Howard Becker pointed out that critics, curators, suppliers, and administrators are as important to the creation of art as artists themselves.
@X explores the anniversaries of books, films, and historic events.
Marshall Sahlins’s “Original Affluent Society” 50 Years Later
Capitalism seeks wealth to meet desires. But foraging societies follow “the Zen road to affluence”: not by getting more, but wanting less.
“Mississippi Masala” @30: Revisiting a Film Classic in Authoritarian Times
What might it mean to forge a politics explicitly based in the places we are, rather than a politics of the places from which we came?
E. B. White’s “Plain Style” @75
It might seem self-evident that White the author practiced what Strunk and White the style gurus preached, but the truth is more complicated.
The Secluded Self: Sinclair Lewis’s “Main Street” @100
Why did Americans start distrusting small towns? The answer is one book, in which a woman moves from the city—and loses her freedom.
Listen Closely: “Exit, Voice, and Loyalty” @50
When the Trump presidency ends, and the toll of years of toxicity and mismanagement becomes clear, we are going to need some guidance.
“The Culture of Narcissism” @40—and Counting
What if today’s self-centered world was born decades before digital media, as part of a much longer transformation of American society?
Babe Ruth’s New York @100
Ruth embodied a new and yet very old phenomenon—celebrity—in a technological era poised to capitalize on him.
John Kennedy Toole @50
Thelma Toole, the mother of the novelist John Kennedy Toole—author of the extraordinary almost-unpublished novel A Confederacy of Dunces—delivered one of the most irresponsible accusations in ...
Cute. Dangerous. Asian American. “Gremlins” @35
Gremlins—released 35 years ago this summer—is about a cute, furry ...
“Caste, Class, and Race” @70
As we pass the 70th anniversary of Trinidadian American sociologist Oliver Cromwell Cox’s Caste, Class, and Race: A Study in Social Dynamics, his message ...
Whither Agriculture?: The “Green Revolution” @50
Staid hotels, would-be insurrectionaries should note, make unpromising ...
“Wendy and Lucy” @10
Quick! Name an important fiction film of the Great Recession. The Big Short? Yes, surprisingly fun, considering the topic. Margin Call? Love it, except for the ...
Against Cuteness: “Bambi” @90
Felix Salten’s Bambi: A Life in the Woods—which first appeared in English 90 years ago this summer—is now better known as the inspiration for Disney’s charming ...
“Test-Tube Babies” @40
Forty years ago, on July 25, 1978, an English baby of ordinary working-class parentage was delivered by caesarian section. At 11:47 p.m., her mother, obstetrician Patrick Steptoe, Cambridge ...
May 1968 @50
On April 27, 2018, a hundred people showed up at Columbia University to talk about the French student and worker revolts of May–June 1968. Many such conferences are taking place around the world to ...
Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” @200
If you walk through the streets of central London, it won’t be long before you come across one of the city’s famous blue plaques. The markers are visually ...
Women’s Suffrage @100
The woman suffrage amendment passed in 1920, the culmination of what Juliet Mitchell called “the longest revolution, ” because it took 80 years of activism for American women to win the right to vote ...
William Bradford Huie’s “The Klansman” @50
The rise of Donald Trump has thrust the Ku Klux Klan into the national spotlight. To better understand the true threat of the Klan and its history of violence and ...
Walter Scott’s “Rob Roy” @200
What can Walter Scott’s sixth novel, Rob Roy, a phenomenal publishing success in 1817, tell us about the benefits and risks of a globalized economy today?