John Beckman: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Americans!

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Blackbeard in Smoke and Flames, Frank E. Schoonover, 1922 by John Beckman While writing an early draft of my recent book, American Fun: Four Centuries of Joyous Revolt, I became impatient with the Northeastern cultural glacier that stretched between the wild party that was 1620s Merry Mount and obstreperous 1760s Boston. 140 years of mirthless…

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“Det er det rene volapyk”

Johann Schleyer on a harp given to him as a 50th birthday present by his colleagues at Sionsharfe, a magazine devoted mainly to Catholic poetry, which Schleyer edited and in which he first published on Volapük in 1879 by Arika Okrent Johann Schleyer was a German priest whose irrational...

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Emerson and C

Ralph Waldo Emerson visited England twice – in 1833 and again in 1847. On his first visit, as a young and unpublished writer, he travelled to meet the men whose works had inspired him – one of these giants was Thomas Carlyle, the ‘lonely scholar’.

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Hobsbawm and the CPGB

Eric Hobsbawm, Peter De Francia,  c.1955. James Hyman Fine Art, currently on public display in Room One of the stunning curation of art and archives connected to John Berger, ‘Art and property now’ at the Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing, King’s College London, the Strand, WC2R till November...

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Russell Overcounted

Mezzofanti as pictured in the frontispiece to The Life of Cardinal Mezzofanti; with an introductory memoir of eminent linguists, ancient and modern, by Charles William Russell, 1858 by Michael Erard Without a doubt, the most important book in English devoted to Cardinal Giuseppe Mezzofanti (1774-1849), the polyglot of Bologna,...

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Lillian Hellman’s stance was inspirational to a cowed generation…

Lillian Hellman From The Nation: In 1952, Hellman was subpoenaed to appear before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). It was the height (or should I say “nadir”?) of the red hunt. Senator Joseph McCarthy, with the intimidating attorney Roy Cohn at his side, seemed to be making...

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United

Caesar Chavez on the México-Tenochitlán—The Wall That Talks mural project, Avenue 61 and Figueroa, Los Angeles From New Left Review: In any account of the United Farm Workers, there is ample room for recrimination and bitterness; but Bardacke shows none of that in his own spirited history. The story...

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John Bateson: Suicide Bridge

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. While there have been many celebrations to commemorate the design, construction and beauty of the world’s most famous span, one thing that has received relatively little attention is the fact that the bridge continues to be the top...

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White Southerners and the American Civil War by Paul Quigley

In October 1860, Sarah Lois Wadley was a month shy of her sixteenth birthday. Yet even at that age, she was dreadfully concerned about the crisis of the American Union that was unfolding all around her. Just days before the election of Abraham Lincoln, a few months before the...

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We Built This City

Paris Commune, 1871 by Jonathan Moses Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution, by David Harvey, Verso, 206 pp. It would be impossible to cover here the range of ideas in Harvey’s recent book, Rebel Cities, but it is worth considering one of its...

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In the early modern period, horniness and sexual insatiability are classic female attributes…

Frenzy of Exultations, Władysław Podkowiński, 1894 by Justin E. H. Smith I’ve observed before that until at least the early 19th century, ‘orgasm’ did not mean what it does for us today. In La philosophie zoologique of 1809, for example, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck uses the term to describe something like...

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Rachael Mclennan: Anne Frank

Most obviously, writing a novel in which Anne Frank in invoked in any way necessitates that Auslander’s work engages with the difficult ethical questions attendant on any fictional discussions of the Holocaust: questions which have been considered vital ever since Theodor Adorno’s claim that it would be barbaric to...

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Well After 999

by Justin E. H. Smith I am in Iceland for the first time in many years, for no better reason than that Icelandair offers extended stopovers on transatlantic flights at no additional cost. I cross the Atlantic as casually as one might take the subway from borough to borough,...

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Donald Raleigh: Generation Sputnik

Saratov School no. 42, graduation night, 1967 by Donald Raleigh Until recently, my office on the fourth floor of Hamilton Hall at the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill, was the only one along the corridor not occupied by someone affiliated with Carolina’s distinguished Southern Oral History Program...

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Patrick Downey on Jack “Legs” Diamond

Jack “Legs” Diamond is little remembered today, but for the last eighteen months of his life he rivaled Al Capone as the most famous gangster in Prohibition Era America. Whereas Capone was famous for being the CEO of the largest criminal enterprise in the U.S., Jack was famous for...

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Ernst Freud’s Modern Architecture by Volker Welter

by Volker M. Welter In 1992, when I was working as an architectural historian for an architectural firm located in Berlin, I stumbled across the name of architect Ernst L. Freud. At that time, my task was to conduct research for an architectural historic report on a large country...

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Koxinga’s War by Tonio Andrade

This February marked the 350th anniversary of an important but forgotten war: the Sino-Dutch War of 1661-1662. The Dutch, who’d defeated the British, the Portuguese and the Spanish, whose guns and military practices were famous throughout Europe, found themselves outfought, out-led and outmaneuvered by a Chinese warlord named Koxinga,...

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Imperial Ventriloquism and Other Magic Tricks

The centennial anniversary of the First World War provides a fitting opportunity to review the literature devoted to the origins of the conflict.

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Empire

Why, in 2011, think about empires? We live in a world of nation-states — over 200 of them, each with their seat in the UN, their flag, postage stamps and governmental institutions.

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Marcel-Duchamp-Leaving-the-Cafe-1

Marcel Duchamp sat silent. He seemed far away, lost in reverie. Then, he spoke of the death of art, which he described as...

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Bobbi Lurie
Duchamp-smoking-through-the-cracked-glass

But I was perplexed. Marcel Duchamp didn’t order a thing to eat at the café. I assumed it was because he was dead, requiring nothing...

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Earthquake metaphors have had strong currency, both political and journalistic, in the aftermath of May’s European Parliament (EP) elections. The most spectacular tremors were...

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Ernst_Ludwig_Kirchner

Both Derrida and Ronell suggest that saying yes is “telephonic,” both in the sense that it resounds over a distance and therefore always is...

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ramirez1fullsize

Unless they lived in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona or California – all former Mexican territories – most U.S. residents in the 1930s were unaware...

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MashaTheDevilProbably

The different tools used to capture the frame and the wild variety in terms of image quality, which is the way films are remembered...

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ron-sky-rat-cover

“We’ve got a problem,” says Andrew Shuta of Spork as he and Drew Burk guide me into a fancy conference room. Ron’s sitting across from...

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chinua

Many years ago, in an interview he did with Bill Moyers, Chinua Achebe was asked, “What would you want the West to do?” Achebe...

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Masha Tupitsyn
sickert

No one can love anymore because of an overabundance of reaction formation. No one wants to owe anything to their desire(s); to other people’s...

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Hearn1

How could a man born on a Greek island in 1850 be a household name in Japan today? The answer lies in the story...

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kentridge1

Jean Améry titled his renowned book on voluntary death, Hand an Sich Legen – To lay Hands on Oneself. Beyond the argument of Amery...

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letters

Several months ago, I wrote a long letter by hand to a young woman I barely knew. That sounds pretty dubious, if not to...

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Kemmler

In a move that might strike readers as odd, Derrida spends most of these lectures not on the case made by death penalty proponents,...

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proust

Although Charles Kenneth Scott Moncrieff’s translation of À la recherche du temps perdu is considered by many journalists and writers to be the best...

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