aerial view of beach with people

Why Europeans Have Such Long Summer Vacations

In the 1920s, politicians saw workers’ time off as a way to mold society, encouraging workers to engage in politics and patriotism during their time off.
Engraved Illustrations of Various Castles and Fortified Structures

The Medieval Castle That Pranked Its Visitors

At Hesdin, in France, the idyllic beauty of the grounds met the sadistic slapstick of the castle’s “engines of amusement.”
Enjoying a Music Festival

From Saturnalia to Coachella

Art, music, religious, and seasonal festivals have been a part of human life since prehistory. How have they changed as society has changed?
Slavoj Zizek

Getting a Grip on Slavoj Žižek (with Slavoj Žižek)

The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek is famous for his provocative takes, but how should we understand his basic ideas?
Burning woman witchcraft

Where Witch Hunts Began

Although witch hunts are associated with 17th-century Salem, many hundreds of thousands of "witches" were killed in Europe from the 13th century on.
Dead European Beech

What’s Killing European Trees?

Soil fungi supply nutrients to trees, but as they wither from pollution, trees suffer too.
soccer football in the stadium crowd

Soccer and European Identity

Throughout Europe, soccer matches like the FIFA World Cup have become deeply significant, in part because that continent's identity is so complex.
Poison art

Hidden Poisons of the Royal Court

How noble lords and ladies, terrified of poison, unknowingly poisoned themselves on a daily basis.
Pope Sixtus V abortion ban

What a 16th-Century Abortion Ban Revealed

In 1588, Pope Sixtus V issued a papal bull officially classifying abortion, regardless of the stage of fetal development, as homicide.
Ruth Mazo Karras

Ruth Mazo Karras

Ask a Professor offers an insider’s view of life in academia. Up this month: Ruth Mazo Karmas, Professor of History at the University of Minnesota.