard: The Running Kind

Merle Haggard’s music helped invent the America we live in today. David Cantwell explores the fascinating contradictions that define not only Haggard’s music and public persona, but the very heart of American culture.


Friday, September 20 2013

Sweet Dreams: The World of Patsy Cline

Country music singer Patsy Cline embodied the power and appeal of women in country music, and helped open the lucrative industry to future female solo artists.


Friday, September 13 2013

The Vagina: A Literary and Cultural History

In our postmodern, porn-obsessed culture, vaginas appear to be everywhere, literally or symbolically -- yet they are as silenced as they are objectified. The Vagina examines the paradox of female genitalia through literature, film, TV, visual, and performance art.


Wednesday, September 11 2013

Take a Look, It’s in an eBook: An Interview with LeVar Burton

From Roots to Star Trek and well beyond, LeVar Burton says that his time on Reading Rainbow was "the most important thing I've ever done." With a new app to encourage reading, he tells us how its legacy will extend to a whole new generation.


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