Latest Stories

A building at the Zoma Museum
Photo Gallery

In Addis Ababa, curator Meskerem Assegued and artist Elias Sime have created Zoma Museum as a visionary model of an urban future, using ancient Ethiopian building techniques. They say modern development can be much more than concrete high-rises.

Length: 
7:49
Lending a helping hand.
Audio

Historian Emily Calacci says the massive migration into African cities isn't following the Western model of urban development. Instead of an infrastructure of roads, railways and electric grids, many African cities rely on "people as infrastructure."

Length: 
06:33
A moment on the street in Addis Ababa.
Audio

Ghanaian post-colonial theorist Ato Quayson thinks a lot about globalization, diaspora and transnationalism. Because he’s a literary scholar, he decided to "read" a single street — Oxford Street in Accra — as a study of contemporary urban Africa.

Length: 
04:58
alchemical recipes
Articles

Pamela Smith's science history students spend a semester taking medieval alchemical recipes and re-creating them in a lab.

Length: 
11:02
crystal meth
Audio

When anthropologist Jason Pine traveled to rural Missouri, he wound up spending a lot of time observing underground meth labs. And he came to a startling conclusion: that the meth cooks of the Ozarks are today’s alchemists.

Length: 
12:31
Isaac Newton
Articles

Isaac Newton wrote more than a million words on alchemy over his lifetime, conducting decades of alchemical experiments. But he did it all in secret. Why? The question fascinates historian Bill Newman.

Length: 
10:58
Tommy Orange
Bookmarks

Tommy Orange says he wasn't much of a reader in his early years. But a chance encounter with an absurd, experimental novel by John Kennedy Toole showed him a path to writing a novel that was truly his own.

Length: 
2:55
Jericho Brown
Bookmarks

As a black, gay poet, Jericho Brown considers it “hilarious” that he discovered sex through one of the whitest writers in American history — John Updike. 

Length: 
3:11
Articles

Author Susan Orlean on how the worst library fire in American history brought an entire city together to save 700,000 books.

Length: 
13:52
girl reading
Articles

New York Times Book Review Editor Pamela Paul on why reading — and more importantly, a deep connection to when, why, where and how of what we read — is so important at every age. 

Length: 
10:00