How Cleopatra Became a Canvas for Society’s Anxieties

One more article for The Week ends 2019 for me, a year that has been something of a roller coaster ride. This year I decided to become more serious about freelance writing, and these articles that I have been writing for The Week is the result of that decision.

Please enjoy this investigation into how and why Cleopatra continues to intrigue us more than 2,000 years after she died.

Happy New Year!

How Cleopatra Became a Canvas for Society’s Anxieties.

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Two-thousand years after her death, Cleopatra continues to enthrall us. Earlier this year, the British tabloid The Daily Star reported that a new movie about this last Pharaoh of Egypt was in the works. According to an anonymous source, the movie will be “a dirty, bloody, political thriller told from a feminist perspective,” as opposed to the movie Cleopatra of 1963 starring Elizabeth Taylor, which had been a historical epic.

Our fascination with Cleopatra endures because we know surprisingly little about her. And what we do know is based purely on speculation. This lack of information makes Cleopatra the perfect canvas onto which…

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In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

Academics Are At War Over Racist Roots of ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Studies

On December 1, 2019, I was back on The Daily Beast, continuing my coverage of the connections between modern racism and pre-modern history. This time I expressed my take on the ongoing debate on whether or not the term “Anglo-Saxon” should be phased out because of its racist meaning. Enjoy!

Academics Are At War Over Racist Roots of ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Studies

Academics Are At War Over the Racist Roots of Anglo-Saxon Studies | The Daily Beast | The Boomerang

At the RaceB4Race symposium held in Washington D.C. in September 2019, medievalist Mary Rambaran-Olm took to the podium and called out the inherent racism of the term “Anglo-Saxon.” She asked the prestigious professional organization called the International Society for Anglo Saxonists, or ISAS, to change its name, and then declared her immediate resignation from that organization.

Rambaran-Olm’s speech sent shock waves through the world of experts on Anglo-Saxon England—and in the months that have passed since then, colleagues have turned on each other in a heated debated over the use of the term “Anglo-Saxon” and whether it constitutes white supremacy.

This debate might seem like an example of typical academic hair splitting with little to no relevance to the general public. But in the case of “Anglo-Saxon,” what might look like academic inside baseball has, in fact, major implications for wider society. This debate cuts to the root of the polarization that we are currently experiencing in the United States and the United Kingdom.

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In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

What the Moomins Can Tell Us About Fighting Climate Despair

On November 29, 2019, I published the following piece for The Week. I honestly didn’t expect editor Jessica Hullinger to choose this topic out of the several pitches I sent her, because Moomins are a bit obscure in the US. But I am very happy that she saw the appeal in this alternative reading of the first two books about the Moomins that Tove Jansson ever wrote. Enjoy!

What the Moomins Can Tell Us About Fighting Climate Despair.

What the Moomins Can Tell Us about Fighting Climate Despair | The Week.com | The Boomerang

Climate change is real, no matter what some would have us believe. In this past summer’s heat wave over Europe, the Arctic region of Scandinavia experienced temperatures up to 101 degrees, while the ice cap of Greenland is melting at the rate projected for the year 2070. Meanwhile, Australia is experiencing yet another year of unprecedented drought, at the same time as the American Midwest has been fighting against the overflowing Mississippi River after too much rain. It is becoming increasingly clear that climate change is not a problem we will need to deal with sometime in the future. It is happening now.

Grappling with the magnitude of climate change causes what is known as climate despair, which is the overwhelming sense that…

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In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.