Student in a Black Studies class in a west side Chicago classroom, 1973

African American Studies: Foundations and Key Concepts

This non-exhaustive list of readings in African American Studies highlights the vibrant history of the discipline and introduces the field.
Pope Formosus and Stephen VI by Jean Paul Laurens, 1870

The Cadaver Synod: Putting a Dead Pope on Trial

Why did Pope Stephen VI go to such great lengths to destroy an enemy who was already dead?
Two children playing in the snow

The Snow Day as Modern Festival

An unexpected day off work and school can take on the trappings of a religious ritual.
From a 1935 ad for Cutex nail polish and lipstick

Cutex Hooked Americans on Manicures

How a company that started off selling cuticle remover convinced American woman to paint their nails.
Poster shows Uncle Sam playing a fife, leading a group of children carrying gardening tools and a seed bag.

The First School Gardens

In the early 1900s, immigration and child labor laws resulted in growing numbers of schoolchildren. Gardens were seen as a way to keep them under control.
A couple on a couch ignoring each other for their phones

Don’t Fear the Sex Recession

We shouldn't see changes in Americans’ sex lives as a single phenomenon with an overarching cause.
Xipe Totec Impersonator from AD 600-900

The Festival of the Flayed God

The terrifying and gruesome rituals of the Flayed God had a symbolic subtext that was somewhat gentler than one might imagine.
Billy Sunday

Pop-Culture Preaching in the 1910s

Billy Sunday was a charismatic preacher who brought in thousands to his vaudeville-inspired church services.
Alan Watts

When Buddhism Came to America

Buddhism was embraced by the Beats of 1950s America. But some Buddhists felt these converts were engaging with the practice in a shallow way.
Student with practice baby at Cornell University

When Home Ec Classes Borrowed Babies

In the early-to-mid 20th century, foster children in Canada and elsewhere were placed in practice homes and cared for by home economics students.