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Grant Shreve

Grant Shreve

Grant Shreve holds a PhD in American literature from Johns Hopkins University. He writes about race, religion, and culture in the United States and is currently finishing a book on secularity, religious diversity, and the rise of the American novel.

Bishop Michael Curry

Recognizing African Americans in the Anglican Church

At the royal wedding, bishop Michael Curry delivered a rousing address, calling attention to the African American experience in the Anglican Church.
paragraph book

What a Paragraph Is

On the controversial directive that a paragraph must contain a topic sentence, an idea that theorists, writers, and students have questioned for decades.
politics of women reading

When Reading Inspired Women to Change History

The "Friday Night" group was a cohort of prominent nineteenth century Baltimore women who met each week to read, write, and debate social issues.
kendrick lamar

Kendrick Lamar and Black Israelism

Kendrick Lamar namechecked Black Israelism on his last album. The history behind the religious doctrine dates back at least to the eighteenth century.
Politics of asexuality

The Political Provocations of Asexuality

As more people begin to identify themselves as asexual, their presence is revealing the limits to certain kinds of feminist politics.
Open Bible

The Dream of a Plain Bible

Beginning in the late eighteenth century, many Americans experienced a crisis of religious authority. During this time, the idea of an unambiguous “plain Bible” began to gain traction.
Frog and Toad

Frog and Toad Attend a Philosophy Class

The richness of the Frog and Toad books derives not only from their mood but from their willingness to challenge readers with philosophical dilemmas.
woman speaking with social worker for assistance

Must Social Workers Fight for Social Reform?

How social work embodies its commitment to social justice has always been fluid. The history of the profession fluctuates between a focus on system and individual social problems.
Optimistic woman vocation

The Spiritual Side of Vocation

Over the centuries, the idea of vocation has evolved to such a degree that it now encompasses any occupation which satisfies a personal calling.
dental surgery ether painting

19th Century Anesthesia and the Politics of Pain

Many doctors embraced anesthesia, but critics in the medical community protested its use, giving rise to what's known as the “ether controversy.”
Antique illustration of seance session

When Women Channeled the Dead to be Heard

Spiritualism was one of the nineteenth-century's most successful religious innovations, a movement of individuals who yearned for a religion which united mysticism and science.
Frederick Douglass and Martin Delany

Frederick Douglass’s Feud Over Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Journalist, physician, and committed black nationalist Martin Delany took Frederick Douglass to task over, among other things, Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
bored woman

On Embracing Boredom

What does "boredom" even mean? As both a word and a concept, boredom is not a universal phenomenon but a historical construction specific to our times.
Old open book

The Great American Game of Picking the Great American Novel

Arguing about the great American novel was perfect fodder for periodicals in the late 1800s, and it is catnip for a listicle-obsessed internet.
Mario hat Odysseus

Super Mario, Homer’s Odyssey, and the Meaning of Marriage

Nintendo's Mario and Homer's Odysseus have more in common than you might think.
Seven Against Thebes

“Thoughts and Prayers” in Greek Tragedy

With national tragedies now as frequent and predictable as sunrises, no phrase has lost consolatory power more swiftly than “thoughts and prayers.”
Glazed tiles wall of spanish province of Ciudad Real at Plaza de Espana, Seville, Spain

Is Don Quixote to Blame for Modern Movie Reboots?

The culture industry has long repackaged content from the past for the present. Just look at Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote.
Chapel

The Uncertain Future of the Religious Left

The aftermath of the 2016 U.S. election has renewed calls for an empowered coalition of religious liberals. Is there a place for the religious left?
Ralph Ellison

Ralph Ellison on Race

Ralph Ellison believed fiercely in the American project and in the centrality of black people to it.
Bible pages

What Good Is Knowing the Bible?

Despite the high rates of religious adherence in the United States, fewer Americans are reading the Bible than at any point in history.
Julia Ward Howe

The Long, Winding History of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”

Julia Ward Howe wrote her most famous poem, the legendary Civil War song, “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” in a single burst of inspiration 156 years ago.
Salt Lake City Temple Glass Holy of Holies

How Mormons Have Made Religion Out of Doubt

Because of its commitment to continuing revelation, Mormonism is replete with examples of individual doubt that have resulted in more, not less, religion.
The Nightmare

The Racialized History of “Hysteria”

Even three decades after “hysteria” was deleted from the DSM-III, some of the word’s diagnostic power obviously still remains.
Flying Spaghetti Monster

Flying Spaghetti Monsters and the Quest for Religious Authenticity

Fake religions tend to embrace irony over piety and satire over sincerity, preferring to critique existing institutions than to displace them.
Bob Dylan and Herman Melville

What Herman Melville Can Teach Bob Dylan about Plagiarism

Bob Dylan delivered his Nobel Prize lecture on June 4, just days before a deadline that would have ...