Berfrois

Remembering Michael B. Katz

Remembering Michael B. Katz

Michael B. Katz sadly passed away in August. We knew him as a brilliant writer and strong champion of the urban poor. Here are some tributes from his friends.

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Ernst Freud’s Modern Architecture by Volker Welter

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

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

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

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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Frank Müller on Emperor Frederick III

Frank Müller on Emperor Frederick III

‘Fritz and Vicky’, on their honeymoon, Windsor, 1858 by Frank Lorenz Müller It was only after her husband, the German Emperor Frederick III, had finally died on 15 June 1888 that his widow, Empress Victoria, allowed herself to buckle under the weight of almost unbearable grief. Throughout the many...

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Nico Slate: Satyagraha on the Spot

Nico Slate: Satyagraha on the Spot

by Nico Slate On Thursday November 17, a few days after Occupy Wall Street protesters were evicted from Zuccotti Park, a poster emerged declaring “mass non-violent direct action” to “shut down wall street,” “occupy the subways,” and “take the square.” While the reference to “non-violent direct action” reminded me...

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Anne Schutte: Gender and Monastic Release

Anne Schutte: Gender and Monastic Release

by Anne Jacobson Schutte A desperate nun, thrust against her will into a convent by cruel parents, cannot obtain release. Such is the prevailing image of involuntary female monachization in early modern Europe. The engraving reproduced above comes from Denis Diderot’s novel La Religieuse ‒ begun in 1760, published...

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‘Gitmo in the present millennium is no departure at all’

‘Gitmo in the present millennium is no departure at all’

Etching of the first American soldiers to land on Guantanamo Bay during the Spanish-American War, c.1898 From The Nation: With every year, the US naval base at Cuba’s Guantánamo Bay becomes less of a place and more of a concept, one that seems to have sprung from a vacuum...

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Women of the Cistercian Order by Anne Lester

Women of the Cistercian Order by Anne Lester

Cistercian nuns in chapel, detail from frontispiece, Pierre de Blois, La Sainte Abbaye, Central France (possibly Maubuisson) or North Eastern France (Lorraine), ca. 1290. The British Library Board, BL Yates Thompson MS 11, fol. 1v. Reproduced with kind permission by Anne E. Lester To call it a parchment page does not...

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Why do supernatural experiences matter for history?

Why do supernatural experiences matter for history?

Heroldsbach, 1949, via From The Hedgehog Review: In the 1950s, in the midst of what came to be known as the Economic Miracle, West Germany was positively deluged with other wonders: mysterious healings, mystical visions, rumors of the end of the world, and stories of divine and devilish interventions...

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Lisa Rosner: To Burke

Lisa Rosner: To Burke

Burking Poor Old Mrs Constitution Aged 141, William Heath, 1829 by Lisa Rosner What could possibly link Britain’s Catholic Relief Act of 1829, the first in a series of Parliamentary reforms leading to full Catholic emancipation, with the horrific Burke and Hare anatomy murders? The answer is a series...

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Carolina Armenteros on Joseph de Maistre

Carolina Armenteros on Joseph de Maistre

Joseph de Maistre, Karl Vogel von Vogelstein, c.1810 by Carolina Armenteros Centuries after his death, the name of Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821) can still trigger shudders. To non-specialists, it evokes Catholic zealotry, reaction incarnate, the taste for violence and the praise of war. After all, this is the Counter-revolutionary...

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Eric Dursteler: Beatrice the Renegade

Eric Dursteler: Beatrice the Renegade

Harem scene, from Memorie Turche, Museo Civico Correr, Cicogna, 1971 by Eric Dursteler In 1559, a ship sailed from Venice to the Dalmatian coast. On board were a mother and her four children, including her young daughter, Beatrice Michiel. As they crossed the Adriatic, corsairs waylaid the ship and...

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Matthew Clavin: Beside Toussaint Louverture

Matthew Clavin: Beside Toussaint Louverture

by Matthew Clavin The last two decades have witnessed an extraordinary transformation in the writing of early American history. Where historians once assumed the exceptionalism of the new United States kept it hermetically sealed from the outside world, they now believe the early republic existed on the periphery of...

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Italy Consumes by Emanuela Scarpellini

Italy Consumes by Emanuela Scarpellini

by Emanuela Scarpellini The press has various ways of describing the current crisis afflicting many countries, including Italy. The first is usually to call it a finance crisis and blame the banks and financial intermediaries; there is talk of problems in the real economy, industry producing less and exports...

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Mark Bevir: Marxism, Fabianism, Ethical Socialism

Mark Bevir: Marxism, Fabianism, Ethical Socialism

England to Her Own Rescue, Walter Crane, 1884 by Mark Bevir “We Are All Socialists Now: The Perils and Promise of the New Era of Big Government” ran a provocative cover of Newsweek on 11 February 2009. The financial crisis had swept through the economy, and the state had...

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Jonathan Boyarin: 180 Stanton Street

Jonathan Boyarin: 180 Stanton Street

180 Stanton Street by Jonathan Boyarin The fast-approaching secular year 2013 will mark the centennial of a modest building at 180 Stanton Street, on New York City’s Lower East Side, that houses Congregation Bnai Jacob Anshei Brzezan. I first entered its doors and re-learned how to place tefillin on...

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Elaine Forman Crane: Legal Matters (and Whores)

Elaine Forman Crane: Legal Matters (and Whores)

A Bellarmine Jug, or “Witch-bottle” by Elaine Forman Crane John Hammett, a Newport clerk, schoolmaster, and wife beater, may not be the most typical early American, but his experience suggests how braided law and life actually were in the era. Before his own brush with the authorities as an...

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Philippe Theophanidis on Jean-Luc Godard

At one point near the end of his unfinished novel Jean Santeuil, Marcel Proust describes a painting by Claude Monet from 1897, titled “Bras...

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An Enigma Wrapped Inside an Enigma by Michael Munro

There is perhaps nothing more enigmatic in the history of philosophy than that which in the tradition is known as the active intellect (nous...

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Jeremy Fernando
Jeremy Fernando on Tan Chui Mui

For, it is not as if films speak; nor are their filmmakers there—at the site where this alleged speaking to, speech, takes place —...

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Jason S. Polley: Prawns

The suburbs, aka first-world neighborhoods, are present via their conspicuous near visual absence in 2009’s District 9, a film focusing on an increasingly disorderly...

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Reality Principles: Berfrois Interviews Frank Smecker

I don't know if I ever wanted to become a theorist. I struggle with this position. For me, it's a hystericized — and therefore...

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Jesse Miksic on Dark Souls II

Is Dark Souls II the crowning rebirth of Gothic Romance for the digital age? I'm being dramatic, I realize. The spirit of Gothic has...

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Michael Munro
A Quotation and Provocation by Michael Munro

The teleology of the Universe is directed to the production of Beauty. That is the opening line of the text, its first thesis. It’s...

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Menachem Feuer
Menachem Feuer: Schlemiels

As human beings we have to “court” failure. This term suggests two things: on the one hand, it suggests dating and becoming intimate with...

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Bobbi Lurie
Bobbi Lurie with James Franco

Every day after that, I stood outside The Italian Restaurant on Fourteenth Street until it closed. I didn’t even smoke. The guy from The...

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Henry Giardina
Henry Giardina: Furrows and Hollows

There’s an oft-quoted line out of Candide that goes, “I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I have never fallen...

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Ashley James
Ashley James: Personhood

It seemed that by the close of January this year, the entire country could recognize the face of Sergeant Cory Remsburg: Near the tail-end...

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Logan K. Young on The Replacements

I, myself, was barely six months old when Twin/Tone put out The Mats’ Let It Be. The day, they say, was Orwellian: Tuesday, October...

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Tyranny Is a Growth Industry by Vladimir Savich and Zachary Bos

Tyranny is a growth industry. Each day brings exciting new developments. These events imprint themselves upon the world in the form of newspapers, magazines,...

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Tjoa Shze Hui: 1920s

Of the many witticisms that make up The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, one voiced by Picasso really gets under the skin. He says...

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