Did Bob Dylan Deserve the Nobel? Maybe, But He Wasn’t the First Musician

Hasan Zillur Rahim

The decision by the Swedish Academy to award Bob Dylan the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition" was lauded by many and lamented by a few. But there was universal acknowledgment that the Academy had broken new ground by awarding the Nobel “for the first time” to a singer-songwriter since the French poet and essayist Sully Prudhomme first won it in 1901.

Donald Trump Could Learn a Lesson From King Midas

Andrew Lam

In the 21st century, the gold is the news media, and they cannot help but train their gaze 24/7 upon Donald Trump. Back in March, The New York Times estimated that “over the course of the campaign, he has earned close to $2 billion worth of media attention, about twice the all-in price of the most expensive presidential campaigns in history.” Practically everything the man said is quoted. 

Paris Exhibition Unveils Intrigues of Espionage

Melissa Fares

"The exhibition 'Secret Wars' presents the means of action at the disposal of political and military men in times of war and in times of peace," said the exhibition's curator, Christophe Bertrand. "In times of peace, to defend interests where diplomacy is inefficient and where heavily armed military intervention is unthinkable. And in times of war, it's also about wars (that) ... destabilize and disorganize the enemy before a major commitment of force."

The Singularity You Can Hear: Post-Internet Waves in Popular Music

Sandra Canosa

To say that the Internet changed the music industry would be an all too obvious understatement. From instant downloads and streaming technologies to self-made YouTube stars and the Twitterazi, there’s no aspect of the music biz today that’s been left untouched by the crawlers of the digital web. But in an age where we’re never more than a thumbswipe away from the expanse offerings of the Internet, where playing a new single on YouTube is more commonplace than listening to FM radio, it’s rare that we ever take a moment to stop and think about how the Internet has actually affected what music is, or even what it sounds like. 

Reading Colson Whitehead’s ‘The Underground Railroad’

Hope Wabuke

Previously nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and a MacArthur “genius” grant, Colson Whitehead has now been nominated for a National Book Award for his latest novel, The Underground Railroad, itself already selected as an Oprah’s Book Club pick for 2016. Whitehead is also the author of John Henry Days, The Intuitionist and The Colossus of New York, among others, which explore questions of race, masculinity and identity.

'Birth of a Nation' Confronts America's Racial Past and Present

Piya Sinha-Roy

The stakes are high for studio Fox Searchlight, which bought the movie in the midst of the controversy over lack of diversity in Hollywood that prompted the resurgence earlier this year of #OscarsSoWhite. But Parker, 36, said he knew right from the start that he wanted to make a film that "changes the conversation around race in this country." "I feel like this country is more segregated now than it's been in moments in the past."

Remembering Charles Brockden Brown, the Father of American Fright

Adam Gravano

While his reputation has diminished, as the first American gothic novelist who wrote about American characters in American settings, he can be considered the father of the tradition. There's much to suggest that America's first professional author might also be one of the more interesting writers of his period, and, as such, has been unjustly relegated to a second tier: he was read on both sides of the Atlantic, with nods and recommendations from the likes of Nathaniel Hawthorne and John Keats; he was an early feminist; and his likely influence on the titanic name in 19th century American gothic tales, Edgar Allan Poe. 

How Relevant Are Vice Presidents? Very

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

But beyond a VP debate, that still leaves the dangling question whether VPs really do count for much in the larger political equation. Yes and no. No in the sense that voters don’t vote for VPs, they vote for presidents first and foremost. Most know that a VP does not make policy, if lucky maybe consulted on a policy question, and certainly does almost nothing to implement it. It’s not exactly a ceremonial position but other than stepping in in the event of a catastrophic illness or death of a president, it’s not far from that.

Losing the Forest for the Trees in Annie Proulx’s ‘Barkskins’

Lee Polevoi

Well-known for her novel The Shipping News and her masterful short stories (including “Brokeback Mountain”), Proulx has, at age 80, taken a different tack, sailing into the headwinds of a 700-plus-page novel. Barkskins follows the exploits and adventures of multiple generations of the Sel and Duquet (later renamed “Duke”) families. It also charts the progressively more destructive actions taken by the logging and timber industries over the course of the following centuries.

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