History

The Boasian Circle: Intellectual Kinship and Racial Privilege

Ned Blackhawk and Isaiah Lorado Wilner— The circle of scholars, authors, and intellectuals who shaped, and were shaped by, the anthropologist Franz Boas is wide and varied. Indeed, the intellectual legacies of this “Boasian Circle” cross disciplines, national boundaries, and hemispheres. Boas and his intellectual network provide a lens to

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How an Epic Painting Became a Monumental Flop: The Perils of Art and Politics

Katie Hornstein — Powerful rulers have always relied on visual images to bolster their standing and seek public support for their military endeavors.  While these sorts of images can be broadly understood as propaganda, the question of their effectiveness as art in the service of power is anything but assured,

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EUROPEAN COUPLES: MUSSOLINI AND HITLER – CHRISTIAN GOESCHEL

Christian Goeschel- On 20 July 1944, a bomb exploded in the Wolf’s Lair, Adolf Hitler’s East Prussian Headquarters. The Nazi leader survived. Hours later, he received Benito Mussolini. This would be the final encounter between Mussolini and Hitler, leaders of Europe’s most significant fascist dictatorships. It took place almost exactly

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The Original Constitution of the United States: Religion, Race, and Gender

Many who declare that Americans in 2018 should stick to the original words of the United States Constitution, ratified in 1788, fail to acknowledge that in reality the nation has been ruled by a substantially different Constitution for the past 150 years.  The Union victory in 1865, and the amendments

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Harvey Milk’s Jewish Identity

Lillian Faderman— The Jewish identity of Harvey Milk—arguably the most famous gay man in modern history—was as important to who he was and what he did as his gay identity. In San Francisco where he became a prominent gay leader and politician in the 1970s, he often introduced himself as

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The Hero and the Madman: Two American Myths

Mary Stockwell— Even the most hidebound analytical historian can’t resist the archetype of the hero. The hero comes forward  at the beginning of great events, sets out on a quest, often against a terrifying foe, and in the process wins glory for himself. At the founding of the United States, one

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The Lives of Beowulf

Stephen Mitchell— It’s something of a miracle that any of our ancient literary masterpieces survived the downfall or shift of civilizations, since they all might easily have been lost. Of Heraclitus’s profound insights, we have only tantalizing fragments. Of Sappho’s nine books, there remain just four poems and scattered verses

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Color Codes

David Scott Kastan— Up until the eighteenth century, Asian people appeared white to European eyes. Sometime early in 1515, a Portuguese merchant named Tomé Pires sent a detailed account of his three years of Asian travel to King Manuel I and described the people he met there as “white, just

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How Do You Talk to a Russian Gangster?

Mark Galeotti— He was quite the most charming contract killer with whom one could imagine having a drink. But nonetheless, for all his cheerful Chechen twinkle, and the ritualised North Caucasus courtesy which meant we had to argue fiercely over the right to pay the bill, even though we both

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Surviving English Colonialism

Jenny Hale Pulsipher— By the end of the seventeenth century, the Native people of what we now call New England were overwhelmed by a rapidly growing, land-hungry English colonial population and the repeated onslaught of epidemic disease. A bold attempt at resistance—King Philip’s War (1674-1678)—led to a devastating defeat. Thousands

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