“Speak to the Moment” | Art and Culture under Trump

Blair McClendon, Jenny G. Zhang, Matt Christman, Merve Emre, Rosemarie Ho, Sasha Frere-Jones, Sophie Haigney, Tausif Noor

In 2016, grand predictions were issued about the fate of art under the new regime. The culture would suffer, dragged into the morass of Trump’s gaudy, ’80s flair — his ill-fitting suits, overlong ties, and overcooked steaks. Or no — it would usher in an artistic renaissance, a flourishing, heady underground. Comedy might be dead, but things were looking up for punk.  Four(ish) years later, it’s time to prematurely diagnose the...

Mr Blythe Esq. | FICTION

Amber Medland

Typing I   Today my boss handed me an envelope, then a stamp, and told me to lick it. My online therapist, Susan, says that my inability to set appropriate boundaries indicates low self-confidence. I am convinced that Susan is a bot. I reply: I do not have low self-esteem. What I have is impeccable manners. Julie and I used to live together. She wants me to get a real...

New Sheriff in Town | Law Enforcement and the Urban-Rural Divide

Jonathon Booth

Big Harris Rood had spent his life growing cotton on a plantation near Lumpkin, Georgia. He had been free from bondage for less than a year when three white robbers arrived outside his cabin late one night in early 1866. After a brief argument, Rood killed the leader, driving an ax into his skull. The next day, the dead man’s father swore out a warrant and traveled to the Rood...

[A Moment Breaking Loose from the Past Becomes the Voice Inside Your Head] | POETRY

Jackie Wang

Where in this architecture of dust will you find the space to build a house that does not split? There I see your hand trying to escape the raw activity of laying stones Formations will spryly emerge the dampened loam shaped into something terrible From the mud she tells me, “Some days I wake up laughing because these forms are so unnecessary” “Some days I wake up crying because these...

Strong Female Leads | The Reese Witherspoon Literary Canon

Marella Gayla

In 2012, Reese Witherspoon was thirty-six years old and sick of Hollywood. Her acting career had slowed since her Oscar win in 2005; she had filed for divorce in 2006 and appeared in a few box office duds, and she wasn’t encouraged by the sexist, stultifying scripts she was receiving. Witherspoon requested meetings with studio bigwigs, and was disappointed to find that they didn’t care about developing stories with female...

Not All Millennials | Generational Wealth and the New Inequality

Kiara Barrow

Peddlers of self-help and pop-psychology are quick to assure us that we’re each our own toughest critic. In fact, it’s often our peers who will exact the harshest judgments, being best positioned to sniff out the social cues and latent hierarchies that are most legible within a shared milieu. Last year, Pete Buttigieg, the only millennial candidate in the Democratic Presidential field, failed to win the support of other members...

First-Person Shooter Ideology | The Cultural Contradictions of Call of Duty

Daniel Bessner

For decades, historians of the twentieth century have debated why, exactly, the United States fought a protracted, destructive, and ultimately pointless Cold War with the Soviet Union. Some have claimed that the United States was simply reacting rationally to Joseph Stalin’s provocations; “the brave and essential response of free men to communist aggression,” in the words of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Others, including Stephen Wertheim and myself, have pointed to the...

The Original Karen | Colonial Nostalgia and Nairobi’s Out of Africa Industry

Carey Baraka

After Kenya declared independence from British rule in 1963, there came a flood of renamings. Schools, suburbs, and roads were rechristened in ways that spoke to a new idea of what it meant to be authentically Kenyan. In Nairobi, “Queens Way” became “Mama Ngina Street,” and roads named after the first four colonial commissioners were redesignated for African leaders: Dedan Kimathi, Muindi Mbingu, Daudi Dabasso Wabera, and Mbiyu Koinange, respectively....

A Pool of One’s Own | Group Biographies and the Female Friendship Vogue

Noelle Bodick

No friendships worthy of Flaubert’s exacting pen emerge from the Ursuline convent of Emma Bovary’s schooldays. Blame it on the local black market. Out of sight of the nuns, a matronly seamstress stashes books “full of love and lovers” in her apron smocks and slips copies to the older girls — hypnotizing tales of moonlit crossings, fainting damsels, horses ridden to death by perpetually late beaux. Only lovers (noblemen in...

The Land Was Ours | Trump, Biden, and Public Lands

Nick Bowlin

Northern Nevada, not far from the Oregon border, is a vast steppe, where rolling hills and basins stretch on for hundreds of miles beneath sagebrush and other shrubs that can endure the cold winters and dry summers. Beneath the surface are deposits of minerals, the sort that make our phones glow and electric cars run. It is one of the darkest regions — with the lowest levels of light pollution...

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