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Classical Culture and White Nationalism (03/24)
The hands of history have reshaped the Greek past for centuries, sculpting it into an idealized version credited with birthing a myriad of ideas and concepts, notably identity. Certain contemporary political currents claim that Hellenic identity was what we would today consider white, although Greece was a multiethnic society that did not...
Houston, We Have a Problem (03/24)
In 2017, Hurricane Harvey dumped more than 50 inches of rain on Houston, Texas. It was the biggest rainstorm in United States history and the third major storm of its kind to hit the city in as many years. Huge swathes of Houston and its surrounding suburbs were submerged. Floodwater laced with toxic runoff, sewage and debris inundated ...
Civil War in the Republic of Georgia (02/24)
In Leo Vardiashvili's Hard by a Great Forest, young Saba and his brother and father flee their home in Tbilisi, Georgia, when the city erupts in violence. "We heard gunfire by night and saw brass twinkling on the pavement in the mornings, as though it had rained shell casings all over Tbilisi," Saba says. "[W]hen a ...
Missing People in the U.S. (02/24)
The number of active missing persons cases in the U.S. has declined steadily since 1997. This is due in large part to improvements in connectivity and communication, with cell phones and other handheld devices making it considerably easier to track a missing person's potential whereabouts. While this decline is cause for celebration, it ...
The Uphill Climb for Sub-Saharan African Girls' Education (02/24)
In the short story 'Dark Matter' from Gothataone Moeng's collection Call and Response, which takes place in Botswana, childhood friends Tumo and Nametso love swimming in the river and they love school. Daughters of teachers, they are inseparable until Tumo's mother is transferred. The girls meet up again at university in Gaborone. In her ...
Consensual Non-Monogamy in Literature (02/24)
Recent research suggests about 4-5% of Americans are currently in relationships that break the convention of monogamy. While there is some fluidity to the terms used for different types of non-monogamy, an open relationship often refers to a couple being romantically and emotionally, but not sexually, monogamous, while polyamory often ...
Emergency Powers (02/24)
In Paul Lynch's novel Prophet Song, the enactment of an Emergency Powers Act sets in motion a sequence of destabilizing events that will eventually lead to societal dissolution and civil war. The Act provides the legal justification for an authoritarian government, through its newly formed secret police force and military, to bypass ...
Adoption Outcomes for Birth Mothers (02/24)
Lola, the likeable and resilient protagonist in Bisi Adjapon's Daughter in Exile, finds herself in multiple difficult situations over a matter of years. At one point, pregnant without a partner after her husband dies, she is left to manage a toddler, her grief and an unborn daughter.

An active member of a parish community, Lola looks ...
Barikamà: An Italian Workers' Co-operative (01/24)
A radish farm worker in Celina Baljeet Basra's Happy relays a tale of injustice at his previous job: a group of exploited immigrants, an attack, and an uprising. This story is one we might imagine to be derived from a compilation of worker mistreatments, but the specifics are based on a true story of immigrant fruit pickers in Rosarno, in...
Abortion in Ireland (01/24)
In 2018, in a culturally and historically significant move, the Irish public voted in favor of overturning the country's long-held ban on abortion, with more than 66% supporting the repeal. This victory for improving access to healthcare for millions was by no means an overnight success, however.

On the contrary, the fight to legalize ...
The American Diet Industry (01/24)
In Hot Springs Drive, main characters Theresa and Jackie attend a dieting support group. In the United States, commercial diet plans like these are a big business. The research firm Custom Market Insights estimates the industry was worth $135.7 billion in 2022 and predicts that it will continue to grow, with Herbalife, NutriSystem and ...
What They Don't Tell You About the Success Sequence (12/23)
When adolescents are baptized at the church where I worship, the recognized ritual is for the pastor to bellow out for all the congregation to hear and for the teenager to repeat: College. Job. Marriage. Family. In that order.

The words conflate virtue with escaping poverty and are known as the success sequence. In principle, the ...
The White-Savior Complex (11/23)
What exactly is a white-savior complex (also known as white saviorism)? In Dipo Faloyin's Africa Is Not a Country: Notes on a Bright Continent, the definition is not as important as the negative impacts upon those who experience it.

According to Black Equality Resources, white-savior complex is defined as 'an idea in which a white ...
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People (10/23)
The emotional crisis faced by the protagonists of Jen Ferguson's Those Pink Mountain Nights stems from the disappearance of a mother and daughter from a First Nations community in Alberta, Canada. Although the book keeps its focus tight, on the intimate stories of a handful of teens, the characters occasionally reference the larger issue ...
The Harms of Industrial Hog Farming in North Carolina (10/23)
In Wastelands, Corban Addison recounts the true story of a group of North Carolina residents fighting for justice after suffering through years of pollution and nuisance from neighboring industrial hog farms. It's an uphill battle against a powerful multinational corporation, a broken regulatory system and a political establishment ...
Non-Speaking Authors Writing About Experiences of Language (10/23)
In Angie Kim's Happiness Falls, Eugene is diagnosed with Angelman syndrome, or AS, a neuro-genetic disorder caused by a chromosome-15 gene deletion on the maternal side. Most people with AS have limited speech and motor abilities. It is important to distinguish Angelman syndrome and other conditions that involve learning disabilities from...
Ted Bundy and the Myth of the Charming Serial Killer (10/23)
Jessica Knoll's Bright Young Women, a fictionalized take on the crimes of Ted Bundy, portrays its Bundy-inspired killer as an unimpressive man sensationalized as a charming genius. This echoes real-life critiques of the way Bundy has been cast by the media and law enforcement over the years.

Bundy was one of the twentieth century's ...
The 13th Amendment and Contemporary Slavery in the US Prison System (10/23)
As we all know, slavery was abolished in the United States after the Civil War when Congress passed the 13th Amendment. What many might not recognize is that the 13th Amendment did not ban slavery entirely. In fact, it explicitly states an instance in which slavery and involuntary servitude are permitted — when people are ...
The Rise of Vehicular Homelessness in the U.S. (09/23)
In 2018, in Seattle's SoDo neighborhood, a woman named Sabrina Tate died inside her RV. She was almost 28 years old. A chronic drug user, Sabrina may have been killed by an infection. Two men living in the same vehicular lot, what was considered a safe space, had died there earlier in the year. Sabrina's parents, who had tried to help her...
Fascism in Pre-War England (09/23)
In Marie Benedict's historical novel The Mitford Affair, much of the narrative focuses on the rise of fascism in Great Britain before World War II.

Merriam-Webster defines fascism as "a political philosophy, movement, or regime…that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized ...
Teaching Young People Philosophy (09/23)
In K.J. Reilly's coming-of-age novel Four for the Road, main character Asher Hunting is fortunate to have an insightful sidekick to advise him. Will has suffered loss just as Asher has, but Will presents as more equipped to navigate his way through his grief. Early on in the book, Will recites Kierkegaard to Asher, noting that the ...
Generation Gaps in the Workplace (08/23)
Walk into any office and you'll likely find a mix of people at different points of their lives: Baby boomers, Generation Xers, millennials. And the presence of Generation Z continues to grow.

Iona, the main character in Clare Pooley's Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting, often experiences people judging her competencies based on ...
The World of Food Delivery App Work (08/23)
One story in Jamel Brinkley's collection Witness is about a woman who keeps receiving friendly notes from the same food delivery person and drafts long, personal letters in reply. In her letters, Gloria, a room service server at a hotel, reflects that food delivery apps are responsible for eliminating jobs like hers, but expresses ...
Rent Control in New York City (08/23)
In Sidik Fofana's Stories from the Tenants Downstairs, gentrification and rent rises pose a threat to the struggling characters living in an apartment building in Harlem. New York City and some neighboring suburban counties operate rent control and/or rent stabilization policies.

Rent control is rare, only applying to about 16,000 ...
Bookshare and Accessible Reading Sources (08/23)
In The Country of the Blind, Andrew Leland sings the praises of Bookshare, an electronic repository of accessible-format books for the disabled. Bookshare was launched in 2001 by Jim Fruchterman, the leader of Benetech, a Palo Alto-based nonprofit that develops technologies to assist those with physical and learning disabilities. The ...
The Lebensborn Program in Norway (08/23)
Jennifer Coburn's novel Cradles of the Reich largely takes place in Germany's first Lebensborn ("Fount of Life") home, Heim Hochland. Germany's economic hardship following its defeat in World War I was a key factor in the National Socialist Party (aka the Nazi Party) gaining control of the country in 1933. Led by Adolf ...
Eating Disorders in Figure Skating (07/23)
A tiny, limber child, Keri Blakinger at the age of nine yearned to be smaller than her six-year-old dance classmate. To spite her health-conscious mother, Keri began sneaking brownies and cookies and the occasional Big Mac. Then, she would bike four blocks away and vomit in the bushes. 'I've puked here so many times,' she writes in ...
Lavender Marriages in Classic Hollywood (06/23)
Nghi Vo's Siren Queen follows protagonist Luli Wei through an alternate version of historical Hollywood. While many aspects of the novel's world are fictitious to the tune of spells and supernatural beings, it also explores real-life social and political issues of the time and place, including the phenomenon of 'lavender' marriages. A ...
Content Moderators' Lawsuit Against Facebook (2018) (06/23)
We Had to Remove This Post by Hanna Bervoets centers on a group of content moderators for a large social media site, who are technically contract workers employed by a smaller, third-party company. Their story and company are fictionalized, but Bervoets draws heavily on material about a 2018 lawsuit by content moderators against Facebook ...
Loneliness and Social Isolation in Japan (06/23)
Loneliness is one of many themes deftly explored by Mieko Kawakami in her novel All the Lovers in the Night, which follows a freelance proofreader living in Tokyo who has withdrawn from society.

A 2022 study conducted by the American Psychological Association concluded that global rates of loneliness have increased during the COVID...
Language Challenges for U.S. Immigrants (06/23)
Language and communication are key themes throughout the work of Ocean Vuong. In both his fiction and poetry — including his newest collection, Time Is a Mother — he discusses the difficulties his mother faced as a Vietnamese immigrant living in the U.S. who didn't read, write or speak English.

Historically, being a melting...
Minorities in Birding (06/23)
The viral video of Christian Cooper confronting a white woman who threatened to call the police on him while he was birdwatching in New York's Central Park helped drive the 2020 protests stemming from the police murders of Black Americans. Yet Cooper has done much beyond this video to raise awareness about racism in general and within the...
The Legacy of the Fourteenth Amendment (06/23)
In All the Sinners Bleed, as Titus Crown, first Black sheriff of Charon County, Virginia, faces down a group of Confederate Army reenactors parading through his town, he '[feels] his skin begin to crawl' and considers that 'the Fourteenth Amendment had passed over a hundred years ago' and 'racism was alive and well.' The juxtaposition of ...
Harm Reduction (06/23)
In The Forgotten Girls, journalist Monica Potts revisits her declining Arkansas hometown and her childhood best friend Darci, who is locked in a struggle with drug addiction that traditional interventions—stigmatization, directing the victim to God for help—have failed to cure. While Darci's struggle involves a pattern of ...
The Mommy Wars (06/23)
In It. Goes. So. Fast., Mary Louise Kelly shares her struggles to balance work and family life. Although for Kelly there was never a question of whether or not to give up work permanently in favor of parenting, the difficulty of finding the balance she seeks makes that question a perennial topic of interest—and conflict—among ...
Female "Hysteria" (06/23)
Chris Pavone's portrayal of a victimized woman being called 'hysterical' in Two Nights in Lisbon alludes to a phenomenon that can be found in accounts dating as far back as ancient Greece.

In a Curiosities of Medical History feature for Medical News Today, Maria Cohut, Ph.D., details how conditions ranging from depression to ...
Cuban Refugees in Costa Rica (05/23)
In 1893, Cuban poet and revolutionary José Martí met for the first time with the exiled general Antonio Maceo Grajales in San José, Costa Rica. Martí, who had spent much of his life in peripatetic exile, had founded the Cuban Revolutionary Party on 10th April, 1892, and Maceo had fought two failed wars fighting...
Involuntary Sterilization in the United States (04/23)
In Take My Hand, the protagonist Civil Townsend works at a family planning center in Montgomery, Alabama in 1973. She visits a Black family and administers birth control shots to two sisters, ages 11 and 13, at the behest of her supervisor, a man who later orders the girls to be sterilized. This story is based on the real-life ...
Underrepresentation of Women in News and Media (04/23)
In The House Is on Fire by Rachel Beanland, the character Sally grows increasingly disgusted by the way men's actions on the night of the 1811 Richmond theater fire are glorified in the local media, while women's experiences go completely unnoticed.

As far back as Biblical times, women in much of the world have been underrepresented ...
Gambling Addiction (04/23)
In Julie Clark's The Lies I Tell, main character Kat's boyfriend Scott struggles with a gambling addiction, which affects the two of them and their relationship. When asked in an interview what she wanted readers to take away from Scott's gambling problem, Clark stated, 'I want readers to see the complexity and heartache of loving an ...
Abortions in the U.S.: Who Has Them? (02/23)
Jennifer Haigh's novel, Mercy Street, centers around a clinic that provides women's health care services, including abortion.

As most know, it is already difficult to gain access to legal abortion services in many parts of the United States; but legislation to outlaw access is now gaining traction, both by the Supreme Court and in many...
Mass Shootings in Oregon (10/22)
Kindra Neely's debut graphic memoir for young adults, Numb to This, documents her experiences as a survivor of the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in October of 2015. This was Oregon's deadliest mass shooting, resulting in 10 fatalities (including the gunman) and seven further casualties.

The incident is part of a larger ...
Imposter Syndrome (09/22)
Psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes first identified 'imposter phenomenon,' popularly known as 'imposter syndrome,' in 1978. It is characterized by a belief that one's success is accidental. Clance and Imes' research was based on high achieving women who couldn't accept the success they had created and were frightened others ...
Who Is Sallie Mae? A Brief History of Student Lending in America (09/22)
In 1972 the Student Loan Marketing Association, or Sallie Mae as it came to be known, was created as a government sponsored enterprise to provide and manage education loans in the United States.

The conditions for the student loan industry were established much earlier. At the beginning of the 20th century, most families would only be...
Suicide Among Combat Veterans (08/22)
War casts a long shadow, and no more so than when combat veterans return home carrying the heavy burden of physical and psychological wounds. As a result, one of the most urgent issues facing the United States military today is the epidemic of suicide among veterans. According to a 2021 article, since the terrorist attacks of September 11...
Rare Earth Metals and Global Politics (07/22)
In The Brilliant Abyss, Helen Scales draws attention to growing international interest in rare earth mining. Rare earths look set to overtake fossil fuels as the most valued energy resource on the planet, as they are key to producing green technology. What will this profound shift mean for oil- and gas-producing countries?

In the 20th ...
Sweatshops in Asia (06/22)
In Joan Silber's Secrets of Happiness, Ethan's father, Gil, has a lucrative career in the women's clothing industry, frequently jetting off to parts of Asia to oversee the outsourcing of production. Elsewhere in the book, a character named Bud takes a job with an organization in Cambodia campaigning to improve working conditions in ...
The Importance of "Tech Company" Status (06/22)
In Big Vape, Jamie Ducharme describes an existential crisis at the heart of Juul; while its founders (and many of its employees) saw the business as a tech start-up, to the Food and Drug Administration (and much of the public) it looked like a manufacturer of tobacco products. This distinction is not a mere matter of brand identity —...
Open Adoption in the United States (04/22)
Around 140,000 children are adopted in the U.S. each year. This equates to nearly 100 million Americans having some experience of adoption within their immediate family. While the process was once shrouded in secrecy and stigma for many, it is much more commonly discussed and celebrated today. In fact, many U.S. agencies now encourage ...
English and American Coverture Law (03/22)
As is made clear in Kate Moore's The Woman They Could Not Silence, the laws of coverture were to blame for the abuse, institutionalization and subsequent poverty Elizabeth Packard suffered at the hands of her husband and other men in her community. Brought to North America by English colonizers, 'coverture' was a common law that made ...
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