The Public Humanist

Our blog publishes the voices of many contributors who use the humanities to explore our world. Reader commentary is encouraged. Consider contributing – complete form. Editor David Morgan.

Time for a Tree and a Rope

Jim Crow is again in the news and in the media on a regular basis, with recent sightings on state judicial and educational perches.

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Rhetorical Shifts: Economic Liberty

John Gast’s American Progress, an allegory of Manifest Destiny that was widely disseminated in chromolithographic prints in the late 1800s.

The meanings of welfare and liberty changed significantly from the revolutionary era to the present. How did Adam Smith’s ethically-based concept of liberty come to be replaced with a no-holds-barred free market?

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Are You Ladies Alone?

Marriage

The recent trend in women choosing to marry late (or not at all) is as liberating as any movement, suffrage or sexual.

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Global in (African) Nature: Great Zimbabwe and Kilwa Kisiwani

One of the many original passageways within the Hill Complex, where only the king, his advisors, and his invited guests were permitted.

Trading empires in Africa created a global network while Europe was still reeling from the Middle Ages. Great Zimbabwe is a testament to this neglected history and its ruins demonstrate the architectural and mercantile prowess of its previous inhabitants.

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Thinking with Arendt about Massachusetts Ballot Question 2: Revaluing the “Public” in the Fight for Public Education

Vote buttons

This November, Massachusetts voters will be deciding whether to lift the cap on charter schools in the Commonwealth, begging the question of what advocates mean by the term “public.”

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What is a Terrorist?: Modern War

Guy Fawkes, caught in an attempted bombing, proclaimed that declared that “a dangerous disease required a desperate remedy,” evincing the asymmetry of power and terrorism.

Terrorism may be modern warfare’s brutal apotheosis; a simple strategy in an asymmetrical environment.

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What is a Terrorist?: The Difficulty in a Definition

Images via Google news

The standards by which we call someone a terrorist may be part religious and racial discrimination; hesitating to label individual or group violence as domestic terror appears wise when looking into history.

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What is a Terrorist? An Introduction

“Terrorist” in English texts dating from 1800 to 2008: Image via Google Books Ngram viewer

After 9/11, the word “terrorist” dramatically increased in American discourse, and yet for many—including the United States government—its definition still lacks clarity.

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Welfare and Liberty

Founding Fathers painting

Twenty years ago, President Clinton signed into law the welfare reform act for which his presidency is widely remembered. His efforts changed our national concept of welfare. But the word used to mean something very different, as is true with many of the ideas put forth in the Constitution.

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Lend Me Your Ears: Rhetoric in Ancient and Modern Times

Bust of Alcibiades. Capitalize Museum, Rome

In a democracy, the ability to persuade a voting population is the road to power itself.

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