The American Scholar6 min de lecture
Letters
Farah Peterson’s “The Patriot Slave” (Summer) is one of the best articles I have read on the subject of slavery. It took me back to the late 1940s, when, as a young African-American boy growing up in Florida, I would listen to my paternal grandmother
The American Scholar6 min de lecture
The Joke
Although best known for his 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury was also a prolific writer of short stories, having published his first while still a teenager. This previously unpublished story likely dates to 1950, the year The Martian Chronicle
The American Scholar8 min de lecture
A Testament to Survival
IT’S OCTOBER 2019, in the Time Before, and I’m standing on Hadrian’s Wall, high atop a scarp overlooking the green hills of Northumberland. Thick, scattered clouds cast shadows on a land so vast, it feels like the world will march on forever. Little
The American Scholar7 min de lecture
The Poet Who Painted
“MY LIFE IS A TANGO, my heart a Grand Guignol,” declared Max Jacob in his poem “Romantic Allusions to Mardi-Gras.” He could have listed many other such contradictions. Born in Brittany in 1876 to a secular Jewish shopkeeping family, Jacob was a conve
The American Scholar4 min de lecture
Works In Progress
In 2012, Matika Wilbur, a member of the Swinomish and Tulalip tribes of Washington, launched Project 562, her effort to photograph the 562 federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States. (That number has since grown to 574.) She env
The American Scholar9 min de lecture
What a Great Talker She Was
IN THE OLD DAYS OF VAUDEVILLE and burlesque, standup comics weren’t the only speakers to take to the stage. Another breed of noble performer also stood and delivered, sometimes presenting serious monologues, sometimes simply talking. A few of these a
The American Scholar2 min de lecture
Caught In The Dark
Anjali Sachdeva’s debut work of fiction, All the Names They Used for God, was an NPR Best Book of 2018, won the 2019 Chautauqua Prize, and was longlisted for The Story Prize. In 2020, she received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts
The American Scholar8 min de lecture
A Mind on Fire
HENRY DAVID THOREAU liked to compare himself to a rooster whose crowing wakes his neighbors, calling them back from sleep to an awareness of the present. “We cannot afford not to live in the present. He is blessed over all mortals who loses no moment
The American Scholar4 min de lecture
Let America Be America Again
FOLLOWING DONALD TRUMP’S election, a poem by Langston Hughes started trending on social media and, in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd and others in police custody, the poem has found new urgency. Perhaps it was the word again that first dr
The American Scholar5 min de lecture
Bugging Out
IT WAS A BRILLIANT BIT of branding a few years ago, when scientists began warning of an “insect apocalypse” or “insect armageddon.” As a rule, very few people care about or pay attention to insects, but the idea that insect populations were crashing
The American Scholar9 min de lectureMedical
Race And Public Health
WITH CORONAVIRUS STILL AT LARGE, we are witness to the further fortification of an edifice I thought was already invincible: the Standard Approach to medicine and public health. In the Standard Approach, poor African-American (and increasingly, Hispa
The American Scholar4 min de lecture
Admired and Abhorred
MUSICAL GENIUS AND bombastic bigot, Richard Wagner (1813–1883) is a cultural Rorschach test. Whereas Thomas Mann saw in him “the greatest talent in the entire history of art,” Friedrich Nietzsche, once a fawning disciple and family intimate, asked: “
The American Scholar16 min de lecture
Our Post-Privacy World
IN 1786, JEREMY BENTHAM was visiting his younger brother, Samuel, an engineer overseeing the laborers on one of Prince Potemkin’s Russian estates, when he learned about his brother’s invention of the panopticon. Samuel’s idea was to create a circular
The American Scholar5 min de lecture
Beneath the Powdered Wig
SINCE LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA’S musical became a Broadway sensation and made the 1804 Burr-Hamilton duel “of the moment,” the field of Revolutionary and early republican American history has found itself caught in the crossfire. For those who prefer it th
The American Scholar18 min de lectureAmerican Government
Still Made for You and Me?
IN HIS SUCCESSFUL 1980 CAMPAIGN for the White House, Ronald Reagan proclaimed himself a “sagebrush rebel,” indicating support for a movement spearheaded by some libertarians and livestock operators who sought to transfer ownership or, at least, effec
The American Scholar5 min de lecturePsychology
Varieties of Experience
THERE IS A PUZZLE at the heart of my academic work. I am an anthropologist, and among other things, I study the voices (or auditory hallucinations) of people in different countries who have schizophrenia. Their voices are clearly shaped by local cult
The American Scholar12 min de lecture
Art After the Plague
SOMETIME IN THE MID-14TH CENTURY, the Dominican friars of Pisa commissioned a series of frescoes for the Gothic portico that enclosed the city’s cemetery, the Campo Santo, or Holy Field, a landmark as striking as the neighboring cathedral and its fam
The American Scholar4 min de lecture
Commonplace Book
We should build parks that students from afar Would choose to starve in, rather than go home … We must have many Lincoln-hearted men. —Vachel Lindsay, “On the Building of Springfield,” 1912 When the researchers posed as pedestrians waiting to cross
The American Scholar2 min de lecture
In a Dark Wood
THAT THERE IS A CRISIS in the humanities will be news to no one in American higher education. Diagnoses, defenses, and remedies have been so commonplace in writing about the subject, for so long, that this crisis, even to those in the midst of it, ca
The American Scholar1 min de lecture
American Places
Sandy Ostrau’s landscapes often convey a sense of loneliness, yet her California Golden Hills (oil on canvas, 48"× 48") is also full of seductive warmth. In this painting, she says she tried to capture the “shapes, colors, and feel of summer in the h
The American Scholar3 min de lecture
From Underworld Lit
(Fall Term) Browsing the criticism section of the campus used bookshop, I unearth a copy of my scholarly monograph on postcolonial Graveyard Poets, already thick with dust, misplaced between Ramazani and Ransom. “Goodnight bears,” Mira says, knocking
The American Scholar18 min de lecture
Slow Blues
LATE ON A MID-JUNE NIGHT, I stood barefoot in the yard between our house and a field of prairie forbs. Around me fireflies blinked greenish yellow—hovering, dodging, or posing on stems. The night before, they had drawn me to the window. Now, although
The American Scholar18 min de lecture
Teach What You Love
WORD IS OUT ON THE STREET: the study of literature is dying; English is breathing its last; no more Beowulf, no more Virginia Woolf either. Or not much of it. There are reasons to listen to the auguries. Most of the teaching in English departments no
The American Scholar20 min de lecture
The Gravity Of The Situation
THE THEORY OF GENERAL RELATIVITY burst into public awareness when observations made off the west coast of Africa during a 1919 solar eclipse confirmed one of Albert Einstein’s most astonishing assertions: that large masses, like the sun, warp space a
The American Scholar2 min de lecture
Information Sickness
THE SURVEILLANCE STATE in which we live, as Thomas A. Bass writes in our cover story, aspires to a condition of “total information awareness,” where everything that is knowable about each of us is collected to be analyzed or sold. We have for the mos
The American Scholar1 min de lecture
Fiction
This story, first printed in the Yiddish Forverts on September 22, 1968, appeared under the pseudonym Yitskhok Varshavski. Isaac Bashevis Singer’s use of pseudonyms in Yiddish has long been discussed and assumed to have a hierarchical structure—Yitsk
The American Scholar1 min de lecture
The American Scholar
ROBERT WILSON Editor SUDIP BOSE Managing Editor BRUCE FALCONER Senior Editor STEPHANIE BASTEK Associate Editor JAYNE ROSS Assistant Editor DAVID HERBICK Design Director SANDRA COSTICH Editor-at-Large LANGDON HAMMER Poetry Editor SALLY ATWATER Copy Ed
The American Scholar8 min de lecture
The Professor’s Wife
I met her on a bus riding down a narrow winding road somewhere in Italy, I think between Sorrento and Naples, or perhaps between Amalfi and Sorrento. I had slept badly the night before, and the morning was foggy and cool. It was a small bus, and its
The American Scholar2 min de lecture
Five Sonnets
When I peel potatoes, I put my head down,as if I am still following orders and being loyalto my commander. I feel a connection acrosstime to others putting their heads downin fatigued thought, as if this most naturalact signified living the way I wan
The American Scholar20 min de lecture
Adrift in Sunlit Night
ON AN INTENSELY BRIGHT morning in June, I find myself roaming the streets of St. Petersburg, looking for the 19th century. I have always meant to roam the city. That’s what I thought you did in St. Petersburg. You shut your door, head downstairs, cat
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