Berfrois

Society for the Confused

Society for the Confused

Drawn by caricaturist John Leech, the illustrations of Gilbert Abbott à Beckett’s The Comic History of Rome are a Victorian fever dream of ancient Rome.

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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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Craig Harline: Conversion

Craig Harline: Conversion

The Conversion of Saul, Micheangelo Buonarroti, 1542-45 by Craig Harline What are the choices when a family member converts to another faith (or non-faith)? Or, takes a path that upsets the family’s perceived traditions? One good place to look for answers is Reformation Europe, where the problem of individual...

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Aaron Skabelund: Hachikō

Aaron Skabelund: Hachikō

The “Loyal Dog” Hachikō in 1934 by Aaron Herald Skabelund On the morning of 21 May 1925, a dog known as Hachikō walked with his master to a Tokyo railway station just as they had done each weekday morning for over a year since he had been adopted as...

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Calvin Schermerhorn: Family and Freedom

Calvin Schermerhorn: Family and Freedom

After the Sale: Slaves Going South, Eyre Crowe, 1853 by Calvin Schermerhorn When enslaved Americans confronted the intensifying market economy of the nineteenth-century United States, they faced ominous changes and serious challenges.  If they lived in the coastal upper South – Delaware plus the eastern portions of Maryland, Virginia,...

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Michael Khodarkovsky: Tales of the North Caucasus

Michael Khodarkovsky: Tales of the North Caucasus

General Aleksei Petrovich Ermolov by Michael Khodarkovsky In the early 1820s the Russian troops under General Aleksei Petrovich Ermolov marched through Chechnya leaving behind a wide swath of destruction: Villages razed to the ground, crops burned, captives and cattle seized, forests cut down, and land taken away for forts and...

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Late Imperial Russia’s “Marriage Crisis” by Barbara Alpern Engel

Late Imperial Russia’s “Marriage Crisis” by Barbara Alpern Engel

  by Barbara Alpern Engel I have always been fascinated by the personal dimensions of social and historical change, but never have been able to explore them as broadly, deeply and intimately as I am able to do in Breaking the Ties that Bound. The project began with a...

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Erik R. Seeman: Wendat Deathways

Erik R. Seeman: Wendat Deathways

Wendat scaffold burial, where corpses awaited the Feast of the Dead. From Samuel de Champlain’s Voyages et descouvertures, 1619. Courtesy of the Library of Congress by Erik R. Seeman On May 12, 1636, two thousand Wendat (Huron) Indians stood on the edge of an enormous burial pit. Near the village of...

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Céline Dauverd: Dynastic Imperialism, Mercantile Interests

Céline Dauverd: Dynastic Imperialism, Mercantile Interests

View of the City of Naples and Vesuvio from Castel Sant’Elmo by Céline Dauverd The word imperialism inevitably conjures up reflections about the relationship –or lack thereof—among western countries and let’s say Algeria, Lebanon, South Africa, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico or Libya. However, these are all regions plagued by...

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Extreme Origins by Manus I. Midlarsky

Extreme Origins by Manus I. Midlarsky

by Manus I. Midlarsky Political extremism is one of the most pernicious, destructive, and nihilistic forms of human expression. During the twentieth century, in excess of 100 million people had their lives taken from them as the result of extremist violence. My recent book, Origins of Political Extremism  is a wide-ranging...

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William G. Thalmann: Argonautika, Spatial Epic

William G. Thalmann: Argonautika, Spatial Epic

Map of the Voyage of the Argonauts, from Ortelius’ Parergon, 1624 by William G. Thalmann I hadn’t intended to write a book about Apollonius of Rhodes’ Argonautika, but once I began reading and studying the poem it was difficult not to. A Greek epic poem in four books about...

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Oliver Farry on Michel Houellebecq

The peculiar circumstances surrounding the publication of Michel Houellebecq’s latest novel constitute a case study in how even the biggest literary news stories are,...

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McKenzie Wark
Information in Chains

“Information wants to be free, but is everywhere in chains.” The development of the forces of production took a qualitatively different turn when information...

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Bobbi Lurie
Bobbi Lurie: Organic Fortune

isis - ebola - obama hit by halal truck (where is duchamp?)

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Bharat Azad
Bharat Azad Meets Adair Turner

In a quiet office tucked away in Mayfair – over a long table so white I am hesitant to even place my fingers on...

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Andre Gerard: Light Here, Shadow There

The deeper one looks in To the Lighthouse the more one sees. The more one listens the more one hears. Homer, Shakespeare, Conrad and...

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Claudia Landolfi: Europe’s Colonial Perversion

The aftermath of a violent act or after a sharp change of political horizons is also a crisis of imagination and language. The rupture...

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Jerry Moore: Feverish Rivers

I learned that Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff had been a Nazi when I was in a Santa Marta supermarket. I had just stepped into the Exito...

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Lauren Berlant
Lauren Berlant flies

Most of the writing we do is actually a performance of stuckness. It is a record of where we got stuck on a question...

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Robyn Ferrell on Balthus

The pitfalls of identification, hero-worship, envy and malice can beset the most patient writer in the throes of five hundred-plus pages of attention to...

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Michael Munro on Spinoza

Immanence is not philosophy, nor philosophy immanence. But there is in the passage from one to the other a modification of sense that is...

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David Beer
David Beer: Broadcastwerk

Writing at sometime around 1930 or 1931, Walter Benjamin suggested that the voice on the radio is a like a visitor in the home,...

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Rose Barnsley: Young, Gifted and Žižekian

At nineteen, it is easy to think that all you're missing is the right movement. But there is something about the young left wing...

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Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: Rama’s And

While local journalists were once again busy regurgitating worn-down, coma inducing positions about yet another spectral appearance of Enver Hoxha at the celebration of...

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Playing the Percentages: Berfrois Interviews Danny Dorling

The portrait of the 1% in your book is one of sociopathic, power-hungry narcissists with a striking lack of empathy. This may seem antagonistic,...

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