Jarena Lee

Jarena Lee, The First Woman African American Autobiographer

Jarena Lee was the first female preacher in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1836, she published her autobiography.
Illustration from "The Nights of Straparola" (1894)

The Invention of the Passive Fairy Tale Heroine

European fairy tales featured bold, independent female characters—until the Reformation forced shifts in cultural attitudes towards women.
Mr. Knightley and Emma Woodhouse, from Jane Austen's Emma

Jane Austen’s Subtly Subversive Linguistics

Why are Jane Austen books still so beloved? A linguist argues it has more to do with Austen's masterful use of language than with plot.
Charlotte Salomon, gouache from Life? or Theater?

The Mystery behind Charlotte Salomon’s Groundbreaking Art

Before she was killed by Nazis, Charlotte Salomon created a unique, genre-bending artwork that may have also been a confession to a murder.
ENOCH in Space

An Ancient Egyptian Funerary Vessel Heads to Outer Space

Tavares Strachan's “Enoch” was launched into space on December 3rd, 2018. It's the latest in a long line of artworks inspired by Egyptian canopic jars.
Georgie Hyde-Lees

W. B. Yeats’ Live-in “Spirit Medium”

In the Victorian era, a different kind of ghostwriting became popular—largely because it allowed men to take all the credit.
An illustration from War of the Worlds

What The War of the Worlds Had to Do with Tasmania

H.G. Wells's famous science fiction novel imagines what would happen if Martians did to Great Britain what Europeans did to Tasmania.
Installation view of Ai Weiwei: Life Cycle

Ai Weiwei’s Readymade: Politics

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has been making political waves for decades, but his current shows are especially relevant to the United States.
Richard Attenborough, William Goldman and Joe Levine, 1975

William Goldman and the Mystery of Screenwriting

Authorship of Hollywood screenplays is often a complicated matter. But William Goldman was truly a writer in Hollywood.
Silhouette de château illuminé par un orage, by Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo: Surrealist Artist

Victor Hugo created visual art that was intuitive, experimental, and inspired by Spiritualism. In other words, nothing like his novel Les Misérables.