Perhaps the designers of the first Christmas card from 1840 were influenced by Leigh Hunt’s question: Is it right to spend, laugh and revel when there are so many people who live in isolation and poverty? John Calcott Horsely, curator and designer of the card, asked the painter, Sir Henry Cole, to show people being fed and clothed to remind his friends of the needs of the poor during this season.

Holiday reads

Lifting the whole world: Leigh Hunt’s message for Christmas Day

Actress Viola Davis focused her speech at the 2015 Emmy Awards on diversity, saying ‘The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.’ Phil McCarten/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images

Why isn’t Hollywood more diverse?

An analysis of more than 800 top-grossing films suggests diverse movies struggle in front of international audiences.
It’s the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Jane Austen’s novel, “Persuasion.” This illustration by artist Liz Monahan depicts Captain Wentworth writing his love letter to Anne. (Liz Monahan)

‘Persuasion:’ Jane Austen’s greatest novel turns 200

Prof. Robert Morrison edited Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” for Harvard University Press. On the classic’s 200th anniversary, Prof. Morrison explains how Austen’s rhythmic words on loss, love and hope still…
Johnny Hallyday in concert in May 2014. Mathieu Thouvenin/Flickr

Johnny Hallyday won the hearts of France

Johnny Hallyday was more than a music icon, he was a cultural symbol for the French lower and the middle classes. In his death he reconciled the country with the term popular culture.
We can learn a lot from the business practices and ethical stance of newspaper publishing in the 1830s. This image of a New York City newsroom is from the book, “Industries of to-day.” (Martha Luther Lane/Library of Congress)

Lessons from the news industry of the 1800s

Solutions to fake news and financial support for media may come from newspapers of the early 1800s.
Scene from the movie, Troy, loosely based on Homer’s Iliad. (Troy)

Toxic masculinity in misreadings of classics

A classics professor is haunted by the co-optation of his discipline by the so-called "alt-right," toxic masculinity and other self-styled “defenders of Western civilization.”
Model Adriana Lima walks the stage in “Nomadic Adventure” lingerie “inspired by indigenous African cultures,” at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show in Shanghai on Nov. 20. (Handout)

Victoria’s Secret: Cultural appropriation again

At Victoria's Secret recent fashion show on Nov. 20, models strutted down the runway wearing Native-inspired regalia. There is no excuse for this socially irresponsible behaviour.
The Justice League should be a sum of its parts but the question remains: Who is the protagonist? From left: Cyborg, Flash, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman. (Handout)

A team divided: Who is the hero of Justice League?

The reviews are coming in pretty harsh for Justice League. If Superman is awesome and Batman is awesome and Wonder Woman is awesome, shouldn’t the three of them together be thrice as awesome?
Two young Brazilian men at a carnival street party in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro wearing traditional Indigenous feathers. (Shutterstock)

A guide: Think before you appropriate

Taking a practical and pragmatic approach by posing a series of questions to consider, this summary of the IPinCH guide unpacks important questions about cultural appropriation.
Cirque du Soleil is one of the many Canadian artist groups that have received funding from the Canada Council for the Arts. (Cirque du Soleil)

Creative Canada reunites art and technology

The new creative framework policy put forth by the Canadian government has been criticized for its capitalist and Silicon Valley leanings. But it's actually Canada's best creative policy to date.
Loyalty to the British Empire is taught to these second and third generation Japanese children in an Internment Camp in British Columbia circa 1942. (CP PHOTO/Jack Long National Archives of Canada C-067492)

300 letters of outrage reveal injustice

Recently, 300 protest letters written by Japanese Canadians in the 1940s were reopened. The letters convey a deep sense of loss, injustice and outrage by Japanese Canadians who lost their homes.
In this 2008 photo, Liam Gallagher of Oasis performs during a concert in Los Angeles. Noel is seen on the screen behind him. The brothers have a notoriously dysfunctional relationship. Could their father’s documented abuse of their mother explain the animosity? (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

The Oasis brothers: Abuse explains feud

The famous feuding Gallagher brothers of the rock band Oasis illustrate what research shows: Kids who grow up in homes where there is domestic violence often grow up to have troubled relationships.
‘When you look back on it, where else would those articles appear? The Saturday Evening Post?’ Nick Lehr/The Conversation via flickr

The magazine that inspired Rolling Stone

Ramparts started as a Catholic literary magazine. But when Warren Hinckle took the helm, he developed a layout, voice and rebellious spirit that Rolling Stone would go on to mimic.
Libby’s continues to fiercely compete with pumpkin pie peddlers Borden’s, Snowdrift and Mrs. Smith’s for a place on the Thanksgiving table. Jean Beaufort

How advertising shaped Thanksgiving as we know it

At one point, turkey was jockeying with duck and chicken for king of the Thanksgiving table.

Quote of the Day

I recommend adults read books along with younger readers: It’s vital to meaningful conversations...I think adult readers may be pleasantly surprised with the rich and important storytelling happening in the young adult literary world. Heba Elsherief, University of Toronto PhD candidate, languages & literacies | Five great reads for teens

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