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.

A Scientific Sea Change? What the Humanities Offer Environmental Science in the Anthropocene

A sample of plastiglomerate, collected on Kamilo Beach in Hawaii.

How might the sciences and the humanities converge in a geologic era marked by human activity?

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Nature, Culture, and the Art of Breathing Underwater

Still from The Newsroom: Humans can't breathe underwater

It may be too late to prevent the worst effects of climate change, but even that won’t stop humans from being hopeful and resourceful.

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Why is American Theater Afraid of Climate Change?

The 1993 play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes by American playwright Tony Kushner unflinchingly tackled AIDS and homosexuality in America in the 1980s.

I am particularly grateful when a book comes along that illuminates what our culture is really afraid of, those repressed realities that make our arts so docile, so fearful of challenging the status quo. The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable by Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh, sheds light on an embarrassing failure of nerve that […]

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What’s Next for Nature?

Alphabet of the Anthropocene by Brett Bloom and Bonnie Fortune

The Public Humanist seeks humanities-based responses to the Anthropocene, asking how our various disciplines shift in light of this new perspective. After all, the humanities ought to flourish in a time of significant biospheric human influence.

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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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