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...

How To Be Oblivious | Complacency and Doom in Rumaan Alam’s Leave the World Behind

Hannah Gold

Social media didn’t invent apathy, but it has a particular genius for reproducing it. At times, scrolling through one’s feed feels like reading a rollicking, absorbing social novel, but in fragments, disordered, and with the reverse effect, since when you lose yourself in it, your interest goes too, and everything is vaguely similar: what you buy, what you owe, what tragedy befell someone else. Nestled among your preferred ideology, drama,...

“A Punishing American Zeitgeist” | An Interview with Nikhil Pal Singh

The Drift

With Trump finally, dramatically out of office, the efforts to historicize his tenure have already begun. What is his legacy? How did we get here? What’s next? Long an astute commentator on race, imperialism, and the history of American political struggle, Nikhil Pal Singh has been an essential scholarly voice amidst the chaos that defined the Trump era, and the online noise that continues even in his absence. Singh is...

Editors’ Note | The First But Not the Last

Even before he was elected, CNN reported, Donald Trump had “awakened a feminist revolution in America.” The Access Hollywood tape in which he uttered the phrase “grab ’em by the pussy” was greeted as the end of the election, almost universally expected to spark the backlash that would ensure his defeat and usher in a new era for women. The future was female, and for a brief moment, even Fox...

Doctor Do-Little | The Case Against Anthony Fauci

Sam Adler-Bell

There is no one in American government — or perhaps any government — quite like Dr. Anthony Fauci. His position, with its mixture of informal power and public visibility, scientific authority and beltway influence, is sui generis. Few other unconfirmed civil servants have access to as many rooms in the executive interagency; no public official commands as much respect in the world of science and medicine. As director of the...

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