Lessons from the Civil War for America’s Fractured Present: Part Two

Timothy William Waters— Why Remembering the Civil War Matters: Talking about Belonging in America How we remember the Civil War matters for thinking about our increasingly fragile union today—how we talk about identity, belonging, and leaving. The war seems to offer an obvious moral model. But that solution dissolves when

Continue reading…

Western Ambivalence toward Iran

By Abbas Amanat — The Persians, and before them the Medes, were among the first people known to the ancient Greeks outside their own geographic sphere. As early as the sixth century BCE, when Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid Empire (c. 550 BCE–330 BCE), conquered Asia Minor,

Continue reading…

Lessons from the Civil War for America’s Fractured Present: Part One

Timothy William Waters— What We (Mis-)Remember about Our Reasons for Fighting America is now so polarized that serious people wonder if the country will hold together. The Atlantic devoted its December issue to “How to Stop a Civil War”—and the Atlantic, founded in 1857, covered the actual Civil War. As

Continue reading…

The State of Democracy

Thomas N. Mitchell— Democracy is at a particularly critical and fascinating point in its history. The collapse of communism in 1989 brought a wave of euphoria among proponents of democracy, and extravagant references to the end of history and of mankind’s journey towards a universally acceptable political order. To many,

Continue reading…

Remember What You Did?

António Lobo Antunes— My mother was their first cousin, meaning the first cousin of the father, not of the black son who was never his son though he treated him as a son and the black treated him as his father, the cousin of my mother brought him back from

Continue reading…

Why We Can’t Forget about the Brain

Iain McGilchrist— It might seem reductive to link the highest achievements of the human mind, in philosophy and the arts, to the structure of the brain. I believe it is not. For one thing, even if it were possible for mind to be ‘reduced’, as we say, to matter, this

Continue reading…

Parameters of Marie-Antoinette’s New Reign

John Hardman— The diary entry of the new king is succinct:  10 [May 1774]: Death of the King at two in the afternoon and departure for Choisy.  This château was 9 kilometres to the south of Paris. Infection hung about Versailles and the royal family lost no time getting out.

Continue reading…

Martha Gibbs Was a Southern Woman and a Slave-Master

Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers— In 1859, after touring the antebellum South, the journalist and New York Tribune editor James Redpath attempted to explain for his readers why white southern women opposed emancipation. He believed that their sentiments were tied to a lifetime of indoctrination, “reared,” as they were, “under the shadow of the

Continue reading…

Addicted to Distraction

Judson Brewer— This is where the magic happens. Once behavior and reward are paired, the dopamine neurons change their phasic firing pattern to respond to stimuli that predict rewards. Enter the trigger into the scene of reward-based learning. We see someone smoking a cigarette, and we suddenly get a craving.

Continue reading…