Arts + Culture – Articles, Analysis, Opinion

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SAT reading scores in 2016 were the lowest they’ve ever been. Aha-Soft/Shutterstock.com

Why it matters that teens are reading less

In 1980, 60 percent of 12th graders said they read a book, newspaper or magazine every day for pleasure. By 2016, only 16 percent did.
Aretha Franklin performs at New York’s Radio City Music Hall in 1989. AP Photo/Mario Suriani

How Aretha Franklin found her voice

When record executives tried to mold Franklin's sound to their liking, her career sputtered. Then legendary producer Jerry Wexler came along. His approach? Stay out of her way.
Connecticut members of the Ku Klux Klan, escorted by Meriden, Conn. police, run for shelter as protesters pelt them in March 1981. AP Photo

As a young reporter, I went undercover to expose the Ku Klux Klan

In 1979, David Duke told the media he had launched a wildly successful recruiting drive in Connecticut. A local reporter wanted to test Duke's claims – so he filled out an application to join the KKK.
Through the 2018 WNBA All-Star game on July 28, viewership was up 38 percent compared to the same point last year. AP Photo/Stacy Bengs

The case for boosting WNBA player salaries

Like the WNBA, the NBA went through fits and starts in its early years. Yet despite drawing similar crowds in the 1960s, NBA players earned far bigger paychecks than today's WNBA stars receive.
What happens when an entire society succumbs to childlike behavior and discourse? Elantseva Marina

The infantilization of Western culture

Our social institutions and politics suffer from a collective arrested development – and our relationship to technology has only exacerbated this trend.
For many non-Muslims, the fast food carts that line the streets of New York City and San Francisco are their primary point of contact with halal foods. Guian Bolisay

For many Muslim grocery shoppers, a shifting definition of ‘halal' 

The halal food sector largely relies on industrially produced meats and produce. But more and more Muslims are using the Quran to interpret halal to mean food that's wholesome and humanely raised.
An agave plant cutter, or ‘jimador,’ cuts the tips off from agave branches at a Jose Cuervo blue agave field. AP Photo/Guillermo Arias

3 questions about tequila, answered

Is a shot of tequila actually good for you? And what's the deal with the worm? To celebrate National Tequila Day, a food historian explores some little-known aspects of the popular Mexican spirit.
The 1947 and 1956 editions of the ‘Green Book,’ which was published to advise black motorists where they should – and shouldn’t – frequent during their travels. Image on the left: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. Image on right: Courtesy of the South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C.

‘Traveling while black’ guidebooks may be out of print, but still resonate today

From the 1930s to the 1960s, 'The Negro Motorist's Green Book' and 'Travelguide: Vacation and Recreation Without Humiliation' offered African-American roadtrippers lists of black-friendly businesses.
We’ll say someone’s brainwashed only when we disagree with their beliefs or actions. lolloj/Shutterstock.com

The brainwashing myth

Forty years ago, Rebecca Moore's two sisters helped plan the Jonestown massacre. But she refuses to say they were brainwashed, arguing that it prevents us from truly understanding their behavior.
H.F. ‘Gerry’ Lenfest, left, donated tens of millions of dollars to sustain Philadelphia’s newspapers. AP Photo/Rich Schultz

The pace of nonprofit media growth is picking up

Without credible news and information, a healthy democracy is not possible.
When asked, only nine percent of Americans say it’s a bad thing. But could more biases lurk beneath the survey data? Robert Mapplethorpe, 'Ken Moody and Robert Sherman' (1984). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Gift, The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, 1993.

How do Americans really feel about interracial couples?

More interracial couples are appearing on TV and in advertising. But is media exposure enough to change attitudes?
Many homeless shelters are designed to house as many people as possible — not to empower them while they’re there. Reuters/Brian Snyder

Shelter design can help people recover from homelessness

Studies show that people's environments influence their mood. The same is true of homeless shelters, which can either help or hurt residents' psychological well-being — and, possibly, their futures.
An aerial view of Seligman, Arizona, looking west, dated March 12, 1971. Route 66 bisects the town. James R. Powell Route 66 Collection/Newberry Library

Could new legislation lead to a Route 66 economic revival?

'The Mother Road' is one step closer to becoming a National Historic Trail, which would allocate funds for struggling towns along the original Route 66.
Say cheese … or not. A woman works a stand at a cheese festival in Moscow, Russia. AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin

Why are Russians so stingy with their smiles?

In the US, smiling is a reflexive gesture of goodwill, but Russians view it as a sign of stupidity. Social psychology research could help explain this cultural contrast.