The Actor Arashi Wakano as a wakashu in a kappa (raincoat)

The Disappearance of Japan’s “Third Gender”

Gender roles in Edo Japan recognized an in-between position for young men, called Wakashu, that was erased as Japan westernized.

What If We’ve Been Misunderstanding Monsters?

Fictional evil creatures might be more nuanced—and have more to teach us—than has long seemed.
Sunlight and Shadow by Albert Bierstadt

Do We Actually See Shadows?

In a blackout, you do not hear or taste the darkness; you see it. It looks a certain way. On the philosophy of shadows.
L'Envoûteuse (The Sorceress) by Georges Merle, 1883

Feminism’s Hidden Spiritual Side

Sometimes the pursuit of gender equality requires a little witchcraft.
An abstract spectrum of colored dots on a black background that cohere together to represent sound waves or a music equalizer.

How to Hear Images and See Sounds

Artists Shannon Finnegan and Andy Slater talk accessibility, transdimensional hearing, alt-text as poetry, sound descriptions, and Instagram captions for McSweeney’s Audio Issue.
Oak tree

What Does a Tree See?

A hundred-year-old red oak in a Massachusetts forest told a writer and a team of scientists secrets about change over time.
The Bitter Potion by Adriaen Brouwer, ca. 1636 - 1638

Is Disgust Related to Morality?

The disgust response acts as a behavioral immune system, protecting us from disease, but produces strong reactions to perceived out-groups.
A view of part of the Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim on January 28, 2020 in Maale Adumim, West Bank.

Settlements and the Israel-Palestine Conflict: Background Reading

Scholarship about Israeli settlement in occupied Palestinian territories provides historical context for recent violence in the region.

The Truth about Lying

You can’t spot a liar just by looking, but psychologists are zeroing in on methods that might actually work.
a caricature of three women whose depicted clothing satirizes the beginnings of neo-classical fashion influences in England.

Why Are So Many Romances Set in the Regency Period?

The British Regency era lasted less than a decade, but it spawned a staggering number of unlikely fictional marriages.