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Violence in Children’s Literature

How Much of it is Necessary?
Despite modern questions regarding violence in children’s literature and calls to eliminate violence from entertainment aimed at children, childhood has long served as a crucible of violence in life, play, and literature. In her 2010 paper “Does Violence Have a Place in Children’s Literature?” published by Oneota Reading Journal, Megan Creasey points out that children are naturally drawn to stories with violence, if only because they can relate to the violent situations portrayed in those stories. Authors, she says, can use the violent situations in those stories to teach children how to resolve problems without using violence.

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Bread

The Staff of Life
There’s a reason scholars and historians, religious and secular, call bread the staff of life. Historical records reveal the making of bread goes back 30,000 years with prehistoric humans transferring handsful of gruel made from grain and water to fry on a hot rock. Bread transcends time, culture, and religion. Whether made from ground grains or other starchy dried vegetable, it became a dietary staple around the world. Its importance cannot be understated.

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Literature’s Leading Lovers

Non-Romance Romance
With romance a central element of literature, from ancient myths to the forbidden love portrayed with delicacy in Chinese television, it’s no surprise that our favorite male leads in fiction tend to be great lovers. As flawed as they are ultimately perfect for their leading ladies, literature’s leading lovers capture our collective romantic imagination. Women want them and men want to be them.

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Not-So-Saintly

Saints Unhinged
Designated as All Saints Day, November 1 encourages Christian faithful to remember the many good works and sacrifices of the saints who exemplified the best attributes of Christian doctrine. However, history shows that saints were, first and foremost, human beings with a full complement of human frailties. Many saints behaved badly.

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The Harlem Renaissance

Forcing Inclusion into Restrictive Cannons
The cannons and anthologies of American art have not always included the works and lives of African-American writers, philosophers, painters, and actors. Their works are often described as subgenre: African-American literature, African-American art, African-American film. During the Great Migration (which was succeeded by the Second Great Migration) in the early 20th century, waves of Black folk journeyed northward to the New York City neighborhood of Harlem where the Harlem Renaissance was born. 

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Bullfighting

Spanish Traditions in a Changing Paradigm
The tradition of bullfighting, performed in Spain, Portugal, regions in Southern France, and some Latin American nations (including Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela) is one of the most divisive sports in the world. Supporters describe it as culturally and historically significant, and revere the grace and fearlessness of the torero (or bullfighter). Those in opposition, however, find that contests are inhumane and dangerous, as the bulls suffer long, torturous deaths. 

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Hip-Hop

From the Margins to the Mainstream
Over the past decade, hip-hop has become one of the world’s most popular musical genres. It dominates radio and connects listeners worlds apart. During the week of October 13, 2018, hip-hop held nine of the ten most popular songs on the Billboard Hot 100. Some argue that hip-hop, created and performed largely by a marginalized class, is now synonymous with pop music.

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The Decadence of the Art Deco Era

Design
Bold geometrics, simplistic shapes, shiny chrome, glass, and mirrors made up the aesthetics of the Art Deco movement. Fusing craftsmanship with the modernist style that emerged from the Machine Age, Art Deco celebrated a “streamlined” look.

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Don’t Stop Believing

The Evolution of Santa Claus
It’s almost the time of year for tree trimming, festive holiday gatherings, and gift giving. Children in various parts of the globe awake on Christmas morning or Boxing Day eager to uncover goodies from Santa Claus or Father Christmas—the legendary figures who reward well-behaved children. 

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Sweatshops and Tenements

Past and Present
Today’s media often exposes the unethical, unsanitary, and hazardous working conditions of sweatshops worldwide, including China, India, and Central America.  

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The Year Without Summer

1816
Well before the invention of the telegraph, a destructive volcano erupted in 1815 on Indonesia’s Sumbawa island.  Although Mt. Tambora’s eruption was ten times more powerful than the eruption of Krakatoa (also in Indonesia) in 1883, the latter is more widely known because of more extensive communication. 

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Popol Vuh

Lives of the K'iche People
"This is the Account, here it is: Now it still ripples, now it still murmurs, ripples, it still sighs, still hums, and it is empty under the sky...There is not yet one person, one animal, bird, fish, crab, tree, rock, hollow, canyon, meadow, forest. Only the sky alone is there..." (Popol Vuh, Book I)

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Lesser Known Giants

Women of the Beat Generation
"[A] woman from the audience asks; 'Why are there so few women on this panel? Why are there so few women in this whole week's program? Why were there so few women among the Beat writers?' and [Gregory] Corso, suddenly utterly serious, leans forward and says: 'There were women, they were there, I knew them, their families put them in institutions, they were given electric shock. In the '50s if you were male you could be a rebel, but if you were female your families had you locked up. There were cases, I knew them, someday someone will write about them.'"

—from Stephen Scobie's account of the Naropa Institute tribute to Ginsberg, July 1994 (Women of the Beat Generation p. 141)
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Rhythm and Words

Jazz Poetry
In a June 23, 1926, essay "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” published in The Nation, Langston Hughes, perhaps the first true jazz poet wrote, 

... jazz to me is one of the inherent expressions of Negro life in America: the eternal tom-tom beating in the Negro soul–the tom-tom of revolt against weariness in a white world, a world of subway trains, and work, work, work; the tom-tom of joy and laughter, and pain swallowed in a smile.

In its origin, jazz was much more than music to enjoy in leisure time. To many African-Americans, it was a bastion against the ills of a country mired in racism and the residue of slavery.

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The Land Belongs to Those Who Work it

Emiliano Zapata and the Mexican Revolution
By 1911, Mexican President Porfirio Diaz had ruled Mexico for three decades. According to members of the business class, foreign investors, and his close allies, Diaz had ruled Mexico well. He maintained general peace in a turbulent time, and he had succeeded in industrializing Mexico, garnering more money for the wealthy. But the working class and farmers led lives of worsening strife with lower wages, famines due to poor land reforms, and increased oppression from the Diaz regime.

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In the Spirit

Shinto and Animism
For thousands of years, people have taken comfort in various forms of a higher power. In many religions, these superior powers revolve around the ideas of worship, purity, and morality.

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Broadening Horizons

History of the U.S. Peace Corps
“Indeed, we’re strongest when the face of America isn’t only a soldier carrying a gun, but also a diplomat negotiating peace,” said former United States National Security Advisor, Colin Powell about the positive impact U.S. Peace Corps volunteers have on people worldwide. 

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In Focus

Ansel Adams
Decades after his dramatic black and white landscape photographs emerged, American photographer and conservationist Ansel Adams’ compelling images continue to be widely reproduced. They appear on art prints, tabletop books, posters, calendars, and other items. 

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History by Design

Arts & Crafts Movement
The Arts and Crafts movement was an international movement in decorative and fine arts. Although the period lasted from 1880 to 1920, its influence continues today with artists, craft makers, designers, and other visionaries creating architecture, furniture, and home furnishings in this aesthetic. 

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Cowboys and Indians

False Histories of American Folklore
Early film, folklore, and certainly literature romanticize and fictionalize the histories of cowboys and (the incorrectly named) Indians. Charming and bold, or, uncivilized and dangerous, the early idea of the cowboy and the early idea of the Indian create concepts of what should be and what isn’t genuinely American.   

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