Recent Features
Sharing the Prize: The Economics of the Civil Rights Revolution in the American South

Gavin Wright's work makes clear that the material benefits of the civil rights acts of the '60s are as significant as the moral ones—an especially timely achievement as these monumental pieces of legislation, and the efficacy of governmental intervention more broadly, face new challenges.

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United by Default: The Very Diverse Counter-Protesters to the Westboro Haters

WBC’s warped logic that dead soldiers are divine retribution for America’s tolerance of homosexuality aligns bikers, LGBT people and many others in unexpected ways.

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On Ladies Men and the Ladies Who Love Them: An Interview with Betsy Prioleau

Betsy Prioleau's Swoon: Great Seducers and Why Women Love Them provides an enjoyable and eminently readable portrait of consistent and effective themes in seduction throughout human history.

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Scott Walker, The Only One Left Alive

Scott Walker is succeeding, devilishly well, at keeping himself to himself. Each release finds him more withheld to the point where the solipsism on Bish Bosch becomes deafening. We’re still here Scott, some of us anyway, and we are not all store-room dummies.

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The Pop Culture Death Trap, Part 3: Grief and Immortality

Through the act of collective mourning, we elevate dead celebrities to near-divinity. The need is both a primitive and a decidedly American one: to define ourselves by something other than an alienating individualism.

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18 Mar 2013 // 10:30 PM

I Read the News Today, Oh, Boy

Listening to the NRA's Wayne LaPierre speak around the massacring of children without missing a beat, it's easy to agree with Lewis Black that this century is starting to look just as physically dangerous as the last one—even if, as Steven Pinker claims, it's actually more peaceful.

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“Just Walk Into That Cloud”: Finding Bhutan in Books and Film

"Happy peasants in bountiful fields. A King who's too good to be true.... I'm making photos, shooting video and collecting stories. Everybody in Bhutan's got a story -- some of them might even be true."

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Anatomy of a Viral Smash: Bauuer’s ‘Harlem Shake’

So are you ready to gouge out your eyes and slice off your ears if forced to endure one more version of “Harlem Shake”? With 700 million views and counting, someone’s paying attention. The question is: What made it into such a viral smash?

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In Defense of Reveling in the Heady Feeling That Is Spring

With the vernal equinox right around the corner, let's revel in that feeling that the sap is finally rising, again.

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The Angel of History’s Outstretched, Crumpled Wings: Marketing David Bowie

The process of arrival behind David Bowie’s The Next Day album was revelatory and every bit deserving of Harvard Business Review case-study.

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‘How to Survive a Plague’: Critical Lessons for a New Era

How to Survive a Plague portrays an important era in LGBT history, a time when the gay community banded together in a way that politics or prejudice could never have fostered.

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Everyone Lost: Protest Art and the Iraq War

While people were killing and dying, what did it matter whether there were decent songs being sung, insightful films being produced, appropriate art being inspired? When did poetry ever stop a war?

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7 Mar 2013 // 2:45 AM

I Love This Town: Leslie Knope and the Rural Brain Drain

In presenting both extreme affection and disdain toward the fictional town of Pawnee, Parks and Recreation captures the very mixed feelings many people have regarding their nonfictional hometown.

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The Stars Are Out Tonight at Our Thoughtless Instigation: David Bowie’s New Day

In an era when the Stones relentlessly seek to extend, exploit and parlay their accrued fame (as do legions of lesser legacy acts), David Bowie, ever the brave contrarian, is doing his level best to open the shutters on a fresh new day.

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3 Mar 2013 // 10:30 PM

I Write, Therefore I Am

Black people had plenty to say about slavery -- especially slaves themselves -- and as soon as they learned to write, they did.

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26 Feb 2013 // 10:10 PM

I Believe in Honey Boo Boo

While critics have been severely judgemental of the Thompson family’s poverty and “trashiness", this concern actually ignores that the Boo Boo Clan embodies core American values.

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The Pop Culture Death Trap Part 2: The Death of Beauty

Despite having seen it all before – the rock star and the blonde actress – we look on each such instance of celebrity death with the same mixture of surprise, curiosity, horror, and glee. Pop culture reflects our capacity to simultaneously ignore death and make of it an obsession.

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The Pop Culture Death Trap Part 1: The Athlete as Hieroglyph

In a money- and youth-driven culture that seems to understand nearly all human activity as part of a contest, death, like poverty, has come to be associated, however imprecisely, with losing.

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‘Pray the Gay Away’: On Being Beaten with the Bible Belt

A mother attempting to stab her own daughter, an exorcism, a school suspending a student -- author Bernadette Barton describes growing up in the religious South.

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Comics-in-Chief: Laughing With (and At) the Presidents - The Growth of Democracy & the Flow of Humor

“Greatest” and “worst” president surveys continue to reveal what is surely not just a coincidence: we have always and still continue to revere our wits in the White House.

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