Simone Simon in movie art for the film 'The Curse Of The Cat People', 1944

Dial Meow for Murder

Notes on the figure of the feline in horror.
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."
A dad laughing at his own joke.

The Dubious Art of the Dad Joke

Is it really only dads who can tell dad jokes? And is this corny humor universal? Our linguist takes a deep dive.
Three of the four hostages and bank robber Clark Olofsson, standing right, in a bank in Stockholm, Sweden, Aug. 27, 1973

Stockholm Syndrome

What really happened that summer day in 1973? And what does it reveal about our cultural attitudes toward violence?
A love potion against a colorful background

What’s in a Love Potion?

Besides the infamous Number Nine, that is.
Tarantella dancers, 1828

When Dancing Plagues Struck Medieval Europe

The tarantella is named for a peasant woman from southern Italy whose tarantula bite started a contagious dancing fever!
creepy old house at night

There’s Someone Buried under the Floor!

The story of a building that will not stand until a living human being is imprisoned in its foundations is so common as to form it own genre.
Telling the bees painting

“Telling the Bees”

In nineteenth-century New England, it was held to be essential to whisper to beehives of a loved one’s death.
Glyptodon

Megafauna Memories?

Some folklorists have hypothesized that the mythical beasts and monsters of legend were actually inspired by shadowy collective memories of megafauna.
Brothers Grimm

The Fairytale Language of the Brothers Grimm

How the Brothers Grimm went hunting for fairytales, accidentally changed the course of historical linguistics, and kickstarted a new field of scholarship in folklore.