Interviews By Topic

Women Who Rule

It's common in literary and historical accounts of powerful women to make them out to be villains — witches, demons, succubi, changelings — or erase them entirely. Historian Kara Cooney, author Madeline Miller, Religious scholar Serenity Young, and classics scholar Emily Wilson talk about why that might be.More

censored wall

After a polite HR representative called screenwriter and novelist Walter Mosley up to ask why he'd said the "N-word" during a story meeting, he realized how important it was to him to be able to have uncomfortable conversations as part of his work.More

blurred man

College campuses have long been hotbeds of political activity, fervent debate and occasionally violence stemming from a war of words, but today, in this era of call outs and cancel culture, there is a renewed and controversial argument over free speech playing out at universities and colleges around the country.More

Nature writer and adventurer Robert Macfarlane has given away one book more than any other volume. It's "The Living Mountain," by Scottish writer and poet Nan Shepherd.More

Twitterstorm

Journalist Alissa Quart thinks it's unfair when people's reputations are torn to shreds on Twitter for saying the wrong thing. She even wrote a poem about it.More

Avery Trufelman

Avery Trufelman hosts "Articles of Interest," a six-part podcast from "99 Percent Invisible" about some iconic items of clothing — from blue jeans to Hawaiian shirts to pockets. Anne wanted to know how that work connects to what she wears every day.More

The many Angelo styles

Choosing what to put on your body is more than just taking something off a hanger and praying it fits. When you get dressed in the morning, you’re constructing an identity. That’s complicated, as producer Angelo Bautista discovered.More

Aerial roots.

There is an unusual, giant corn in southern Mexico that gets its own nitrogen from the air — no manufacturing required.More

For decades, Stanley Crouch has cut a singular path through American culture. Once an aspiring jazz musician and later a noted cultural critic, he was friends with Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray, and later an intellectual mentor to Wynton Marsalis. For all of his intellectual virtuosity, we were still surprised to discover the book that Crouch wanted to recommend: Alejo Carpentier’s “Reasons of State.”More

Clockwise: Wheat in a field, flint corn, kamut grains, and the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

Most of us get our food from the grocery store, not the fields where it grows. But if you really want to understand where our food comes from — and the potential threats to the food supply — you have to think about seeds.More

Tyrone  Muhammad

Tyrone Muhammad, also known as "Muhammad the Mortician," is the funeral director at Newark’s Peace and Glory Home for Funerals. He spent decades trying to stop the epidemic of gun violence in the black community he serves, but nothing prepared him for a pandemic.More

Albert Camus in the 1950s

Albert Camus’s first novel, "The Stranger," speaks strongly to the search for meaning. It’s the story of an alienated man who commits a senseless murder. Literary critic Alice Kaplan calls it "the perfect Black Lives Matter book."More

Window man

David Kessler is one of the foremost experts on death and grieving. He’s written many books on the subject, and worked with Elizabeth Kubler Ross on famous five stages of grief. He recently added a sixth: finding meaning.More

light in the dark

Philosopher John Kaag discusses how the 19th century thinker William James might help us seek meaning and purpose in a confusing time.More

chris ware on "society is nix"

When he’s not drawing, Chris Ware likes to read and look at vintage comics. He highly recommends a book that defies even his powers of description — a folio-sized reproduction of some of America’s first newspaper cartoons, made long before super-heroes and adventure stories took over the medium. Back then, he says, the medium could be anything — and was.More

Screenshot from "Desert Bus" playthrough by Phrasz013.

A simulated eight-hour bus drive earns you one point. Why would anyone want to play a game like that?More

Mark on own personal "Walden Pond" in Animal Crossing

Game developer Tracy Fullerton tells us why Henry David Thoreau would play her new game. It’s called “Walden.”More

Mark and Anne in front of Mark's home in "Animal Crossing"

Mark just built a new house. In fact, he built a whole town. And it's the one place we can actually visit, because it’s inside a game. He’s been taking refuge from the grim reality of a global pandemic...in Animal Crossing.More

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