Recent Posts

The New Reality of Gun Laws in America

Firmin DeBrabander— It is no surprise that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump sought the endorsement of the National Rifle Association last week, though he is only a recent fan of the gun lobby’s uncompromising positions. Not long ago, Trump voiced approval for many gun safety measures. Trump is nothing

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Why Memes Matter for Feminism

Eileen Hunt Botting— Memes are a staple of contemporary popular culture, but most people would be hard pressed to define what exactly they are.  Simply put, memes are widely recognizable yet variously replicated symbols of ideas.  In the twenty-first century, most people associate the meme with social media, in which a

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Personal Accounts of the French Revolution

Peter McPhee— The French Revolution is one of the great turning-points in history. Its achievements and triumphs—like its deceptions and atrocities—were of a scale that has made its stature unique. Never before had the people of a large, populous country sought to fundamentally remake their society on the basis of

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Why Was Victorian London So Dirty?

Lee Jackson— In 1899, the Chinese ambassador was asked his opinion of Victorian London at the zenith of its imperial grandeur. He replied, laconically, ‘too dirty’. He was only stating the obvious. Thoroughfares were swamped with black mud, composed principally of horse dung, forming a tenacious, glutinous paste; the air

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The Growth of Presidential Power

Benjamin Ginsberg— For most of the nineteenth century, the presidency was a weak institution. In unusual circumstances, a Jefferson, a Jackson, or a Lincoln might exercise extraordinary power, but most presidents held little influence over the congressional barons or provincial chieftains who actually steered the government. The president’s job was

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For Kids with Pain, Attending School Can Help More Than it Hurts

Rachael Coakley— Jessica started her freshman year of high school in great spirts. Then, in early October, she began to get daily headaches after school. Her headaches typically began around 4 PM and persisted through the evening making it difficult for her to complete homework. When Jessica couldn’t finish assignments

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Abolitionists are American Democracy’s Unsung Heroes

Manisha Sinha— Most Americans greeted Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew’s decision to put Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist heroine of the Underground Railroad, on the front of the twenty-dollar bill and relegate the Indian hunting President Andrew Jackson to its back with approval. The ironies abound. Fugitive slaves like Tubman most feared

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A Volcano in Constant Eruption: Surviving the Hell of Verdun

One hundred years ago, in May 1916, the costliest, bloodiest battle of World War I’s Western Front – Verdun – had raged for three months without slackening. French and German troops marched resignedly into what they cursed as “The Furnace.”  300,000 lives would be lost in the 300-day ordeal. One

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Math, Fractals, and Maybe Some Art

Math and art have had an active relationship for centuries. Think of perspective geometry and Renaissance art, higher-dimensional geometry and cubism, how the Alhambra walls and Klemscott press margins use patterns of wallpaper and frieze groups, the tilings both Euclidean and hyperbolic that appear in Escher’s designs, and on and

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