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Livia Gershon

Livia Gershon is a freelance writer in Nashua, New Hampshire. Her writing has appeared in publications including Salon, Aeon Magazine and the Good Men Project. Contact her on Twitter @liviagershon.

The Real Joy of Mock Food

"Wow, this really kind of tastes like turkey.”
A family poses for a portrait in front of a fabric backdrop on the veranda of their home, in the early 1900s.

What the Reconstruction Meant for Women

Southern legal codes included parallel language pairing “master and slave” and “husband and wife.”
Hot Shot members from Zuni, NM

How Native Americans Came to Fight Southwestern Fires

The practice began with the 1933 creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps, and, specifically, its Indian Division.
A group of people drinking together outside

Science Says: Alcohol Can Make You More Social

It might not sound like a shocking conclusion, but there was surprisingly little research on the question.
A father and his son walk to school

The “Parenting Tax” of School Choice

The framework of school choice imposes a kind of tax, one paid in the time and effort that it imposes on many black parents.
Girls in gym class, 1920

The Weird Psychological Theory behind Gym Class

The initial promoters of gym class believed that a child’s mind would “remember” evolutionary phases through the stimulation of muscle tissue.
Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer, 2019 Laureates in Economic Sciences

Why Are Random Trials So Common in Anti-Poverty Work?

Three economists who have devoted their careers to studying poverty alleviation won the Nobel Prize in economics. How did their methods catch on?
Classic cars drive along dirt road in the mountains

The End of the Country Road

When "good roads" first became a political issue, rural people were decidedly not the ones advocating for them.
Tom Cruise is sprayed with water during an interview

The Offensive Joke Trap

The audience for a joke has options. They can “support” a joke—for example by laughing at it—or they can respond with “unlaughter."
The apostles

The Pious Undead of Medieval Europe

Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg's eight-volume history contained stories of the living dead—and, he believed, proof of the Christian resurrection.
A tall bookcase of old books

Who Decides Which Books Are “Great?”

The concept of “Great Books," the historian Tim Lacy explains, developed in the late nineteenth century as an attempt to foster a “democratic culture.”
A shameful looking dog in a pig costume

Does My Dog Really Feel Shame?

A Curious Reader asks: When my dog gets that “hang dog” expression after I scold her for misbehavior, is she really ashamed?
A Hudson Bay Company trading post

Why the Dakota Only Traded among People with Kinship Bonds

“Trapping was not a ‘business for profit’ among the Dakota but primarily a social exchange,” one scholar writes.
the front panel of the very first Internet Message Processor (IMP), which went to UCLA's Boelter 3420 lab and became the very first node on the ARPANET, which would become the Internet

Happy Birthday to Cyberspace!

The first message sent through the ARPANET was “LO.” It was supposed to be “LOGIN,” but the network crashed after the first two letters.
Storm King on the Hudson by Samuel Colman, 1866

Can American Expansion Continue Indefinitely?

Or will continued abundance require serious changes in consumer behavior?
A pink breast cancer awareness ribbon

Branding the Breast Cancer Narrative

Do those ubiquitous pink ribbons stand for women’s health concerns... or for normative concepts of beauty?
Jamie Lee Curtis holds a knife in a scene from the film 'Halloween', 1978

Selling Slashers to Teen Girls

The heroines of 1970s and 80s teen horror movies were traditionally feminine, tough, and sexually confident.
Mother and Child Hand Coloured Ambrotype (Collodion Positive) c. 1860

Industrial London’s Maternal Child Abductors

In industrial-era England, children took on new value in family life. Around this time, they started to be stolen more often, too.
Two siblings standing back to back with serious expressions

The Invention of Sibling Rivalry

Sibling jealousy feels like a universal problem, but most parenting experts didn't even acknowledge it until the early 20th century.
Punch and Judy by George Cruikshank, 1828

When Puppet Shows Were Too Violent For Kids

How much violence do we accept in our entertainment? 19th-century Punch and Judy shows were misogynistic, murderous, and definitely not for children.
A student standing at a crossroads

Why Everyone Doesn’t Value Choice to the Same Degree

Studies show that college-educated white Americans value having choice -- and yet having too much choice can paralyze and lead to dissatisfaction.
A woman sitting alone on a bed

A Brief History of Masturbation

In the U.S. and Europe, there's still discomfort around the topic of masturbation. But we’ve come a long way from tying it to mortal sin and insanity.
The cover of Gharbzadegi by Jalal Al-e-Ahmad

Progress Is Not the Same as Westernization

Jalal Al-e Ahmad, a political and literary writer in pre-revolutionary Iran, had ideas about how his country could modernize in its own, non-Western way.
Three women wearing corsets

How Colonialism Shaped Body Shaming

When did heaviness and curviness in women become connected with the idea of "savagery"? It has a lot to do with 19th-century imperialist world views.
A little girl playing superhero

Why Playing Superhero Is Good for Kids

It's hard to know how to respond to imaginative play that looks violent. Some experts say it's best to go ahead and let little kids play superhero anyway.