Seeds as Time Capsules

When Courtney Fullilove looks inside a seed, she sees Mennonite farmers, Comanche agriculture, and Echinacea patents. Her new book, “The Profit of the Earth,” shows that the genes of a seed can narrate the history of American empire.

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A parakeet named Punky perched on piano keys. A modified version of a photo by Amyra Moon, March 2011.

Can a Piano Sing a Birdsong?

The French composer Olivier Messaien attempted to reproduce the calls of 80 European birds in a three-hour piece for solo piano. Did he succeed?

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The view of prairie grasses out the door of a darkened bunker at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Photo by Sean Thoel, 2017.

From TNT to Tallgrass: Prairie Restoration at a Munitions Plant Turned National Grassland

It was the world’s largest munitions plant. Now it’s a rich grassland teeming with wildflowers, hikers, and even a bison herd. Illinois’s Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie offers an environmental success story for our time.

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A haenyeo, floating in the water, holds up her catch. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Bittersweet Catch: Korea’s Diving Women and the Pitfalls of Cultural Preservation

While attending a school set up to train the next generation of haenyeo divers, one woman grapples with the historical and ongoing complexities of maintaining the traditional practice.

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President Lyndon Johnson (left) and Vice President Spiro Agnew (right) watch the Apollo 11 Liftoff at Kennedy Space Center on July 16, 1969. Photo by NASA/Apollo 11.

NASA and the Explosive 1960s: A Conversation with Neil Maher

The author of the new book “Apollo in the Age of Aquarius” shows how NASA shaped, and was shaped by, 1960s environmentalism, feminism, conservatism, counterculture, antiwar protests, and the black freedom struggle.

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Knowing Prairies: An Essay in Comic Form

What can the world’s first restored prairie tell us about living with the land? The University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum inspires one artist to reflect on ecological restoration and what we call nature.

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Aldo Leopold (right) with Art Hawkins and Alice Harper Stokes in Madison, Wisconsin. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1946.

The Land Ethic Revisited: Individualism vs. Morality

How can a community implement Aldo Leopold’s notion of the land ethic? Kenya’s Njuri Ncheke councils offer an example, balancing individual and group agency.

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The sign welcoming traffic to Iron County and Hurley, Wisconsin, in August 2012. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Love for Home in a Place Industry Left Behind

When the mines closed throughout Wisconsin’s Gogebic Range, its population collapsed. But many left their hearts there. Now some are even moving back.

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Black Branding and Gentrification in Washington, D.C.

Who should be allowed to brand a neighborhood? A review of Derek Hyra’s new book, “Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City,” examining transformations in the the Shaw/U Street neighborhood of the nation’s capital.

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Rowan Oak, home to enslaver Robert Sheegog at the time of the founding of the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). Photo by Visit Mississippi, 2005.

Ole Miss and the Shadow of Slavery: A Conversation with Jeffrey Jackson and Charles Ross

Ivy League institutions are scrambling to uncover their links to the history of slavery. But the University of Mississippi—built by slaves, amid slave plantations, for slaveowners to teach future slaveowners—might offer the richest insights into the nation’s unshakable ties to centuries of bondage.

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