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We Still Have Much to Learn from W.E.B. Du Bois

By Matt Reimann. Feb 23, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Literature

The life of W.E.B. Du Bois occupies a remarkable span. He was born in Massachusetts in 1868 to a nation in the middle of its very reconstruction. He took up the mantel of the previous generation of great African-American thinkers, like Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass, who themselves escaped bondage. But even with emancipation, America’s work was, and still is, not nearly over. But thanks to the life and work of W.E.B. Du Bois, the United States, and the world, are a little more humane.

     
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Top Ten Collectible Presidential Books

By Abigail Wheetley. Feb 16, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, History

Presidents define our eras, lead our lawmakers, and create moments in history that will live for generations. To own a small piece of that legacysomething written about, written by, or signed by one of these iconic figuresis to own a piece of history. This is a list of the top ten presidential collectibles, chosen for their provenance, condition, but most importantly, for the history they represent.

     
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Robert Coover and the Great American Novel You've Never Heard Of

By Matt Reimann. Feb 4, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, American Literature

Many great artists live rather modest, obscure lives. Of course there are those individuals, the Casanovas, the Byrons, and the Goethes of the world, who write interesting books and are interesting when written about. But this is not so much the case with Robert Coover, who turns 84 today. Prolific, soft-spoken, and wise, the author taught electronic writing at Brown University for years. No, Coover has not earned the publicity of his equals, such as Cormac McCarthy, Toni Morrison, and Thomas Pynchon. But to his readers, Coover has left behind a trove of books that are as vital and boisterous as any voice in American letters today.

     
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Notable Speeches: The State of the Union and Nobel Lectures

By Stephen Pappas. Jan 4, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Nobel Prize Winners

As the first president of the United States, George Washington established many precedents for the office. Indeed, he began one of the country's most enduring traditions: the delivery of a State of the Union address. The Constitution required the president to update Congress on the nation’s progress, but didn’t specify how or when. It was Washington who decided those particulars. The State of the Union remains one of the major speeches of the year, both nationally and internationally. The annual Nobel lectures are also notable on a global scale. Today, we present a sample of noteworthy public speaking moments ranging from United States presidents to Nobel laureates.      
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A Glimpse of Understanding: A Look at Post 9/11 Novels

By Nick Ostdick. Sep 11, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History

Some moments in history are so monumental, so seismic, they seem impossible for fiction to get its arms around. These are moments that defy logic, that render conventional and unconventional methods of storytelling obsolete in trying to uncover the truth of the human condition. Take, for example, the horrific events of September 11: a calculated, strategic assault on some of the country’s most iconic images — The World Trade Center, The Pentagon and The White House, though thankfully that last image was left unharmed due to the courage of those aboard the plane bound for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. 

The inherent problem in fiction dealing directly with national tragedies like 9/11 is that the tragedy itself seems something born out of a writer’s imagination, not moments recounted for decades to come in history books. With instances like September 11, there are often more questions to begin with and even fewer answers to be found as the pages turn. 

     
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The Quiet Achievement of Evan S. Connell, Jr.

By Matt Reimann. Aug 17, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, American Literature

In the Santa Fe nursing home in which Evan S. Connell, Jr. spent the final years of his life, he spoke so little that some residents thought him to be mute. He kept to himself, generally, granting few interviews and was perpetually turning down teaching positions. Spouseless and childless, some might say Connell lived the definition of a solitary life. It seems as if writing was where he displaced the majority of his vitality. Connell has a reputation among writers and readers for valuing his writing above all else. There’s one anecdote where the author, upon seeing two attractive girls sunbathing on the roof outside his writing room, drew the blinds. Finally able to return to writing free of distractions, he was happy.

     
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Quiz: Which Founding Father Are You?

By Andrea Koczela. Jul 4, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Quizzes

American legends are especially rich surrounding the Founding Fathers. From George Washington and the cherry tree to Benjamin Franklin flying a kite, the stories are compelling and diverse. While it's tempting to summarize these men (and women, too!) in a few sentences or anecdotes, inevitably they are much more complex. For example, far from being a stoic, refined leader, George Washington at the crossing of the Delaware told an obese colonel, "Shift that fat ass, Harry. But slowly, or you'll swamp the damn boat!"

Why not take a few moments to learn a bit more about the Founding Fathers? Take our brief quiz and discover which Founding Father (or Founding Lady) you would be.

     
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John Hersey and the Journalism Event of the Century

By Matt Reimann. Jun 15, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Pulitzer Prize, American Literature

When the New Yorker published John Hersey’s “Hiroshima” on August 31, 1946, nearly everyone was stunned. The issue sold out within a few hours. Albert Einstein himself ordered one thousand copies. Newspapers and periodicals everywhere requested permission to publish it, as did the American Broadcast Company. Even a theatre company wanted to adapt it for the stage. It had been a year since the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, and so little was known in the West about the aftermath of the fearsome new weapon. Then came Hersey’s extensive article, and people's eyes were opened.

     
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Real Events Behind Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin

By Leah Dobrinska. Jun 12, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Legendary Authors, History

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin is cultural dynamite. Within three months of its publication in 1852, 300,000 copies of the novel were sold in the United States. Many believe the events in Stowe’s book helped propel the United States into the Civil War. Even now, Uncle Tom’s Cabin remains one of the most widely read and acknowledged abolitionist works of all time. Today, we explore Harriet Beecher Stowe’s inspiration for her characters and storyline. 

     
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When Ian Fleming Met John F. Kennedy

By Matt Reimann. May 27, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, James Bond

Ian Fleming was one of the great raconteurs of 20th century international life. Not surprisingly, he was also a great participant in it. Fleming was famously at the forefront of British secret intelligence during World War II, helping establish the vital No. 30 Commando unit to intercept Nazi communications. This experience was essential in creating the espionage stories of the James Bond books. Fleming, as he became a celebrity author, often met with leading figures of his time, some of whom were also big fans of his work. One of the most memorable of these meetings was with soon-to-be U.S. president John F. Kennedy.

     
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