Women on the Move: Gender and Mobility in American Culture, 1890–1950

In what ways do we associate movement—the ability to go anywhere and be anyone—with freedom? How do these relationships change when women are the ones on the move? Introduction In many ways, the American experience has been defined by the promise of mobility, that is, the freedom to go anywhere and become anyone. In fact,[…]

The Genderless Eighteenth-Century Prophet

In 1776, a 24-year-old Quaker woman named Jemima Wilkinson died of fever, and came back to life as a prophet known as the Publick Universal Friend. By Livia Gershon Understanding gender as a spectrum is a part of life in twenty-first century America. But gender-nonconforming people have always existed. Historian Scott Larson takes a look[…]

An Archaeologist Laments Ancient Losses in Syria

Armed conflict in Syria has been a disaster for the area’s cultural heritage. A displaced archaeologist describes what’s being lost. Introduction I used to be a Near Eastern archaeologist working in Syria. Nowadays, I am stuck in academic purgatory, observing from a great distance as the country burns, unable to help protect its history or[…]

The Prison Palimpsest: A Former Tour Guide Looks Back at Eastern State Penitentiary

More than 200 years ago, a group of Philadelphian reformers had a utopian vision of how prisons should be run. At work we notice a mummified cat. It rests in a pile of paint chips and splintered wood in the wreck of the prison warden’s quarters. The other tour guides and I venture across floorboards[…]

Behind This Cover Lies a World Treasure

A small and ornate book opens up to reveal one of the great masterpieces of Renaissance manuscript illumination. The exquisite Rothschild Prayer Book, one of a handful of peerless illuminated manuscripts produced at the end of the 15th and the early 16th centuries, will be the centrepiece of an exhibition featuring the collection of media[…]

Renaissance Woman: Isabella d’Este

Despite the restrictions women faced, her art collections demonstrate important renaissance themes. Introduction In European history classes, we often hear about renaissance men: Cosimo de’ Medici, Leonardo da Vinci, and Niccolò Machiavelli. Where were the women? The most famous female patron of the Italian renaissance was Isabella d’Este Gonzaga (1474–1539), marchioness of a territory in[…]

The Trial of Hannah Arendt: The Dangerous Act of Thinking in the Nazi Era

She caused a furor when she coined “the banality of evil” to describe mindless acts of Nazi horror. By Kathleen B. JonesWriter, Editor, Publisher “There are no dangerous thoughts; thinking itself is a dangerous activity.” Hannah Arendt Fifty years ago, on October 28, 1964, a televised conversation between the German-Jewish political theorist, Hannah Arendt, and the well-known[…]

1936, When FDR Was Bent on Creating a ‘New Political Order’

True or False? Franklin Delano Roosevelt claimed to be a conservative defender of the nation’s founding ideals. True or False? Franklin Delano Roosevelt claimed to be a conservative defender of the nation’s founding ideals. If you answered “both,” you’d be correct. We don’t tend to think of FDR as a conservative today, and at certain[…]

Crossing Borders Across Venetian, Habsburg and Ottoman Empires, 1500-1800

How the Ottoman, Habsburg, and Venetian empires interacted with each other and how their competition over southeastern Europe shaped these borderlands and their inhabitants? Introduction Between 1500 and 1800, three empires—Ottoman, Habsburg, and Venetian—competed for the lands and seas of southeast Europe. The arrival of Suleyman the Magnificent to the gates of Vienna in 1529[…]

Asylum in Ancient and Medieval Rome

Ancient Rome and its empire had the concept of asylum at its heart. Its legacy provided inspiration for centers of power around the world. Introduction The legacy of Ancient Rome has exerted a powerful influence on town halls and parliamentary buildings around the world, and especially Washington DC’s urban form and identity. With its classically[…]

Rights, Resistance, and Racism: The Story of the Mangrove Nine

Examining what prompted the backlash of black British people against the police. By Rowena Hillel and Vicky Iglikowski The trial of the nine arguably represents a high point of the Black Panther movement in the UK, showing the power of black activism and the institutionalised police prejudice. But what prompted the backlash of black British[…]

“The Last I Write to You”: The Courage of Youth Resisters in World War 2 France

About 3000 resisters, many under the age of 25, were tried in German military courts in France and executed. World War II in Europe was the cause of innumerable atrocities against civilians: for instance, the Shoah, Allied and Axis carpet bombing, the destruction of Warsaw, and the cruelties of enforced starvation. Another example is less[…]

Remember the Red Summer 100 Years Later

Typical narratives about 1919’s anti-black collective violence, especially in school textbooks, often conclude abruptly. This summer marks the hundredth anniversary of 1919’s Red Summer, when, from May to November, the nation experienced ten major “race riots” that took the lives of more than 350 people, almost all black. How should the challenging but essential task[…]

Remembering the Black Soldiers Executed after Houston’s 1917 Race Riot

They were condemned to death after a trial many called unjust. By James Jeffrey Houston marked an anniversary in December 2018 that some in the city would perhaps rather forget — and others demand be recalled more clearly. On Dec. 11, 1917, 13 black soldiers were hanged for their part in a little-remembered and deadly[…]

How the Volkswagen Beetle Sparked America’s Art Car Movement

When the Beetle was first introduced, Americans had never seen anything like it. Among art car enthusiasts, it became the ideal canvas for self-expression. Introduction With a mariachi band playing along, the last Volkswagen Beetle rolled off the assembly line of a Mexican factory on July 10. Originally created in Germany at the behest of Adolf[…]

Art Is Good for Your Brain

The field of neuroaesthetics uses neuroscience to understand how art affects our brains, both when we’re making it and when we’re viewing it. By Jessica Jacolbe Does art matter? All intangible benefits aside, it turns out that the processes of both creating art and experiencing beauty net neural benefits. Neuroaesthetics examines art and our reactions[…]

A History of India’s Partition and Its Modern Effects

As the British Empire became an unaffordable burden, planning for India’s independence quickly ran into trouble. Introduction “Partition” – the division of British India into the two separate states of India and Pakistan on August 14-15, 1947 – was the “last-minute” mechanism by which the British were able to secure agreement over how independence would take[…]

How a British Royal’s Monumental Errors Made India’s Partition More Painful

The partition of India led to more than a million deaths. A scholar argues how British royal, Lord Louis Mountbatten, who hurriedly drew the new borders in secret, was largely responsible. Introduction The midnight between August 14 and 15, 1947, was one of history’s truly momentous moments: It marked the birth of Pakistan, an independent India and[…]

The Journalist Who Exposed Sex Trafficking in Victorian London

W.T. Stead’s 1885 account of the process by which wealthy Londoners procured teenagers for sex became a global news story, but the police refused to investigate. Wealthy men soliciting underage girls for sex. Girls lured to expensive homes by promises of good-paying jobs. Captains of commerce and heads of state reveling in debauchery. Officials looking[…]

H. L. Mencken Loved to Cover Political Conventions but Had Little Faith in Voters

“As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people.” On June 20, 1948, a round and no doubt rumpled correspondent for the Baltimore Sun looked into the galleries of a Philadelphia convention hall and spotted the future. His name was Henry Louis Mencken, and he didn’t like[…]

Four Presidential Elections that Changed U.S. Politics

The changes the 20th century brought to American politics continue to hold true in the 21st century. Margaret O’Mara, associate professor of history at the University of Washington and author of Pivotal Tuesdays: Four Elections that Shaped the Twentieth Century (University of Pennsylvania Press) discussed the book and the four critical elections with writer Peter Kelley. I[…]

The “Souls” of Magnets in the 17th Century

Lodestones are dull, lumpy, and slate-gray, but their “magnetic intelligence” made them fabulously expensive. Magnets have souls. At least, that was the leading scientific explanation for magnetism circa 1600, as laid out in the highly influential De Magnete. Its author, William Gilbert, experimented with lodestones, lumps of magnetite that, after being struck by lightning, turn into natural magnets.[…]

An Atheist’s Eternity

Contemporary physics aligns smoothly with the doctrine of the eternal return suggested by Nietzsche. By Duane Altheide If death is a deep sleep, then eternity is as one night Plato This philosophical letter offers atheism a solace for death based on recent support for the multiverse―a set of multiple universes. Contemporary physics aligns smoothly with[…]