Humanities

Why We Read

Azar Nafisi— Reading is like Alice running after that white rabbit, because she is curious; she wants to know more about a talking rabbit. She is prepared to take the risk and jump down that hole without knowing what she will find at the bottom of the well. This is

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Examining the Secular Age

Nicholas Wolterstorff— Recently I dipped once again into Charles Taylor’s massive A Secular Age, and one of the themes he develops there led me to reflect on the implications of that theme for the place of religion in the university—by which I do not mean the place of the study

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Dante’s Pioneering Poetry and Science

Tracy Daugherty— “At some deep level, poetry and physics are similar endeavors,” writes Mark A. Peterson, a mathematician and science historian. Both the poet and the scientist use the tools of their craft—words, numbers—to discover core truths about the nature and shape of the universe and humanity’s place in it. 

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A Time to Write and a Time to Resist

David G. Roskies— Writing, we are told, is a form of resistance. The act of writing is an assertion of one’s selfhood, one’s right to live, think and feel in the face of all that negates it. But writing can just as easily be an escape from reality, an exercise

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Reflecting on Our History at Yale University Press

From time to time it is important to step back and look at where you’ve come from and how that shapes where you’re going. That goes for life and it goes for business. For a university press like ours, with the rapid pace of publishing so many great books every

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Espionage and the I Ching

Michael Harrington— The study of espionage has a long history in China. The classic known as The Art of War, dating from a period of strife between the states of pre-imperial China, contains an entire chapter devoted to the use of spies. One of the overall themes of this short

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On Books and Libraries

Alberto Manguel— I would argue that public libraries, holding  both virtual and material texts, are an essential instrument to counter loneliness. I would defend their place as society’s memory and experience. I would say that without public libraries, and without a conscious understanding of their role, a society of the

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How Many Trails of Tears Were There?

Jeffrey Ostler— When Donald Trump recently tweeted that he looked forward to seeing Elizabeth Warren “on the trail,” everyone knew he was mocking Warren’s claim to Cherokee ancestry by making a joke out of the Cherokee Trail of Tears—the 1838-39 forced march of Cherokees from their homes in Georgia to

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What happened after the Crusades?

Christopher Tyerman— We all know about the Crusades, don’t we? They were wars fought by western European Christians against Muslim control of Jerusalem and the Holy Land of Palestine. They began in 1095, when Pope Urban II summoned the knights of Christendom to undertake a war that would earn its

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Rethinking the History of Religious Freedom

Robert Louis Wilken— In the Supreme Court case Minersville School District v. Gobitis, 1940, that upheld compulsory pledging of allegiance to the U.S. flag in schools, Justice Felix Frankfurter, writing for the majority, said: “Centuries of strife over the erection of particular dogmas as exclusive or all-comprehending faiths led to

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