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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Messy, messy masculinity: The politics of eccentric men in the early United States

For every weirdo one finds while researching the past’s forgotten personalities, there are probably two or three more just a stone’s throw away whom time did not preserve. Ben Bascom (Feeling Singular: Queer Masculinities in the Early United States) assembles a collection of once neglected but now deeply curious stories that offer the underside to more popular narratives about the founding of the U.S and what it meant—and means—to be masculine.

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Forgotten books and postwar Jewish identity

In recent years, Americans have reckoned with a rise in antisemitism. Since the 2016 presidential election, antisemitism exploded online and entered the mainstream of American politics, with the 2018 shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue marking the deadliest attack on American Jews.

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Society was to blame for the letters, not twisted psychologies

In complex ways, social inequalities create the conditions for people to feel that writing anonymously might be useful for them. On top of this, social crises create anxious contexts, when the receipt of a threatening, obscene, or libellous anonymous letter might seem especially hazardous.

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England and Egypt in the early middle ages: the papal connection

When the Venerable Bede (d. 735) looked out from his Tyneside monastery across the North Sea, over the harbour at Jarrow Slake to which ships brought communications, wares, and human traffic from Europe and the Mediterranean—how then did he picture Rome and the papacy, the city and institution he thought so central to English and even world history? His grasp of its visual culture cannot have been great. We know that Bede never saw Rome (in fact, he never saw any city or town). Our usual reference points of its basilicas, shrines, walls and mosaics—indeed, its sheer urban and suburban mass—cannot have meant much to him.

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Thinking disobediently?

A person who “thinks disobediently” can be invigorating, maddening, or both. The life and writings of Henry David Thoreau have provoked just such mixed reactions over time, scorned by some; cherished by others. What seems bracingly invigorating can also seem an off-putting mannerism.

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Conversations with Dostoevsky

The first time I visited St Petersburg, nearly thirty years ago, I stayed not far from the area in which Dostoevsky set the action of Crime and Punishment. The tenement blocks were, for the most part, those that Dostoevsky himself would have seen—indeed, one friend lived at Grazhdanskaya 19, a possible location for the coffin-like garret inhabited by Raskolnikov, the novel’s homicidal anti-hero.

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Alice Mustian’s scandalous backyard performance

The year 1614 was an eventful one for the London theatre world. Shakespeare’s Globe playhouse, rebuilt after having burned to the ground during an ill-fated performance of Henry VIII, was reopening its doors.

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How well do you know fantasy literature?

Are you an avid fantasy fiction reader, or are you new to the world of dragons, mythic quests and magical worlds? Either way, test your knowledge of this most varied of genres with our quick fantasy literature quiz!

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