Review – Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker’s Tales of Slavery and Power

The Springfield Art Museum is hosting the penultimate stop of an important traveling exhibit “Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker’s Tales of Slavery and Power.” It is rare for Springfield to host a significant exhibit by a major African American artist, so it is well worth the trip to the museum for the show. While Walker’s art is largely concerned with historical subject matter, this does not mean it lacks relevance to contemporary racial controversies. Walker’s art…

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Why the N.E.H. is Important!

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Many Americans don’t realize the importance of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). They fund all sorts of projects related to history, literature, and philosophy, among other things. Some funding builds buildings and puts on public programs; other funding supports the work of scholars. For the past week, I have been participating, along with 24 other scholars from across the country, in the NEH Summer Institute, Black Poetry After the Black Arts Movement, held at the…

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Everyday Semiotics: The Confederate Flag and Dylann Roof

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When I moved to Springfield, Missouri in the summer of 2001, a house about two blocks away from ours flew a Confederate flag. My family and I tried to figure out what this symbol meant. Where the owners of the flag communicating their love of Southern heritage or their desire to keep white folks on top of the social structure? It seemed like a bad omen to me, as a Jew, because I understood that…

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The Robot Revolution . . . and the Humanities

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The robots are coming! The robots are coming! A few weeks ago, I visited the exhibit “Robot Revolution” at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. Scientists define robots as machines that can sense, plan, and act, and there were plenty of examples of robots in action on hand. The exhibit featured robots that could play tic-tac-toe and soccer and imitate human facial expressions. We watched a robot climb a ladder and learned how challenging it was…

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