How Trumbull Park Exposed the Brutal Legacy of Segregation

Frank London Brown’s 1959 novel, which presents a powerful story of white supremacist hatred, has been selected for the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame.
From From canal boy to president by Horatio Alger, 1881

The Creepy Backstory to Horatio Alger’s Bootstrap Capitalism

In a famous essay, a scholar uncovered difficult truths about Alger, whose name has been associated with the "rags to riches" myth.
Demonstrators march near the White House in protest following a Kentucky grand jury decision in the Breonna Taylor case on September 23, 2020

The Ethical Life of Euphemisms

Euphemisms can hide facts that need to be confronted. How do they work from a linguist's point of view?
Adolph Menzel -The Iron Rolling Mill

Life in the Iron Mills as Fiction of the “Close-Outsider Witness”

Rebecca Harding Davis had no firsthand experience of iron mills. Neither does her nameless narrator.
Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison’s Operatic Life

Toni Morrison was renowned for the musicality of her prose, so writing lyrics for classical music wasn't a huge stretch.
Taylor Swift at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards

The Linguistic Evolution of Taylor Swift

If Taylor Swift shifts her accent in her transition from country to pop, does she lose the personal authenticity important to country music?
The cover of Exodus by Leon Uris

How Americans Were Taught to Understand Israel

Leon Uris's bestselling book Exodus portrayed the founding of the state of Israel in terms many Americans could relate to.

Resistance through Silence in Camus’s The Plague

"On this earth there are pestilences and there are victims, and it’s up to us, so far as possible, not to join forces with the pestilences."
An illustration of four people standing and wearing masks

Choosing Love over Eugenics

Some writers see contagion as a metaphor for community—proof that we exist within an interdependent network and not as autonomous disconnected islands.

How to Meme What You Say

The linguistic theories behind what we're trying to say when we adapt and share internet memes.