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Books

'Represented': Black Buying Power and the American Dream

The unheralded and underappreciated PR exec. Moss Kendrix is the de facto hero in Brenna Wynn Greer's enlightening history of Black marketers and the evolving depiction of Black people in mass media.

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Film

Be Kind. Please Rewind: An Ode to the VCR

Like Netflix, the VCR diluted and transformed the film itself.

Books

Why Do We Travel? On Erika Fatland's 'Sovietistan'

Social anthropologist Erika Fatland eschews many of the clichés of Post-Soviet travel writing, providing an incident-packed trip to a vast, often-overlooked region in Sovietistan.

Film

The Kids Are Not All Right: Jean-Gabriel Périot's 'A German Youth'

Jean-Gabriel Périot's documentary on the rise and fall of Germany's radical Red Army Faction (RAF), A German Youth, warns how each generation's sins can evoke violent trauma amongst its progeny.

Culture

From Zeus to Superman: Why Do Superheroes Keep Coming Back?

Why, despite all the knowledge we've gained and the technology we've harnessed, do we cling to our mythologies?

Books

The Rolling Stones Go to College

The Cambridge Companion to the Rolling Stones, the first book of academic essays about the band, considers not only what the band accomplished, but why, 60 years since they formed, the Rolling Stones still matter.

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'Shapeshifters' and Other Trans-forming Humans

Supernatural Historian John Kachuba deftly demonstrates in Shapeshifters: A History that change is the only constant in life.

Books

The Book Every American Needs to Read: 'Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People'

Award-winning lawyer Ben Crump's Open Season irrefutably documents how America's treatment of Black Americans and other minorities is indistinguishable from genocide.

Books

Tlatelolco '68: The Democratic Struggle That Refuses to Die

The Mexican student struggle of 1968 reaches forward to democratic struggles today. Captured by Paco Ignacio Taibo II in two works, 1982's Calling All Heroes and this year's '68: The Mexican Autumn of the Tlatelolco Massacre, it's a powerful reminder of the resilience of democracy.

Books

Was the Great War a Supernatural War?

The memoirs of WWI soldiers are filled with references to seeing things that could not have been there. They knew that it was the war itself that haunted them, the war that became almost anthropomorphic, a self-conscious thing out to murder them.

Film

Cynthia Erivo's Performance Carries Kasi Lemmons' 'Harriet'

Cynthia Erivo's transcendent turn as Union spy, escaped slave, and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman shines through Kasi Lemmons' heroic but oversimplified biopic, Harriet.

Film

Bad and Mad: The Troubled and Troubling Pop Culture War Vet

In these trying times of Trump, as American chauvinism thumps its chest and loudly threatens those who question, there is little room for contemporary filmmakers, or policymakers, who encourage sympathy for the war-damaged, the wounded, the wrecked.

Film

Rupert Goold's 'Judy' and the Queer-ing of the Biopic

Recent queer icon films Judy, Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman tease their key audience while keeping one foot solidly in straight land. Is this progress?

Books

Ted Gioia's 'Music: A Subversive History' (By the Book)

"Sound," writes musician, author, and historian Ted Gioia in Music: A Subversive History, "is the ultimate source of genesis... A song can contain a cataclysm." In this beguiling excerpt, Gioia leads us to the sound of the universe itself.

Ted Gioia
Books

'The View from Somewhere' Exposes the Dangerous Myth of 'Objective' Reporting

'Objectivity' in journalism has become a shield for privilege and a weapon for right-wing pundits, argues Lewis Raven Wallace in his work, The View from Somewhere: Undoing the Myth of Journalistic Objectivity.

Books

The Cigarette: A Political History (By the Book)

Sarah Milov's The Cigarette restores politics to its rightful place in the tale of tobacco's rise and fall, illustrating America's continuing battles over corporate influence, individual responsibility, collective choice, and the scope of governmental power. Enjoy this excerpt from Chapter 5. "Inventing the Nonsmoker".

Sarah Milov
Books

Revolutionary Victor Serge Has a Message for Our Times

Victor Serge, a rare survivor of Stalin's Terror, had a keen, razor-sharp intelligence and made observations that are highly relevant to our troubled times.

Books

Move On Up: Chicago Soul Music and Black Cultural Power (By the Book)

In Move On Up, Aaron Cohen tells the remarkable story of the explosion of soul music in Chicago. This excerpt gives a taste of his engaging research into the rise of teenage culture and soul music's resistance against the city's infrastructural racism.

Books

By the Book: I'd Fight the World: A Political History of Old-Time, Hillbilly, and Country Music

I'd Fight the World explores the connection between country music and electoral politics, giving us a glimpse into how politicians used celebrity long before the rise of the "movie-actor president" and the "Twitter president".

Books

When Chicago Became a Shoppers' Paradise for Women, Men Had to Step Aside

Creating a culture of consumption in 20th century Chicago meant making space for shoppers, which meant integrating women into public life, in a downtown dominated by men. Historian Emily Remus revels in the ramifications of that cultural shift in A Shoppers' Paradise.

Books

'Out of Our Minds' Considers Freedom and Force, Coercion and Custom

In Out of Our Minds, Fernández-Armesto encourages readers to distrust visionaries who promise perfection.

Books

Generational Solidarity: Folk Band the Weavers and the Damages Done by the Red Scare

Wasn't That a Time digs into the Weaver's empathy for the working class struggle, which was weaponized and politicized against them by the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Books

Bearing the Weight of Jane Brox's 'Silence'

Solitary confinement; monastic discipline; gender discrimination: In Silence, Jane Brox explores how our circumstances shape our ideals, showing how authority muffles her not so quiet subject.

Comics

Fighting the '90s Culture Wars with Grant Morrison's 'The Invisibles'

In Pat Buchanan's 1992 presidential address he evoked fear of "crossdressers in our midst" as a metaphor for the infiltration of liberal political culture. Grant Morrison's The Invisibles comics proved he had reason to fear.

Film

Fear the Capitalists, Not the Pagan Witch: William McGregor on His Film, 'Gwen'

Director William McGregor reflects on how his fantastical period film, Gwen, began as a reaction to mainstream television, and how the capitalist antagonist will allow the film to continue to resonate with audiences in the future.

Books

On the Permeable Place Between Science and the Supernatural

Historian Richard Noakes interviews with PopMatters on his work, Physics and Psychics, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press, which offers fascinating insights into the 'heretical' activities of some of the most eminent scientists in Victorian Britain.

Books

For the Love of Japan: 'The Sakura Obsession'

Naoko Abe's The Sakura Obsession chronicles the struggle to preserve diversity in a world of compulsive uniformity.

Books

By the Book: 'An Encyclopedia of Political Record Labels'

Focusing on vinyl records and the labels that released them, An Encyclopedia of Political Record Labels traces the parallel rise of social movements in the second half of the twentieth century and the vinyl record as the dominant form of music distribution.

Books

Progress Is Not Linear, as 'The House of the Pain of Others' Reminds Us with Devastating Effect

Julián Herbert's The House of the Pain of Others is a masterly study that sheds light on the role played by educated elites in fomenting genocide.

Film

Lanthimos' 'The Favourite' Plays with History and Our Emotional Impulsivity

Stylistically risqué, The Favourite relates to a certain type of subversive British cinema from filmmakers such as Peter Greenaway, although it is not an imitation.

Books

Amplify: Graphic Narratives of Feminist Resistance

The juxtaposition of the comics and their prose-only afterwards in Amplify are intriguing, but the result is a surprising undercurrent of mistrust in comics to represent history independently of traditional scholarly apparatus.

Books

Will a New Form of Socialism Rise? On Bhaskar Sunkara's 'The Socialist Manifesto'

Socialists need to do better in fighting against identity-based discrimination, as editor of Jacobin Bhaskar Sunkara notes in The Socialist Manifesto, but that struggle will only be effective if waged as part of a larger struggle against neoliberal capitalism.

Books

'Dead Precedents' Explores How Hip-Hop Created the Future

Roy Christopher's dense book-length essay, Dead Precedents, takes much of what is now axiomatic about hip-hop and reminds us how revolutionary its innovations and practices really were.

Books

'Which Side Are You On?: 20th Century American History in 100 Protest Songs' Doth Protest Too Little

Ironically, James Sullivan's liberalism is fundamental to what's wrong with Which Side Are You On?: 20th Century American History in 100 Protest Songs.

Books

Some of the Most Maligned Tools of Modern Democracy Are Viewed in a New Light in Saaf's Reissued 'A Significant Year'

Part diary, part travelogue, and part social science study, Abdallah Saaf's A Significant Year examines Morocco's 2007 elections with a perspective on all modern democracies.

Film

'In the Intense Now' and the Clash and Clangor of Conflict

João Moreira Salles's melancholic documentary, In the Intense Now (No Intenso Agora) stitches together amateur footage of the riots of 1968 to create a riveting rumination on the glee and disillusionment of idealism.

Books

'Dramatic Exchanges' Offers a Delightful Epistolary History of the National Theatre

Daniel Rosenthal's illuminating collection in Dramatic Exchanges brings together some of the letters, postcards, telegrams, and emails exchanged by actors, playwrights, directors and other creatives involved in the National Theatre's story.

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