Interviews By Topic

crocodile eye

The feminist eco-philosopher Val Plumwood was one of the few people to survive a crocodile's death roll. The attack reoriented her thinking about life, death, and what it means to be human.More

"Birds Watching." Printed reflective film mounted on aluminum on steel frame.

In Chicago, writer Gavin Van Horn and environmental artist Jenny Kendler visit her new art installation, which confronts viewers with the gaze of 100 giant bird eyes. It's meant to provoke curiosity, wonder, and awareness of how many non-human eyes are always watching us.More

owl

Dogs, cats, birds, frogs, even insects watch us. Each with a different kind of eye. What, and how, do they see? Ivan Schwab is an ophthalmologist who’s been fascinated by that question for a long time.More

Teju Cole

Teju Cole grew up in Nigeria and then moved to U.S., joining millions of others in the African diaspora. He became an acclaimed novelist and photographer, and now celebrates the cosmopolitan culture of global cities, including Lagos and New York.More

A village in

Kenyan literary scholar James Ogude believes "ubuntu" — a concept in which your sense of self is shaped by your relationships with other people — serves as a counterweight to the rampant individualism that’s so pervasive in contemporary cities.More

A building at the Zoma Museum

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.More

Lending a helping hand.

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."More

A moment on the street in Addis Ababa.

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.More

alchemical recipes

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

pyramid

Alchemists believed that if they could transform matter, why not also the spirit, or the self? That last part is what’s attracting new followers today, like Sara Durn.More

Isaac Newton

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.More

"The most important colour in alchemy was red. It was a symbol of life, blood and the Sun."

Alchemy left its mark on Prague — and on our producer, Charles Monroe-Kane, who lived there as a young man. He says the Czechs are still uncovering alchemical secrets.More

crystal meth

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.More

Jericho Brown

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. More

Tommy Orange

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.More

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

girl reading

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. More

Piles of books

Who says reading has to be a solitary experience? Producer Shannon Henry Kleiber brings us along to her yearly reading ritual: a gathering of super smart, funny women who make an entire reading plan for the next 12 months — together.More

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