Electric Fan

The Linguistic Case for Sh*t Hitting the Fan

Idioms have a special power to draw people together in a way that plain speech doesn't.

Martin Luther’s Monsters

Prodigies, or monsters, were opaque and flexible symbols that signaled that God was sending some message.
Walter Rodney and W.P.A members exit the Ministry of Labour & Social Security, Guyana - 1970s

Walter Rodney, Guerrilla Intellectual

Walter Rodney’s radical thought and activism led to his eventual killing by a bomb in Guyana, in 1980.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Edward_G._Robinson_and_Joan_Bennett_in_%27Scarlet_Street%27,_1946.jpg

How Fritz Lang’s Flight from Nazi Germany Shaped Hollywood

German expressionism--imported to Hollywood by Jewish exiles--brought a lasting tradition of shadows, duality, and mirroring to mainstream American cinema.
Girls' Beating the Bounds' at a fence near St Albans in Hertfordshire, 1913

“Beating the Bounds”

How did people find out where their local boundaries were before there were reliable maps?
Thomas Edison's 1896 silent film "The Kiss" featuring May Irwin and John C. Rice.

The First Movie Kiss

The public fascination was so intense that fans soon started demanding live reenactments.
Children playing ring around the rosie

The Linguistics of Cooties (and Other Weird Things Kids Say)

The game of cooties lets children learn about the idea of contagion, but kid culture and wordplay aren't meant for adults.
Reefer Madness

Marijuana Panic Won’t Die, but Reefer Madness Will Live Forever

Originally produced as an exploitation film that drew on racial stereotypes, the ironic revival of Reefer Madness made it a cult classic for stoners.
Abyssinian officers

The Defense of Ethiopia from Fascism

For black activists in the 1930s, defending Ethiopia from Mussolini’s invasion created unprecedented unity.
An abbey cellarer testing his wine. Illumination from a copy of Li livres dou santé by Aldobrandino of Siena, late 13th century

When Monks Went Undercover to Steal Relics

Because relics were understood to be capable of working miracles, any relic that was stolen must have wanted to be.