A Flaneur in the Cloud - November 25, 2023

  • American Icons: The Scarlet Letter - Studio 360 110113
    One of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ancestors was a judge in the Salem witch trials. In his novel of early America, Hawthorne explores the tension between our deeply ingrained Puritanism and our celebration of personal freedom. Hester Prynne was American literature’s first heroine, a fallen woman who’s not ashamed of her sin. “I think the thing that makes it modern, though it’s hard to see,” says novelist Tom Perrotta (Little Children), “is that the real crime isn’t desire, it’s hypocrisy. I think that’s a specifically American view of sex.” And even in the age of the internet sex scandal, says Jezebel’s Lindy West, we still apply the scarlet A as punishment — “blaming women for their sexuality, and turning that into a moral failing.”
  • Andrea Barrett’s Literary Science - Studio 360 110113
    Andrea Barrett dropped out of a graduate program in zoology, but has never left science behind. Nearly all of her books, including the National Book Award-winning story collection Ship Fever, are set in moments when the grand sweep of science intrudes upon the inner lives of individuals. Although the five stories in Barrett’s new book Archangel are short, their sweep is indeed grand; “I like to think of them as little tiny novels,” Barrett notes. A young teacher encounters Darwin in a classroom in 1873; a soldier confronts the changing mechanics of war in 1919; and, in 1920, a widowed astronomer faces an existential crisis triggered by Einstein’s theories. Each wrestles with that thrilling, difficult moment when one’s certainty about the world smashes up against new discoveries.
  • Study: Commuting Adversely Affects Political Engagement : NPR 111913
    Researchers think an increase in commuting may be partly to blame for widespread political disengagement among many Americans. As stressed-out commuters disengage, they leave the political arena to the most partisan voters.
  • Putting Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address In its Original Context : NPR 111913
    To mark the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, Steve Inskeep talks to historian Eric Foner, whose book, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, won the Pulitzer Prize.
  • A New Life For An Old Slave Jail : Code Switch : NPR 111913
    [Heard in a dream with my parents, preparing last minute for an impromptu speech] President Abraham Lincoln stood on a battlefield in Gettysburg, Pa., 150 years ago and declared “a new birth of freedom” for the nation. | That same year, an African-American man named Lewis Henry Bailey experienced his own rebirth. At age 21, Bailey was freed from slavery in Texas. His journey began in Virginia, where he was sold as a child in a slave jail. | Today, the building where Bailey and thousands of slaves once lived before they were sold is the home of the and the Northern Virginia chapter of the Urban League, one of the nation’s oldest civil rights organizations.
  • 2013 National Book Awards
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