Sarah S. Elkind: Energy Corporations in Schools: Then and Now

Today, fossil fuel companies have engaged in a similar propaganda war—funding questionable research, donating questionable curriculum to hard-pressed schools, and touting their contributions to the public welfare in advertising campaigns—for similar self-interested reasons. Recent reports out of Oklahoma exposed the oil and gas industry’s science curriculum and the incentives like fully-funded field trips and free supplies and lab equipment. This echoes a similar story about coal-funded classroom materials published and later withdrawn by Scholastic, Inc., in 2009. Continue Reading Sarah S. Elkind: Energy Corporations in Schools: Then and Now

Ira Dworkin: In the Name of Lumumba

The world Malcolm X and Patrice Lumumba were building for all of their children continues among poets, musicians, and activists who embody the struggles and scars, and look to places like Jackson where activists imagine and demand justice, understanding what is at stake in Banner’s call–on behalf of Lumumba–to “please remember my name.” Continue Reading Ira Dworkin: In the Name of Lumumba

Lindsey A. Freeman: The Uncanny Bohemia in Black Mountain

When the Black Mountain School began last summer, many folks were skeptical of this new school growing up in the ghostly space of the old. The site had what Michel de Certeau calls “an uncanniness of the already there,” a feeling of the past that is so familiar in a space that it overpowers the present, making unknown places feel known. Ragan and Void have since changed the name of their experiment in education to School of the Alternative. Even with the name switch, the inspiration of the original BMC shines through. A pedagogical sensibility clearly exists between the old avant-garde school and the new one. This can be seen in classes such as: Lose Your Mind and Come to Your Senses, which promises instruction in Fluxus methodologies, mindfulness, and chance operations; Giant Loom Weaving, which is just what it sounds like and takes place outdoors; and Tablows Vivant, which, according to the course description, is “a series of posed scenes to communicate a story or idea. In between each scene is a mini dance party. At night, with dramatic lighting! With some bodies involved.” Continue Reading Lindsey A. Freeman: The Uncanny Bohemia in Black Mountain

Brian L. Tochterman: Birth of a Vigilante

As I argue in The Dying City this was a fantasy universe with critical consequences for the real world. Normalizing the vigilante was one key contingency of Spillane’s bestselling writing. Hammer was by no means the first, he’s preceded in time and succeeded in fame by Batman among others, but he did demonstrate that the vigilante no longer had to hide behind a mask or escape into a cave. He could operate in public, carry a private detective’s shield and a licensed gun and kill suspected criminals because “I like to shoot those dirty bastards.” In my book I connect Hammer with his filmic counterparts in 1970s New York, in particular Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) of Death Wish, and their unfortunate 1980s analogues like Bernard Goetz, the so-called subway vigilante, or the teenage terrorists of Howard Beach, Queens. Continue Reading Brian L. Tochterman: Birth of a Vigilante

The History of Juneteenth: 5 Facts You Need to Know

Juneteenth is a celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation, given by President Abraham Lincoln, that declared freedom for all slaves in states still in rebellion. Continue Reading The History of Juneteenth: 5 Facts You Need to Know

Bridgette A. Lacy: Father’s Day Memories

As we approach Father’s Day, I am transported to his backyard garden. Some of my favorite moments with my Papa were made in that sacred space where vegetables, fruits, and flowers grew. Continue Reading Bridgette A. Lacy: Father’s Day Memories

Alisha Gaines: White Guilt and Allyship on WGN’s Underground

Although Underground might be flawed history—often as anachronistic as its notable musical soundtrack—it provides helpful models for resistance. Executive producer John Legend makes it plain: “What these stories are intended to do—and what I think all storytelling is intended to do in some ways—is to hopefully develop some empathy among us so that we see each other, understand each other’s backgrounds, understand each other’s stories, and also understand the inhumanity that fellow human beings were able to inflict on each other in this country that’s supposed to be the land of the free.” Continue Reading Alisha Gaines: White Guilt and Allyship on WGN’s Underground

Nicole Eustace: American Democracy and the Imperial Presidency

At a moment when divisions among Americans about the desired direction of the country are as stark as they have ever been, the essays in Warring for America: Cultural Contests in the Era of 1812 have much to teach us about the interplay of populism and dictatorialism in American history. Continue Reading Nicole Eustace: American Democracy and the Imperial Presidency

Nancy Tomes: Remarks from the Bancroft Awards Dinner

Thinking about those issues was like entering a funhouse with distorted mirrors: people used the same words—patient, consumer, choice, value—and meant very different things by them. In search of the origins of this strange concept of the “patient as consumer,” I kept going back further and further, looking for where it came from. The roots turned out to be a lot earlier than I expected: the 1920s and 1930s, not the 1970s. Continue Reading Nancy Tomes: Remarks from the Bancroft Awards Dinner

Gregg A. Brazinsky: Is China’s New World Order Really New?

Potentially, One Belt One Road can also raise Beijing’s international profile at the expense of Washington’s. Especially with the Trump administration intent on putting “America First,” the PRC has an opportunity to promote itself as a champion of free trade and assert its global leadership. The PRC is challenging the United States more subtly than during the 1950s and 1960s but it nonetheless aims to create a new balance of economic power in which China and other non-Western countries will play a more important role. Continue Reading Gregg A. Brazinsky: Is China’s New World Order Really New?

Jennifer Van Horn: The Deceptive Caboodle

I remember with fondness, as do many of us who came of age in the 1990s, my neon pink and purple “caboodle.” For those of you unfamiliar with the form, it is a molded plastic container with a latched top that raises up to reveal a multitude of trays, containers, and mysteriously shaped indentations all intended to house cosmetics, hair products, and personal accessories. For my teenage self the caboodle was the ultimate symbol of femininity and the mysterious physical manipulations of skin and hair that being an adult woman required. My caboodle is long since gone, but I suspect its lingering memory shaped my interest in eighteenth-century cosmetics and the dressing furniture that housed them. Continue Reading Jennifer Van Horn: The Deceptive Caboodle

Alisha Gaines: Ninety Minutes a Slave

First, we are instructed on how to be good slaves: “Never look a white person in the face,” and always say “yes sir and yes ma’am.” As the program promised, we encountered diverse attitudes regarding our fugitivity: slave traders who bought us only after we correctly answered questions about our assumed skills and imagined slave identities (I passed the test when, as a self-described cook, I knew the first step in frying a chicken meant wringing its neck); white women who wanted us off their land because they would have to pay a $500 fine for each of us; another, obviously doomed fugitive slave; a raving white man spuriously blaming us for his wife’s death and his unemployment; Quakers who offered dry cornbread and respite; and a free black family. Before returning to the museum, an oracle appeared to read each participant’s fate. Some would drown, others would settle in Indiana as either dentists or blacksmiths. Me? I would be apprehended by slave catchers, returned to Kentucky, and branded as a runaway. Continue Reading Alisha Gaines: Ninety Minutes a Slave

Nora E. Jaffary: Midwifery in Mexico

Midwives were the dominant obstetrical and gynecological practitioners in Mexico in pre-Hispanic and colonial Mexico. Their medical knowledge was vast. Early post-conquest writers observed that Mexican midwives possessed hundreds of medical remedies to provide contraception, encourage fertility, counteract the side effects of pregnancy, assist in complicated deliveries, and treat postpartum complaints. They could soothe labor pains, initiate stalled labor, facilitate the placenta’s expulsion, encourage lactation, and soothe that most vexatious of post-partum symptoms: hemorrhoids. Continue Reading Nora E. Jaffary: Midwifery in Mexico

Sharon McConnell-Sidorick: How Flappers Helped Radicalize the Labor Movement and the New Deal

Union activists advanced a far-reaching, class-based vision that saw labor as a means to advance the rights of all working people. It was a vision of a new, socialist world and young members made it their own, combining Jazz Age rebelliousness with the left-wing traditions of the union. Women unionists used the brashness and irreverence that were hallmarks of the “flapper” in a surprisingly left-wing labor culture, merging constructions of “worker” with those of “modern woman.” They became “street-fighting women” supporting labor as a cause for human rights. They picketed and went to jail in droves for refusing to “move to the other side of the street” when ordered to by police, or participating in “lie-downs” to block driveways in front of mills, or calling strikebreakers “scabs” and threatening to beat them up. Women became such stalwarts on the picket lines that when they demanded a greater role in the union leadership, many of their male co-workers rushed to support them, insisting that “the women did do the fighting and you better give them their rights soon.” Continue Reading Sharon McConnell-Sidorick: How Flappers Helped Radicalize the Labor Movement and the New Deal

Jennifer Le Zotte: Poppin’ Tags: How Musicians Helped Make Used Clothes Fashionable

Macklemore’s 2013 tribute to thrift shops articulates the enduring association of creative output with secondhand commerce. Voluntary secondhand dress persists precisely because it suggests both cultural and economic distinction. It satisfies a desire to be seen as different than the average consumer dupe, as willing to invest time in the cultivation of originality without utilizing class and wealth privilege. In reality, however, secondhand economies and styles throughout the twentieth century are much more complicated; studying them reveals the futility of pursuing an effective anti-consumer consumption. But whatever the continuing or resurgent stigmas and social critiques of secondhand products may be, many creative dressers continue to agree with Macklemore’s concise assessment: “This is fucking awesome.” Continue Reading Jennifer Le Zotte: Poppin’ Tags: How Musicians Helped Make Used Clothes Fashionable

Brian Tochterman: Mailer for Mayor of the 51st State

Norman Mailer and Jimmy Breslin are part of a sometimes roving band of supporting characters that populate The Dying City. Mailer plays the role of the contrarian provocateur who challenges the dying city narrative, whether it’s holding up the risky brotherhood of New York City’s various youth gangs as an antidote to the “national disease” of boredom within the pages of Dissent or publishing a large format book on the cultural significance of the 1970s’ most otherwise reviled contemporary art form, spray-paint writing. Breslin, the longtime voice of New York within the pages of various dailies, is perhaps most famously known outside of the city as the epistolary confidant of David Berkowitz, a.k.a. Son of Sam, who addressed a cryptic letter to Breslin, then at the Daily News, during his 1977 killing spree. He also co-authored The Lonely Crimes, “or the crimes you don’t hear about,” series from October 1965 that is examined in my book. Continue Reading Brian Tochterman: Mailer for Mayor of the 51st State

Judy Kutulas: What If My Relatives Were on the “Wrong” Side of History?

I understand that Ben Affleck was unhappy to learn his ancestors owned slaves. I mention this because I was also unexpectedly side-swiped by history while researching a chapter for After Aquarius Dawned on the Peoples Temple and the Jonestown mass death. As traditional authority, aka the Establishment, declined after the war in Vietnam and Watergate and all those liberation movements – sexual, gay, women’s, black – Americans practiced more freedom of choice, summarized by a women’s movement slogan, “the personal is political.” Since I was already looking into the Temple, I took a side-jaunt into the story of my cousins who perished in Jonestown. Continue Reading Judy Kutulas: What If My Relatives Were on the “Wrong” Side of History?

Christopher A. Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts: Reflections on John Shelton Reed

In our new book, The Resilience of Southern Identity: Why the South Still Matters in the Minds of Its People, we revisit and update a few of Reed’s key findings about the South. We focus particularly on the question of southern identity, exploring the powerful connection between southerners and their region. Continue Reading Christopher A. Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts: Reflections on John Shelton Reed

Jennifer Van Horn: Problematic Prostheses

We might imagine that the first time prosthetic legs grabbed the American public’s attention was during the Civil War. But in fact, the American Revolution was the first armed conflict when controversy swirled around men’s amputated limbs. The number of amputees rose dramatically in the conflict, since amputation was the primary medical procedure used to save soldiers whose bones had been shattered by cannon and musket balls. Wooden legs were the predominant form of artificial limb in the eighteenth century (the Americans’ wounded British foes also donned them). However, only one lower limb prosthesis is known to survive from early America. It belonged to American statesman Gouverneur Morris and is now in the collection of the New-York Historical Society. Continue Reading Jennifer Van Horn: Problematic Prostheses

Erika Lee: The New Xenophobia and the Role of the Public Scholar Today

These days, the relevance of U.S. immigration history—who we have welcomed and who we have banned; who we have resettled and who we have left behind; how we began to enforce the border and how the “border” has moved into the interior—has never been more important. For immigration historians, the past, present, and future are colliding. Continue Reading Erika Lee: The New Xenophobia and the Role of the Public Scholar Today