Category: Reviews

Medieval Bodies, Head to Toe

The skeletal diagram in Mansur ibn Ilyas’s fifteenth-century medical text, the Tashrih-i badan-i insan, looks at first glance like it’s been drawn by someone who’s never seen a human body before. The skull is oddly triangular, the jawbone tapering to a sharp point and perched on an over-elongated neck. The script-like scalloping of the clavicle… Read more →

Waiting for a Death Revolution: A Review of HBO’s Alternate Endings: Six New Ways to Die in America

I can’t decide what to do with my corpse. Embalming, the bread-and-butter of the American funeral industry, feels wrong. Is cremation a better option for me? Do I want a funeral service where everyone can cry (or celebrate) my departure? Or is it better to just let things go quietly, no ritual required? The fact… Read more →

Hannah Gadbsy and the Comedy of the History Lecture

She had me at Douglas’ Pouch. The Mary Toft reference was just a bonus. I went to Hannah Gadsby’s stand up show Douglas expecting searing critique of the patriarchy, sharp commentary on trauma and sexism, a fresh perspective on gender and sexuality non-conformity, and the kind of cathartic laughter that makes everything possible. I didn’t expect… Read more →

Exhibition Review: Germ City: Microbes and the Metropolis

One hundred years after the 1918 flu epidemic, Germ City: Microbes and the Metropolis opened at the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY). The exhibition, which ran through April 2019 in association with the New York Academy of Medicine, asked visitors to consider the complex relationship between New Yorkers and pathogenic microorganisms, both… Read more →

Historian Witches and Scientist Vampires: Can We Be Deborah Harkness When We Grow Up?

Historian-witches, vampire-scientists, and a world where you can get a tenure-track job at an Ivy and fancy fellowships at Oxford just because you work hard and have great hair? You guessed it: we’re talking A Discovery of Witches. Please excuse our numerous exclamation points! A Discovery of Witches is the first book in Deb Harkness’s… Read more →

Colonial Colette: From Orientalism and Egyptian Pantomime to Polaire’s Jamaican “Slave”

I first read excerpts of Colette’s Sido in my IB French class in 2007, so when the recent biopic starring Keira Knightley and produced by Wash Westmoreland came out, I knew that I had to see it. Colette was one of the most prolific French writers of the early twentieth century, well known for her… Read more →

Marie Kondo and Books: Tidying Up the Misconceptions

The Netflix reality TV show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo premiered on January 1, 2019. Based on her bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (2014), the show follows Kondo as she brings her process into the homes of a diverse cast of clients. Her process, called… Read more →

Colorizing and Fictionalizing the Past: A Review of Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old

Five years ago, the Imperial War Museum in London contacted Peter Jackson (of Lord of the Rings fame) and tasked him with presenting some 100+ hours of archival footage from the First World War in a “fresh and original” way, without any new or modern footage. For over half a decade, Jackson and his team… Read more →

Bohemian Rhapsody

In July 1985, at 6:20pm local time, Queen (comprised of bassist John Deacon, guitarist Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor, and lead singer Freddie Mercury) took the stage at Wembley Stadium for their performance as part of Live Aid, a star-studded concert broadcast worldwide to raise money for famine victims in Ethiopia. Critics have consistently ranked… Read more →

Rocky Mountain Racism

This past May at the Cannes Film Festival, Spike Lee screened his latest movie, BlacKkKlansman. The audience gave the film an extended standing ovation and Variety’s chief film critic, Peter Debruge, later wrote, “If D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation was ‘like writing history with lightning,’ as Woodrow Wilson described it way back in… Read more →